App Review: Profields by Deiser

In case it wasn’t clear – I tend to be a bit old-school Jira. This fact means to me a Jira project is a continuous, living creature. Teams develop software in cycles, with each cycle meant to be another version of the project. For non-software groups, versions still work well to define and manage “initiatives.” This mindset has been the guidance I’ve given teams in the past, and it mostly works well. 

However, I’ve been considering another interpretation lately. That a project is just that, a project, with a defined beginning and end. Sometimes an “initiative” is so complex that it needs a step up to use versions to identify different phases of that same initiative. This view does open up other problems, though. Where do you store details about when the project begins, what it’s about, etc.? You can save it in Confluence, but that has two problems.

  • People have to go to Confluence and look that up
  • That information isn’t all that usable.

That is where the fifth and final App in “App Month” comes into play. Profields lets you define and use Project fields (get it?). This simple idea opens up a world of possibilities in project management. So let us take a look and see what Deiser has in store for us!

Also, a special thank you to Deiser. I got a chance to speak with their product team directly before this article, and they even gave me an exclusive playground with populated data for capturing screenshots! This step in an App Review is often the most time consuming, so it is much appreciated!

Features

Project Fields

To get started, I guess we should talk about the foundational element, Project Fields. That is a custom field that is not associated with an issue, but instead a whole project. You can get started by going to Profields in the top bar and heading to “Fields.”

Once here, Jira presents us with a list of fields already in our instance. If you are starting with Profields, this will be all the default ones already used by Jira. To this, we can add our custom Project Fields. As of the current release, the types of fields you can use are:

  • List
  • Text
  • Number
  • Date
  • Duration
  • Status
  • Priority
  • User
  • Group
  • Project
  • Cumulative
  • Script

I saw some exciting uses of these fields in the demo instance: Bitbucket Key, Bamboo Project, Budget, Clients, Current Phase, Total Remaining Estimate, and Work Ratio. However, the uses are as varied as your ingenuity and needs. It’s up to you to figure out the best use of the tools!

Project Fields follow a similar setup to Custom fields in that they require a mechanism to show them within a project. With Custom Fields, it’s a screen, and with Project Fields, they call it a layout. I want to commend the team here, as it would have been effortless – yet very confusing – to call their set up a screen and be done with it.

The Layout screen also seems very intuitive. It gives you the ability to set up different “Containers” and place your fields, giving you the ability to group related fields.

After this, Associate your layout with a project, and you’ll start getting some impressive data!

“PQL”

So, we’ve got all this data on the projects themselves now, so what?

Honestly, if you’re asking that question, I have to know: Do you even Jira? One of Jira’s superpowers is using JQL to search issues while filtering on any custom fields. Now that we have Project fields, we can also use those for searching and filtering Projects!

Granted, I’m also just learning about the usage of this App myself, PQL seems to follow the same rules and syntax as JQL. This fact means if you are a JQL Wizard, you shouldn’t have any problems picking up PQL as well.

And just like JQL, once you have your query set up *just* right, you can save it as a filter to either reference later, or use in Dashboard Gadgets!

Dashboard Gadgets

Did I say dashboard gadgets? Yes, sir, I sure did! Long time readers will know by now that I love having more options for users to use on their dashboards, and Profields gives us five to help us display Project data.

  • Project Pie Chart
  • Profields: One Field Statistic Chart
  • Profields: Project Timesheet Report
  • Profields: Project fields Summary
  • Profields: Two-dimensional project statistics report

Because these are reporting on the project themselves, it does open up some exciting reporting on how projects are doing.

Again, at first glance, this looks like a regular dashboard of issues – but these are reporting on whole dashboards, not just issues!

Another use case this brings up is standardizing schemes in projects. We all know that controlling the number of schemes in Jira can help improve its performance, but finding the outliers using a unique scheme is a chore. But now, it’s a dashboard!

Treat Projects like you would Issues

If I had to assign a theme to this App, that would be it. Do issues get a navigator where you can run queries? Then so do Projects! Can you watch an issue and be updated when a field changes? Then so can Projects! Can you change fields in bulk on issues? Then so can you on Projects! This simple concept gives you more capabilities to sort, process, and manage your projects! 

My Analysis

What this App does Well

If I had to assign a theme to this App, It would be to treat projects as you would issues. It seems Deiser has thought of almost everything in this regard. Do issues get a navigator where you can run queries? Then so do Projects! Can you watch an issue and be updated when a field changes? Then so can Projects! Can you change fields in bulk on issues? Then so can you on Projects! This simple concept gives you more capabilities to sort, process, and manage your projects!   

What this App could work on

I only had one step that confused me for a moment when using this App. I could not find the place where you create new Project Fields. This problem stems from two facts. The first one, I am terrible at seeing small details right in front of me. No, ask my wife! I am!

The second is because that setting is in the top bar. This time is one case where I’d like to see it in the Admin Section. I mean, they already have a Project section with only a few entries. It seems to be a natural place to look for it.

But honestly, that is a nit-pick. Otherwise, this is a well-executed App!

Would I recommend this App

So, for most projects, I still see them as long-living entities with work done in cycles. But even then, I can see a place for having this kind of information within your projects.

However, this App shines on situations where Projects do have defined lifetimes. One example I can think of is Consulting. You only work on discreet projects for a given client. Here it makes sense to use something like this to store details within the project itself using Profields.

I do think everyone can benefit from this App. Whether the amount of use justifies its price to your organization, that’s not up to me. But if you have a situation where you can use this, I think you are already arranging a test!

Profields’ Tier Rank

This App was a bit hard to place on the tier list. It did make me change some of my assumptions on how best to use Jira, so it’s going to get a high rank. But I don’t see it as a universal change. I feel I can recommend Power Admin and Automation for Jira to you without fully knowing your situation because both are so universally useful. This App, however, I’d have to hear more about your case. Therefore, I feel it still earns a solid “A” Rank.

And that’s it for App Month!

What did you think? Did you find a new favorite App? Any I didn’t cover you’d like me to look over?

I’m not going to lie, though – it’s going to be a bit before I do another App Review. Not that I don’t enjoy learning about them, it’s just that I’m ready to cover other topics! To that effect, I’m going over Jira Incident Management next week! This idea came from a viewer of last week’s Webinar, and I’m excited to cover it in greater detail!

In speaking of last week’s Webinar on “So, you’re a Jira Admin, Now what?”, I think it went really, REALLY well! If you missed it and would like to view it, you can watch it on WebGentle’s Youtube Channel!

In other news, the poll is closed! It seems more people sell Jira with just the first letter Capitalized.

I have also gotten a few comments on this over the past few weeks, so I’ll be changing how I refer to it within the Blog to match. However it’s going to take me a bit to update the branding, and I might not be able to update all the back articles.

But thank you reading! If you enjoyed reading this post, sign up below to receive them by email! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn! Be sure to share, like, and comment on the post so your friends can find us! But until next time, this is Rodney saying, “Have you updated your Jira issues today?”

App Review: Rich Filters by Qotilabs

So, I had an unusual situation late last week. A colleague asked our team if Custom Charts for Jira could do something particular. He was trying to create what amounted to a search bar in a dashboard so that his users could type in a specific term and get a list of results. 

The Simple Search Gadget could do this, but unfortunately, he could not use it because there is no filter return list gadget for Custom Charts. However, the situation was kind of funny because this week’s App can do just that! So, let’s get into Rich Filters for Jira Dashboards!

So, What is it?

At its core, this App gives you the ability to filter out results on different gadgets. This process, like custom charts, creates dynamic dashboards that let users dig deeper into the data.

My first thought here was “Wait, that’s it?” Then I decided to learn from last week’s lesson, and dig deeper into the Docs.

Filters

So, the main point of this App is to filter the content on your dashboard to allow users to drill down and find more in-depth trends in their Jira issues. You control this feature through the “Rich Filter Controller” gadget.  

To set a rich filter, you must go to “Issues -> Manage Rich Filter,” shown below.

From here, you can view your existing filters, or create a new one.

Once you click “Create rich filter” or click on an existing one, you select a base filter (one you’ve already created in Jira), and then you can set up various ways to filter it further.

Static Filters

A Static filter is not too different from the quick filters you may already be familiar with on Boards from Jira Software. They are a snippet of JQL that is AND’ed onto the current query.

I set up a couple of quick examples here. The first filter clears the dashboard of anything not assigned to you. The second one gives you all the unresolved issues that are past due. Both of these can be quite powerful as tools to help you isolate specific issues on your dashboard.

Dynamic Filters

Unlike Static Filters, Dynamic ones respond to what the issues contain in those fields. You select the fields you’d like to use as a dynamic filter, and the Dashboard figures out the rest.

As you can see, it will present you with options you can check off. If you don’t readily see your choice, you can search for it in the provided search bar. I like how this feels. Just click what you want and – boom – the entire board adjusts only to show what you are interested in.

Smart Filters

The last one is called a Smart filter, and it allows you to either color or label issues depending on a JQL string. For example, I set this up to put a color dot next to the issue based on its status.


You can then use the Smart filter on the view settings to see what the status is by the color next to the issue.

Views

This one is an optional setting, but it does let you define which columns are present in the Filter Results – which surprisingly was not an option in the gadget itself. It is similar enough to the Screen configuration page that I won’t touch too much on it. But this did take me a second to figure out.

Rich Filter Controller Gadget Settings

So, we have our Rich filter set, and now it’s time to use it. To include it in a dashboard, put a Rich Filter Controller gadget into the board, then set it up.

Here we can specify the Rich Filter to use, which filters – if any – show up, and whether we want an additional JQL bar (to cover situations we didn’t foresee). Click “Save,” and your gadget is ready to go.

You have to click +JQL to get the JQL bar to appear!

You can then add other “Rich Filter” gadgets to the board, set them to use the same Rich Filter, and you are all set up!

Gadgets Available

I’m not going to lie. This App is only as powerful as the gadgets that come with it. However, I’m happy to say there are a good few to choose from.

  • Rich Filter Created vs. Resolved Chart
  • Rich Filter Date Bar Chart
  • Rich Filter Pie Chart
  • Rich Filter Results
  • Rich Filter Simple Counter
  • Rich Filter Simple Gauge
  • Rich Filter Smart Counters
  • Rich Filter Smart Gauges
  • Rich Filter Statistics
  • Rich Filter Time Series Chart
  • Rich Filter Two Dimensional Statistics

As you can see, we have a good mix of gadgets here. Still not enough (never enough gadgets!), but this should be enough to get your users started with.

My Analysis

What this App does Well

This App does what it says. It lets you further filter data on a dashboard to create a dynamic experience for the end-user. I can see this being deployed as a Team board. That is a board the entire team can use, but still get the information relevant to each team member. 

Once the Dashboard is set up, it’s relatively simple to navigate and use. And as I stated a few weeks ago, I love new options to use in a Dashboard.  

What this App could work on

Once you have the Dashboard set up, it’s simple for a user to use. Setting up the Dashboard, though, can be tricky. I found myself referring to the Qotilabs Documentation more than a few times when setting up my Test Board. This fact tells me that if I can’t figure it out intuitively, my end-users have no hope.  

For example, in the built-in Filter Results gadget, I can configure the fields shown right in the App. But for the Rich Filter Results version, I had to go back to the Rich Filter to set up a View to do this. This process is not only inconsistent with the experience people are already expecting, but it also adds quite a few more steps in the setup process. 

At a certain point, I had to have the Dashboard open in one Tab, and the Rich Filter in the other just because I was jumping between the two so much.   

All these are “the first time I use” issues – meaning every time afterward, I’d know what to expect and not trip over myself. However, multiply this problem by your entire Jira userbase – and that can be a lot of hand-holding. 

Would I recommend this App

Yes. I know, my “What it could do better” was pretty long, but the fact is this App works well without slowing down my Jira system too much. It adds functionality to the Dashboards that make them a more dynamic user experience, which they don’t normally do. 

But Readers, it’s up to you to judge your userbase. Are they savvier, or are they in constant need of instruction? Do they read the docs you provide? Do you have time to run a training session or two? Given that this requires some learning to use to its fullest capabilities, that might sway your decision. That all being said, this is a sound investment into your Jira System.

Tier Rank

So, where to put this? In the end, It’s a robust offering, with a bit of work needed to make it to the top. I’d love to track this and see what the Devs do with this. But in the meantime, I think it’s held back by the amount of work needed to get it up. So, I think at the end of the day, it earns a solid “B” Rank.

This is starting to fill up nicely!

And that’s it for this week!

So, four down, and one more App to go for App Month! What has your favorite been so far? It’s hard for me to choose – but I’d probably say the Admin Toolbox.

Don’t forget that I’ll be doing a presentation tomorrow with WebGentle! It will be on one of my favorite articles I’ve written here: So, you are now a Jira Admin, now what? I definitely hope you will attend! To sign up for it, you can click here!

Future Rodney Here! Webinar is already done. However, you can check out the YouTube video from it below! Not back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

Also, I recently got these sticker proofs in the mail! I love these! Not sure if, when, and how I’m going to send these out. It might be something I save for the next in-person Summit!

Don’t forget we have a poll going this week. I went ahead this week and used Jira instead of JIRA, just to see how it felt. I don’t appreciate how much of a habit the Capitalization is. Be sure to vote – if Jira wins I’m going to permanently change my style!

But that’s all I have for this week! If you enjoyed reading, please share, like, and comment on social media! You might be helping your colleagues discover something that can help them! Don’t forget you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can also sign up below to receive new posts directly to your email! But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your Jira Issues today?”

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?”

App Review: Custom Charts for JIRA by Old Street Solutions

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.

VisualScript does help. It’s crazy flexible, but to get the most out of it, you need someone who knows JavaScript. And we don’t always have that luxury. Don’t get me wrong, the built-in library and Community make it an easy purchases, but what else is out there?

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

Charts

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?

Customization Interface!

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.

Search Gadget

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!

Upcoming feature!

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.

My Analysis

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?”

App Review: Admin Toolbox by Decadis

A few weeks ago, I posted my “JIRA App Tier List, ” You all loved it.

However, a few of you wanted to know why I didn’t include your favorite App. As I was going to speak on the strengths and weaknesses of each, I felt it wasn’t fair to judge an App with which I wasn’t familiar. So I decided only to include Apps I have either used before or have personally demoed.

However, in July, I intend to fix that. Each week I’ll be reviewing apps from different vendors in what I call “App Month.” These are all Apps that people have approached me about since publishing the article. If you have a favorite App we have yet to look at on the blog, please share it so I can look at it. I actually keep a list of these to review as I have time!

For our first run, we will be looking at one of the Xapps collection from Decadis: Admin Toolbox for JIRA. On the tin, it says it will help make admins’ lives easier. Let’s take a look and see just how they do this.

Admin Toolbox for JIRA

To quote the Marketplace listing for this App, “Admin Toolbox for Jira was built by Jira Administrators for Jira Administrators to save time providing the following functions.” Going down the list of functionality, I can see how some of these functions would have made my life easier. Let’s take a look at the features.

Configuration Search

This single feature, if I’m honest, would likely be my most used feature. By pressing “g” then “x” in short succession, you get a menu that can search all the configurations for settings.

Do you need settings relating to a specific field? Then type that field’s name, and boom, you’re there.

Same with Schemes, Projects, Screens, Workflows, anything! If you can find its name, you can go there directly. And if you include the Project Key in your scheme names, you can even do this excellent trick.

Considering you will spend most of your time in the UI, anything that will help you navigate it easier is an easy win. A thumbs up for this feature!

Copy Transitions, Validators, and Conditions

Completely custom workflows can be the worse, am I right? I mean, you have to go into every transition and do something. Add a validator. Add a post function. Tweak a condition. And it is often very repetitive, as you are just making slight variations on the same setup repeatedly. Makes you wish you have a copy and paste for workflows?

Well, Decadis heard out wish. The Admin workflow allows you to copy a post function, condition, or validator to any other part of the workflow – or even another workflow altogether!

I don’t know about you, but this would speed up my custom workflow builds by quiet a bit! It takes one of the most monotonous parts of the process and speeds it up. This is fast becoming a theme, no?

Workflow Report

This one solves a problem that even Botron’s Power Admin won’t fix. When you search an App in Power Admin, you might notice a blank spot.

However, when we use the Admin Toolbox’s Workflow report, under the Transition Attribute Report tab, we can see exactly how many transitions are using which apps.

This handy little tool will also tell you when your workflows have problems through the Error Tab.

Yes, I purposely uninstalled the JMWE App to produce this error. Thank you for noticing.

This kind of reporting was always a blind spot in my Plugin analysis. I’m glad to finally have a tool in the tool-belt to deal with this once and for all.

Project Shuttle

So this feature I’m mostly on the fence. What it does is add a new menu that lets you define your projects and how they relate to each other. For larger companies that have a lot of projects, this could be a game-changer.

However, I’m always hesitant to change JIRA’s navigation too much. It can cause problems for new employees at your company that are familiar with JIRA from other companies.

Another problem I have is it reuses the term “Project Category” without using the existing settings by that name. This change is yet another source of confusion for JIRA Admins that are not familiar with this App. A minor pet-peeve, I’ll admit, but there it is. I cannot tell you how many times I feel for traps like this when I was a new JIRA Admin.

However, I feel the win for ease of navigation far outweigh any (admittedly) personal hang-ups I have on how it’s done.

My Analysis

So, I’m going to try something different for App Reviews moving forward. I’m going to look at four things: what I think the App does well, what I think they could improve on, would I recommend the App to you, and where it ranks on the Tier list. I don’t know how well this will work, so I’d love to hear your feedback! Let me know what you think of the featured Apps this month!

What this App does excellent.

It seems their tagline of “built by Jira Administrators for Jira Administrators to save time” appears accurate. Every feature saves you time in either navigation or information collecting. I can easily see scenarios within my career where tools provided would have saved me so much time.

For Example, there are days even now where I’ll look at some change I want to make, and I’ll have to go, “Where is that setting again?” And I’ve already discussed how monotonous it could be making a bunch of the same transition post functions in a large workflow. So yeah, the main benefit of this Apps is the time savings it can give you by making your life that much easier.

What this App can improve on.

As I stated, my biggest quip is the reuse of the term “Project Category” in the Project Shuttle feature. I’d personally like them to use the built-in categories already in JIRA. But, I also don’t see an easy migration path to that without upsetting a lot of customers, so I think I’d have to deal with this.

My other thought on what it can improve is also not easy to fix, based on its concept. As a general rule of thumb, any App that only benefits one team has a higher burden of proof than one that can be used by everyone. That is to say; I’ll need to see a greater need for it than I would say a dashboard gadget.

This policy isn’t me being picky. Apps can be expensive! Spreading that cost by having more users use it makes it easier to justify. Therefore, the inverse is also true – an App that only benefits a few should be harder to justify. 

Would I recommend it?

Yes. Absolutely yes.

I bet you already figured that if I went through all this trouble to write this post. It either had to be that bad or that good. Thankfully this one is the latter.

Look, fellow JIRA Admins. Our jobs are hard. We have to balance management’s need for insight, the user’s need for ease-of-use, and the system’s need for stability. So I’m all in on anything that will make that job more manageable. And I see this App doing just that.

So do yourself a favor. If you have a few cycles, load this up on your Testing instance, and play around with it. You won’t be sorry.

Tier List Ranking

So, now that it has my recommendation, how does it rank? To be clear, every App on the tier list has my recommendation. But I fully acknowledge that some are just better than others.

Looking at this App, it’s a robust offering. It does have a few flaws, but those are admittedly nit-picks. More importantly, it actually does what it sets out to do. It’s not groundbreaking, but I feel it earns an easy “A” Rank.

And that’s the First App of App Month down!

So, let me start with another thank you to all the readers out there. When I started posting regularly to the blog, I would have honestly been happy if my potential employers would have read it. After finding a job, I would have been happy if I at least helped someone else in their career.

But this is just crazy. As I’m writing this, we just hit out 1700 page views in June. And we also topped 1000 visitors to the blog! You readers didn’t just break the one-month record; you smashed it! That is more than I ever thought would ever visit my humble blog. So thank you to everyone who shares the blog with their colleagues, comments on it on social media, and helps this blog continue to grow. You all are what drives me to keep posting each week.

In speaking of social media, don’t forget to follow the blog on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While you are on the various social media platforms, don’t forget to like, comment, and share the blog. Doing this lets the platforms know you like the content we have here, which will cause them to share it on! You can also subscribe to receive posts directly to your email by using the form below! But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your JIRA issues today?”

JIRA App Tier List

Well, I wasn’t planning on doing another App Roundup for another few months. However, I was watching some back episodes of Tier Zoo on Youtube, and I had an idea that was too tempting to let go. What if I make a list of some JIRA Apps I’ve used before, and list them into tiers based on my experience?

So that is what we are doing today. I have a list of 15 Apps I’ve used on JIRA in the past and have ranked them based on their functionality, ease of use, stability, and general “it” factor. 

Disclaimer

I should note that the below is my opinion. I have chosen every app on this list at one point or another, so I feel each app is worth the money. You are entirely free to disagree! I’ll be including a link at the end of the post to the tier list template, and I would love to see how you rank them!

Edit: It was brought to my attention I should probably note: These were originally tested using JIRA Server & Data Center. While I have used a few of these in JIRA Cloud, not all of the functionality is present or the same, so your results may vary.

The Tier List

So here is my Tier List. The rankings go from “S” for Superior, then “A”-“D.” The Higher up on the list you go, the better the App. My thought for the “S” Tier is that it should be genuinely mind-blowing and game-changing. That is why there are only two there now—the rest kind of fell where they did on a snap decision. However, I do intend to go through each App and explain my logic in placing it where I did.

“S” Tier

Automation for JIRA

Author: Atlassian

Marketplace Link: Here

So, some history – automation was never an easy thing to achieve in JIRA. Before this App arrived, your choices were:

  • Learn the API’s and have something operate elsewhere
  • Learn Groovy and use Scriptrunner
  • Leverage Post Functions in workflows – which would only run when someone changed status.
  • Write a plugin to do whatever you needed it to do.

Not fun options. Automation for JIRA changed the game by allowing you to define robust automation actions that can be triggered by a variety of activities within JIRA. All without any coding required. That is why I put it in “S” Tier. Atlassian agrees – they bought Code Barrel!

Power Admin

Author: Botron Software

Marketplace Link: Here

Here is another plugin that changed how I administer a system. As I’ve already reviewed the App in full, I won’t go too deep into detail here. But the amount of time it now saves me in searching for and analyzing the current configuration in innumerable. That is why this has also earned its place in the “S” Tier.

“A” Tier

Configuration Manager

Author: Botron Software

Marketplace Link: Here

Here is Botron’s second entry into the list. This tool lets you migrate settings from one JIRA instance to another. With some careful testing, you can also use it to migrate JIRA data as well. However, migrations are not a task for the faint-of-heart, which stops this from being “S” tier.

Jira Misc Workflow Extensions (JMWE)

Author: Innovalog

Marketplace Link: Here

JMWE is one of two utilities that give you a ton of options to play with within a workflow. Honestly, for most of my Atlassian career, this was my go-to tool for Automation within a workflow. While handy to have, it always seems that I’ll run into that one use case where it can’t help me at the worse time. However, it is an excellent tool to have in the tool-belt of any JIRA Admin.

JSU Automation Suite for Jira Workflows

Author: beecom Products

Marketplace Link: Here

JSU is the other workflow toolbox that you can work with to achieve some Automation. Much of its functionality overlap in one way or another with JWME, but there are a few things each does that the other doesn’t, so it’s often worth having both. However, just like JWME, this only really helps within a workflow, meaning that anything else, you will need another way to Automate.

SAML Single Sign On (SSO) Jira SAML SSO

Author: re:solution

Marketplace Listing: Here

Sometimes, an app doesn’t need to do everything. Sometimes, it just needs to do one thing well. That is the case with Single Sign-on from re:solution. This App does what it says on the box – allow JIRA to connect and authenticate through a SAML. However, it does it so well that I honestly prefer it to even Data Center’s built-in functionality. However, while it’s good at it, it just lacks the “wow” factor to put it clearly into the “S” tier. It was a close call, but just not enough to get there.

ScriptRunner for Jira

Author: Adaptavist

Marketplace Listing: Here

In complete contrast to the previous App, I have heard of this plugin referred to as the “Everything” plugin. That is because it is flexible enough to do anything you can think of – if you know the Groovy to get it done. I have used this to setup fields that aggregate data from several other fields, clone projects from a template, migrate data from one field to another for consolidation, and set up a multi-tier cascade field. To be honest, it was another JIRA admin on my team that did most of those considering I don’t know Groovy, which is why ScriptRunner earns an “A” Rank. It can do a lot, but there is a barrier to entry.

“B” Tier

Insight – Asset Management

Author: Mindville

Marketplace Listing: Here

Sometimes you find yourself trying to track issues against an inventory of items. You can manually link them to an outside resource – but that can be clunky and inefficient. That’s where Insight comes in. It allows you to track assets within JIRA, and then link tickets and issues to those assets. While I consider this useful at times (Fun fact: I wrote such an asset tracker for a college project once), this isn’t universally applicable. Which is why I felt this should be in B Tier. If you need it, it’s invaluable. If you don’t, it’s just there.

eazyBI Reports and Charts for Jira

Author: eazyBI

Marketplace Listing: Here

Look, I know that JIRA Dashboards can sometimes fall short of the deep, meaning full Analysis management may want. JIRA is a Project Management tool, not a Business Intelligence tool. So what to do then? EazyBI allows you to take the data already within JIRA, and do a more in-depth analysis to help you more clearly relate how the business is doing to management. So if it’s so useful, why is it in the “B” tier? Well, installation isn’t as straight forward as a standard plugin. The App has excellent documentation; don’t get me wrong. But you will have to do a good bit more work to get this working correctly.

Jira Command Line Interface (CLI)

JIRA Command Line Interface or CLI does what it says. It gives you another option to authenticate and command JIRA from, well, a command-line interface. There are times when this is the easiest way to do tasks such as copy one field’s value to another for consolidation, perform specific automated tasks, and integrate some custom tools. However, it does require some set up and some time to learn – hence the “B” tier rank.

ProForma: Forms & Checklist for Jira

Author: ThinkTilt

Marketplace Listing: Here

So, I need to put a disclaimer here. ThinkTilt, the company that makes Proforma, will occasionally post links to the blog on their twitter page. While I am hugely appreciative of the support, it has in no way influenced their inclusion or ranking.

Proforma is a tool that lets you have something I’ve wanted in JIRA for a while – Dynamic forms. That is screens that vary what fields are shown based on what fields you already have selected. This feature that, to me, just makes sense. It’s not an easy request, which is why Atlassian hasn’t done it, but with Proforma, you can. So, if I do want this feature, why is it not ranked higher? It’s because you have to set up the forms in advance – which if you have a lot of permutations, means you can be there a while.

VisualScript Reports and Charts for Jira

Author: SmartDraw Software

Marketplace Listing: Here

Here is another App for which there is already a review posted. As I stated, I love the ability to customize your dashboard gadgets and can see this being a valuable tool down the line. So why is it in the “B” Tier? Well, as with some other entries, this requires some javascript know-how to get running. They have a library of pre-made scripts ready to go to combat this, but the barrier to entry is still there for anything custom.

“C” Tier

Clone Plus for Jira

This App is a quality of life plugin. I ran into an issue the other day that I needed to split to show the work accurately – and had I had this App, I would have saved me SO much time. However, it doesn’t add too much functionality to JIRA. Honestly, if the budget were tight, this would be one of the plugins I’d consider letting go first. Is it fair? Maybe not, but compared to the functionality games of some of the others on this list, it was hard to justify a higher ranking.

Project Configurator for Jira

Author: Adaptavist

Marketplace Listing: Here

There was a time this was my go-to tool for doing JIRA Instance Migrations and Consolidations. Like Configuration Manager, it makes the process of moving JIRA settings and issues from one instance to another a lot easier. However, I’ve started to use Configuration Manager recently for one simple reason: It’s faster. To be fair, this isn’t Project Configurator’s fault. Their data import mechanism relies on JIRA’s built-in mechanism – which is also slow. But when you have 60K issues to move over one weekend, time matters.

Timetracker – Time Tracking & Reporting

Author: Everit Kft.

Marketplace Listing: Here

So, JIRA’s great at a lot – but time tracking isn’t one of them. If you want to run a report based on the time estimate fields – notably logged work – well, good luck with that. However, this App does just that – let you run reports on the user’s logged work time to make sure it’s in line with estimates and expectations. This earn’s it’s “C” tier ranking because this is another case where if you need it, it’s invaluable. But if you don’t, it can be something that will look tempting to cut during budget planning. The value-added for the cost can be hard to justify sometimes.

So, now it’s your turn.

The great thing about Tiermaker is you can share the template and let others create their ranks. Disagree with me? Good! Make your own ranked list and post it for me to see using the hashtag #JiraAppTierList. If you have any Apps you’d like added, let me know, and I’ll work to get them added to the template. I can’t wait to see what you do!

In other news

The leader of the Atlanta A.C.E. group reached out to me this past week and asked if I’d like to co-present based on last week’s blog. Of course, I accepted! So I’ll be speaking with Ed Gaile on Monitoring Atlassian Applications on Thursday, June 25th, at 6 PM Eastern. If you are in the Atlanta, GA area, please consider joining the event!

And that’s it for this week!

Remember, if you enjoyed this post, you could sign up below to have new theJIRAguy posts delivered to your inbox! You can also follow me on twitter at @theJIRAguy. I also love to hear from readers, so be sure to comment, like, and share posts to Twitter and LinkedIn. But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your JIRA issues today?”

App Review: VisualScript for JIRA

Hey everyone! Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy this week. I normally work from home, so it’s been mostly business as normal for me. The only change is now my wife is also working from home. However, Animal Crossing has been doing a lot to help us keep busy. In speaking of which, I did catch this:

Even in game, it’s all about that Atlassian life…

So this week we have another App Review. You guys seemed to like the last App Review I did, so I figured I’d look at another. Fortunately, the time is right for looking at new Apps. Traditionally Summit is where various Atlassian Partners would be putting out their Apps for review and testing. I was fortunate enough to connect with Evan Golden with SmartDraw, who gave me the grand tour.

Now, I always feel it’s important you know where my motivations are. As such, this is not a paid sponsorship. This is a review done on my own volition, because I feel it does solve a problem.

The Problem

It is my believe that every App you add into JIRA should solve some problem that JIRA Alone cannot solve. Otherwise, why are you wasting the money, time, and resources to run it? So, lets imagine this:

You are in a meeting with a VP who wants to bring some process into JIRA “to improve visibility”. He has no interest in learning to query JIRA or setup a dashboard himself, so he’s unfamiliar with what you can put onto a dashboard. However, he wants a bunch of metrics that JIRA simply don’t have gadgets to do on a dashboard in vanilla JIRA.

You can go out and purchase a bunch of add-ons to do what he wants, but at one add-on per gadget, that can add up quickly – in terms of cost and resources. Not an ideal solution. If only there was one App that could give you any gadget you want with minimal effort…

The Solution

As I hinted to, I don’t like it when an App only adds one dashboard gadget. You can get a tool that does only one thing, and sometimes that is unavoidable, but wherever possible you should get a tool that can be used in a multitude of situations.

That gets us to VisualScript for JIRA. What this App does is allow you to setup custom gadgets (called Reports) powered by JavaScript. This allows you to offload the processing to generate the tables, charts, and figures to your user’s browser, meaning you can get some fancy affects without too much of a hit on performance.

All that’s great and all, but you (like me), probably don’t know java script, nor do you have the time and energy to learn it from scratch. Correct?

That’s where I think this App really shines. It comes with a number of built in reports that you can import and use out of the box, or even modify to suite your needs. These reports span both ITSM and SAFe Agile practices.

ITSM

Most of these appear to not be in the release I have for VisualScript, but they were so compelling for ITSM that I felt I should share them. The version Evan demonstrated for me was a per-release version, and he kindly send me some of the slides to include in the review for me to show to you.

This first report is something I REALLY like. It is simply a report showing the timeline of a problem – from initial incident to Dev story resolution. This is similar to what Atlassian is rolling out for JIRA Service Desk and Opsgenie in the cloud, but you can get this in your JIRA Server/DC instance today!

Another ITSM gadget I really like is these SLA Gauges. I love the visual appearance of a gauge, and feel it can tell you a good bit of information intuitively. Unfortunately, there is no such gadget within JIRA out of the box, and I’ve never been comfortable with one-shot Apps that add them, so seeing this in the demo was pure 😍.

In speaking of SLA’s, getting aggregations of that data can be troublesome. Yeah, you can see which ones have breached, but how is your team doing as a whole. There was a report for that too:

SAFe

As I’ve tried to be clear with everyone, I don’t know everything. While I am traditional agile trained, I’ve never taken it the step further to learning SAFe. I know the general idea, but not the details. That being said, I know what JIRA can do and can’t do, and know some of these next few reports are sorely lacking in JIRA. Disclaimer out of the way, lets dig in.

The first report I thought was interesting was the PI Planning Board.

This gives you a great way of seeing how the stories (and more importantly the dependencies) map across multiple teams across your entire PI. I know this type of view is not really possible in vanilla JIRA, so I can see how if you are practicing SAFe methodology, this can absolutely be needed.

Another great view into your SAFe methodology was the Program Velocity Report. I thought this was a great way to view the entire organization’s velocity to make sure you are meeting your goals.

And yet another view on how your doing is the Epic Dependency Report. This one rather than looking at an org or a group, looks at an individual Epic, and how each of the issues under it are interdependent. This is great for trying to find the critical path of that epic.

And more!

As I said, the built-in scripts are crazy powerful, and WELL worth the price of admission. But I still feel the ability to create your own reports for dashboards is what takes it to the next level. Especially if you have someone who knows JavaScript on staff already.

But even if you don’t, It looks like there is a community where people can share Reports and scripts they have created. This is something I’m most definitely going to keep an eye on in the future, as I’d like to see what people create using this tool.

So, what do you think?

I’m always on the lookout for interesting Add-ons and Apps to share with you. What are some of your favorite Apps for JIRA or Confluence? Let me know some of your favorites here, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter, and if I see something I find interesting, I might cover it!

I’m also always willing to take on reader requested topics, so if you have something you want me to cover, let me know and I’ll look into it!

As I stated last week, I’ve created a twitter account for the blog! If that’s your social media of choice, give us a follow at https://twitter.com/theJIRAguy

But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking “Have you updated your JIRA Issue today?”

App Review: Botron Power Admin

So, Confession time…

This was going to be my Christmas day 2019 post. But – it wasn’t ready in time, and making it ready would have meant not spending time with my family. And family is always more important. So, I chose to delay it until today.

This also represents something new I am trying…well, actually a few things new. So let me know in the comments here or on LinkedIn what you think of it? Would you like more like this? Do you have any favorites you think need attention? I’d love to hear from you.

So then, I’ll be looking at a new(ish) app that I recently learned about from an ACE event in Atlanta last month. It solves a problem that has frustrated me many a times, and one I imagine you’ve dealt with too.

Now I should note here that this is a review of a app (or plugin if you are old-school like me). I have not received any sort of monetary compensation for this post, and they don’t even know I’m doing this. I did get a T-shirt and a few small plushies at the ACE Event, but that was swag we all got there. However, I do think I should be upfront an honest about that. In the end I think this app solves a big problem I’ve always had, and want you to at least try it out.

That being said, he is cute!

The Problem

So, imagine this. You are in a meeting, reviewing some configuration changes you want to make to a field, and a stakeholder asks this dreaded question:

So, where exactly is this field used, anyways?

Every stakeholder, every time.

Well, there goes your afternoon. This is not something that is easy to answer in vanilla JIRA. Yeah, you can see what projects it’s “Used” in…but that’s only if it happens to appear on a screen associated with that project. That leaves out workflow transitions, filters, and dashboards – the last two of which you may not get a clear understanding of, ever.

You are now doomed to check workflows, popular dashboards, etc. and hope you catch them all. And inevitably you will miss one, and that user is going to complain that they “Should have been notified about the change!*”, even though they used it in a private filter that you cannot see.

*technically, you should notify on all changes you plan to make in production, but this doesn’t always happen.

And this problem isn’t limited to just Custom Fields, though that’s the example I chose. It could be your boss asking, “How many people are really using this expensive plugin?” come renewal time. Or making sure a status name change you are about to make will only impact those you intend to. Or see which workflows are using a screen you need to change.

Finally, a solution

For the longest time, my best answer was to do about a half-day’s to a full day’s research, and try to find where all it’s being used. In a perfect world all of this would be documented, but that doesn’t always happen either. Sometimes we just get too busy doing to write up what we are doing.

Thankfully this isn’t an uncommon problem, and we finally have a tool in our tool-belt to find an answer quickly: Power Admin by Botron.

As I said, I found out about this when Peter Toudjarski from Botron came to speak at an Atlassian ACE event in Atlanta last month. You really should consider going to your local ACE Events if you can. I’ve been doing the admin thing for years and I still manage to learn something from my colleagues each time I go.

That aside, this app blew my mind when I saw what it can do. It solves a gripe I’ve had that I wasn’t even aware of. Lets take the above example: Finding out where a custom field is used. I’ll go to my test instance, and look up “Company”

I really should remove that terrible theme…it’s after the New Years already!

From the quick search, I can see that it is used in one project. So what? Now watch as I click on “Company” in the search results.

Boom.

There you go. Every board, dashboard, and screen that custom field appears on. It will even catch workflows where applicable! That afternoon it would take previously? Now you can answer that question while you are still in the meeting!

And this isn’t limited to custom fields!

Now – this isn’t fool proof. It’s still up to you to interpret the result. For example, here is my returns for App:

So I can remove all plugins because they are used in no projects right? Eh…no. But it is far more insight than we were able to have previously.

What I wish it did better…

Now, I don’t have to tell you I’m already in love with this app. However, that is not to say it is perfect.

In custom fields for example, I’d love it to tell me what percent of issues in the projects a field is used are populated. Bonus points if it can give this to me as a report across all fields in JIRA.

Another area is Apps. Yeah – I actually had to defend this app to a co-worker who joked that because the Atlassian Troubleshooting and Support Tools were unused in all projects, it’s a candidate for removal. I think every experienced JIRA Admin knows this is a joke, but I can see how a new JIRA Admin could see that result and legitimately think that.

And as one last note, This is not available for JIRA Cloud. This relies on some low-level JIRA calls that don’t exist in the Atlassian cloud products. According to Peter, they are looking at some things now that Atlassian has added Forge to Cloud, which may let them get this kind of access, but they don’t want to rush something out the door until they know it’s good.

But that being said, for the price, this is invaluable knowledge on Server and Data Center instances.

About that price thing….

This is the part where you are expecting me to tell you it’s expensive. I mean, any JIRA Admin who’s been at this more than a year knows Apps can get expensive fast.

Well…..about that…

As of the time of this writing….

It’s free. Yes, Free as in beer. You can add this to your JIRA Server and Data Center instance today at no cost. I don’t know if and when it will become paid, so I’d scoop it up while I can.

Okay, you can hate me now.

I deserve that one. But it’s rare we get an app of this quality that is free, so I had to.

So, what do you think of this app? Personally, I think it deserves more attention, hence why I’m writing this post about it. As I’ve stated previously, this just saves so much time.

And now, for something else new!

As you may remember, I really started posting regularly to this blog after being in a position where I had lost my job. If I’m being honest, I had just ended a rough week in the job hunt and was looking to prove I still had “it”, both to myself and to potential employees.

Considering the blogs “real” start then, I’ve been thinking of a way to give back to others who may be in the same situation I was in. And this was the frame of mind I was in when I was contacted by someone asking if I knew of any remote Atlassian Administrator opportunities. So why not feature them on the blog!

On that note, I’d like to introduce you to John Fry, who is looking for a remote Atlassian Administrator role. He has been working as an Administrator of Atlassian Tooling since 2016, but has a further 5 year’s experience in System Maintenance and Administration. He is also ACP certified with his ACP-JA (ACP-100) and AC-JPA (ACP-600). He also has experience with the following supporting architectures:

  • Linux
  • Windows Server
  • AWS EC2
  • VMware VSphere
  • Ansible
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL

For a full listing of his qualifications, I’d refer you to his resume below:

And if he looks like someone you’d be interested in having on your team, please reach out to him on LinkedIn. I know he’d be happy to speak with you!

I don’t think at this time I’ll do a job hunter feature in every post, but it’s something that I’d like to do every now and again. Just another way to give back to the wonderful Atlassian Community!

In speaking of Communities

So, last week I happen upon a post in the JIRA subreddit asking about an Atlassian chat – someplace people can go to chat or ask questions that’s not a threaded forum style like Atlassian Community. Someone posted a slack link, but no way to get into the slack, and I had found a discord server. However – the discord option appeared to be all but dead. NO literally, the only admin had not logged on in so long that his account was deleted.

So, I did what any sane* person does, and start my own! Come hang out, ask questions, talk with other Atlassian admins, and see what’s up!

https://discord.gg/mXuRsVu

But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking “Have you updated your JIRA Issues today?”

*may be using a loose definition

My Favorite 3rd Party Plugins

Hey guys. I know it’s been a couple of weeks. I have been working on a large piece on installing JIRA front-to-back. Or pieces, as it were. That one is becoming a bit bigger than I thought It would be. I have most of the first piece done, but honestly I’m considering breaking it up even further.

So I’d figure I’d put up a quick article here in the meantime. It basically came to me like this: As I’m on an interview, there is one question that will let me know immediately whether a company is new to JIRA or seasoned. That question, simply put, is “What plugins (or Apps) do you like?”

I’ve given interviews to those applying to be a JIRA Admin, and honestly, I didn’t think of this as a question. It’s on my list now, though. (Be warned, suckers!)

Now, I should mention caution here. You should never, *ever*, use a plugin to replace something JIRA can do by default. Yes, they do exist. Also, you should be weary about overloading a JIRA instance with plugins. The more you have, the more memory the JVM will need, and the more system resources you need. And you can (and will) get to a critical point where the system becomes unusable because of too many plugins.

As such, I always recommend testing all plugins for a few weeks in a pre-production environment with as real a data set as your policies will let you have. Also have the requesting party test it to make sure it actually meets their needs. This will usually catch a good bit of problems before they cause production downtime.

However, I figured I’d go through some of my favorite plugins, some of the absolute worst I’ve dealt with, and a few honorable mentions. These are in no particular order, just a list for your consideration

My Favorite Plugins

Automation for JIRA

So, I’m sure everyone is familiar with Scriptrunner, the groovy powered everything plugin. You either love it or you hate it. Well meet it’s easier to use younger brother: Automation for JIRA. This is a tool that uses a code-less, drag and drop style editor to build a script that runs on a specified event. It very much has a “IFTTT” feel to it. It has become my new favorite way to automate subtask creation. And get this, you can set this up per project. I mean, if you trust your project admins enough, you can even train them to use it to create their own use cases. I did say “if”, though.

Pros:

  • Code-less
  • Configurations can be set up at a per project basis
  • can be set up to allow Project Admins to create automations that impact only their projects
  • Plenty of ability to use information from the triggering issue

Cons:

  • Not as flexible or powerful as Scriptrunner
  • It is possible to create automations that bog down the entire instance
  • Can be blind to field changes that happen during a transition

Link: Automation for JIRA

Timetracker – Time Tracking and Reporting

So I discovered this one fairly recently. The problem I was trying to solve was this:

We had some customers we were billing per hour. The SoP was to have users enter their time in JIRA. However, we really did lack a good way to report and utilize that data once it was in JIRA. Thus comes in the hero of the Hero of the Hour: Timetracker.

Simply put, this changes how time is entered against tickets, and allows project leads and managers to then pull reports on this data. It even has some dashboard gadgets to have near real-time reporting on time tracking data.

Pros:

  • Makes entering time against a ticket or issue really easy.
  • Allows reporting on the time data already stored within JIRA
  • DASHBOARD GADGETS!!!!

Cons:

  • You are going to have to deal with “Police State” claims…
  • If you have any change inertia in your org, it may be hard to get people to adopt because “it changes how I do things”.

Link: Timetracker

Scriptrunner

I mentioned it’s little brother before, so now it’s time for the big guy himself. The self-described “Everything” Plugin. Scriptrunner. If you know groovy, and you have an idea, this can do it. I think my favorite use case I’ve seen to date was using this to copy contents from one field to another, per issue, so that we could change a field type within the UI.

Now my Groovy skills….yeah, it’s not my strongest language. I really struggle writing groovy scripts for Scriptrunner. However, even a newb such as myself can find use in the built-in scripts. As an example, we setup a project configured exactly as we wanted it. Default groups assigned, permission, field, and screen schemes all the way we wanted them, etc. Then we’d use the “Copy Project” function within Scriptrunner to copy this “Gold Standard” when we had a request for a new project. Afterwords, we’d have to just take care of any customization related to other 3rd party plugins, and we’d be good to go. Turned a half-day affair into a button press.

Pros:

  • If you can code it, it can literally do anything….
  • Built-in functionality for those of us who are groovy-impaired
  • can schedule tasks to run regularly if needed.

Cons:

  • Does allow fairly low level access
  • An admin that has no clue what they are doing can do a lot of damage
  • Can be tricky to learn.

Link: Scriptrunner

Project Configurator

This is my secret weapon as an Admin. Not only does it allow me to play around with a configuration in test, and only move it to production when it’s ready, but it also allows me to move a project, group of projects, or in some cases even an entire JIRA instance, into another one. And I mean both Issues and Configurations.

I’ve used this one many many times in the past. It is absolutely one of my all time favorite add-ons to JIRA. Now, to be fair, if you are moving a large project, it can take a while. My personal record is a project with 60K issues, which took around 12 hours in total. And that was on top-of-the-line hardware you aren’t likely to find at just any company. But it worked, and that is what really matters.

Pros:

  • Move configurations from instance to instance, great for testing changes before installing them in production
  • Can move issues with projects, making this invaluable for merging and migrating instances

Cons:

  • Migrating issues can be SSSLLLLOOOOOWWWWW…..
  • Can be finicky at the best of times, even more so if the JIRA versions don’t match. However, so long as the major variables and settings don’t change, success is repeatable.

Link: Project Configurator

Honorable Mentions

Now, these are still great plugins, but I’ve moved away from them for one of two reasons: Either JIRA has taken up the functionality they served natively, or I found a better plugin for it. They are still great plugins, and I still wholly recommend them.

JIRA Misc Workflow Extentions

Misc Workflow Extensions, as the name implies, allows you to extend what you can do within a workflow. It adds a number of Conditions, Validators, and post functions that let you manipulate the issue in-transition.

My main use-case for it was reassigning an issue on the fly. I’m aware you can now do this with vanilla JIRA. If I’m being honest, I missed that mention in the release notes, but it’s a welcome addition to the built-in functionality. But it did make my use of this plugin…what’s the word? Redundant.

Link: JIRA Misc Workflow Extensions

JSU Automation Suite for JIRA Workflows (Formally Jira Suite Utilities)

Aside from that, my use case was auto-generating sub tasks on issue creation. That being said, it was a bit clunky, with you having to format the creation string *just* right to get it to work. I can now do the same thing with Automation for JIRA with a lot less fussing around. For that reason, that is why this is only an honorable mention

This is another one that can do many things, but I was using it for one feature in particular. I know, maybe not the best practice, but here we are anyways.

Link: JSU Automation Suite for JIRA Workflows

How bad can it be?

These plugins here are ones that when possible, I want to immediately uninstall. This is for a number of reasons, to performance issue in JIRA, to plain violating what a Plugin should be. As with my recommendations, I’ll list what’s great and not-so-great about each of these.

Field Security Plugin for JIRA

On the surface, this one provides a pretty valuable functionality. It gives you the ability to define a scheme, in which you can specify who can see or edit a given field. You can even hide the content in the field from a specific group. No joke, this is among my top asks from Atlassian. So why is it on the naughty list?

Well, to be frank, to do this it has to do more than a mere plugin can do. As such, you are provided a zip file that you install in the JIRA installation directory to replace key files with their own version.

Yes, they modify files in JIRA to do what they need. Now I’ve used this for a number of years (against my will), and only had one issue – when I learned you had to replace those files on an upgrade. The issue, oddly enough, was the Pie Chart gadget stopped working. O_o Yeah, that doesn’t make much sense to me, but there we were, Monday after a weekend upgrade, with a line at my desk.

Pros:

  • Can help you control sensitive information in JIRA.
  • Gives options on a per user or per group basis
  • Relatively easy in-service configuration after install.

Cons:

  • Hiding information doesn’t really lend itself to an “open” culture…
  • Settings do not copy with project configs if you are using Scriptrunner to copy projects.
  • Because you are modifying JIRA files, this is not available for JIRA Cloud.
  • Modifying files within the install directory can invalidate your support agreement with Atlassian, meaning when you need help the most you may not have it. Did I forget to mention that? Well now you know.

To be fair, on that last point, I’ve never been called out and denied support from Atlassian for running this plugin. That being said, I have been warned about it several times, so figured I’d pass that warning along.

Link: Field Security for JIRA

WBS Gantt-Chart for JIRA

If I am being honest, this plugin is passible. I like the idea of the Work Breakdown System. My gripe with this is just how many fields it creates for you. I know, they need these fields to work, but they don’t check if the fields already exist. This means if you have to uninstall it and reinstall it for some reason, it will create duplicates of these fields, again *for you*…

That being said, it does do what it does well, so that may be an okay trade-off for some.


My recommendation is usually to go with Portfolio for this functionality. It uses the data already in JIRA to create charts for you, without needing to many extra fields. It will even help you with scheduling work and finding the critical path. But to each, their own, so if this is your thing, go for it.

Pros:

  • It does what it does well.
  • Is a lot more intuitive for end users that Portfolio for JIRA

Cons:

  • So many fields…
  • Can be slow to load for a large number of issues.
  • Did I mention the fields…yeah, this one might just be down to personal preference….But I’m willing to admit that.

Link: WBS Gantt-Chart for JIRA

In reflection…

These, ultimately come down to my own preferences and experiences as an Admin. You may disagree and love some plugins I hate. That’s fine. You may loath some plugins that I absolutely love. That’s also fine. However, I do want this to be a conversation. What plugins do you like? What are your plugin horror stories? Anything humorous happen around a plugin install? Definitely leave your stories down below, I’d love to hear them. So, Until next time, have you updated your JIRA issues today?