• 4 tools to make life easier for software developers

    19 June 2014
    Comments are off for this post

    It is not easy being a software developer today. A software developer needs

    • to link code changes to the related features/bugs
    • to report to project managers on status updates
    • to work and integrate codes for other fellow developers
    • to code, test and deploy fast
    • to know many software applications for different tasks

    Atlassian has been dogfooding their tools to streamline the application development process and has released their first suite of tools – Git Essentials.

    Git Essentials - JIRA, JIRA Agile, Bamboo and Stash

    The 4 tools (JIRA JIRA AgileBamboo and Stash) can be integrated seamlessly with each other to enable developers from filing the bug, coding the fix till deployment. And because they are from the same company, the integration can be done easily with minimal configuration.

    The key benefits of Git Essentials are:

    • Integration – All the tools are nicely integrated together easily
    • Visibility –  Related information are presented in context
    • Traceability – All the information are linked automatically
    • Time saving – Information is accessible directly
    • Faster learning curve – a same look and feel interface as though it is just 1 single application

    Check out Atlassian’s infographic on how everything works together

    how Atlassian tools works together

    Share this post

  • How to protect your JIRA from viruses, missing files and performance issues

    5 May 2014
    Comments are off for this post

    We have just released v2.0 of the Attachment Checker for JIRA plugin. The 2 key features introduced in this version are

    • virus scanning of uploaded attachments (JRA-8626)
    • restricting of attachments with duplicate filenames (JRA-2169)

    While it is already possible to install an anti-virus scanner on the JIRA server, there are some implications:

    • Attachments are deleted unknowingly by the scanner without notifying the author that his file is infected. Other users will be unable to download the file later.
    • As mentioned in https://confluence.atlassian.com/display/JIRAKB/Anti-Virus+in+JIRA, some of the users have reported slowness with JIRA when anti-virus software is installed. This is because of the dramatic increase in disk IO and CPU usage as JIRA creates many temporary files. The Attachment Checker only scans the attachments once when they are just uploaded, thus addressing the security concerns.

    The checking for duplicate filename improvement also helps to alert the user if there is already another attachment with the same filename. This solves the scenarios where a copy of the attachment has been uploaded before or the user forgot to rename the file to include the updated version number. This saves time on identifying the correct attachment to work with.

    Share this post

  • How to Win a War with Confluence

    Maybe it should be corrected to “How to Win Wars with Confluence“. At the time of writing, we have already won 3 consecutive wars using Confluence and a strategy from Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

    The Clash of Clans has introduced the latest feature called Clan Wars. It allows 2 different clans to fight each other. The clan that earns the most stars from attacking wins the clan war.

    Clash of Clans

    We lost our 1st war despite our clan was stronger. We were pretty sore and did a RCA (Root Cause Analysis).

    Our conclusion was that the coordination among clan members was lacking. Our clan members are from various part of the world and log in at different time of the day. Some of us never met face to face. The only means of communication is the in-game chat, but there are limitations. It stores only the last 100 messages and the chat room is littered with chit-chat messages among members.

    When we launched our 2nd war, we thought why not use Confluence? There is a free 30 days trial to test whether it is useful or not. And we don’t want to spend a lot of time to do the set up.

    The Confluence site was available in 20 mins after signing up with Atlassian OnDemand. The content was added by typing short paragraphs of text with bullet points. We even decorated the pages by adding images via drag-and-drop.

    In less than an hour, the site was ready for members to get access to key information.

    Welcome blog post

    Welcome blog post

    Members started to circulate the website address within the in-game chat. It was easily accessible from their mobile phones. Some of them even posted comments to discuss how we can refine our fighting strategy.

    The improvement in collaboration really made a difference. We won our 2nd war by a clear margin and thrashed our opponent in the 3rd and 4th wars.

    Battle Updates

    Battle Updates

    Continue Reading
  • How to group JIRA issues by months

    12 February 2014
    Comments are off for this post

    Being an Atlassian Expert, we use JIRA to track a lot of issues. Helpdesk tickets, project tasks, purchase requests, and etc. The Three Dimensional Date Gadgets plugin was created to generate reports such as

    • # of tickets filed by customers across the months and years
    • # of tasks assigned to each team member each month
    • # of tasks completed by each team member each month

    The process used to be time-consuming as we had to run several JQL queries to tabulate the figures. Now we are able to get the reports at real-time.

    Original version

    Original version

    It was designed to group the issues by any date field and commonly used fields.

    We thought it was very useful and decided to put it on Atlassian Marketplace as a free plugin. The feedback was very encouraging and we received many suggestions to improve it.

    Marketplace Review

    Early this month, we have released the latest version (v1.4.0) fulfilling almost the entire the wish list:

    Improved 3 Dimensional Monthly Gadget

    Improved 3 Dimensional Monthly Gadget

    The new Rolling Window Monthly Gadget

    The new Rolling Window Monthly Gadget

    Along with this release, we also listed Three Dimensional Date Gadgets Lite plugin. This free edition (which has the same basic features as the original Three Dimensional Date Gadgets Plugin v.1.3.1). The latest version (v.1.3.2) contains bug fixes for v1.3.1.

    Lastly we would like to thank the Atlassian Marketplace team for their assistance. They conducted testing on the plugin and discovered a security vulnerability which was an oversight. The plugin was allowed to be listed after we made the fix. This gives us assurance on the quality of Paid via Marketplace plugins. Keep up the good work, Marketplace team!

    Share this post

  • A review on hosting JIRA on the free Amazon EC2 Micro Instance

    19 November 2013
    Comments are off for this post

    Recently, we received an inquiry on whether it is possible to run Atlassian JIRA on Amazon EC2 Micro Instance. The free tier allows up to 750 hours of runtime each month.

    Image from Wikimedia Commons

    Image from Wikimedia Commons

    We were curious on its performance and did some testing on it.

    We did the setup with

    • RHEL 6 64-bit
    • Atlassian JIRA 6.1.2
    • Oracle JDK 1.7.0_45
    • Apache Tomcat 7.0.29
    • MySQL Database Server 5.1.69

    The specs for the virtual machine

    • 6 GB of disk space
    • 590 MB of ram
    • Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2650 0 @ 2.00GHz

    The setup was completed successfully and we were able to create issues within JIRA. However, the performance seemed to be quite bursty as compared to our typical use. Sometimes an action is almost instantaneous, sometimes, a log in can take longer than 5 seconds.

    In the end, we recommended him to consider upgrading the server specs or to take a look at Atlassian OnDemand. The cost of ownership will be lower with automatic version upgrades and data backups.

    For a comparison on the differences between onDemand and self hosted, you can refer to our infographic.

    Share this post

  • Benefits of using Wiki for Requirements Documentation

    20 August 2013
    Comments are off for this post

    Recently, Atlassian shared the details on how they are doing agile requirements documention with Confluence.

    Atlassian Tiiks

    It also included a well summarized list of the benefits below.

    1. One page, one source, one problem
    Keeping it simple. The requirements page becomes the “landing page” for everything related to the set of problems within a particular epic. Having something that is the central go-to location saves your team members time in accessing this information and gives them a concise view.

    2. A page enables you to be agile
    One of the awesome things about using a simple page to collaborate on verses a dedicated requirements management tool is that you can be agile about your documentation! You don’t have to follow a format every time – do what you need, when you need it and be agile about it. In fact, I encourage you to customise the Requirements Blueprint as you learn what works for your team so you can model your processes easily. Chop and change as required.

    3. Dive in for context and detail
    We often forget how powerful a simple link can be. We embed a lot of links within our requirements landing page. It helps abstract out the complexity and progressively disclose the information as it is needed to the reader. Linking detailed resources my included such things as:

    • Customer interviews for background, validation or further context for the feature
    • Pages or blogs where similar ideas were proposed
    • Previous discussion or technical documentation and diagrams
    • Videos of product demos or other related content from external sources

    4. Living Stories: Stay updated, track and report on progress
    I see a lot of customers do this as well. Once the stories have been roughly thought out – we often use the JIRA integration features in Confluence to link the two. From the page you can easily create your backlog stories. These are automatically embedded with two-way syncing from JIRA. So you instantly get progress reports of how the story is tracking with your dev team, right from your requirements landing page. Learn more.

    5. Use your collective team and organisational wisdom
    Especially if you are in a large organisation – documenting requirements Confluence makes it easy for other people in different teams to contribute and make suggestions. In the Confluence team, I’ve been amazed at the amount of times someone else from another team jumps into the conversation with a comment providing great feedback, suggestions, or lessons learnt from similar projects. It really does help a large organisation feel like a small team.

    6. Make them dynamic and engaging
    Use diagramming tools like Gliffy or Balsamiq to better communicate the problems to your team or embed external images, videos and dynamic content.

    7. Collaborate!
    The most important aspect of all this is getting everyone involved. Never write a requirements document by yourself you should always have a developer with you and write it together. Share the page with the team and get feedback. Comment, ask questions, encourage others to contribute with thoughts and ideas. This is also a huge asset for a distributed team.

    As for the details on how to do it, you can check out the full blog post at http://blogs.atlassian.com/2013/07/agile-requirements-documentation-a-guide

    Share this post

  • Building a knowledgebase with Confluence and JIRA

    26 July 2013
    Comments are off for this post

    JIRA is used by many organisations as a Helpdesk system to keep track of their user queries and requests. Over time, it becomes a valuable Knowledge Base. These solved cases will have details on:

    • how to replicate the error,
    • what was the root cause and
    • the desired solution

    By opening up the Knowledge Base, it improves productivity by enabling end users to search for the solution first. If it is available, the end user will get his/her issues fixed and the Helpdesk team can handle difficult cases.

    For organisations already have this arrangement, it can be further enhanced by tapping onto Confluence.

    When tackling FAQs that require a detailed write-up, a new page can be created in Confluence via a standard template. As long as the JIRA issue is mentioned in the Confluence page (see red arrow in diagram below)

    JIRA mentioned in Confluence


    a corresponding link will be created in JIRA (see red arrow below)

    JIRA mentions

    Users can click on the link to Confluence to read the detailed solution.

    The benefits of using Confluence are:

    1. rich content can be included (e.g. videos, screenshots, diagrams)
    2. content can be easily organised in user-friendly layout
    3. easy to search as FAQs can be organised by topics
    4. easy to find the solution in a page instead of digging long list of comments (in JIRA)
    5. protects sensitive information from public viewing

    As a user, do you prefer the red pill or the blue pill?

    Solution in JIRA
    Comment in JIRA
    Solution in Confluence
    Confluence knowledge page

    By investing a small effort in Confluence, it will reduce a big effort in JIRA subsequently.

    You can start with a Doc Sprint to jumpstart your Knowledge Base with your own FAQs.

    Share this post

  • Infographic: Atlassian OnDemand vs in-Premise

    We have been asked many times on the differences between OnDemand hosting versus hosting the Atlassian apps within the premises.

    Here’s a chart we did that lists down the various factors for consideration together with a rating for each option.

    Atlassian Hosting Options Infographic

    Share this post

  • Using JIRA for Purchase Requests

    25 June 2013
    Comments are off for this post

    A lot of people has the misconception that JIRA is used purely as a Bug Tracker. In fact, it can be used for many other purposes due to the key features (such as searching, dashboards, email notifications, workflows, permissions, issue types) provided by an Issue Tracker.

    Whenever there is an item required (e.g. printer cartridges) or wished (e.g. OSIM uDivine), the person will create a new Wish in our Wishing Well project in JIRA.

    The wish will be reviewed and fulfilled depending on the need, cost, urgency and usefulness. Periodically, we will review outstanding wishes as part of our Office Improvement Project.


    OSIM uDivine


    The good thing about using JIRA is that all wishes remains tracked so that we don’t miss out any of them. Wishers can also find out on the status of their wishes by logging into JIRA. And now, we welcome Well-wishers to come in to grant our wish for an Osim uDivine.

    Share this post

  • Book Review: JIRA 5.x Developer Cookbook

    I was very happy to get the invitation to do a book review for the latest edition of the JIRA 5.x Development Cookbook.

    JIRA 5.x Development Cookbook

    While I do not know Jobin (the author) personally, he has been participating activiely in the JIRA developers’ community from sharing tips in blog posts to answering fellow developers’ questions in the Developer Forum.

    So when he published the first edition of the JIRA Developer Cookbook, I ordered a copy for myself. It was a worthwhile buy. The book was well organized and catered to readers who are new to JIRA development to experienced developers trying to hunt for new tricks.

    New developers are led through the Plugin Development Process (Chapter 1) and Understanding the Plugin Framework (Chapter 2). For those very experienced, the chapter on Useful Recipes (Chapter 11) gave me new ideas on how certain things can be done more effectively.

    This latest edition revises those sections with up-to-date information for JIRA 5.

    In addition,  new sections are added to elaborate on certain concepts (e.g. Types of plugin modules and Architecture explained, …) and introduce new stuff  (e.g. FastDev, Issue Link Renderers, ….).

    For those who are interesting to start developing their own JIRA plugins, this book will be a useful jumpstart and reference.

    Bonus: From now till 10th July 2013, 2 lucky participants who post comment on their expectations of the book at the JTricks’ blog post will get a chance to win a copy of the JIRA 5.x Developer Cookbook.

    Share this post