Return to JIRA

Well, this is the first post on the Ingham Creative blog. Previously there was a very attractive holding page, showing a Rio de Janeiro skyline from a trip in 2008, but things have moved on. A friend did ask whether the “coming soon”, mentioned in relation to the coming of the new website, was relative to some glacial or geological time frame…

This post is really to recommend the Atlassian JIRA tool, for bug, issue and project tracking. I used JIRA whilst working at Lehman Brothers and remembered it as being pretty good, but I think we used quite a convoluted custom work flow on top of it, which made it a bit over complicated.

A few months back we were looking for an issue tracking tool that we could use at Fluid Branding and we ended up going for a tool called Project Pier. We went for this because it was open source and we could self host it. I did look at JIRA at the time but thought it sounded a little tricky in terms of installation. Project Pier is fine and I’m grateful to anyone who provides open software, but there isn’t really all that much functionality there.

Last month I went along to the Agile On The Beach conference at Falmouth, which was a two day conference looking at lots of aspects of Agile software development and business practices. One of the talks, given by Lorna Mitchell, was called ‘Tooling up the LAMP stack’ and looked at software that helps when it comes to becoming more Agile, such as automated deployment, testing, etc. She mentioned JIRA as one of the available Bug / Issue Tracking products out there and it reminded me to have another look at installing it.

I installed the ‘JIRA Standalone for Linux’ on our Linux (CentOS) server and it was really easy to install. I think the only thing I had to do afterwards was to open up ports 8080 and 8005 that it uses.

After installation, I don’t think there’s an automated migration tool for Project Pier, although there are data migration tools for several other programs, so I just entered our old issues from Project Pier manually, taking the opportunity to add time estimates onto them.

When you install JIRA you will be given a default dashboard view, but you can easily create your own dashboard views and these can be shared with others. The dashboards are made up from ‘gadgets’ which you can select and move around the page. Below is an example of a custom dashboard which shows the tickets currently assigned to me, a pie chart of open issues across all projects based on the user that raised them, project overviews, favourite filters, activity stream and raised vs resolved graph.

My custom JIRA dashboardMy custom JIRA dashboard

I think one nice feature would be if you could easily base some of these gadgets on the remaining time estimate that all the underlying issues represent, rather than just on the number of issues. I’ll have to have a bit more of a look into this at some point.

I’ve also just started looking into GreenHopper for JIRA, which is an Agile Project Management plug-in which allows you to do things like view your issues as index cards and build up sprints of work which can then be managed and tracked.

Currently you can get perpetual commercial licenses for up to 10 users for JIRA and GreenHopper by paying just $10 each, which goes to charity.

If you’re an SME looking for a great, cheap, issue/bug tracking system then I can thoroughly recommend JIRA.

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