The Macro Manager for Confluence: Deactivate individual macros – quickly and easily

In Confluence, macros are used to integrate additional features into the editor.  This can range from basic features such as a content overview or an image gallery through to special functions for rarer use cases.

These macros are not implemented in the editor's standard toolkit; users have to search for them in the macro browser and select them there. This makes a lot of sense, as there are so many of them that the editor would otherwise be overloaded with dozens of buttons and toolbars. But it does also create its own challenges.

The macro browser can be quite confusing

Every Confluence user ends up using the macro browser sooner or later. And newer users, in particular, are sure to be overwhelmed by the multitude of options. But even experienced users have trouble finding the macros they need quickly.

The standard Confluence instance already offers dozens of macros. There are so many that Atlassian has started sorting them into categories. And in systems with plenty of third-party apps installed, the macro browser continues to accumulate more and more elements. As such, the user experience in the macro browser can become confusing, bewildering, and inefficient, especially since most of the functions displayed there are only relevant for a small fraction of the users.

There's no real way around the macro browser

Confluence does offer those who know exactly what we're looking for a way around the macro manager: The key combination "{" opens a dialog with macro suggestions in the editor. If you know the exact name of the macro, you can use this shortcut to quickly find and insert it.

But if you don't know the exact name of the macro and don't manage to type in the first few letters correctly, the quick search function won't find the right macro, and you'll end up back in the macro browser. So there's not really any way around it.

All macros are available in Confluence permanently

Unfortunately, users of the standard Confluence configuration have to live with the confusion and inefficiency of the macro browser, as there is no way of deactivating certain macros natively and so removing them from the macro browser.

All of the macros available in the system are available to all users – including those that are integrated using third-party apps. Even an individual user macro that someone created themselves once upon a time for some very specific use case would be permanently available here for everyone.

This is not always to the company's benefit. Everyone knows about the Pareto principle: Most of the special features aren't relevant for most of the users, they just make the software more complex. This is why some companies would like the Confluence system to be as lean as possible when it comes to features.

Furthermore, we can presume that not just any macro can be used seamlessly in any environment. The ill-considered use in the wrong context or application without the right parameters in the macro configuration could have undesirable consequences whereby a display error would be the least of your worries.

To cut a long story short: There are plenty of scenarios in which it would be practical to be able to deactivate macros manually and remove them from macro browser. This is where the Macro Manager comes into play, a new app solution that enables users to do just that.

The Macro Manager

The Macro Manager for Confluence allows users to deactivate unused or unnecessary macros. To do so, the app adds a new section with a selection dialog to the Confluence administration area. You can choose a grid or list view and filter by macro name, so you can deactivate the macros you no longer need individually with just a click.

Deactivating a macro like this means that from then on it will no longer be visible to users without administrator rights in the macro browser, nor will it be available using the "{" shortcut.

There is even a setting which disables deactivated macros for administrators too, so that absolutely no one in the system can find and use them via the macro browser or keyboard shortcut. The app administration settings have an additional option to disable macros for site administrators:

But the Macro Manager doesn't remove the feature at hand from the system entirely. The function itself remains untouched at all times, and if needed, any deactivated macro can be made available again with the click of a mouse. This also means that macros that have already been inserted will continue to work as before. So you don't need to worry that you will suddenly come up against pages  with display bugs or other problems like that.

Two key advantages

The new Macro Manager for Confluence is a practical tool in two scenarios. It allows enterprises to make things easier for users that are new to the extended features by streamlining the number of functions available. This is particularly helpful for organizations that are introducing a Confluence system or a Confluence-based intranet or those with a growing user base.

The options offered by the Macro Manager are also advantageous when enterprises want to clear functions that are no longer needed or those that could be critical (in the form of custom macros, for example) and deactivate them for the future. Pages in which the macros have already been integrated won't be affected and will remain fully intact.

By the way, our developer team has already started thinking about an option for future versions of the app: A granular linking of macro availability with user rights, so that macros can be deactivated for certain user groups, while others maintain access.

The Macro Manager for Confluence is now available on the Atlassian Marketplace. You can download the app now for free and put it through its paces. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch! Our development team would be happy to talk to you about your needs, requests, and suggestions for improvements.

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Further information

Linchpin - Social intranet with Confluence
Top ten apps for Confluence that help your organization
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