Who could hate Jira?


Who could hate Jira?

I admit to a gentle contrarian nature whenever I see a complaint turn into a byword that ends discussion. In this case, I'm kicking back, based on the balance of my experience with the tool, against the loud, repeated, and reflexive condemnations of Atlassian Jira.

I have a guess as to what the complaints are pointing to, and it's not what I see as the lovable core of an issue tracking system with a lot of flexibility in the hands of a team that uses the system for sense-making, communication, and linking issues to context.

I love Jira, really I do

My list of what I like:

It's a database-backed wiki with easy URLs, history, user attribution, tags for sorting and grouping issues, and simple workflow, what's not to like?

The happy case for using Jira is for a small to medium sized software development team to communicate, understand, and track features and bugs for ongoing work.

Why do people dislike Jira?

Maybe it's enterprise software feature creep.

There's not much wrong with Jira, if you don't try to spin a complex confection of metrics reporting and multilevel workflow on it.

Unfortunately, enterprise software (and Jira, as part of Atlassian, is enterprise software) is subject to the corrupting forces of the sales landscape for enterprise software. In order to make a sale, or to make a sale to a larger company, there is pressure to bake more into the cake than will comfortably fit, until it is no longer, in practice, actually a cake.

Enterprise features include reporting metrics and queries which feed other enterprise workflows for enterprise resource planning; data about actual workflow, from the tools that the teams are using to make things happen day to day -- that must be gold, right? It's a picture of reality for the coding team, day by day and week by week.


If satisfying the schema needed to feed your enterprise metrics streams or to make roll-up statistics for planners outside the development team -- and anyone out of close daily or weekly contact counts as "outside" to me -- if doing this changes the team's workflow by adding overhead and constraints for how you use the issue tool in order to support tracking and stats, you're probably causing damage rather than clarity.

Oh. Well, then stop.

So if nobody likes the effect of tangling up issue workflow with other sorts of reporting, don't put the burden on a tool which suffers from it. Find a more lightweight way of providing the upward reporting.

Or just stop.* Maybe no one will notice.

*In Principia Discordia, the answer of Eris to Malaclypse the Younger.

Mal-2: (plea of despair and confusion about the war and rancor in the human world)


Mal-2: "But nobody wants it! Everybody hates it!"


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