Old Street Solutions Ltd. © 2018-2020

  • Tom Harris

Collaborating with External Users in Jira & Confluence

What is “External Share”?

External Share gives you the ability to securely share live content from Jira tickets or Confluence pages with anyone

An external user is anyone who does not have direct access to your Jira or Confluence instances. External users don’t have to be outside of your company. They could be in the finance, sales, or support team, or work in a foreign branch and just not have access to the particular Jira or Confluence instance you’re using.


Example Scenarios

  • Your team is working with an external supplier. You don't want to give them full access or a license to your Jira instance, just the ability to view the particular issues involved with the current purchase.

  • The client's legal team is asking to review contractual documents. You're still writing the draft and want to be able to update and amend the document after it's sent.

  • An outage is taking place and you want to share the updates with a select group of users. They need to be able to add comments but you don't have time to set them all up with Jira licenses and check they have the correct access.

  • Your Jira Service Desk agents want to get help from other team members, without paying for more agent licenses.


What is an External Share “Link”?

  • Think of External Share links as restricted views of your data, accessed via secure & unique URLs (See an example External Share Jira Issue here).

  • If you only share a single issue or page, then that is all they will see.

  • Data is shown on a lightweight, fast-loading page. For anyone that's ever been frustrated with how slow Atlassian Cloud loading times can be, this will feel lightning fast!


Why not just give everyone a Jira and Confluence license?

  1. That would be more expensive

  2. That would be much more difficult to make secure

Let’s state point 1 clearly. Using External Share will save you money

  • A Jira Cloud license per user is up to 5 times more expensive than External Share, and that’s just for Jira Software.

  • The biggest savings come from using External Share in combination with Jira Service Desk to significantly reduce the number of paid agent licenses you need.

  • Confluence licenses can add up very quickly. Most users only need to view a very small number of pages, especially when they're getting started.

External Share is "Secure by design"

Point 2 is really why so many people use External Share... security. Out of the box, every Jira and Confluence instance can be configured to “restrict” users to only see particular Projects or Spaces. This is security by “hope” as in order to work as intended, it needs to be set up perfectly right from the start, for every possible use case. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea what is restricted, and what isn’t, and who's getting access to what.

If you go a bit deeper you can restrict visibility to particular issues (Issue Security Schemes) and individual pages (Page Restrictions). But outside a small circle of power users and super admins, how many people reading this know what an Issue Security Scheme is? I’ve worked with many large and small companies using Jira and Confluence, and they all struggled with this question:


How do I share this issue or page directly with the specific people I want?


Here are the current solutions to this problem from a technical perspective (we’ll cover the security implications further down):

  • Take a screenshot and attach it to an email

  • Export to csv or pdf and attach it to an email

  • Give the user full access to you Jira or Confluence and cross your fingers hoping that all your permissions and restrictions are set up correctly

https://xkcd.com/763

When Jira was released in 2002 and Confluence in 2004 these were “acceptable” answers. But now it's 2019. None of these solutions should be acceptable to your company (unless you also still use flip phones!).


The most common result of these antiquated processes is paralysis by indecision. If it’s too complicated, too risky, or too much effort, the outcome is that your users won’t share information. That means communication is restricted, and the whole company slows down and becomes more siloed.

If speed, agility, flexibility, and security are important to you, then you should be working hard to avoid this.


Static vs Dynamic Content


A PDF is static. A screenshot is static. An email is static. Jira issues and Confluence pages are dynamic. External Share provides a live view of your data, so you don’t have to keep sending new screenshots every time something changes. Just refresh the page, and there it is.


Final final version 2.1 copy.pdf

VS simply refreshing a page 😮


Can users add comments from the External Share view?

  • Yes, they can!


Can users add attachments from the External Share view?

  • Yes, they can do that too! Which is very useful if someone needs to upload a document or a screenshot.


How about transitioning Jira issues from the External Share view?

  • Not quite yet, but it’s at the top of our backlog!


Ok, I can share a link with anyone, but is there a way to NOT share it with just “anyone”?

  • Yes! Set an optional password on the links you send to restrict access to your data.




A powerful tool needs powerful restrictions


All this power and extra functionality sound great, but it involves sharing your company data, so you need controls to manage this powerful tool. These controls can be found in the Space/Project and Global Settings menus.


Our team is 10x bigger than when we started and we need to restrict who creates links

The number one requested feature we found when conducting research for External Share was that administrators wanted to be able to restrict who could create links. This might not sound like a problem when your team is small (10 or 20 people), but when you're in a company with thousands of users, you need granular control over who can share content.


External Share accommodates both of these scenarios, for big and small companies.

  • When your team is small, allow anyone to create links.

  • As you grow, set restrictions on who can create, edit and delete links.

  • Use Project Roles to allow individual project administrators to control External Share links in their own Project and Spaces.

  • Change one global setting, and it's done!


Creating links is a great idea, but I don’t want them to be immortal!

  • Links can have optional expiration dates set, after which they expire and become inactive.

  • In Global Settings, you can set the maximum life of all links from the day they are created. If you don’t want them to live forever, maybe 1 month would be enough?



Future features coming soon:

  • Sharing issue filters

  • Editing Jira issue fields from a shared link

  • Jira and Confluence Server and Data Center apps

For more details, and to see all the available features of External Share, check out our documentation below:

Start your free trial of External Share for Jira and External Share for Confluence right now from the Atlassian Marketplace.

Check out the demo video below!