JIRA – Issue Tracking for the Masses

Over time, we have moved between various issue tracking methods based on our changing needs. We first started out on excel spreadsheets, but that’s not very practical and it quickly became problematic. We needed something to integrate with our code repository (Subversion) and that could provide some rudimentary metrics.

A few years ago, we moved to Redmine and were able to satisfy those requirements for a while. It was crude, but it served the purpose for a while. One of the major pain points of Redmine is the updating process. Some updates would break, and there were too many ways to accidentally cripple the entire package.

Our next move was to a much more mature issue tracking system from Atlassian named JIRA. We’ve been using their system since August of 2011. They offered a commercial version that wouldn’t break the bank for smaller shops like ourselves. Aside from providing the basics, like issue tracking and repository integration, they have an established plug-in economy and an easy way to update the system without shooting yourself in the foot.

Comparing these two isn’t really fair. It would be almost the same as comparing a bicycle to a motorcycle. JIRA simply has a plethora of more features and peripheral products from Atlassian that integrate auto-magically with the system. The features we find invaluable are the project management, release tracking, and repository integration via FishEye. We also find the Confluence product handy for storing content about how to support some of the apps we have out in the wild. It’s relatively easy to install and administrate.

It is a rare thing to find such a product that is both affordable and provides so much value. Two thumbs up Atlassian. Well done.