• 7 Things You need to Know about Automation for Jira

    13 July 2021
    Comments are off for this post

    Automation for Jira is one of the most popular apps on Jira. The app allows users to automate and extend Jira with no coding required. Being very user-friendly, there are a lot of admins who can dive straight into using the tool without reading the user guide. As part of our Best Practices series, we have summarised the key things you need to know in this blog post.

    For those who are new to Automation for Jira, you can check out this YouTube video below for an introduction.

    Things you need to know

    1) Asynchronous processing

    To speed up on the response time, the Automation for Jira plugin will add all updated issues into a queue. Although there are 8 background threads to process the requests, it still does not ensure the issue are processed immediately. Therefore, users will need to refresh the issue to view the changes applied by the automation rule.

    It is possible to select synchronous execution of the rule but that will have some impact in the performance.

    2) Rule Matching/Execution

    Whenever an issue is updated, the issue is matched against all the configured automation rules (global + project) . As a result, when there are a lot of automation rules, it takes time to 

    • to check against each individual automation rule
    • to execute against each matching automation rule

    Hence it is important to reduce the number of global automation rules by setting them as single project rules whenever possible. You should try to optimise the rules with more specific requirements.

    If you are seeing a lot of No Actions Performed in the rule’s audit log, then there might be chance for optimising the rule

    No actions performed could mean a waste of processing time

    3) Traceability

    The powerful app allows multiple rules to update an issue due to a single triggered event. As a result, it may not be direct to identify the problematic rule. Moreover, if multiple rules are chained together without proper planning, it could lead to “spaghetti code” scenarios which is not easy to troubleshoot.

    If the update is via workflow post functions, it would be easier to identify the bug.

    4) Performance & Runtime

    To cater to the flexibility and power of the Automation for Jira plugin, there are some tradeoffs. One of them is the processing time for automation rules is slower than post functions. For example, a simple assignment rule can take up to 3s to complete.

    Audit logs show you the duration taken for each automation

    We have encountered some rules that can take up over 10 seconds to be processed. So you should check the audit logs on the performance of the rules.

    5) Service Limits

    Not a lot of users are aware of the Service Limits which can affect the execution of the automation rules. Some of the common service limits are listed in the table below:

    There are service limits imposed to ensure the performance of the Jira

    When any of the limits is breached, the rules will be throttled until the limits are not exceeded. This could result in some unexpected behaviours as the issues are not processed during this period.

    When service limits are exceeded, throttling will happen

    The likelihood of throttling is increased when a huge number of issues are created via REST API or Test Automation plugins.

    6) Housekeeping

    The app maintains an audit log of the rule executions. Over time, the audit logs can build up which impacts your Jira database performance and clogging up your disk space. 

    You can set audit log expiry to improve the performance of your Jira system

    We have encountered some sites which the retention period is set to the default value of forever.

    It will be good to revise the retention period and set the schedule expiry during off-peak periods. For more info, check out this KB article.

    7) Integration with other apps

    Not a lot of people are aware that there are other apps which are compatible with Automation for Jira app. If you have these apps, you can use them with automation rules too.

    Best Practices

    1. Try to scope the rules within the project if possible. Use global rules only when necessary.
    2. Make sure your Jira project administrators know what they are doing. You can consider restricting the rights to trained project administrators (e.g. jira-power-admins group)
    3. Read up on Knowledge base and blog posts
    4. Conduct periodic audits. You can view performance Insights to see if there is any issues
    Performance insight gives you visibility on how the automation rules are running

    Conclusion

    Automation for Jira is a very useful feature. However, there is a likelihood to see everything as a nail when you have a hammer in your hand. This can result in performance issues in time to come.

    We will need to understand what is the requirements and the underlying approach used by various apps. For certain scenarios, we feel it is better to use post functions with apps like

    Hopefully, with these knowledge, Jira admins can apply Automation for Jira effectively.

    Share this post

  • How to make Jira Dashboards faster

    25 March 2021
    Comments are off for this post

    We have identified Jira Dashboards can be a potential bottleneck while helping our customer to tune the performance of their Jira. This article explains why Jira takes longer time and give some tips on how to speed things up. 

    Why my Jira Dashboard takes a long time to load?

    These are some factors that contributes to the slowness of Jira:

    1. Huge number of gadgets within a single dashboard
    2. Gadgets with complex reporting
    3. Filters with a huge number of issues

    Huge number of gadgets

    Whenever a Jira Dashboard page is loaded, the browser will send a number of requests to the server for all the CSS and Javascript required. (For more details, check out JRASERVER-62126). When there are more gadgets, it will fire more requests.

    It will be faster if you focused doing 1 task at a time versus doing 100 tasks concurrently. By the same principle, your dashboard will load faster if Jira has less requests to work on at the same time.

    Jira helps with a default maximum limit of 20 gadgets within a dashboard. However, it is possible to modify the limits on the number of gadgets on a dashboard.

    When there are way too many requests

    We have a couple of support tickets which the end users added a lot of Gauge Gadgets in their dashboard. As a result, some gadgets on the dashboards cannot load.

    This is because the browser will silently throw the error message Failed to load resource: net::ERR_INSUFFICIENT_RESOURCES if it detects that are way too many requests within a short interval.

    To support the users, we introduced Multiple Filters Counter Gadget that can display multiple counter within a single gadget.

    Multiple Filters Counter Gadget loads faster by rendering multiple gadgets within a single gadget

    Complex Reporting Gadgets

    Not all Jira gadgets are the same. There are some gadgets which involves complex processing. For example, our Tissue for Jira app performs the handy task of traversing all the linked issues and extracting the various field values to present a tabular overview.

    Smart Grouping of linked issues

    If you are using such complex reporting gadget, it will be advisable to have lesser gadgets within that dashboard.

    Filters with many matching issues

    It is likely that some dashboards load very fast when they were created initially. However, as the number of issues in the project increases over time, the performance of the dashboard become slower without the original author noticing.

    This is because there are more issues to be processed. A useful tip will be to time-box your Jira filters within a time period using JQL date functions like startOfYear(), startOfMonth()

    Alternatively, you can use our Rolling Window Monthly/Weekly Gadgets which only retrieve the matching issues in the last X weeks/months specified.

    Rolling Window Weekly Gadget loads your report faster by time-boxing the scope of your report automatically

    Other ways to load your Jira Dashboards faster

    Add more computing power

    The simplest way is to pump more computing resources like more CPU and memory. Jira Data Center also scales the performance by distributing the workload across more nodes.

    Split into multiple dashboards

    As mentioned previously in Best Practices in Jira Dashboard Reporting, it is recommended to keep a dashboard to its objectives to allow people to identify the action required.

    But it is troublesome to have many dashboards

    Beside adding the links to various dashboards as project shortcuts in your Jira project, you can also add links to related dashboards using our free Link Menu Gadget to facilitate navigation. You can also add links to the your Confluence spaces and other related project resources too.

    Links Menu Gadget allows users to link to related project artifacts easily from the dashboard

    If that is still not enough and you want to access your dashboards easily from everywhere in Jira. You can organise your Dashboards in cascading Dashboard Folders which can be accessible in the Jira top menu.

    Cascading Dashboard Folders make it faster to load your dashboards from anywhere in Jira

    What is the performance of your Jira Dashboard?

    You may want to do the 23 seconds test on your frequently used dashboards. If it is taking longer than that, you might want to tidy up your dashboards.

    Share this post

  • Best Practices in Jira – Dashboard Reporting

    9 September 2020
    Comments are off for this post
    Best practices in Dashboard Reporting for Jira

    Introduction

    Jira Dashboards is a very powerful feature if used correctly. In this article, we will share with you the common pitfalls as well as some best practices based on our experiences as an Atlassian Solution Partner. 

    Why people use Jira Dashboards 

    Dashboards can be from a macro perspective like % of project completion to micro level on the list of tasks with their statuses. 

    Some common use cases for Dashboards are:

    • monitor the progress of the tasks
    • track the KPIs and the health of the project
    • highlighting important stuffs (e.g. SLA breach, bottlenecks, shortages) for action taking
    • show progress to motivate the team

    More organisations are preferring dashboards over reports because of the following reasons:

    • live information – able to see the current status which is more accurate
    • time saving – there is no need for someone to spend time to compile the weekly/monthly progress reports manually
    • interactive – as compared to a chart image in a PPT/PDF
    • allows drilling in – you can zoom into the details of the issue for more information
    • self reinforcing – it encourages people to update their Jira issues regularly

    Common pitfalls and recommendations

    Security / Information Disclosure

    From our Jira consulting experiences, there are a number of instances where the dashboards and filters are accessible by users without logging in.

    Although Jira’s permission scheme will prevent public users from viewing the issues, it is still possible to disclose sensitive information which may not be meant for public eye.

    Information can be disclosed due to Jira filters shared with anyone on the web

    You should check whether there is information disclosure by logging out of Jira and visiting the URLs

    • Dashboards – https://<jira-base url>/secure/ManageFilters.jspa
    • Filters – https://<jira-base url>/secure/ConfigurePortalPages.jspa

    Unless the dashboards/filters are for public access, users should not select Public for the Add Shares option.

    Edit Jira filter screen

    Tip: There is a “Sharing with anyone on the web” in Jira configuration which you can disable to remove the Public option if your Jira instance is not for public access.

    Disable allow sharing filters/dashboards with anyone on the web

    Performance and utility

    Another common pitfall is people tends to create 1 dashboard for each project and cramp everything inside. We have seen a dashboard with over 20 gadgets added. As a result, it clutters the dashboard and is slow because it has to load a lot of information. This can also slows down the Jira instance for other users.

    From a design point of view, this is bad because it introduces a lot of noise in the dashboard. As a result, people cannot zoom into the important things that they need to take action from the dashboard.

    A well designed dashboard should fulfil the following:

    • Targeted for the role/purpose – A management report should not include the micro information like the list of tasks. Likewise a developer will be more concerned about the list of tasks he needs to work on. You can create different dashboards for different roles.
    • Incite emotion or action – it should bring attention to the readers to take any necessary action. With correct use of colours and placement, users can determine the severity easily.
    • Easy to understand – It should use the correct type of gadgets to present the information in the most direct manner. You can check out the list of Jira gadgets available on Atlassian Marketplace.
    • Responsive – it should be fast to display the information without the reader having to scroll through many screens to read the entire page.

    Discoverability

    A dashboard is useful only when there are people using it. Another common pitfall we observed is that every user tends to build their own dashboards. While this is flexible, there are some disadvantages like:

    • duplicated effort to create and maintain the dashboards
    • decreased utility since only 1 person is using it
    • some users are unaware on the types of gadgets available that they can use for reporting
    • some users lack the proper training on how to write complex JQL queries and design good useful dashboards
    • no standards on the performance metrics to monitor within the organisation

    To tackle this, we advocate to design a set of dashboards as a template for every Jira project. When a new project is created,

    1. the set of dashboards and filters are also created based on the template
    2. The filters and dashboards are shared with the project so that people who have access to the project can access them
    3. Then the dashboards/filters are added to the Jira’s project shortcuts where all project members can access easily
    4. They can also be added to the Dashboard Folders and Menu Gadgets so that users can easily navigate to the reports
    Dashboard folders allow dashboards to be accessed directly from Jira

    Maintainability

    Another common problem that Jira admins face is obsolete dashboards/filters. By default, only the original creators can edit their dashboards/filters.

    From Jira 7.12 onwards, it is possible to grant permissions for other team members to edit filters/dashboards. Hence a useful tip after creating a filter/dashboard will be granting permissions to the associated project roles

    • to grant view permission to all project members
    • to grant edit permission to the project administrators
    Set view and edit permissions to project roles

    Naming Convention

    We also recommend to define a naming convention for filters and dashboards. E.g <Jira project key> – <purpose>.

    This is especially helpful for users when they are searching for a filter when configuring the gadgets. For very large instances, you can find multiple filters with the same name while selecting a filter for a gadget.

    It is possible to define aliases for dashboards and filters with Dashboard Folders and Menu Gadgets.

    System Dashboard

    When a user adds a new dashboard themselves, the system dashboard will disappear.

    Actually the System Dashboard is very important because it is tedious to go through the list of project dashboards.

    The System Dashboard can complements by

    • providing a consolidated view and highlight the important things that matters to the user
    • as well as a landing point where the user can navigate to other places

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, here is a checklist that you can use:

    1. review the list of public dashboards/filters and decide whether to disable public sharing
    2. set editing permissions for the shared dashboards
    3. define a set of dashboard templates for your Jira project
    4. define a naming convention for dashboards and filters
    5. install apps from the Marketplace that you identified that are useful

    Check out Best Practices in Jira – Dashboard Reporting (Part 2) for the continuation of the writeup.

    If you like this article, you might be interested to check out our best practices series

    Share this post

  • Best Practices in Jira Administration – Be a Jira Hero ebook

    27 May 2020
    Comments are off for this post
    Be a Jira Hero ebook

    This is an ebook on a collection of Jira best practices that Atlassian has gathered from Jira experts around the world.

    The title “Be a Jira Hero – A guide for Admins, by Admins” is well deserving. Therefore we recommend all Jira administrators and wannabes to read the 25 pages ebook.

    Jira Best Practices ebook

    The ebook is well-organised into different sections with short but clear snippets of wisdoms:

    1. How to keep Jira clean and simple for your users
    2. How to use issues effectively
    3. Best practices on managing Custom Fields and Screens
    4. Things to consider when building workflows
    5. Tips on managing backlog in Jira
    6. How to get people to work on the issues
    7. Best practices on designing the Jira dashboards for even more effective reporting
    8. Shortcuts & Hacks to work faster with Jira
    9. How to make use of automation to make life easier

    One Common Mistake

    For example, the book has highlighted in Tip #20 to incorporate Resolution into the workflows. We observed that a number of Jira admins who did not have formal training tends do not understand the concept of resolution. Consequently, they overlook this important step while creating new workflows. While the Jira appears to be working, the implications are some built-in reports may be inaccurate and an important piece of information is missing.

    Our Additional Jira Tip

    Dashboards are very useful if they are used correctly. Team members can have visibility on the progress and be reminded on the outstanding tasks. Furthermore, Management can have clear visibility without spending a lot of time preparing routine reports. As a result, users will understand the value of updating their tasks in Jira.

    Horizontal Bar Chart for Jira
    Multiple Filters Statistics Bar Chart Gadget
    Horse Shoe Gauge Gadget for Jira
    Horseshoe Gadget Jira

    Conclusion

    To sum up, if you are a Jira administrator, you should download the ebook and review whether you have been applying the Jira best practices.

    There is no need to provide any email address to download the book. To add on, you may also want to check out the following resources:

    Share this post

  • Best Practices in Jira Administration – Jira Apps Management

    5 May 2020
    Comments are off for this post
    Best Practices in Jira Administration - Plugin Management
    Atlassian Marketplace in 2013
    Screenshot of Atlassian Marketplace in 2013

    This is a “lengthy” guide on the best practices on choosing and managing a Jira app. Coming from our years of experience as an Atlassian Solution Partner, it covers

    1. How to evaluate a Jira app
    2. How to better manage the apps installed in your Jira instance
    3. Things that Jira administrators need to watch out

    Jira Apps from Atlassian Marketplace

    By installing additional Jira apps, you can add new features to your Jira. For example, some of our popular Jira apps

    There are many more useful Jira apps available at the Atlassian Marketplace.

    Evaluating a Jira App

    Being an Atlassian Solution Partner, there are a number of criteria that we consider before recommending a Jira app to a customer. They are:

    Fit to Purpose

    The app should be able to address the requirements fully. It should be easy to use. The additional feature should not cause confusion to the existing users. We will also assess their design is robust and does not conflict other plugins or use cases.

    Atlassian Marketplace Listing

    Best Practices on Multiple Filters Chart Gadgets Marketplace Listing

    It is very important to check out the app listing on Atlassian Marketplace. It contains a lot of useful informations like

    • Rating and Reviews
    • Number of Active Installations
    • Vendor Accreditation
    • Compatibility with the latest version of Jira
    • Support

    Rating and Reviews

    While the rating and reviews do not mean much for a newly listed app, they do give insight of poor services or badly designed apps. Typically, users will flag out any issues that require attention. So, if there are no negative reviews, it is safe. And if there are a number of good reviews, then it is very safe.

    Number of Active Installations

    If an app is popular with a significant number of active installations, that is a good sign that the app is useful and functioning without major issues.

    Vendor Accreditation

    Atlassian has a Top Vendor program who has met the following requirements

    • App traction – Their paid apps must attain at least 500 active installations
    • Timely support – Has a Service Level Agreement (SLAs) and committed to provide at support for their users
    • Support Website – Customers can raise support request easily via a website or email when necessary
    • Vendor reliability – Atlassian conduct checks periodically to ensure they offer great customer experiences

    For those exceptionally good ones, they are further recognised as Gold/Platinum Top Vendor.

    Versions compatibility

    If the app is only compatible with an older version of Jira, that is a big warning. You do not want to be left dangling helplessly for your next Jira upgrade.

    Support

    Some apps are explicitly marked as unsupported. Unless you can accept the risks, it is better to avoid them.

    Data Center Approved

    Data Center approved apps are those that have passed Atlassian’s stringent criteria for use in Jira Data Center environments. As it takes considerable effort to become a Data Center Approved App. vendors will usually do that for their established apps. Therefore this is a plus point.

    Thorough Documentation

    Although some users will usually dive in without reading the user guide, it helps when the documentation contains

    • A quick overview of the functionalities
    • Comprehensive writeup and how to use
    • FAQs to facilitate on-boarding and best practices
    • Up-to-date release notes
    • An easy to navigate structure

    Unless the app is really simple or open source, it is a risk to install an app with a one pager documentation.

    Pricing

    Last but not least, the pricing of the app is also an important consideration. The app should have a reasonable pricing so that you will be assured of support for long term. It is also possible that you will upgrade to higher user tier or Data Center as Jira becomes an enterprise application. Hence the pricing for higher tiers should not exceed your budget.

    For free apps, they should be from a credible publisher with significant number of installations. Otherwise, the publisher may withdraw support in near future.

    Before Installing an App

    Downloading the compatible version

    There is a common mistake for Jira administrators who are unable to download the app via the Atlassian Universal Plugin Manager. The default download link on the Marketplace listing is for the latest version of Jira.

    If you are not using the latest version of Jira, the correct steps to install/upgrade the app will be

    1. Click on the Versions tab
    2. Select See all … versions
    3. Hover on the topmost version which matches your Jira version
    4. Click on the Download link
    5. Upload the file via Atlassian Universal Plugin Manager in Jira

    Testing

    It is a best practice to install the Jira app on a Test environment first. It is not advisable to install an app directly onto the Production environment. This is because some apps may make changes to the database. Some changes are not be reversible when you uninstall the app later.

    Maintaining a Change Log for the Apps

    We usually advise our customers to create a Confluence page to track on the app installations, upgrades and uninstallation. This best practice helps to keep all the related information organised neatly on a single page.

    The change log table can include the following information

    1. Date of Change
    2. Changed By
    3. Name of App
    4. Action Performed (e.g. install/upgrade/uninstall)
    5. From Version
    6. To Version
    7. Jira Issue Key
    8. Additional Notes

    This will be useful especially when there are multiple Jira administrators who can perform changes. Although the audit log has a record of the changes, the default data retention period is only 90 days. It is also not that easier to read.

    By using a Change Log, the administrator can link the change with a Jira issue and add notes. The Jira request helps to identify the user who raised the request to install the app together with the background context.

    When there is an incident, the App Change Log will be useful to identify issues caused by app changes.

    Things to watch out

    It is not the end of the story after installing the app. There are a few useful tips for Jira administrators to watch out.

    Hardware Sizing

    With more apps installed, it is likely that the memory footprint might increase over time. It will a best practice to check on the JVM memory utilisation from the System Information page after people start using the features. Likewise, CPU usage monitoring is also a best practice.

    Expiring Licenses

    There are a handful of apps which will stop working without an active license. So be sure to renew your licenses before they expire to gain access to support and newer releases.

    Being informed

    You can click on the Watch app link on the Marketplace listing. By doing so, Atlassian Marketplace will send you an email whenever there is a new version released.

    Upgrading the Apps

    As a best practice, it is important to upgrade regularly to get newer features, performance improvements and bug fixes. For security vulnerabilities, you should upgrade as soon as possible once you received a security advisory.

    Scheduling Upgrades

    Although there is no need to schedule a maintenance downtime for installing/upgrading Jira apps, it is a best practice to do that during off-peak periods. During an app installation, there is a short interval where the Atlassian Universal Plugin Manager removes the old version and installs the newer version. You do not want any critical operations in between that period.

    Also some apps may execute jobs during the upgrade to do some data crunching to support a new feature. Therefore, please read the release/upgrade notes for the app before you click on the upgrade button in Jira.

    Share this post