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Introduction to JIRA and its necessity

August 3, 2017 Jira Tutorial
Jira. Jira tutorial, jira tool, learn jira

As a software tester, you have to use a number of different tools JIRA, QC, Mantis etc to help you with your testing deliverables. You have your test case tracking tool, defect management tool and other supporting tools that help you with manual testing and automation test creation. Of all these tools the defect tracking tool is the one which is widely used by testers irrespective of their position or expertise. 

Topics under Complete JIRA Tutorial Series

  • How to Install JIRA and Create New Project
  • Introduction to JIRA and its necessity
  • Creating and Handling Issues in JIRA
  • Different ways to Search Issues in JIRA
  • How to Manage Boards and Workflows in JIRA
  • Generating Reports in JIRA

Every junior tester uses the defect tracking tool to log defects and do through the bug/ issue list for retesting, while a senior tester uses the defect tracker to groom client requirements and test features which have already been developed by the developers. But when it comes to the managers they use the defect tracking tool to get a brief idea about the ongoing sprint and how well the testing team is handling the deliverables.  There are a number of defect tracking tools available in the market, the likes of JIRA, Bugzilla, Redmine, and Mantis. But in this post, we would specifically focus on the JIRA and try to get a brief overview of its features and know the distinct advantage it provides to the team members.

What is JIRA

JIRA is a well known and widely used defect tracking and project management tool. It was developed by an Australian Company Atlassian, and derived its name from the Japanese word “Gojira” which means “Godzilla”.

Using JIRA you can log defects related to your software application, which can be inspected and taken up by developers for fixing. Testers can use JIRA to log defects, test new features and for retesting issues which were already fixed by the development team. On the other hand, JIRA’s project management feature comes real handy to project managers which give them a better look at the ongoing status of the project and help them in predicting any slippage that might occur.

Why should you use JIRA

Now that you know what JIRA is capable of, let’s find out the distinct advantages it provides and why a team should opt for it.

  • Highly customizable – One of the prominent advantages provided by JIRA is the different levels of customizations. Once you have created a JIRA account, with proper permission you can customize different flows and change the way you track defects, manage projects and share information within the team. You can make your own customizations and mold the defect tracking tool to suit your specific project needs.
  • One destination for handling multiple projects – Using JIRA you can manage and look at the issues from different projects using a single portal. After creating a JIRA account an admin user (preferably a project manager or product owner), can configure JIRA according to the project’s need. The admin user can add multiple projects and assign permissions to different team members. Thus team members would be able to view or access only those project/ projects to whom they have access to.

Figure 1: List of JIRA projects

 

  • Logging various types of issues –JIRA allows you to track and create different types of issues, which consists of features, tasks, sub-tasks, bugs, enhancements, to name a few. But to help team members while creating issues, JIRA allows you to specify the default issue types for any specific project. There are basically 3 different issue types
  • Default issue schema – This schema provided all the different types of tickets that you can create in any project. This is the default schema and is applicable for almost any type of projects
  • Agile Scrum Issue schema – Agile schema especially focuses on Agile Scrum project template and allows team members to create tickets relevant to the Agile model.
  • Custom issue type schema – JIRA even allows you to come up with a custom schema which you can configure keeping in mind your specific project goals.
  • Project report and analytics – Project report and analytics is a very helpful tool for managers and test leads. By looking at the project reports and analytics data test managers can get a brief overview of the current project proceedings. Different reports in the form of Burndown chart, Sprint report, Velocity Chart etc can be viewed and extracted. Such reports can be extremely important for future referencing and can also be shared with clients, shareholders and product owner which would enhance the project’s visibility.

Most used features in JIRA

Now that we are aware of some of the striking features of JIRA, let’s talk about some other cool features that are useful to all team members.

  • Audit log – Audit log is generally used by developers and testers to know what changes were made to the ticket and who made them. Such logs are really useful to backtrack commits or track down the changes which might have caused an issue to resurface. The comments added by team members to any ticket also shows up in the audit log.
  • Issue linking – In most projects many tickets are inter-connected. For example, while testing a feature if any bug is found, a ticket is created for it and linked to the main feature ticket. In this way, project managers and testers can find out how many bugs were associated with a specific feature in the past. Linking the issue also allows the test lead to figuring out the features which are most prone to issues.
  • Email notification – Email notifications are very handy and are part of almost every defect tracking tool. Whenever a new bug or feature is added and assigned to a team member an email notification is automatically sent to the respective team member/ members on a POP or IMAP mail server. Such notification helps the team to know about any newly encountered bugs on the go, even when they are unable to access JIRA (when used in a restricted environment).
  • Watch list – Watch list allows users to link or tag the name of team members to a specific ticket. Whenever a person makes some change to a ticket, a notification over email is sent to all the people tagged in the watch list. The main purpose of watch list is to allow the clients or project manager monitor any high priority tickets which are essential for an impending release.
  • Issue Search – Every project over their lifetime generates hundreds of different tickets, if not thousands. At some point in time when any team member wants to know the details of any feature, he/ she has to go through the test cases and the ticket that described the details in the first place. In such situations, the issue or ticket search functionality comes real handy. You can search tickets based on the ticket summary, description or on any other parameter. You can search ticket or at least filter them out on the basis of creation date, priority, target version, etc. Advanced users can even write a simple SQL query to create a custom filter and search tickets from multiple projects.
  • Activity stream – Activity stream, provides a summary of the activities performed and changes made within a project. In the project summary section, you can view all the activities performed and what changes were made to different tickets. You actually get a brief overview of the comments added and the status changes done to different tickets.

Figure 2: JIRA activity stream

  • Issue cloning – As the name suggests, this feature is used to clone an existing issue with a new tracking ID. Cloned issues are the exact replica of the original issue and are generally used so that different teams can work on the same issue. After cloning, teams working on different modules or project can work on the part of the feature they want to target.
  • JIRA Plugins – Plugins are used to automate repetitive tasks and reduce human intervention. JIRA has different plugins available, the likes of Zendesk, Salesforce, Gitbucket, and GitHub. Using such plugins issues can be created the moment there is any conflict in the codebase or when a build creation fails.
  • Report extraction – As discussed earlier, using JIRA you can view a number of different reports like Sprint Burndown chart, Velocity Chart, control chart, etc. You can even create reports of you own and search the number of open issues out of total issues present in the project. You can create custom filters and create reports of your own. That’s not all, these reports can also be translated in the form of pie charts or bar graphs and extracted with ease. The detailed analysis and result can even be exported in different formats for future referencing purpose. The report extraction feature is mostly used by the project manager and shared with stakeholders and clients.

Figure 3: Report creation in JIRA

Conclusion

  • JIRA is basically a defect tracking and project management tool. It allows you to set up projects and create different tickets.
  • Most features in JIRA are configurable and can be tailored as per your project needs. Along with defect tracking features and other tasks can be tracked in JIRA and the status of each such items can be monitored by the Project Manager or higher officials.
  • Some features in JIRA are permission driven and can only be accessed by authorized entities.

About the author

arindam bandyopadhyay author

Arindam Bandyopadhyay is an automation tester with over 5 years of experience in software testing. While during the day he juggles between Eclipse and spreadsheets, at night he lets his fingers do the talking as he writes about anything and everything his paradoxical mind desires.

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