Book Image

Jira Quick Start Guide

By : Ravi Sagar
Book Image

Jira Quick Start Guide

By: Ravi Sagar

Overview of this book

Jira is an issue tracker and project management system. With their latest release, the Jira team has now expanded their user base to agile teams as well as business teams. This book provides a comprehensive explanation covering all major components of Jira, including Jira Software, Jira Core, and Jira Service Desk. This book starts with an introduction to Jira's unique features and how it can be used as an issue-tracking tool. It will then teach you about how a new project is created by a Jira administrator, what responsibilities there are, and using correct and relevant schemes in your project. You will then learn how to configure project workflows and fields for project screens. You will understand the various permissions used in projects and the importance of project roles in Jira. Then, the book talks about the concepts of versions acting as milestones and using components when handling issues in your projects. It will then focus on analysing data using built-in reports and creating dashboards in Jira. At the end, it will discuss various best practices for users as well as project managers or project administrators.
Table of Contents (10 chapters)

What are the main benefits of Jira?

If you're wondering whether you should be using Jira or not, these benefits will help you decide. It's very important that we highlight them.

The various benefits of using Jira are as follows:

  • Standard tool for teams of all sizes
  • Simple licensing model
  • Lightweight tool
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to use and intuitive
  • Increased productivity
  • Better visibility
  • Integration with other tools
  • Marketplace apps
  • A RESTful API for limitless possibilities
  • Atlassian Community

Let's now discuss these features in detail.

Standard tool for teams of all sizes

When you install Jira for the very first time, you'll find out that it's extremely easy to get started with the tool. You can use various out-of-the-box templates to create a project. Irrespective of your team size, you always have this option to use an industry-standard tool. Even for a small team, the configurations that come with the out-of-the-box templates are well defined. Jira doesn't differentiate its features based on the team size; whether you're a small team or a big enterprise, the features that you get in the tool are the same. The way a small team of 10 developers work on an Agile board will be the same as a big team of 50 developers working on multiple Agile boards.

Having this consistency is great not only for administrators but also for team members as the knowledge they gain by working on a tool such as Jira is always going to help them as the team grows in the future.

Simple licensing model

Jira is proprietary software developed by Atlassian and you need to purchase the license to use it. The licensing is based on the number of users you have in the team who will be using the system, and it's very straightforward.

Let's say you have 15 developers, five managers, and two administrators then you would have, in total, 22 users using the system and to understand the license that you need to purchase, just check on the Atlassian website. In the case of 22 users, there's a slab of 25 users that you need to purchase.

You can go to the following link to check the license that you need to purchase:

When you open this link, you'll be presented with a screen as shown in the following screenshot where you can choose the deployment type—Cloud or Self-hosted—and then, based on the number of users, the license cost will be displayed to you:

Figure 4

In the event the number of users increases in the future, additional licenses can always be purchased. It's advisable to keep in mind the expected usage of the tool in the next year at least. If, right now, there are 22 users but you know for a fact that this number will increase to 35 or 40, then it's better to buy licenses keeping in mind the future increase. This will save you some money, which isn't a bad idea at all.

There are various deployment options for using Jira that we'll discuss in this chapter but, to install Jira on your own server, you need to buy a license for a self-hosted deployment.

Lightweight tool

Installing Jira on your own server doesn't require heavy investment in infrastructure. It can run reasonably well on a server with 2 GB RAM and a multicore CPU; of course, it also depends on the size of the instance. For small instances with a few thousand issues to big instances with millions of issues, the server specifications can vary and that is the great part of using Jira.

Atlassian recommends some specifications on this page based on the size of the instance:

If you're just getting started with a small instance then choose the specifications that are recommended by Atlassian in the preceding link. You aren't forced to set up a big infrastructure in the beginning.

Low maintenance

We discussed previously the challenges that you should be aware of when choosing the tool; apart from the features and cost, which are important in the beginning, you should also be aware of the running cost of the tool. Like any other tool, Jira also requires continuous maintenance where the administrator needs to ensure that the system is cleaned up regularly, backups are managed properly, and the instance itself is upgraded from time to time.

There are new minor versions of Jira released every other month that contains not only new features but also bug fixes.

Upgrading Jira and maintaining it are not at all a daunting task. With the right governance in place, it's quite simple to ensure good performance of the tool. Most Jira administrative actions are done from the UI and it's very convenient for the administrator to handle customizations and other recurring administrative tasks from the browser window.

Ease of use and intuitiveness

Using Jira is extremely intuitive and easy. Each user—whether a developer, manager, or administratorwill log in to Jira using a web browser. The moment they log in, they're presented with the Dashboard and depending upon the rights and permission of the user the appropriate features are shown and enabled for them.

Even though working on Jira is intuitive and doesn't require special training for the end user, there is, however, a learning curve. Most people who need to work on Jira learn by themselves but dedicated documentation is provided by Atlassian:

The preceding link has the most up-to-date documentation of all of the Atlassian products including Jira Core, Jira Software, and Jira Service Desk.

Reading the documentation or a book like this one will help you quickly get started on the tool, and there are plenty of resources available to learn the tool to get the most out of it. However, if you're trying to roll out Jira in your company, then you can be assured that users can very quickly adopt it; with very short training or coaching sessions, it's very easy to introduce a tool such as Jira in your team.

Increased productivity

The ease of use and intuitiveness help a lot, as we just discussed in the preceding adoption of the tool section but when people start using Jira, you can then expect your productivity to increase. Not only is Jira a great tool for planning your activities or projects, but the day-to-day tracking is also very good in Jira. There are various ways through which your team is always up to date with the latest activities in the project. There are dashboards where everyone with the right access can see the information relevant to their team and themselves. Also, the tool has the capability to send notifications and reminders to users.

For example, users involved in a project or any task will get emails from the system. Of course, these email notifications can be customized to reduce noise but there are mechanisms to ensure that the overall team productivity is enhanced when using a tool such as Jira.

Better visibility

Planning and tracking activities are of no use when the team can't learn from their mistakes and improve upon them. There's a plethora of reports that we can create in Jira related to one or multiple projects.

In Jira, there's a concept of a dashboard where users, based on their permissions, can create one or multiple dashboards containing various gadgets to provide them with up-to-date reports.

These reports help the managers to not only stay on track but also to ensure that the overall progress is maintained and take appropriate action well before time. For instance, on the dashboard, we can see in graphical and tabular form the issues getting resolved versus closed issues in the past few months and a burndown chart, a pie chart to display the break-down of issues based on their workflow status.

The Agile boards that come with Jira Software always display the most up-to-date information to the whole team of developers and queues in Jira Service Desk also give agents an accurate picture of tickets in their backlog.

Bringing more visibility is one of the key points of Jira and it's really good at it.

Integration with other tools

Jira itself is a great tool; however, there are other tools from Atlassian, such as Confluence, which is used for online collaboration; Bitbucket for code repository; and Bamboo for continuous integration. Jira and most of the other tools from Atlassian talk to each other natively.

Atlassian has this ecosystem and set of integrated tools that can be used standalone but, when integrated with each other, provide a complete solution.

For example, if your organization is looking to implement DevOps practices using Atlassian tools, then you can use tools such as Bamboo, Bitbucket in conjunction with Confluence, and Jira integrated with most of them.

Apart from integrating with tools from Atlassian, Jira can also be integrated with third-party tools and that's done using either an app or an add-on, which we'll discuss in a moment, but for any other integration where you cannot find an app, there's also the possibility of using the Jira RESTful API.

Marketplace apps

Jira has lot of features out of the box and it comes with a few templates based on the type of application you use. For instance, when using Jira Software, you can create a project with either Scrum- or Kanban-based configurations. At the same time, you always have this option to modify and create your own set of configurations using various schemes in Jira. However, apart from the standard features in the tool and these customizations, if you need to extend the feature set of Jira, you can install various plugins better known as add-ons or more recently as apps.

These apps are either from Atlassian itself or from other companies—mostly Atlassian partners that have published these apps on the Marketplace:

If you open this link, you'll be taken to the Atlassian Marketplace place where you can download thousands of apps for not only Jira but for all other Atlassian tools. As displayed in the following screenshot, you can either browse various apps or search for them:

Figure 5

When you go to the Marketplace, you have the option to look at various popular apps for each Jira application but let's say you want to do Test management in Jira and you're wondering whether an app can quickly give you this option; you can download various apps from the Marketplace and evaluate them.

Having these apps gives you endless possibilities in Jira—of course, it depends on whether the app is good enough for your use case or not, but at least you know that, with the help of an app, you can do what you can't do out of the box. These apps either provide more functionality or provide integration with other tools.

A RESTful API for limitless possibilities

We just discussed the concept of an app that gives you more options in extending the features of the tool but, in case you are wondering how to programmatically push and pull data into Jira, then you'll be glad to know that Jira comes with a RESTful API, which is an amazing way to talk to Jira from other tools.

Whether you want to build your own interface, import data into Jira, or maybe interact with the tool from your existing legacy tool, then the RESTful API opens a lot of possibilities:

The preceding link will give you the details of this amazing set of APIs in Jira. Most of the functionality that you access from the UI and various features can also be accessed using RESTful APIs. This enables developers to write their own interface and integrate with the tool.

Atlassian Community

We've been talking about the various benefits of Jira but this one requires special mention. Atlassian not only builds Jira, which is already quite popular in the industry, but it also provides a platform to have discussions about its tools:

Atlassian Community is one such platform where different types of users can come not only ask questions but also to share their knowledge and connect with other users. As shown in the following screenshot, the Atlassian Community home page will present you with an option to either click on a specific Atlassian product or search for the information you are looking for:

Figure 6

Let's say you have a question about a specific feature in Jira or you need some help with a specific topic, then you can come to this platform to ask your question and you'll surely get help from some other users on this platform.

Atlassian also continuously monitors this platform and gets regular feedback from the users and its customers. This helps them to improve their products.