App Review: JIRA Workflow Toolbox by Decadis

JIRA Workflows are the backbone of the system. They dictate how issues flow, who has what responsibility, or when you need to do specific tasks. Do you want to start a fight as a JIRA Admin? Just tell a user you are changing their workflow without their input.

That is why I decided to look at the JIRA Workflow Toolbox by Decadis for the third App in the “App Month” series. And when I started, I thought this was just another collection of validators, conditions, and post functions – not dissimilar to JIRA Suite Utilities and JIRA Misc. Workflow Extensions. But I soon discovered that this one App has the power to displace two or three Apps in your system. All for the cost of one.

Now, I want to take you through the features I discovered, and let me tell you why you should consider this App!

Features

So, I should apologize to Decadis. They were gracious enough to meet with me one on one to give me a demo of this App. And what was my first question? “What do you think sets you apart from Apps like JSU and JWME?” Not my proudest moment.

However, When I first sat down with this App – that was my main question! I had heard good things about it, but to me, it seemed like a clone of sorts. My error: I skipped over the Getting Started page. Seriously guys and girls, don’t be like me. Be better than me!

Also, read your docs before opening your mouth!

If I had taken the time to do my research and read this page, I’d have found that the workflow functions were just one facet of this hidden gem. So let us take a look together at the other functionality this Multi-tool has!

Workflow Functions

So this is where the App gets its name – and likely what you will be using the most. As I stated earlier, this is where I started looking – and if you are like me, you might find this very familiar. Many of these are post functions, validators, and conditions you will find in tools such as JWME and JSU.  

You can find the usual assortment of post functions (add comments, manipulate fields, create an issue link), but you can also find some more exotic functions like move an issue. This feature can be especially powerful to change an issue type mid-workflow based on a field value.

In speaking of field values, the post functions for JWT has a functionality that I don’t think I’ve seen with any competitor – and is a bit of a game-changer. You can add a condition to an individual post function to control when it executes. Let that sink in. You can have a single post function not run based on values in the fields or properties on the issue.

Having this ability opens up some exciting use cases. You can have multiple projects use the same workflow, but have each project run a unique set of post functions in a given step. Or you can have the workflow move the issue to a high-priority issue type and workflow if it sees fields set in a particular way. This functionality is some potent stuff!

Automation Rules

That’s right; there are Automation Rules bundled in! The setup here will also look familiar if you have Automation for JIRA. The similarity is more an example convergence than copying, but there are unmistakable similarities.  

My understanding is that this used to be its own unique offering, but after Atlassian bought Code Barrel, it was only logical to combine the offerings. However, if you don’t have Automation for JIRA, this can be invaluable to you.

Automation is one of the key ways people try to work more efficiently in JIRA, and this is a great way to gain an automation capability if you don’t have one. Having this capability in the App is a sweetener on this deal. However, there’s more!

Calculated Fields

So, personally, this is my favorite feature. Before, if you wanted a derived field – that is a field you calculate from other fields – you would need Scriptrunner. And these sorts of calculated fields can be rather powerful.

For example, I saw a question recently where someone wanted to know how they can sort our customers based on their email domain. This kind of parsing and sorting isn’t possible in JQL.

However, using a calculated field with this expression, we get a field that automatically generates the desired domain.

findModify(%{00007}, "(\\S+@)", "")

I will note that this is currently using the field ID number – not the field name. There are plans to change this soon! But in the meantime, they do include a handy string injector, so you don’t have to go looking up field ID numbers.

This example is just one use case I can think of. You can sum up the story points of related issues, or pull information from a parent issue in real-time. The possibilities this allows are near limitless. This feature is an MVP in my book!

UI/UX Changes Ahead!

So, you might have noticed the lavender elephant in the room in my screenshots. Their current User Interface features this table of purple boxes. While not a deal-breaker – I have seen MUCH worse – it can be distracting. Decadis admits as much, and to fix are about to release and end-to-end rework of their UI.

Another part of this is they will also be reworking their parser to do away with the need for you to know your field ID. In other words, they will be able to take the field names within the App’s various functions.

And while I’m on the topic of UI/UX, I mentioned in my review of the Admin Toolbox that the categories should be renamed to make them less confusing. It is something they were already working on, as during the demo, I spotted this!

Not really related, but I thought it was a nice touch!

My Analysis

What this App does Well

So, let me be straight with you. For each of the things this App does, I can think of another App that does it equally well (if not better). That is not to say that this App is terrible, quite the opposite. It takes a serious commitment to quality and user experience to compete in those lofty circles.

However, I think the real value proposition is that this one App does all three functions. Just going to level with you, Marketplace Apps are expensive. There is a particular pain that comes with that annual P.O. to renew Apps. So saying you have this one App that can do multiple things starts to look attractive.

And then there is this to consider. My feeling in reviewing both this App and Admin Toolbox is that Decadis cares about making your teams their most efficient selves. Every feature seems tuned to that end goal. And honestly, I think they easily hit that goal.

What this App could work on

So, I honestly had a problem with this section. Most of what I originally had originally intended to say here, Decadis showed they were already working on! But honestly, there are worse problems to have!

However, there is always another horizon to conquer. That is to say that I feel we can always improve something. To that end, I do have this (I’ll even put this in a user-story format).

As an Admin, I would like to migrate easily from JWME/JSU to your App.”

The JIRA Guy, 2020

To pull this off, you’d need to almost reverse engineer how the other Apps store their data and then create a migration script. It’s not an easy goal, but if Decadis can pull this off, that’s a goal worth celebrating.

Would I recommend this App

This point is another section of my analysis where I struggled. It’s not that I don’t love the functionality this App provides, I thoroughly do! It’s more that my recommendation is going to be somewhat conditional.  

If you don’t have Scriptrunner, Automation for JIRA, or a Workflow Functions App, go for it. You will be thankful to have the extended functionality this App provides.

If you have any or all of the Apps I listed above, you should take a more in-depth look. 

  • Are you using some of the other functionality of Scriptrunner, or are you using only the Calculated Fields?  
  • To what extent are you using Automation for JIRA, and whats the effort in migrating those rules?  
  • How many person-hours in migration are you going to spend versus how much money on the bill you will save?  

Simply put, the answer is going to vary significantly from organization to organization. I’d still recommend you at least take a look at it.  

JIRA Workflow Toolbox’s Tier Rank

So where to place this one wasn’t a difficult decision. This App is yet another robust offering from Decadis, and easily earns it’s “A” Tier. From the conditionals on the post function to the Automation Rules and Calculated fields, Decadis designed this App to make life easier. You wouldn’t go amiss to check this one out!

And that’s Week three of App Month down!

So, are you digging the flurry of new Apps reviews? It certainly looks like you are! I have two more to write up this month, and I am looking forward to diving into both of them!  

In other news, I have been asked to give another Webinar, this time by WebGentle! For this one, I have opted to present on one of my favorite articles to-date, “So, you’re now a JIRA Admin, now what?” We will cover steps you should take your first week as a JIRA Admin to set you and your instance up for long-term success. The webinar will be on Thursday, July 23, at 10:30 AM EST/8 PM IST. You can register using the link below to attend! I hope I get to see all of you there!

  • Register to attend Webinar

Future Rodney here! The Webinar is already one. But fear not, you can view the YouTube video for it below! Now back to our regularly scheduled post!

I also wanted to get your thoughts on something. How do you capitalize JIRA? I still put it in all Caps – it’s an old habit, and not 100% accurate, but it’d take me longer to change it all to normal on this site than it’d be worth.

However, I want to know what you readers think. So I’ll be putting a poll in the article, and keeping it open for two weeks. If enough people vote Jira, I’ll start using that here forward.

But that’s all I have for this week. Please remember that if you liked this post, please like, comment, and share it on your preferred social media platform. If you loved this article, sign up below to get new posts delivered straight to your mailbox. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn! But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your JIRA issues today?”

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