Upgrades and Mermaids

What I thought was going to be a small upgrade to fix a display issue turned into a few nights of coding. Sounds like par for the course.


I forked RittmanMead‘s md-to-conf project about 6 months ago in order to update the tool for Confluence Cloud’s new API version and to move it to Python 3.11. I use the new tool to create build pipelines that publish Markdown documentation from various repositories into Confluence.

Why? Well, in the public space, I usually utilize GitHub Pages to publish HTML-based documentation for things, as I did with md-to-conf. But in the corporate space, we tend to use tools like Confluence or Sharepoint as spaces for documentation and collaboration. As it happens, both my previous company and my current one are heavy Confluence users.

But why two places? Well, generally, I have found that engineers don’t like to document things. Having to have them find (or create) the appropriate page in Confluence can be a painful affair. Keeping the documentation in the repository means it is at the engineer’s fingertips. However, for those that don’t want to (or don’t have access to) open GitHub, publishing the documents to Confluence means those team members have access to the documentation.

A Small Change…

As I built an example pipeline for this process, I noticed that the nested lists were not being rendered correctly. My gut reaction was, perhaps the python-markdown library needed an update. So, I updated the library, created a PR, and pushed a new release. And it broke everything.

I am no Python expert, so I am not really sure what happened, since I did not change any code. As best I can deduce, the way my module was built, with the amount of code in __init__.py, was causing running as a module to behave differently then running with the wheel based build. In any case, as I worked to change it, I figured, why not make it better.

So I spent a few evenings pulling code out of __init__.py and putting it into it’s own class. And, in doing that, SonarCloud failed most of my work because I did not have unit tests for my new code. So, yes, that took me down the rabbit hole of learning about using pytest and pytest-mock to start to get better coverage on my code.

But Did You Fix It?!

As it turns out, the python-markdown update did NOT fix the nested list issues. Apparently, all I really needed to do was make sure I configured python-markdown to use the sane_lists extension.

So after many small break-fix releases, v1.0.9 is out and working. I fixed the nested lists issue and a few other small bugs found by adding additional unit tests.

Mermaid Support

For Confluence, Mermaid support is a paid extension (of course). However, you can use the Mermaid CLI (or, in my case, the docker image) to convert any Mermaid in the MD file into an image, which is then published to Confluence. I built a small pipeline template that runs these two steps. Have a look!

While it would be nice to build the Mermaid to image conversion directly in md-to-conf, I was not able to quickly find a python library to do that work and, well, the mermaid-cli handles this conversion nicely, so I am happy with this particular two-step. Just don’t make me dance.