Just going to start this off with a simple statement: I love dashboard gadgets. I don’t think that’s controversial. The fact that JIRA gives us this excellent way to parse, sort, and display the data within issues makes it unique. But, sometimes, I find the default gadgets a bit limiting.
That’s where this week’s App comes in. For the second week of App Month, we will review Custom Charts for JIRA by Old Street Solutions. This App claims to allow us to make custom reports for our Dashboards without any code. Let’s take a closer look to see how they pull this off!
As with last week, we’ll look at what it does and how it does it. Then we’ll review what it does well, what it could do better, would I recommend it, and where does it rank. Let’s get into this.
Custom Charts for JIRA
So, as a rule of thumb, any App I consider has to solve something your current instance cannot do well. If you already have an App for that functionality (or worse yet, it’s something JIRA can do on its own), why bother?
That also makes my first question for any App easy. “What problem does this even solve?” That is usually followed very quickly by “What do we have that also does that?”
In this case, the problem we are solving is that JIRA only has so many dashboard gadgets, and given that, you can only parse issues so many ways. Not to mention the built-in gadgets rarely respect any order, will not let you manually set a sort-order, and generally, you have to have a filter pre-setup.
Custom charts solves this by giving you a new gadget (aptly named Custom Charts). Here you can display several different graphs. Specifically, they are:
- Pie Chart
- 1D Bar Chart
- 2D Grouped Bar Chart
- 2D Stacked Bar Chart
- Funnel Chart
- 1D Table
- 2D Table
Now you might be saying, “Hey, Rodney, you might have a problem. Several of those are already on JIRA.” Well, if that’s you, You are correct! The Pie Chart, 1D Table, and 2D Table are already present in the default set of Gadgets. So, what sets them apart?
That’s correct. Unlike the built-in offerings, you can customize these charts to the nth degree.
You can also change the filter, as well as use JQL instead of a saved filter. This feature is significant – sometimes, when I want to change the information displayed, I don’t want to find the filter, bring up the filter, change it, go back to the dashboard, and repeat until I get the changes in place. This simple option lets me adjust the JQL right there in the gadget.
The gadget also lets you change the order to anything you desire, and tweak what the App shows on the gadget. On the appropriate charts, it will even let you change grouping (and its order)! Basically, there is no part of the chart that there isn’t an option for.
This one is a bit harder to wrap your head around – but can be amazingly powerful. When you are setting up your charts, you have three options for the source.
You have saved filters, which works exactly as it does for the default gadgets. Next, you have the JQL setting, which we have already discussed above. And finally, you have a third option, the Simple Search Gadget. This feature lets you pull from a gadget that defines search criteria for all other gadgets configured to use it.
This gadget makes your dashboard a living board that responds as you adjust and refine the criteria. Let’s say you want to drill down into work being done by Van Helsing. Just change the settings on the Simple Search Gadget, and the rest of the board responds upon your button press!
Old Street Solutions does something beautiful I wish more companies did. They have their roadmap available for anyone to view! No joke, you can see it here:
I’ve been talking with the team at Old Street for a bit now. They acknowledge that they do not support Date fields currently. However, they are pending a release any day now that will fix this. As it is not a feature I can currently test, it should remain something you look at in your decision making.
Why this instead of VisualScript?
So, remember when I said part of my general App evaluations includes asking “Will JIRA already do this?” This is where that question comes in. I personally cannot help but to compare this App with VisualScript. So, why choose this one?
While they both perform similar functions, I see VisualScript and Custom Charts very differently. VisualScript is very flexible – it can do anything you want so long as you can program it. For some JIRA Admins, that is an okay tradeoff.
In comparison, Custom Charts is not as flexible. But that is alright. Their niche is to provide you richer and more customizable gadgets than the default set. They won’t do everything, and they don’t have to. If Dashboards gadgets are a line graph, the default Gadgets would be on one end, VisualScript on the other, and Custom Charts somewhere in the middle.
What this App does well
It does what it says – allow you to make fully customizable charts. There isn’t an option on the end view that you can’t tweak. The ability to tie all of them to a Search Gadget is just icing on the cake. I love it when a company provides me a feature I didn’t even know I wanted!
On top of that, the company is open about its Roadmap and what they intend to do. In a world where getting decent Release Notes seems impossible, having a roadmap was an unexpected pleasure.
What this App could do better
Honestly, I was hoping for more charts. In a world with seemingly a million ways to display data, the seven given feels a bit limiting. I see the line chart on their Roadmap, though, so I’m not the only one who missed it. Maybe this is something they intend to grow as they have time. But honestly, that’s about it. It’s a robust offering that you can tell was built with intent and care!
Would I recommend it?
Very much so. There is a niche here for people who want more control over the information displayed through Dashboards, but do not want all the setup and power VisualScript brings to the table. I feel Custom Charts sits comfortably in this niche.
Just be warned, once your users have a taste of what this App can do for their dashboards, they may never go back to only using the default set again!
Custom Charts for JIRA’s Rank
So, I like the idea of keeping up with my App Ranking board as I review Apps. I’ve added both of the ones I’ve done for App Month. I just feel it’s an easy way to represent how these Apps compare to each other.
Custom Charts was harder to place than the Admin Toolbox last week. It does only one thing, but it does that one thing VERY well. So, I felt it earned it’s “A” Rank.
This App won me over on its ease of use. Anything I can give users where they can just figure it out without hand-holding gets a win in my book. Then there were the features that surprised me. As I stated before, I always love to find a feature already present I didn’t know I needed – like the Simple Search. Great Job on this App!
So what do you think?
I am so far finding some great Apps this month that have just been lurking on my “To check out eventually” list. I know I always need to keep on top of what’s available in the marketplace, but it’s easy to get behind on that. What are some of the lurkers on your list? Have you been inspired to check them out?
If you enjoyed this post, stick around! We will have at least three more App reviews this month. We also have a whole collection of tips, tricks, and how-to’s to help you get the most out of your Atlassian Instances! Don’t forget you can sign up below to receive emails as soon as we release a new post.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn! Be sure to like, share, and comment on the various social media platforms to tell them that they need to show these posts to others! You’d be surprised what a difference it makes! But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your JIRA Issues today?”