Adding a Custom Action to Confluence

Level of experience BEGINNER
Time estimate 0:30
Atlassian application CONFLUENCE 4.X+

On this page:

Tutorial overview

This tutorial shows you how to create a plugin to add a custom action to Confluence. The custom action adds a "draft" label to a Confluence page accessible from the Tools drop-down menu. 

Finished custom action in Tools menu

Concepts covered in this tutorial:

  • Creating a plugin skeleton for Confluence
  • Adding a Web Item and XWork module to your plugin
  • The Confluence PageAware, Label, Labelable and LabelManger interfaces

About these instructions

You can use any supported combination of OS and IDE to create this plugin. These instructions were written using Eclipse Indigo on Mac OS X. If you are using another OS or IDE combination, you should use the equivalent operations for your specific environment.

This tutorial was last tested with Confluence 5.1.4

Prerequisite knowledge

To complete this tutorial, you should understand basic Java development – classes, interfaces, methods, and how to use the compiler.

Plugin Source

We encourage you to work through this tutorial. If you want to skip ahead or check your work when you are done, you can find the plugin source code on Atlassian Bitbucket. Bitbucket serves a public Git repository containing the tutorial's code. To clone the repository, issue the following command:

$ git clone

Alternatively, you can download the source using the Downloads page here:

Step 1. Create and prune the plugin skeleton

In this step, you'll create a plugin skeleton using atlas- commands. Since you won't need some of the files created in the skeleton, you'll also delete them in this step.

  1. Open a terminal and navigate to your Eclipse workspace directory.

  2. Enter the following command to create a Confluence plugin skeleton:

    $ atlas-create-confluence-plugin
  3. When prompted, enter the following information to identify your plugin:

    group-id com.atlassian.plugins.tutorial
    artifact-id AddDraftLabelAction
    version 1.0-SNAPSHOT
    package com.atlassian.plugins.tutorial
  4. Confirm your entries when prompted with Y or y.

    Your terminal notifies you of a successful build:

    [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [INFO] Total time: 1 minute 11 seconds
    [INFO] Finished at: Thu Jul 18 11:30:23 PDT 2013
    [INFO] Final Memory: 82M/217M
    [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
  5. Change to the project directory created by the previous step.

    $ cd AddDraftLabelAction/
  6. Delete the test directories.

    Setting up testing for your macro isn't part of this tutorial. Use the following commands to delete the generated test skeleton:

    $ rm -rf ./src/test/java
    $ rm -rf ./src/test/resources/
  7. Delete the unneeded Java class files.

    You'll build a single class for your custom action in later steps.

    $ rm ./src/main/java/com/atlassian/plugins/tutorial/*.java
  8. Edit the src/main/resources/atlassian-plugin.xml file.

  9. Remove the generated myPluginComponent component declaration.

  10. Save and close atlassian-plugin.xml.

Import your project into your IDE

  Click here to see instructions for importing into Eclipse

  1.  Make your project available to Eclipse.

    atlas-mvn eclipse:eclipse

    You'll see a successful build message: 

    [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    [INFO] Total time: 54 seconds
    [INFO] Finished at: Tue Jul 16 11:03:59 PDT 2013
    [INFO] Final Memory: 82M/224M
    [INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
  2. Start Eclipse.
    You can open a new terminal window to perform this action.

    $ cd ~/eclipse
    $ ./eclipse
  3. Click File > Import
    Eclipse starts the Import wizard.

  4. Expand the General folder tree to choose Existing Projects into Workspace.

  5. Click Next. 

  6. Click Browse and enter the root directory of your workspace.
    Your Atlassian plugin folder should now appear under Projects.

  7. Ensure your plugin checkbox is ticked and click Finish
    Eclipse imports your project, and it's now visible in your Package Explorer view. 

Step 2. Create an AddDraftLabelAction stub class 

You've created the plugin skeleton. Here you'll create a stub class in Java called AddDraftLabelAction. This class uses the existing class,  ConfluenceActionSupport , to leverage existing methods for managing page labels like  LabelManager . This class also implements  PageAware  interface methods to ensure your custom action only engages with current, valid pages. 

This step uses Eclipse, but you should be able to use any comparable features in your IDE.

  1. In Eclipse, locate the com.atlassian.plugins.tutorial package under src/main/java.

  2. Right-click the package and choose New > Class.

  3. Name the class AddDraftLabelAction.

  4. Under Superclass, choose com.atlassian.confluence.core.ConfluenceActionSupport.

  5. Under Interfaces, add com.atlassian.confluence.pages.actions.PageAware.

  6. Tick the checkboxes to create method stub code with Constructors from superclass and Inherited abstract methods.
    New AddDraftLabelAction class in Eclipse

  7. Click  Finish.  

    Eclipse builds AddDraftLabelAction with stub code.

      See an example with stub code.

    Here's an example of the class with stub code:


Step 3. Modify the stub code and add an execute method

You've built the foundation for your class, now you'll flesh out the stub code. Your class foundation is built from ConfluenceActionSupport and PageAware, so it inherits methods that deal with validating or identifying a specific Confluence page. Here you'll add additional interfaces – Label, Labelable, and LabelManager– so that your custom action can add a label to a page.

  1. Add the Label, Labelable, and LabelManager interfaces to your class.

    These interfaces provide access to methods and fields for managing and creating labels in Confluence. 

  2. Add page and labelManager as instance variables.

  3. Complete the stub code for getPage() and setPage().

    getPage() obtains the current Confluence page, and sets the return to page. With page defined, setPage() defines which page your custom action should interact with.  

  4. Modify the stub code to return true for methods with a boolean return.

    These methods are all inherited from the PageAware interface. Now your custom action will only execute if the Confluence page is within the scope of user permissions, is defined as a page, and is the most recent version.

  5. Invoke the setLabelManager method.

  6. Add the execute method to instantiate a new draft label.

    Your execute method returns the "success" message as a String, which your XWork module in the atlassian-plugin.xml file uses to trigger a page refresh.

  7. Save your changes.


  See an example of the full class.

Here's what your finalized file should look like:

Step 4. Add a web-item  module to the  atlassian-plugin.xml plugin descriptor

You've built the skeleton for your plugin and finalized a Java class. Now you'll modify the atlassian-plugin.xml file to describe how Confluence should interact with your code. This file bases these dependencies on your  pom.xml . The  atlassian-plugin.xml  file was generated when you created your plugin skeleton. 

In this step you'll add a Web Item module to your plugin. This module type allows you to customize application menus in Confluence with links to your custom action. You can add modules to Confluence with the command atlas-create-confluence-module, but in this particular case it's more convenient to simply modify the atlassian-plugin.xml file directly. 

  1. In your IDE, open atlassian-plugin.xml.
    This file is located under src/main/resources.

  2. Locate the closing </plugin-info> tag. 

  3. Add the following directly after the closing </plugin-info> tag.

    This section defines the <label> users will see in the Tools menu, and when the custom action is accessible ( system.content.action/primary). There are four sections in the Tools menu: primary, marker, secondary and modify. Designating your plugin's location as primary will place it at the top of the menu.

  4. Save your changes.

Step 5. Add a XWork-Webwork module to atlassian-plugin.xml

Now, you'll add an XWork-Webwork module. Your Web Item component module defines the label and placement of the custom action. In this step you'll define what the custom action should do within Confluence using an XWork-Webwork module. The xwork module will rely on your Java class, AddDraftLabelAction. This module informs Confluence to reference your Java class to execute on the page. After the draft label is applied, returns a String literal value of "success". This module then uses that message to trigger a "redirect" to the current page; which is the same as a refresh.

  1. In atlassian-plugin.xml locate the closing tag for your newly-added </web-item>.

  2. Add the following on the line after </web-item>.

  3. Save your changes and close the file.

  4. Update your project changes. If you're an Eclipse user, your directions are as follows:

    $ atlas-mvn eclipse:eclipse
  See an example of the completed file.

Here's an example of the complete atlassian-plugin.xml:

Step 6. Build, install, and run your plugin

In this step you'll install your plugin and run Confluence. Then, to test your custom action, you'll add a page and add a "draft" label to the page from the Tools menu.

  1. Open a terminal window and navigate to the plugin root folder. 

    $ cd AddDraftLabelAction

  2. Start up Confluence from your project root using the atlas-run command.


    This command builds your plugin code, starts a Confluence instance, and installs your plugin. This may take a few minutes.

  3. Locate the URL for Confluence.
    Your terminal outputs the location of your local Confluence instance, defaulted to http://localhost:1990/confluence.

    [INFO] confluence started successfully in 71s at http://localhost:1990/confluence
    [INFO] Type CTRL-D to shutdown gracefully
    [INFO] Type CTRL-C to exit
  4. Open your browser and navigate to your local Confluence instance.

  5. Login with admin / admin.

  6. Click Create.

  7. Choose Blank Page and click Create.

  8. Add some content and click Save.

  9. Click ToolsAdd 'draft' label.
  10. Verify that the 'draft' label was applied.
    Confirm the label was applied
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