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: 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: 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?”