Jira workflows – tips&tricks
A workflow is a basic concept in Jira and most of us cannot even imagine the tool without it. Building workflows in Jira is a perfect example of something being easy to learn, but hard to master. You always want a workflow to be simple and generic (to a certain extent) while being in-line with your business. Best practices are one thing here, but there are also a few not necessarily obvious tricks that add a little magic. Here are a few interesting examples.
(Not) Unique transitions
One of the restrictions that you may encounter while building workflows in Jira is the uniqueness of transitions. You cannot have two transitions from one status to another with the same name. The workaround is simple – add whitespace at the end of the second transition’s name. There’s no whitespace trimming, so the validation will not work.
When is it useful? Imagine that you want to have exactly the same transition for two user groups or project roles (these can be separated by appropriate workflow conditions), but on one of them you want to set a post function. This little trick keeps the interface consistent as you don’t need to have two different names for the same status change.
Sometimes you need to trigger a post function or open a transition screen without changing the status itself (e.g. allow editing the issue only through a transition screen). That’s where loop transitions come in handy. You can either add a loop transition on a certain status or create a global loop from every status to itself. Simple, yet powerful for specific use cases.
Not that popular as triggers, conditions, validator, or post function, workflow properties in Jira can make a difference when building complex workflow solutions. Properties are divided into transition- and step-specific and allow you to e.g. make the issue not editable on a certain step, set the transition sequence in the transition panel on the issue, or modify the permissions on a certain step.
For more information on properties check: Workflow properties
Hiding technical transitions
Technical transitions are used to “fix” issues by Jira administrators, perform actions by the technical users of Jira apps or other workflow post functions. Usually, technical transitions are not visible to regular users. You can hide them by creating a new user group that will contain technical users and/or Jira administrators and set this group in the User Is In Group condition on the transition that you want to hide.
When creating transitions between workflow statuses we often forget that Jira lets us reuse the ones added previously to make workflow management easier. If you need to create a transition with exactly the same purpose to the same target status from different source status then that’s a perfect case for this feature. However, be cautious because any modification of such a transition (e.g. adding a condition or post function) will affect all other places where the transition is reused. Don’t fall into a trap!
Designing a great Jira workflow is a challenge. It requires correct mapping of business processes without forgetting the maintenance side of workflows as a whole. In certain use cases, you can take advantage of some neat features and workarounds to create versatile workflows that will aid your users, but also yourself while administering Jira. Always remember to look for appropriate solutions for the problems at hand – bring value, but don’t make things extra hard when there’s no need to.