Atlassian GreenHopper 6 Review
GreenHopper 6 was released on Monday August 13th, I’ve had a few days to play with and here is my review. In this review, I’ll give you my thoughts on the new GreenHopper 6 features as announced by Atlassian, as well as some general comments to wrap things up.
Some stats before we dive in:
- Over 90 fixes and improvements implemented since GreenHopper 5.0
- Over 900 votes fulfilled since GreenHopper 5.0
- The GreenHopper user community now boasts over 650,000 licensed users
- More than 6,300 companies use it around the world
Atlassian says: One click in GreenHopper 6 adds a new column to the board and creates a matching status in the JIRA workflow for issues. As a long time JIRA administrator, this is the first feature I wanted to try, really wanted to see how it actually worked, especially if your current project uses a complex workflow. As you may know, you get quite crazy about permissions, validators and post-functions, so I was very curious to see how GreenHopper would automate that.
So I went into GreenHopper, added a new column and… nothing special happened. I went back to the configuration screen and saw the big Simplify workflow button. Here’s what I got:
Of course you can imagine the smirk on my face when I read that prompt. Well of course you can allow project administrators to dynamically add states to a workflow if you remove conditions, validators, post-functions, and screens!!! Not saying it’s a bad thing, but it could lead to a multiplication of issues statuses, especially for large instances where project managers may use different terms for the same step (i.e.: In Test VS Testing). I think it’s a cool feature, but it kinda over-simplifies the workflows.
Rapid Boards become… Boards
I agree this isn’t a big ticket item, but reading through the detailed release notes we see that “Rapid Boards” have been renamed to just “Boards”, kinda like the “GreenHopper” tab became the “Agile” tab (I believe that was around the time JIRA 4.0 came out). If you look at the URLs though, you’ll still see things like /jira/secure/RapidBoard.jspa
Ability to plan future Sprints
This is in my opinion THE big feature in GreenHopper 6. Historically you had to use “Versions” to represent sprints, because that’s how GreenHopper was originally designed. All things considered, GreenHopper should have introduced a new “object” to represent sprints, but GreenHopper mitigated that poor choice by allowing hierarchies of version, so could work around that problem. We have seen Atlassian slowly introduce a real sprint object in recent GreenHopper releases, but with GreenHopper 6 we see the full realization of this vision, and now with the ability to plan several sprints, that poor design choice has been corrected.
Future sprint planning in GreenHopper 6 (click to enlarge)
You can now use GreenHopper on an iPad, simply point your Safari browser to your JIRA instance, log in, and go to the Agile section. Doing a sprint planning on an iPad or passing it around during the daily Scrum is pretty awesome. I tested it on an iPad 2, and the only negative thing I have to say is regarding the drag and drop of issues/cards. You need to leave your finger on it for a good second before the drag activates, so it’s a bit counter-intuitive at first. Still, it’s a great addition.
Example of how GreenHopper looks on an iPad
But what about Android tablets ?
Haven’t tried it myself for this review, but here’s the official response from Rosie Jameson [Atlassian Technical Writer] : We haven’t tested it in this release, but it should be at least partially compatibile (screen width may be an issue). Support for touch devices will be more fully implemented in the very near future. (Source)
Instant Filter in Boards
When using the “plan” view of a Rapid Board, there’s a new search zone call the Instant Filter where you can start typing stuff and see the results, but you’ll soon find out the Instant Filter does not support JQL and it cannot be saved / converted into a quick filter, which is a missed opportunity. To Atlassian’s defense, you can create quick filters by going to the “Configure” menu and quick filters do support JQL, but yeah, it would have been nice anyway.
New “Agile” in JIRA view issue screens
When viewing an issue in GreenHopper, there was always a way to access that issue directly in JIRA, but there was no way to from “regular JIRA” to GreenHopper. With GreenHopper 6, you’ll see a new “Agile” section on the right column of the standard view issue screen, right under the ever colorful “Time Tracking”. The “View on Board” link will allow you to go directly in the board where the issue is present. If the issue appears in several Boards, GreenHopper will ask to select the Board you wish to see. If the issue is associated with a Sprint, you’ll be able to jump directly to the current sprint, or the Sprint in which the issue was completed. Neat !
The “Agile” section and its links
The prompt you’ll get if you click on “View on Board” and the issue appears in more than one board
Integration with Team Calendars
Disclosure: I have never used / installed Team Calendars, but I promise (and I know) I will at some point. So the integration with GreenHopper will show sprints in team calendars in similar fashion to an event that lasts several days in Outlook / Google Calendar / etc… That’s also a great idea.
Click to see the GreenHopper X Team Calendars integration
Notion of “GreenHopper classic”
With GreenHopper 6, it’s clear Atlassian is pushing the Boards, and relegating the old trio”Planning Board”, “Task Board”, and “Graph Board” to the service road as we say. The best example is the “Classic…” menu entry at the very bottom of the Agile menu. Of course, people have a bunch of projects that use Versions to represent Sprints, so Atlassian must keep the old screens, but I wonder if they’ll be deprecated at some point.
See that last entry at the bottom ? GreenHopper classic
When I looked at the release list before starting this review, I felt there wasn’t enough to warrant going to version 6 of GreenHopper. Granted, we were at GreenHopper 5.10.6, but still, JIRA 3 went up to 3.13! After having reviewed this version, I can say this is a very important release that really marks an important milestone for GreenHopper, because there is now a real Sprint “object” that is fully supported. You can see the impacts all over GreenHopper, and I encourage everyone to use actual Sprints instead of versions to represent Sprints from now on. If you are still running an older version of GreenHopper, you should migrate as soon as possible, because you will be left behind later on and may have lots of catching up to do.