Beginner's guide to JIRA
JIRA (pronounced JEER-a) is Atlassian's project management software used by LDSTech for bug tracking, issue tracking, and task planning. LDSTech project teams use JIRA to organize and track various tasks in their projects. Project managers create and assign topics to LDSTech members using JIRA, so understanding its role is vital if you plan to take an active part in the LDSTech community.
Prerequisites for JIRA access
Before you can access JIRA, you must first complete the following prerequisites:
- Sign up for an LDS Account. (Go to https://ldsaccount.lds.org to register for an account.)
- Complete your LDSTech profile. On LDSTech, click Projects on the main menu, and then click the Profile submenu. Complete the required information.
- Join a project. Click Projects, and then click the Projects submenu. Browse to a project that interests you. Click the project name, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Join.
Click JIRA on the LDSTech menu (or go directly to tech.lds.org/jira), and then select your specific project.
Note: Project managers cannot assign you a JIRA issue unless the project manager changes your role from Observer to another role. So although you may have rights to view JIRA, you may not have rights to receive JIRA assignments.
JIRA's main menu, or navigation menu, is the horizontal bar at the top of the page. The main menu contains several buttons: Dashboards, Projects, Issues, and Agile.
Each of these menu options is explained below.
The dashboard is the first screen you see when logging in to JIRA. The dashboard contains individual boxes called gadgets that display information about various projects, assignments, and updates.
You can locate other dashboards (such as those set up by your project manager) by selecting the Tools drop-down menu at the upper-right corner and clicking Find Dashboards.
Some default gadgets on the system dashboard include the following:
- Projects: You can view which projects you have joined and quickly access features about each project, such as a project summary, a project report, and project issues.
- Activity Stream: The Activity Stream is like Facebook's status updates section, except with updates relating to LDSTech assignments. Usually updates contain links to a project's main page with any associated comments, and they track progress regarding projects and assignees. Like Facebook, you can comment on updates within the Activity Stream by clicking Comment or Reply. Reviewing the activity stream is the easiest way to gauge what's going on in the project.
- Favorite Filters: You can save your favorite issue filters on this gadget in order to quickly search for issues you wish to address. Filters are addressed at length in another section. Because most projects have hundreds of issues, learning to create filters to narrow the view to issues relevant to you is essential.
- Assigned to Me: You can see all open issues in all projects assigned to you.
- Issues in progress: When you start working on an issue, the issue's status changes to "In Progress." This section shows all issues assigned to you that are currently in progress.
- Quick Links: You can click links to various options here, such as My Unresolved Reported Issues. These would be issues you reported for the project (but which no one has resolved).
You can locate various projects by clicking the arrow next to Projects on the navigation bar at the top of the screen.
Current projects will be shown, or you can view all projects. Selecting the project name takes you to the project’s home screen. From there you can see a summary of the project, project issues, and how you can help. By default, you see only projects for which you have been granted access. One project, the LDSTech Stack, is completely open to everyone, so you will see that project in your list of projects too.
In the Issues menu, you can search current issues or create an issue. Issues are tasks for the project and can represent a variety of work. You can also create a filter that will help you quickly search through the numerous issues available. Choosing an issue takes you to the issue's main page, where you can see details, an explanation, and activity related to the issue.
The Agile menu allows team members to coordinate work assigned to the project in a way that follows agile methodology (a methodology for developing software). Not all teams use JIRA the same way. Most commonly, project managers may just use the Planning Board on the Agile menu.
The Planning Board allows teams to prioritize and schedule work on issues. Each issue is represented as a card and can be managed by dragging and dropping the card. On the right, the work is segmented into different "versions," which are release dates for the application.
If your project manager is actively using JIRA, he or she has probably set up versions and allocated some of issues to each of the versions. Versions have dates for their expected completion. There's usually a backlog of items that are not scheduled into any version, simply because they are too numerous and one can plan only so far in advance.
The other boards on the Agile menu are described as follows:
- Task: The Task Board allows you to see the progress for current versions of the project and related issues.
- Chart: Similar to the Task Board, the Chart Board allows you to see the progress for current versions and issues, but in graphical form.
- Released: With the Released Board, you can access charts detailing information about versions that have been released for the project.
- Rapid: The Rapid Board provides an overview of issues and work to do, that are in progress, and that have been completed.
One of JIRA's main purposes is to help coordinate work on issues. The JIRA user guide states that an issue "could represent a software bug, a project task, a helpdesk ticket, a leave request form, etc." Although the term used is issue, this really refers to any work related to a project. For example, on a writing project, an issue might be an article to write. On a testing project, an issue might be a scenario to test.
Creating an issue
You can report an issue that needs to be resolved by clicking Create Issue in the upper-right corner of JIRA. Be sure the correct project is selected, and then select what type of issue to create. Each project uses the standard issue types differently, so be aware how your project has decided to use JIRA. (Note that these terms are standard for all JIRA projects and cannot be customized to fit a specific project.)
Correct Bug Write-up Procedure
In order to "Hasten The Work" it is very important that the bug reporter write up the bug correct. This will allow the person who is reporting the bug, the person that saw it first hand, to accurately describe the issue in adequate detail. The next person that comes in contact with the write up will then be able to follow the proper steps and verify if indeed it is a bug. Correct procedure in bug write-ups will also benefit any employee that is new on the team, who may not be familiar with the project, to step in to the role and know exactly what to do to reproduce the bug. If procedure is not followed the momentum of the project will be affected. The following steps are to be followed in writing up a bug.
- Steps to Reproduce: The minimal set of steps necessary to trigger the bug. Be as verbose as you need to be to get the correct meaning of the bug across. Include any special setup steps.
- Actual Results: What the application did after performing the above steps.
- Expected Results: What the application should have done, were the bug is not present.
- Build Date & Platform: Date and platform of the build that you first encountered the bug in.
- Additional Builds and Platforms: Whether or not the bug takes place on other platforms or browsers. This is important for those applications that are web based.
- Additional Information: Any other debugging information (Error messages). Screen shots that are included in the bug write-up would be very helpful.
Failure to follow these guidelines will result in the bug being assigned to the reporter and the bug , if closed, will be reopened. Not following these rules will cause time to be wasted and the work will lag.
“When we deal in generalities, we shall never succeed. When we deal in specifics, we shall rarely have a failure. When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of performance accelerates.” --Thomas S. Monson
You can view issues in various ways. One way to navigate to an issue is by clicking a link from the Issues link in the project sidebar. To view an issue:
- Click the Projects menu and select your project.
- In the sidebar, click Issues.
- Select an issue based on the various categories: Unresolved By Priority, Status Summary, Unresolved By Assignee, or Unresolved by Component. Again, whether each of these sections contains much information depends on how your project manager has decided to use JIRA.
Uploading attachments to issues
Many times you will need to upload a screenshot showing a bug, or other documents related to an issue. To upload an attachment:
- Navigate to the specific issue within your project.
- Click Edit.
- In the Attachment section, click Choose Files and upload the files you want to attach.
To upload an attachment to an issue that already has an attachment, navigate to the issue and scroll down to the Attachments section. Click the plus sign for that section to upload another attachment.
Assigning issues to project members
To assign an issue to a project member (note: the member must have the role other than Observer), navigate to the main page for the issue, and in the upper-left area select Assign. Select who you want to assign the issue to, and then click Assign.
Commenting on JIRA issues
To comment on an issue, navigate to the issue and scroll down to the Activity section. Select the Comments tab. Type your comment, and then click Comment.
When you post a comment, all users watching the issue will receive an e-mail from JIRA. If you respond to the JIRA e-mail message, your response will be appended below the issue, as if you had made the comment from the Comments section. Be aware, however, that your entire e-mail message will be appended in the comment. If you do respond via e-mail to JIRA notifications, it's best to remove any extra text in your message (previous message threads, for example).
Resolving and closing issues
When you have been assigned an issue, you need a way of marking it complete to indicate that you have finished working on it. The standard method for this is to "resolve the issue." To resolve an issue, navigate to the issue and click Resolve Issue.
Clicking Resolve Issue changes the state of the issue, and the project manager (as well as anyone else watching the issue) will receive an e-mail notification. After the project manager verifies that the issue is truly resolved, the project manager "closes" the issue.
Creating different versions for the project helps facilitate work on issues and the project overall. A version is often a software release (such as version 2.1 of a software application). Versions can be used in various ways, but its basic meaning is a chunk of work.
Project managers usually create versions as they schedule out the work required for the project. To create a version, navigate to Agile > Planning Board. In the upper-right corner, click Add to create a new version (which includes a name, start date, and end dates, etc.). Once you create a version, it appears in the versions menu on the right side of the page. You can then drag and drop issues from the issues area on the left to whichever version will address those issues.
In addition to dragging and dropping issues into version boxes, you can also assign issues to versions by navigating to the main page for the issue, selecting Edit, and then editing the Fix Version/s field.
View release notes for a version
You can view all release notes for a version. This can help you know what has recently been completed for a project. To view release notes:
- Navigate to the project's home page (click the Summary tab in the sidebar).
- Click Versions in the sidebar.
- Click the version for which you want to see release notes. Release notes usually have dates that indicate when that version was released, so pick the most recent release date.
- In the upper-right, click Release Notes.
Just as with labels on forum posts or wiki pages, labels for issues help tag the issue so you can group it with other issues that have similar labels. You can use labels in a variety of ways.
To create or edit a label, navigate to the main page for the issue and, in the lower left area of the Details section, select the edit button next to Labels. You can then enter an appropriate label. To delete a label, click the x next to the label while in editing mode.
To view all issues assigned to a label, you can click the label from any issue.
Members use JIRA's filtering system to search for specific issues. (The search is just really an advanced filter mechanism.) Using the search navigator, you can narrow your criteria to return a small selection of issues.
To create a filter, go to Issues > Search for Issues. You will be brought to a sidebar filter that helps you narrow down your search criteria.
Note the following fields:
- Query: This field is for any keywords or phrases related to your search. You have the option of highlighting a specific project, or all projects.
- Project: Select the project for your search.
- Issue types: These include bugs, feature types, tasks, and several other searchable criteria. Issue types are a way of categorizing the various items in JIRA. For a more in-depth explanation of the different issue types, click the yellow question mark to the right.
You can search based on a project's assignees, resolution status, priority, dates, times, work ratio and any labels associated. Your project manager will probably use certain fields.
Once you have selected all the options you want, select Search. The search will appear in the right area. If this is the filter you want, select Summary in the left area and click Create Filter.
You can also create or subscribe to filters using the Favorite Filters gadget on the system dashboard.