JIRA 5.1 in-depth analysis and review
We present the new features of Atlassian JIRA 5.1, which was released on on July 9th 2012, and our Expert look at this release. I have skipped over some features on purpose because they generated no reaction when I found out, but I’d say I’m mentioning about 90% of new features here.
#1 Inline editing
This is definitely the main event of this JIRA 5.1 release. Inline editing allow you to modify issue fields when viewing an issue, without having to click on the Edit button. All you need to do is click on field and you’ll be able to edit it… provided you have that permission of course. This is all done without any page reload, so it’s definitely the fastest way to do a quick edit. If you know you’ll be editing several fields, it’s probably better to stick with the Edit button, because doing five inline edits will trigger five “Issue Edited” notifications.
This new feature is also available via a keyboard shortcut. Press the comma key on your keyboard to bring up a pop-up, and start typing the name of the field you want to edit, then press enter to begin editing, and enter again when you’re done. Honestly, I think I’ll stick with using the “mouse version”, but it shows Atlassian is committed to keyboard shortcuts.
#2 Fewer page reloads
Starting with JIRA 5.1, performing an issue operation will not cause the page to reload, even when a transition has a transition screen. It’s clear the focus of this release was about performance, and I feel Atlassian focused on the big wins. Saving one or two seconds for every JIRA operation will have a huge impact.
#3 The 200,000 issues limit is gone
Previously, Atlassian has recommended a soft limit of 200,000 issues per JIRA instance. You could go higher, but we were seeing performance drops past that limit. Atlassian has worked very hard on performance, and as the following graph shows, JIRA 5.1 brings a massive performance upgrade.
With this big performance boost, the soft limit of 200,000 is now a thing of the past, but I can’t help but wonder why Atlassian did not compare JIRA 5.1 with JIRA 5.0 instead.
#4 Improvement of the JIRA configuration tool for databases
The JIRA configuration tool is used by administrators to the setup some JIRA properties. On a small instance you pretty much use it once and forget about it. With JIRA 5.1, there’s a new Advanced tab that allows you to setup a bunch of new properties for your database connection, something very important for a large enterprise instance.
#5 Database monitoring page
Another new feature that JIRA Administrators are sure to enjoy is the Database Monitoring page. For small instance this will not be very important, but I can tell you I would have liked to have that page when searching for performance bottleneck on a large instance, so it’s great addition. It’s great to see Atlassian starting to deliver Enterprise features, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with the new JIRA Enterprise licence tier.
#6 Issue Collector
#7 – Improvements to workflow editing
I won’t lie, I was initially confused when I wanted to edit a workflow in JIRA 5.1, during a client presentation no less, but after 2 minutes, I can say the changes make perfect sense. You can now edit a workflow directly form the Project Summary screen, and JIRA will take care of all the workflow copying that must happen. Also, workflow drafts are managed “behind the scenes”, meaning that you automatically work on the draft version of a workflow, without having to look for that draft in your list of workflows. For large JIRA instances with several workflows, it will definitely remove a lot of clutter. As you can see in the following screenshot, the Publish Draft action has become a button instead of the blue bubble it used to be.
#8 Productivity improvement to some Administration tasks
Sometimes it’s the little things that make an impact. Buried in the release notes for JIRA 5.1, we find out that when you add a screen, a screen scheme, a field configuration, field configuration scheme or an issue type screen scheme, you’ll get taken directly to its configuration screen. This may sound pointless for most, but if you’ve ever worked on a large instance with tons of screen, this will save you the hassle of locating the right “Configure” link, a task that was similar to playing “Where is Waldo”.
#9 User deactivation
You can now easily deactivate a user by going to the “Edit User” screen and clicking on a new checkbox to deactivate the user. Before, you had to remove the user from all the groups that has the Global Permission JIRA Users. I went in my JIRA 5.1 and verified that deactivating a user preserves its groups, which is handy if you ever need to reactivate it later. For me, it’s not a big ticket item, but I hope this will lead Atlassian to address a similar problem in Confluence, where deactivated users still show up in search results.
In more details, here is what happens when you deactivate a user:
- Will no longer be able to log in to JIRA.
- Cannot be assigned issues or added as a watcher to issues (whenever issues are created or edited).
- However:A user who was assigned, was watching or had reported any issues in JIRA before their account is deactivated, will still appear as the respective assignee, watcher or reporter of those issues. This situation remains until another user is specified as the assignee or reporter of these issues, or the deactivated user is removed as a watcher from them.
- A user who voted on any issues in JIRA before their account is deactivated, will continue to appear as a voter on these issues.
- Will continue to appear on the JIRA user interface with ‘(Inactive)’ displayed after their name, where applicable.
- Can still be used to filter issues in a JIRA search query.
- Will not receive any email notifications from JIRA, even if they continue to remain the assignee, reporter, or watchers of issues.
- Will not count towards your JIRA user license limit.
- Users who are project or component leads cannot be deactivated. To deactivate these users, assign other users as the relevant project or component leads first.
- Any JIRA site’s users who are configured in an external Atlassian Crowd user directory and deactivated in Crowd, will be deactivated in JIRA.
- With the exception of JIRA users configured with ‘delegated LDAP authentication’, JIRA does not deactivate users who are configured and deactivated/disabled in an external Microsoft Active Directory or LDAP-based user directory.
#10 ’Autowatch’ issues you create or comment on
That feature used be available through a JIRA plugin, so it’s not a huge deal, but this reinforces Atlassian’s will to make its tools as social as possible. By default, every user will autowatch issues they create or comment on, but it can be deactivated through user properties.
#11 Improvements to the Link Issue fucntionnality
I can’t say issue linking is the most used feature by our clients, but I really like the improvements Atlassian made to the Link Issue screen. First of all the JIRA Issue (local to your instance) and Remote JIRA Issue tabs have been combined. You can also use JQL to find the issue you wish to link to. It may prove useful if you need to link several issues, but it’s more a nice-to-a-have.
#12 Notify on my actions disabled by default
Another one of those smaller improvements that’ll save a lot of time. New users now have the “Notify me on my actions” disabled by default. That’s great because new users tend to complain about getting too many emails, so this will do wonders.
#13 My JIRA home
Now you can select where you end up when you log into JIRA. Before, the user would see the last dashboard they had looked at, but now you have the choice of “landing” on the Issue Navigator, or stick with the dashboard. GreenHopper users can also choose the “Agile” tab. Not sure why I’d select the Issue Navigator instead of the dashboard, but I can definitely see why one would choose the Agile view.
#14 Launch HipChat notifications from workflow transitions
It was only a matter of time before Atlassian started integration HipChat with JIRA, so here we are with HipChat notifications from workflow transitions. There’s new post-function called Notify HipChat that works with the following parameters:
- (optional) Specify a JQL function, if the issue matches the JQL criteria, a notification will be sent
- Specify the HipChat rooms you want to notify
JIRA 5.0 was released on February 22nd, so it took roughly 5 months for Atlassian to push out JIRA 5.1. This is a strong release for JIRA, one that addresses key issues (no pun intended) such as Enterprise concerns like performance, database configuration and monitoring. For users, the main change is of course inline editing which a huge deal, but you might want to turn “Issue Edited” notifications, because each inline edit will trigger one.
The issue collector is cool, but we already had seen something similar with JIRA Mobile Connect, so I’m not doing backflips over it. I really appreciate the little improvements here and there, especially in the Administration section. So cheers Atlassian !