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?”

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