HackMD versus Confluence | HackMD Blog
February 7, 2022

HackMD versus Confluence

Teresa Liaw
Teresa Liaw
A beginner starts over in the world as is.

HackMD vs. Confluence

During the pandemic, the work environment has been shaped in a hybrid working model. Whether you are a C-level executive or a small potato, you must be no stranger to participate in video conferences, instant chat, or working at the same platform to collaborate from a distance.

I believe most of us were already using those tools for day-to-day jobs. However, if you are searching for more valuable tools now, I recommend two platforms for collaborative work and offer my view on them, which may help you to decide which one fits you and your team better.

The Mindset: How are they different?

HackMD is developer-centered

HackMD cares more about developers than Confluence does. So, suppose your work, your team, and your product must be in close communication with software engineers and developers, and the completion of product development is an essential indicator of your company’s output. In that case, HackMD is a must-have tool.

Beside using Markdown, a plain-text lightweight language, onto which HackMD added features that developers can take advantage of. For example, handy code blocks that can customize line numbers easily, syncing individual notes with GitHub repos, and API for operating notes from terminal and command palette.

Confluence means the Jira ecosystem

Confluence is an online documentation platform built for Atlassian Jira users. Though people usually view Confluence as a module in the Godzilla, eh, Jira ecosystem, it can be used as a standalone platform.

In the development project, not everyone is an engineer or a tech-savvy person. For non-technical staff in the team, Confluence provides a visualized workspace with many fancy templates to select from. There are templates for designers and HR people, marketers, and strategic planners.

Simplicity: Which One is Easier to Learn

HackMD is simply the best workspace speaking Markdown

The HackMD platform itself is as convenient and lightweight as Markdown is. It takes minutes for Confluence to prepare your site for the first time, but only seconds to get into the editor of HackMD.

Developers can import files on GitHub, or just begin to make documents. Users who do not know any programming language, taking notes, sharing ideas, and working together on HackMD are intuitive.

It’s in collaboration where HackMD really shines. Send the link of the note you are editing to other team members, with proper permissions set, they will get onto the same page as you in seconds.

Confluence is resourceful with templates

Confluence is easy to learn in that it not only looks like the old pals in the Office, one can basically use it as using Word. For employees who are reluctant to learn new things, Confluence is a path with less resistance.

The ample templates in Confluence also boost non-developers to produce acceptable documentations in relatively short time.

Accountability: Who should respond to this change?

HackMD is not only about co-editing but also featuring the contributors

When numerous people working on the same document, you lose accountability, but not in HackMD. It marks edited segments with subtle colors in real-time and the editor’s username is revealed on hovering.

▲ Subtly colored underlines marking who’s edited this part of text

All participants will be notified of changes in in-app notification center and/or via email.

Recognizing contributions is crucial in teamwork. HackMD fortifies accountability with design.

Moreover, this design emphasizing accountability further catalyzes decentralization. Every team member can work at her full pace individually, while never lose the pace of the team as a whole.

Confluence: Centralizing means you may still need a go-to person

While organizations with the burdens of Office spontaneously welcome Confluence, it brings with it the centralized way of working together.

For example, there has to be a person being the primary generator of documents. This often leaves the project manager to be the one responsible for the documents and task assignment.

Living with the pandemic, a hybrid way of working is the condition your team must adapt to. Thorough centralization is never coming back. Choose wisely the documentation service that is more compatible with this movement.

Portability: You don’t want to be locked-in

Documentations can increase the productivity in large companies where collaboration goes on across various teams and numerous cohorts of engineers.

That said, if your documentations got locked in a certain platform, it will be a chronic headache.

While Confluence supports PDF, DOCX, and XML on exporting, its counterparts in HackMD are Markdown, HTML, and ODF. Confluence caters to bureaucratic needs in enterprises, while HackMD works in an environment of open standards.

Both HackMD and Confluence have API, though HackMD may play better with other apps, for most modern apps support Markdown, at least partially.


To conclude, as we stated at the beginning, HackMD is a platform for developers, and Confluence is built for Jira users.

Using Markdown as its foundation, HackMD is inherently open, flexible, and lighting-fast, and in just a few years, it has been loved and supported by over 500,000 users around the world, most of them are developers.

Since its launch, HackMD has been trusted as a collaborative project management platform and business knowledge center by enterprise users. Some enterprises rather not to put their data onto the clouds, they would opt for the on-premise version of HackMD.

If your company has adopted Jira, Confluence seems to be the go-to software when building a knowledge center. However, you should be careful of locking your organization in the Atlassian ecosystem. Being locked-in is an additional burden in a time of the pandemic, in which you would like the flexibility to opt for other choices to accommodate the harsh situation.