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?”