4 min read

Why Upgrade Your Atlassian Stack?

By Suze Treacy on Apr 16, 2021 11:18:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why Jira-Confluence upgrades are importantOne key component of managing your Atlassian products is managing their upgrades. Upgrades can present a daunting and significant time investment for many companies, generally involving apps, custom-developed plugins, and integrations, with a large number of users dependent on their success.

You know what upgrades are and that they're important. So why am I talking to you about them? Imagine the scenario, you're busy, you haven't had a chance to check in on the latest Atlassian security vulnerabilities and the emails you've received about them have been missed. You have also had higher priority work eating up team time, which has prevented the planning and execution of your Atlassian upgrades. One day, your instance comes under attack through one of the vulnerabilities exposed in the CVE. Your data is potentially exposed. An urgent, large, expensive, complex effort ensues in order to secure the instance; after 3 days, 2 full sweeps of the instance and multiple upgrades, the vulnerabilities are mitigated and your instance is safe.

Are you confident in when your applications are due an upgrade? Let's review a few common reasons why an upgrade may be recommended:

End of Life Policy

Once Atlassian has released a major feature version, it, and all iterations related to that major version, are supported for two years. After that, the versions are considered End of Life, and you will no longer receive support from Atlassian for any issues which arise. It is when reaching this point, that many people start considering upgrading their instances.

Security Vulnerabilities

Every Wednesday, Atlassian releases any new security vulnerabilities which have been identified for their server/data center products. These vulnerabilities include a security level, which is based on an Atlassian-calculated CVSS score for each vulnerability.

Severity Rating System followed by Atlassian:

Atlassian_severity_rating_system

Although there may be opportunities to mitigate security vulnerabilities in your current version, it is recommended to patch or upgrade immediately when a Critical vulnerability is identified. Vulnerabilities with a critical score generally result in root-level compromise or servers or infrastructure devices, or are straightforward to exploit.

Current security advisories can be found here:

https://www.atlassian.com/trust/security/advisories

New Functionality/Capabilities

Did you know that there is a new feature release for Jira Software every 6 weeks alone? Atlassian encourage users to submit bugs and feature requests at jira.atlassian.com. This public forum allows users to vote for and comment on submitted issues, and the Atlassian team utilize this and other feedback as a factor in their decision for what to implement next.  Platform releases contain the most significant changes, while Feature releases contain new features, changes to features, changes to supported platforms and removal of features. Feature releases can be designated as Enterprise releases, which, generally designated annually, are preferred for companies who need time to prepare for upgrades, but still want to receive critical bug fixes.

Compatibility with other Server Components

From time to time, Atlassian add and deprecate support for other server component platforms which work alongside your Atlassian application. For example, did you know that in Jira Software 8.6 and Jira Service Desk 4.6, support was added for PostgreSQL 10 and deprecated for Internet Explorer 11, whereas in Jira Software 8.8 and Jira Service Desk 4.8, support was deprecated for Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and PostgreSQL 9.4 & 9.5. To ensure optimal operation of your Atlassian instances, it's just as important to upgrade components of your server architecture, as well as your instances themselves.

Plugin Support

If you are one of the many teams who utilize plugins within their Atlassian applications, plugin compatibility and support is another area to be aware of when considering upgrades. Has support been deprecated for the plugin with the Atlassian version you're running? Is the plugin still supported when you upgrade to your target version? Atlassian have developed the Universal Plugin Manager, available in both Jira and Confluence, to enable you to screen for any compatibility problems prior to starting your upgrade. There are 4 categories for Compatibility which plugins can fall into - Incompatible (the plugin is not compatible with the target version), Compatible, Compatible if updated (the plugin is not currently compatible, but will be once running the compatible version), and Compatible once both are updated (the new version of the plugin isn't compatible with your current instance version - you need to upgrade your instance prior to updating the plugin).

Unable to Skip a Platform Release

When considering which version you'd like to upgrade to, it's important to consider your current version and your target version. When upgrading, it is not possible to skip a platform release - therefore, for example, when considering a Jira Software upgrade, it is not possible to jump from a 6.X release to the 8.X release and skip the 7.X release, you would need to take an intermediate step to upgrade to a 7.X version. Due to the functionality changes being much greater between platform releases which are not adjacently sequenced, there are more edge cases, and thus, greater risk, when navigating an upgrade spanning multi platform releases.

For assistance with upgrading your applications, partner with Praecipio Consulting's Managed Services team! Our team, fully dedicated to the Atlassian stack, offer peace of mind through managing, supporting, and maintaining your Atlassian tools, enabling you to maximize the benefits of your Atlassian applications while allowing your team to focus on their core roles. Working with our Managed Services team offers tribal knowledge and best practice from over 10 years working in the tools, allowing us to enable your Atlassian stack is optimized and operating at peak performance.

For more information on Managed Services, or anything else Atlassian related, contact us, and one of our experts will be glad to talk with you.

Topics: blog managed-services marketplace upgrade version-control-system atlassian-products marketplace-apps
2 min read

The Impact Installing Apps Can Have on an Atlassian Application

By Chris Hofbauer on Mar 30, 2021 1:30:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_The impact of apps on an Atlassian applicationPerformance and uptime are crucial when hosting any application. For the Atlassian suite, the use of apps can have a major impact on these hosting aspects. There are many third-party developers as well as Atlassian developed apps that are available to be installed within the Atlassian tech stack. Depending on the app installed, each of these apps will have its own impact on the application and its health. Many apps that may be installed are considered lightweight and the impact would be very minimal; however, there are apps that are resource intensive and can cause significant impact of application performance. The apps that tend to cause the largest impact on application performance are those that allow customization of scripts and manipulation of data within those scripts, especially if these scripts are capable of running on a particular cadence or during certain issue functions. Other app types that are frequently found as the culprit for performance issues are those that return long running database queries. Common impacts from these resource intensive types of apps are high CPU usage and high memory usage. When either of these metrics begin to rise, the server is forced to work harder in order to operate the application, which then can cause the application to face performance degradation, manifested in slow page loads, timeouts, or outages. 

There are best practices you can implement in order to prevent your apps from having an impact on your application's performance. It is highly recommended that you install apps that are supported and developed by a trusted developer. Be sure to also read any documentation and truly understand what the app does before installing. It is extremely important that the apps are always up-to-date as well: apps may have bug fixes in releases that are ahead of yours, and even though you may not be currently facing any issues with your release, it is best to be sure you are on the latest version so that you can prevent any issues that may already be known by the developers. We also recommend that you thoroughly test any app you are considering installing within a non-production environment. Running User Acceptance Testing in a lower environment will allow you to capture any performance issues that may come from the app. Following this approach will strengthen your instance and help prevent any potential impacts your apps can have on your Atlassian applications.

If you run into any trouble with your Atlassian apps, let us know, we'd love to help you make the best of your tools.

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hosting marketplace-apps
3 min read

How do I migrate to Cloud if my apps aren't compatible?

By Jerry Bolden on Dec 23, 2020 1:06:11 PM

Blogpost-display-image_How do I migrate to Cloud if my apps arent compatible-

How many people are ready to move to the new hotness: Atlassian Cloud?  While this is becoming a more focused platform for Atlassian, there are some things that each company/team will need to think about as they move to the cloud:

1. What do I do if my current Server/DC apps are not compatible? 

2. What do I need to understand about my current set up within my workflows?

Apps are used to upgrade the out-of-the-box abilities of Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket and most people not only become reliant on the apps, but may not even know they're using the apps for their day-to-day work. While there are quite a few apps operating on all three platforms (Cloud, Data Center and Server), some apps may not be available for all three platforms. For example, an app may be supported for Cloud-only or Data Center only.

While trying to migrate to Cloud, you need to understand which Apps are also compatible in Cloud and which ones are not. You can navigate to Atlassian Marketplace and set your first filter for Cloud.  Then, simply search the App name and the marketplace will do a good job giving you other options that have some of the same features as your current Data Center/Server app. Look through the recommendations and compare the current features you use with some of the recommended apps features.  The best thing is to also download a trial version of those apps in Cloud, but also if you are still on Data Center/Server, see if they have an app trial for those platforms as well.  

The other side of this will be having apps that exist on Cloud as well as on Data Center/Server but may affect your workflows.  For example, Automation has come included within the cloud, but JSU Automation Suite for Jira Workflows exists as a separate app on Data Center/Server.  While this app is now integrated into the Cloud,  when importing the data, workflows, etc. during the migration, you currently cannot use the Atlassian Cloud Migration tool and the links to the automation can fail. 

Reach out to those specific App vendors for support and open a ticket to understand what the migration path could be from Data Center/Server to Cloud. For example, In JSU's case, you have to redo all the affected workflows and their validators, conditions and post functions.  While some applications will be compatible, others will either require a little manual reconfiguration or finding ones similar in features to your current Apps.

Migrating to Atlassian Cloud is becoming more and more seamless as Atlassian continues to focus on the Cloud platform. But where apps are concerned, you will need to either find apps that already have a Cloud version or look for the Developer to review similar options and features. 

If you need guidance with your Atlassian Cloud migration, Praecipio Consulting is here to help! Contact us and one of our specialists will contact you shortly, and in the meantime, here are some helpful resources that you can start with

Topics: atlassian blog migrations cloud atlassian-solution-partner marketplace-apps
5 min read

Jira Align vs. Advanced Roadmaps: Which one is right for my organization?

By Amanda Babb on Sep 15, 2020 8:15:00 AM

How Jira Align compares to Advanced Road for Jira

As organizations continue to scale Agile practices, our team at Praecipio Consulting is frequently asked which Atlassian product will best support the effort. Principal Consultant, Brian Nye, put together a great webinar describing the differences between Advanced Roadmaps for Jira (formerly known as Portfolio for Jira) and Jira Align. As Praecipio Consulting has expanded our Jira Align practice, we'd like to take a moment to compare and contrast these products to help guide you in making the right decision for your organization. 

Your Agile and Digital Transformation Journey

Your organization can't talk about your Agile transformation without talking about your digital transformation and vice versa. After all, the Atlassian products are meant to support Agile frameworks as well as your digital transformation. Many organizations have embraced remote work as a result of the global pandemic and have fundamentally shifted toward online planning, roadmapping, and execution management. 

Your organization may also use non-Atlassian applications to manage planning and roadmapping. You've chosen to integrate these products with Atlassian for execution management. While this may be a great solution in the short-term, I challenge this as a long-term solution. Many of the frameworks guiding agile-at-scale exist because we're trying to bring strategic planning closer to actual execution and back again. Ask your organization the hard question: does maintaining these integrations follow the organization's digital technology vision for the future? 

Advanced Roadmaps for Jira (formerly Portfolio for Jira)

Available as an App for Data Center/Server Deployments and packaged with Jira Software Cloud Premium, Advanced Roadmaps for Jira (Advanced Roadmaps) is a great way to bridge the gap for small- to medium-sized organizations. If you currently have fewer than 500 agile team members executing their work in Jira Software, Advanced Roadmaps for Jira can provide visibility within and across teams. First, define the hierarchy above the Jira Software Epic. We use Initiative most frequently when deploying this for customers because of the reference documentation from Atlassian. However, you can choose whichever naming convention you'd like as long as there is a corresponding Issue Type. For example, create an "Initiative" Issue Type and link it to a Hierarchy level in Advanced Roadmaps called "Initiative." We also strongly recommend the Initiative Issue Type live in a separate Jira Project from all other execution work. This helps your Agile teams focus on the current backlog of work while the Initiative moves through its own review, decision, and backlog refinement process. 

Creating a Plan is as simple as defining your source data (Jira Projects, Boards, or Filters), tying the sources to Teams, and choosing Releases from your source data. Honoring the Iron Triangle of project and program management, you may either choose to have the Plan dictate your schedule or, when planning for the next business quarter, you may choose to drag and drop the Gantt-style bars to schedule work. There is also an option to blend the calculations. Meaning, if a Sprint already exists and is pre-filled, let the Scrum Board be the source of truth. Have the Plan calculate any Empty Sprints going forward. The same is true for Releases and Teams: the Plan can auto-schedule a Team or a Release based on the relative rank of the backlog in the Plan. 

If you're looking to understand the impact of shifting priorities, you can enable Scenarios in a Plan. This will allow you to pull the source data from Jira Software and blend it with additional planning while maintaining the current execution schedule. You can add new Initiatives, Epics, and Stories, as well as adjust Release Dates, and observe the impact of adding, removing, or reassigning Teams to work. If you have the Server or Data Center App, you can group Plans together into a Program to understand the overall health of multiple Plans and Releases in a single view. 

Jira Align

As its name implies, Jira Align brings strategic planning and execution together in a single product. Pulling execution data from Jira Software and blending it with Agile-at-scale frameworks, Jira Align ties your strategic vision to tangible work and is best suited for organizations with more than 500 Agile team members executing their work in Jira Software. Instead of trying to define a hierarchy, Jira Align provides a pre-set hierarchy with flexible language. Whether you're running SAFe, LeSS, Scrum@Scale, or your own model, Jira Align's seamless integration with Jira Software provides visibility across multiple Portfolios and Programs. 

Jira Align comes in three deployment options: multi-tenant Cloud, single-tenant Cloud, and on-premise. While we recognize the allure of an on-premise solution, Praecipio Consulting recommends either the multi-tenant or single-tenant Cloud deployment. This provides the robust functionality of the product without the additional IT infrastructure management as well as managing routine maintenance such as upgrades. Jira Align also comes in two licensing models, Standard and Enterprise, billed monthly per user. Standard provides your organization the ability to run Programs (also known as teams of teams) whereas Enterprise adds the Lean Portfolio Management and financials into the mix. In addition, each Jira Align seat comes with four Jira, Trello, or integrated users. Another key difference between the two license levels is integration. With Standard, you can integrate a single instance of Jira Software with Jira Align. This is perfect for the organization that is large enough but lacks maturity in their Agile-at-scale framework. Enterprise provides unlimited connectors, which in the case of some of our clients, allows them to avoid the pain of merging multiple instances of Jira Software before deploying Jira Align

The Jira Software Epic is the lynchpin of the integration. Teams will still work with Epics, Stories, and Sub-Tasks within Jira Software whereas Product Managers, Release Train Engineers, Portfolio Managers, and Executives work within Jira Align. The robust permissions within Jira Align also focus the right role in the right data. A Program Manager may care about the execution of the program, whereas the executive wants to understand how you're tracking to the annual corporate strategy. By aggregating and rolling data upward, Jira Align provides health and status monitoring of quarterly, yearly, and long-term goals. With over 180 out-of-the box reports, every role at every level can access the right information at the right time to ensure your organization's success. Jira Align also has Enterprise Insights, an optional App, to take business intelligence to the next level. 

Which one is right for my organization? 

The first questions to answer while you're evaluating either tool are around Agile transformation maturity, digital transformation maturity, and user discipline both across and vertically in the organization. Because both options rely on teams to perform their execution work consistently and with good data integrity, either product can be a blessing or a curse. 

  • How long have your Agile teams been executing within an agile framework? 
  • How long have your Agile teams been executing within Jira Software? 
  • How consistent are your teams across the organization? 
  • Do your teams and your business understand one another and communicate well? 
  • How well has your Jira Software instance been governed since it was deployed?
  • How much chaff do you have in Jira Software? 

While this is not an exhaustive list, implementing either Advanced Roadmaps for Jira or Jira Align requires you to ask tough questions of your organization. Praecipio Consulting can not only help you assess your current state, but we can also provide guidance and recommendations to accelerate your digital transformation. If you are ready to take the next step in your digital transformation and Agile journeys, let's chat!

Topics: scaled-agile jira-align agile advanced-roadmap marketplace-apps
3 min read

A Holiday Recipe for Planning Success with Portfolio for Jira

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 22, 2017 11:00:00 AM

https://www.praecipio.com/webinars/portfolio-for-jira-best-practicesIn our last blog post, we shared with you how Portfolio for Jira can be used to plan and visualize work for any department or line of business. Now that everyone has a seat at the table, let's make sure the meal is excellent by following a trusted recipe for Jira Portfolio best practices.  

There are only two simple ingredients for a successful Portfolio implementation: Jira configuration and data integrity. 

Jira Configuration

It's important to make sure your Jira entities  workflows, projects, boards and filters  are configured correctly. While this may seem like common knowledge, some organizations overlook even the simplest mistakes when configuring their Jira instance - it's important to make sure you cover all the basics early on.

 In addition, Portfolio entities must also be determined, such as hierarchy and parent links, dependencies, and permissions. Portfolio is customizable to fit your organization's needs, and like the importance of making sure your Jira instance is configured correctly, the same goes for Portfolio - its imperative that the time is taken to set up your instance that best serves your organizations needs. 

To start, you should determine a level of organization that is larger than an Epic. If an Epic is 3-5 Sprints, this larger concept should represent a longer timeline: perhaps 6 months. You can call it anything you want, but we commonly use 'Initiative,' which is Portfolio for Jira's native language. With the Epic Parent created, Portfolio's configuration needs to know you're adding a level, and then have it mapped appropriately to the issue type. The next issue type to be created is called a 'Story,' which will include all other standard issue types, and will live between an epic and a sub-task. You can use whatever taxonomy works best for your organization; however, we have one recommendation - keep it simple! 

Adding the 'initiative' level allows your team to not only get a birds-eye view of your entire plan, but also how it aligns with overall business goals

Also part of your configuration recipe is the creation of a scrum board. Boards in Jira Software are driven by filters, and you should group them into a project or project category.  A word to the wise: Don't append your query with clauses that would remove workflow statuses or remove a specific tag of work. Let the board drive what your plan would display. Keep in mind if it's on your board, it's going to be in your plan.

Now that your Jira configuration is cooking with gas, let's dig into data integrity.

Data Integrity

Portfolio brings projects and plans to life; however, its powered by the data inputted into Jira. You've heard the saying 'garbage in, garbage out', right?' Avoid bad data at all costs and follow these simple steps to keep you Jira data clean.

You can start with keeping your backlog groomed by simply resolving and closing your issues. Closed issues will disappear from your backlog and will no longer show on your board, which means the Portfolio won't display them in the plan, either. Not only is this good practice in general for Jira Software, but it will keep your Portfolio plan accurate. If you have a task or issue that has been sitting in your backlog for a year or two, it's time to clean the pantry.

Maintaining hierarchy in Jira software is critical when using Portfolio. You must close out lower-level items before closing the parent - if you complete sub-tasks and close them out, it doesn't mean you're 'in progress' in the hierarchy. No progress will be seen on the story, epic or initiative just because you close or resolve a sub-task. You should be focusing on story completion and story throughput, instead of progress at the sub-task level. Make sure you are closing and completing story level to show progress in your plan overall - again, this will maintain accuracy in planning and forecasting.

Closing your story-level tasks will show your plan's overall progress

This blog post is full, but you can come back for tasty seconds and thirds in the Portfolio for Jira: Best Practices webinar coming up on November 30 at 11 a.m. CST.

Topics: jira blog devops process-consulting jira-software marketplace-apps
2 min read

Thanks to Portfolio for Jira, Everyone Has a Seat at the Table

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 21, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, we can't help but think about our favorite things this time of year. We have opportunities to see family, friends and relatives, enjoy good food, and talk about everything that happened throughout the year. It is great to catch up and visit about what's happened, and what's going to happen. It's a time when families and friends reflect, collaborate, and even begin planning for the next year (because all families get along perfectly, right?).

What if you had a holiday table year-round for your organization?

If a project is delayed, or a change needs to be made, wouldn't it be nice to update the entire plan and everyone on the team at once?

Atlassian's Portfolio for Jira is the solution. 

The core of Jira Software is a workflow engine. It allows you to track issues and tasks in a predefined, customizable workflow. Now, take this awesome workflow capability, and lay a forecasting and visualization tool on top of it - that's Portfolio for Jira. Atlassian’s Portfolio for Jira is the road mapping and visibility tool used to forecast and track long-term plans, increasing visibility and business alignment. Portfolio provides a living, breathing plan for teams and leadership to stay up-to-date on existing plans, all while forecasting new long-term plans.

The best part? It's not just for software teams. 

Portfolio for Jira organized existing marketing tasks (entered as issues) into releases and themes, giving our entire team the visibility we needed to stay on track.

Teams that can benefit from Jira Software: 

  • Human Resources
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Procurement
  • Legal
  • Sales
  • And more 

Because we track just about everything we do - including marketing activities - in Jira, the marketing team at Praecipio Consulting was able to use Portfolio for campaign planning and execution. As a test case, we launched a product marketing campaign for our newest add-on in the Atlassian Marketplace, Turbo Kit for Jira. Portfolio for Jira helped our team plan, forecast, manage, analyze, track and report on our campaign efforts. 

Change happens – all the time. Portfolio can help you, your team, and leadership stay well-informed on project and planning statuses, and it can also help you see the big picture and track business goals (not just your team or department!). It is the ultimate visibility tool. 

We'll dig into this a little more in our upcoming webinar Portfolio for Jira: Best Practices. Be sure to grab a seat at our table to learn more!

Learn more about Portfolio for Jira in the Atlassian marketplace.

 

Topics: jira atlassian blog marketing plan release training jira-software marketplace-apps
8 min read

The 4 Phases of Agile DevOps with Atlassian

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 15, 2016 11:00:00 AM

As Development and IT Ops teams look to be more efficient, decreasing their time to market and increasing product support, DevOps has become the predominant industry solution. There are many resources that paint a picture of the ideal processes for Development and Operations working harmoniously together- but how do we actual get there? Where should we start? 

We need to begin with the end in mind. Our end goal is to deliver customers the software they need as fast as possible. The software industry is faster and more dynamic than the businesses of physical products. We need to get our customers features so they can give us crucial feedback while beating our competitors to market. The faster release development goes from concept to code, the quicker we can make customer happy. DevOps is a broad term with a variety of meanings, but at the end of the day, it seeks to increase the collaboration and automation between Development and Operations so we can get more frequent and higher quality releases into the hands of our customers.

When it comes to collaboration and automation, a focus on process and the use of the Atlassian suite are the best way to get there.

 The infinite loop of developing and supporting products that customers need and want with DevOps and the Atlassian Suite.

Image source: Atlassian 

Selling DevOps

The pain of hectic firefighting and troubleshooting make the need for DevOps obvious on the frontline, but getting alignment and investment at the organization level can be pretty difficult. Successful implementation is going to require buy-in and support from a variety of stakeholders and many levels. Before we can get our hands dirty, we need to convince everybody to spend the time and money to get these processes and tools in place.

Here are three ways to get the ball rolling:

One for the Book Club: Phoenix Project

Everybody has those business books that revolutionize the way they manage their work and companies. The Phoenix Project by Eugene Kim narratively addresses and exposes the gaps in processes between teams and points to a DevOps prescription to unblock cross-team work. We highly suggest recommending it to your teams, as it's a great way to get everybody on the same page and really see the value of DevOps.

Build a Business Case

At the end of the day, businesses exist to make money. To invest time and effort, we need to calculate the business return. The 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs does a brilliant job showing the financial reasons to adopt this shift.

The ROI of reducing excess work with DevOps according to 2016 DevOps report from Puppet Labs

Image Source: Puppet Labs

Phase 1: Go Agile

To get the real benefits of DevOps, it requires a shift in mentality and how we manage work through our teams. As we break down our requirements into smaller individual user stories, we can flow the work through the features through the process faster. By having the structure, ceremonies and processes in place to accommodate smaller pieces of work, we can get our customers the features they need and incorporate their feedback to iterate the next, improved release faster.

Here are some helpful ideas to help your teams go more Agile: 

  • Get Up, Stand Up | Simply doing stand-ups doesn't mean you're all the way agile, but it's a great way to get our teams into the mindset. Keep them short and reduce the headaches of status updates and emails. Fill everybody in on what you did yesterday, what you're doing today, and what pesky blockers are in your way. It's facilitates more agile and responsive team collaboration and support (the heart of DevOps).
  • Iterate Everything! | Speed up that Agile transformation, breaking down your waterfall projects into smaller sprints so you can always reprioritize and adjust as needed. Start with your software teams and spread out to your IT Ops projects and even marketing projects. Start in your own department: find the planning spreadsheets with those idealistic due dates, set up a backlog, and start sprinting!
  • Agile Boards | Once you're planning and executing in sprints, track and visualize it on a Jira Software board. Avoid those dreadful status meetings and send out the link to the board to keep everybody informed. Also, throw some wallboards up around the office so everybody can see your team killin' it. 

You'll know you're a lean, mean, agile machine when your software teams are cranking out stories in a steady cadence of sprints. Over time you'll see that velocity stabilize - then you can accelerate!

Phase 2: Get with Gitflow 

Git and Gitflow is a great way to help our dev teams increase velocity. As we're working with smaller stories, we need to be able to collaborate effectively with on our code base so we're not stepping all over each other. Version control systems of the past aren't going to be able to keep up with our blazing fast development teams. Bitbucket and the underlying technology of git are going to let our teams build user stories and merge them into the code base without wasting time messing with annoying versioning issues and costly code conflicts. 

  • Start with the Basics | Start by learning (allthethings) about how to effectively manage your branches and build in code quality with Atlassian's Git Tutorials and the Git Getting Started guides. Share them with your team so everybody's on the same page and knows the difference between a commit and a pull request.

  • Move to Git | If you haven't made the cutover to Git quite yet, get your team and managers onboard by sharing the benefits and how it will help ship more code. Once folks are convinced, learn why Bitbucket is the Git solution for professional teams and helps with pull requests, branching strategies, permissions and scalability. When it's time to actually move all that code over, see how we helped Splunk get git and 4 times the number code reviews completed. 
  • Start Branching | With the tools in place, it's time to start branching! Learn more about some common workflows to better handle branches here. Utilize those pull requests to build in code quality as you go. Eventually your Dev team will be humming with full Gitflow and your Ops teams will be in love with the clearly designated branches.

  • Automate, Mate | The marvelous integration between Bitbucket and Jira Software lets us automatically update the Jira issues based on what's going on in Bitbucket. Developers don't need to switch context anymore to keep the ticket up to date, and the whole team gets an accurate idea of what's actually going on. Check out our Automation Webinar to learn more about the powerful workflow triggers that make this possible.


The Gitflow branching strategy shown above utilizes different branches for specific roles like hotfixes and releases to help manage larger and more complex projects. 

 Image Source: Atlassian

Phase 3: CI/ CD

The next phase is how we define the crucial handoff between Dev and Ops. When our units of work and code changes are smaller, we're going to need to deploy more often to get those features to our customers. Before we ship it to the ops team and production, we need to ensure quality as our individual features come together. This is where good Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment practices along with Atlassian's Bamboo are vital to successfully shipping our product. Catching bugs and issues before they go to production is going to help both the Dev and Ops teams sleep better at night.

  • Learn about Bamboo | For on-prem Atlassian users, Atlassian's Bamboo is the CI/CD solution that allows professional teams to build their CI/CD pipeline. You may be using Jenkins or other open source teams, however the deep integration points and improved build management make it the right choice for professional teams.
  • Integrate with Jira | Once you have Bamboo up and running, leverage the integration between Bamboo and Jira Software.
  • Bitbucket Pipelines | If you're an Atlassian cloud user, Bitbucket Pipelines is a new, powerful solution in Beta that lets developers build, test and deploy directly from Bitbucket. Developers have the power as they can define the environment and tests for their specific branch with YAML file style configuration.
  • Dockerize Everything! | Docker and containerization is the latest craze sweeping the IT world as teams look to deploy applications to any environment faster and easier. Check out our Docker +Atlassian webinar to learn more about how. As partners with Docker, we love to helping teams harness this cutting-edge technology.
  • Automate Testing | Automating testing with tools like Charlotte, QA Symphony, and Zephyr (which integrate with Bamboo and Jira) gives your development team an even more agile edge. Get efficent, high-fidelity testing to expedite the finding and squashing of bugs to ensure your next iteration is the best version.

Phase 4: Harmonize with Support

Once the story is shipped, the process does not end. Now it's time to keep the product working and collect that vital feedback we need.

  • Check out our webinar, DevOps with the Atlassian Suite, for a full picture of how development and operations are going to work in harmony.
  • Set up a product feedback service desk in Jira to really hear your customers and integrate directly with development teams.
  • Learn how to set up your Service Desk teams for success with our ITSM webinar.


By implementing the right DevOps tools and processes, you'll see the faster shipping of higher quality and better supported releases. As your Development and Ops teams continue to execute these lock-step processes, you get more agile by good practice. Take the steps to start implementing DevOps today by contacting us to get up and sprinting.

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile automation bitbucket bugs continuous-delivery bamboo branching devops docker distributed-version-control-system process-consulting qa-symphony sdlc selenium software sprint testing version-control-system workflows tracking continuous-integration cloud development integration it operations release-management marketplace-apps
3 min read

How to Expedite Approvals with DocuSign for Confluence

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 4, 2016 11:00:00 AM

According to IDC's 2015 report, The Document Disconnect, 76% of executives and managers in sales, HR, procurement, legal, and other departments estimate that fixing the “document disconnect” can lead to document process issues impact revenue recognition or create auditor issues. As process improvement experts, we at Praecipio Consulting love saving our clients money by mitigating wasted time and helping them do work faster. With that in mind, we've compiled our top 4 tips to get faster approvals leveraging DocuSign for Confluence to integrate your mission critical document tools. 

1. Maximize Your Macros 

Confluence macros add significant value to your document drafting process with their features and functionality. Just select from your macro options and voìla - your desired information appears! By utilizing the out-of-the-box DocuSign for Confluence macros, you can simply drop the macro for your DocuSign tabs (ex. signature, initials, date, title, and more!) into your document right inside of Confluence. Adding this functionality to your document drafting allows you to save time otherwise spent selecting and adding these approval actions outside of Confluence, and also ensures that your document collaborators can see the macros you're adding and where.

Select from the menu of macros to inform your signee of what do provide.

2. Template-ize It! 

Think of the documents you create the most frequently. From sales and marketing to HR and legal, every department has documents that need signatures and approvals on a daily basis (often multiple times a day). Save your team countless hours by creating Confluence templates for these frequently used documents and reduce unnecessarily wasted time. Your Space administrator can add these templates (including the aforementioned DocuSign macros) to your instance, in the spaces you need them, so you can now spin up your next contract with the click of a mouse. 


In Confluence, click 'Create' and get prompted with both custom and out-of-the-box templates.

3. Streamline Sending 

It's simple logic: the faster you send your document, the faster you can get approvals. However, cumbersome sending processes can keep you from firing off that contract as quickly as you'd like. Leverage DocuSign for Confluence to send documents from Confluence (including all the attachments and pages your heart desires) to not one, not two, but as many recipients as you want! Set action type and order in this same step to determine who needs to sign, who needs to receive a copy, and the sequence in which these actions will occur. 

When adding recipients inside your organization, names are pulled from your Confluence user directory so you can send even faster.

4. Track in Real-Time  

Being able to see where your document is in the approval process is invaluable when you're waiting for that proverbial ink to dry. DocuSign for Confluence provides real-time status notifications so you can track your documents, from sending to completion. By simply clicking the DocuSign lozenge at the top of your Confluence page, you see what stage your document is in and who has completed what action. Additionally, clicking the status to see approval actions on the document in DocuSign. This level of visibility allows you to see when you're DocuSign envelope has been created, sent, and signed to give you the most accurate document tracking. 

View the status of all your DocuSign Envelopes in one streamlined view.

Improving processes relies heavily on cutting our unnecessary intermediary steps that can become blockers. It's these steps that, unchecked, can cost a company thousands of hours that could otherwise be spent focused on core competencies. As process experts, we recommend to all our clients- from 20 person startups to Fortune 5 enterprises- to ask themselves the following questions regarding their processes:

  • Can it be repeated? 

  • Can we automate it?

  • Can we eliminate unnecessary steps?

By optimizing your repeatable e-signature processes with DocuSign for Confluence, your organization not only saves time, but also reduces document processing issues that cut into profit or jeopardize compliance with auditing agencies. 

Ready to expedite your e-signatures? Get DocuSign for Confluence and start getting your fastest approvals.

Topics: atlassian blog confluence experts hipaa marketplace process-consulting regulation sign service-level-agreement tracking compliance docusign e-signature fda integration productivity atlassian-products marketplace-apps bespoke
3 min read

HipChat Connect: Your New Mission Control

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Imagine you work in an office with a room for every job you do- each project, each team. However, there is no communication between rooms- so you have to walk from one to another if you want to share project information or ask questions. This seems ridiculous in real life, but yet business teams still fail to leverage integration of tools due to disparate legacy systems (“IT uses Product X while Business Teams are on Product Y”), lack of customization options (“I’m in HR. Why should I use the same tools as our dev teams?”), and disappointing functionality (“I have to use Product A for reporting, but it’s not in real-time and it leads to lots of email chains to track the conversation.”).  

That’s where Atlassian comes in.

Making software for teams of all types and sizes, Atlassian enhances collaboration by providing easy to use, dynamic tools that move at the speed of your business. With this ethos in mind, Atlassian has released HipChat Connect to the world in order to encourage teams to “live in” HipChat, integrating with all their other tools and endless add-ons. HipChat is now your control pit for everything your team needs, all in just clicks.

The week of November 9th marked Austin Developer Week, hosted by Atlassian and Capital Factory. During the week, developers (and even some business teams) were challenged to learn the HipChat Connect API and create their own add-on. On Friday, add-ons were demoed, and while most were only in their beta versions, excitement was stirred with the expectation to see many of these fan favorites on the marketplace soon.

Uber for HipChat

Why did we not have this at Summit? When you and your team want to grab a bite, simply order the Uber inside HipChat, Determining location, estimated time of arrival, and cost, your team has the info they need to hitch a ride- and they can! Easily “join the ride” to save your seat and, within minutes, you’re on your way to your destination. Props to Atlassian's Julien Hoarau for this awesome add-on, which he demonstrated live by ordering his Uber to the airport (which arrived speedily as planned).

Graphic Annotation

Presented by a developer for a design team, this add-on has functionality for your marketing department to your IT crowd. With built in annotation options for graphics- including text, circles, arrows (all the must-haves!)- it’s never been easier to point out an issue in a performance report, identify an area of improvement on a presentation slide, or circle your own face so you can be spotted in the latest company photo. 

Props via HipChat

Part of Atlassian’s appealing culture is their open sharing of kudos across the company. Everyone likes to be appreciated and, by integrating a reward notification system like youearnedit.com (based in Austin, TX), you can give public shout outs over HipChat. Give points to team members for work well done and track past kudos given in the side panel. Increase your instant karma and share the love across your organization!

…and Many More!

Austin Developer Week was only the tip of the iceberg for add-ons to come for HipChat Connect and, with the API made public on atlassian.com, it’s only a matter of time before the marketplace explodes with amazing possibilities for HipChat functionality. With ideas already spinning up around customer service, business team use, and culture-building, we can already see HipChat becoming our home base. 

Want a Custom Add-On?

Our innovative, inspired custom dev team loves a challenge. They’ve built add-ons for startups and enterprise organizations alike, working across the Atlassian product suite to enhance functionality, increase adoption, and maximize efficiency. Tell us what we can develop for you to keep your business running on all cylinders!

Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hipchat collaboration culture developers marketplace-apps bespoke
2 min read

SAFe Cheat Sheet

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 23, 2015 11:00:00 AM

No matter the size of your organization or your industry, the end game of any company is to deliver the highest quality product to customers at the greatest market value, with the lowest cost of production. This school of thought drives the Agile methodology of software development, pushing for faster delivery of better products with the least amount of risk, and has fueled the scalable Agile solution for enterprise-level organizations: Scaled Agile Framework (or SAFe). Operating under the principles of Agile development, SAFe aligns the development and initiatives of all levels of the enterprise company- from agile teams to executives- for accelerated value delivery at a reduced risk. Leveraging short feedback cycles organized into sprints and release trains, the cost of deployment decreases as deliverables have clearer direction and requirements to ensure a better fit for purpose. 

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

What are the core values of SAFe?

 

How does Atlassian support SAFe?

The Atlassian product suite was created (and is continually innovated) to support best practices in the Software Development Lifecycle. To that end, the use of products like Jira Agile, Confluence and Jira Portfolio integrate to bring maximum traceability to every release, enabling teams to hit their deadline and their budget with the highest quality product. With Atlassian, you unlock the power of SAFe, leveraging Jira Agile, Confluence and Jira Portfolio to achieve the following objectives (and much more): 

Want to learn more about SAFe?

Ready to learn more about how Scaled Agile Framework brings best practices and greatest results to your enterprise organization? As Atlassian Platinum Enterprise Experts, we at Praecipio Consulting are here to help! First, check out our recent webinar on SAFe, Agile in the Enterprise, presented by Senior Solutions Architect, Certified Scrum Master, and soon-to-be SAFe Program Consultant Amanda Babb to get a more complete introduction to implementing Agile practices at the Enterprise level. Next, contact Praecipio Consulting to begin introducing SAFe to your company. We can assist you with anything from Atlassian product licenses, implementations and configurations (to get you the right tools for the job) to customized consultations and trainings on SAFe. 

Deliver your highest quality product and the lowest cost of deployment with SAFe, Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting!

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices confluence enterprise sdlc jira-software safe marketplace-apps
2 min read

Jira Portfolio Cheat Sheet

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM

For projects big or small, Jira Portfolio helps you plan it all! With the ability to pull work in progress in from Jira or push the work breakdown structure into Jira, Portfolio makes managing projects a breeze. With a little set-up and some good old-fashioned planning sessions, your organization can quickly view release schedules, track estimates and actuals to business strategy targets, and manage resources in one place. 

Setup is key with Jira Portfolio. Simply choose your plan type, then work right to left: Configure, Reports, Releases, People. Once you have the business strategy and available resources, then populate your Backlog. Importing an existing set of issues from a saved filter in Jira requires only a few clicks. Or, if you prefer, create your plan and push individual initiatives, epics, stories, and defects into a single project or multiple projects. For those that are truly Agile, plan and push Epics into Jira, then allow the teams to develop and estimate Stories. Synchronize your plan and you're able to predict releases and inform stakeholders.

Push 

Dial in your plan before work begins. Add level of effort estimates and link Epics and/or Stories together to create dependencies. Then let Jira Portfolio inform you of a missing skill set, plan your sprints, or predict the release schedule. 

Pull

Mitigate risk and communicate with stakeholders with ease. Importing in-flight work provides stakeholders with more accurate release schedules based on current work efforts. Mitigate risk by seeing how new work and dependencies affect the overall schedule. Flex resources across teams to fill skills gaps. 

Choose 

Which of the five key capabilities of Portfolio Project Management are you trying to manage: change, risk, resource, pipeline, or financial? Let the capability determine whether a push strategy or a pull strategy works best. The answer may be to use both strategies in the same plan. 

Learn more about Jira Portfolio and get an in-depth demonstration in the tool with our Introduction to Jira Portfolio webinar.

Topics: atlassian blog scaled-agile best-practices integration marketplace-apps
5 min read

Expert Tips to Enhance Collaboration

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 30, 2014 11:00:00 AM

While I may have seen Lord of the Rings, I've recently become keenly aware of my overall lack of knowledge around the ins and outs of the franchise. After creating a would-be "one does not simply" LOTR meme related to a new Atlassian product release, I HipChatted the idea to a co-worker for review. The following is the actual conversation that ensued:
 

 

Aside from the fact that I apparently need to re-watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my big take-away from the conversation was- thank goodness for Atlassian! At Praecipio Consulting, we leverage the collaborative power of the product suite for everything from content review to coming up with new ideas and innovations for our client work. Even with resources located across the country, I still get the input I need from our team with tools like Confluence, Jira and HipChat.

As an international company with offices from Australia to Austin to Amsterdam, Atlassian knows the importance of remote collaboration across disparate teams. With a product suite that facilitates communication and documentation, Atlassian helps organizations worldwide increase productivity with tools like Jira, Confluence and Stash. One could write code in Asia, then have a team member in South America review and merge it. Marketing initiatives begun in England can be aligned with corresponding product releases developed in Iceland with Jira Portfolio. The Atlassian line of products, designed for maximum collaboration, allows remote team members to bring their expertise to projects to achieve best results. Besides using the Atlassian tools to prevent misappropriated movie references, we also collaborate in other ways.

Everybody Needs an Editor.

While spell check has done wonders for catching errors, it is always good practice to have someone review your work before pushing to production. Jira and Confluence track activity by users, alerting page and issue watchers to edits made and keeping the general population abreast of developments via the activity feed. This allows your team to see changes made and weigh in with comments. If you have Confluence 5.7, you get even more editing power with the ability to leave in-line comments on documents and attachments for the most specific, efficient method of feedback. At Praecipio Consulting, our best collaborative practices include color-coded copy edits that delineate areas for re-write, removal of copy or verification of content accuracy. Using our colored copy system, it is easy to provide specific feedback during collaboration that the content owner can efficiently incorporate into the document.

To further standardize our review process, we created a custom Marketing Communications issue type in Jira with its own workflow. We now have the ability to track the progress all our content from In Progress to QA (review) to Publish. By assigning the issue to the user responsible for each step in the process, the reporter (the person who ultimately owns the project) can easily see when to expect the next content release. With reports and customizable dashboards in Jira, we can easily view our communications schedule to ensure that content is on track throughout the In Progress and QA phases for on-time publishing. Not only does this help us thoroughly review content before publishing, but it also streamlines our processes by avoiding multiple individual sub-tasks and instead tracks the workflow within the main communications issue for best collaborative practices. 

The Marketplace of Ideas

In 1859, philosopher John Stuart Mill raised the idea of "the marketplace of ideas" - a community of open, transparent discourse to find truth. Why not create a Marketplace of Ideas for your teams to share information and gain knowledge? 

With Atlassian tools like Confluence Questions, your entire organization has access to a centralized source of standardized information. Allowing users to easily search for answers, team members can add their own responses and up-vote the answers of others to make Confluence Questions even more robust. Identify experts in your organization with leaderboard reporting so you find your best resource for each project.

Jira Portfolio, Atlassian's most exciting new offering, brings disparate teams together through initiative setting to align all projects to your business strategy, from your marketing department to your dev team. The skill field for each resource gives you even more granularity when searching for the right person, allowing users to set competencies from UI to QA. 

We don't think John Stuart Mill was the one who coined the phrase, "two heads are better than one," but Atlassian users agree with it just the same. Introducing tools like Confluence Questions and Jira Portfolio bring best collaborative practices to your organization as your team begins sharing and learning together. 

Members Only

Getting others' feedback can be helpful, but sometimes you only want input from certain users. With permission setting capabilities across the Atlassian product suite administrators can determine the visibility of information to control who can edit and view data. For additional security for your most sensitive information, Praecipio Consulting's Secure Content add-on for Confluence brings you the ultimate encryption with a secure yet simple user interface. 

Need to discuss something with a specific team? Get a room! A HipChat room, that is. Security settings in the real-time chat software gives you the ability to create your own chat room inside your organization's lobby. Add permissions to decide who gets invited to the room and a lock icon will appear next to your HipChat room to let everyone know you're having a private party.

Atlassian's security and permissions settings give you the power to choose your collaborators and keep that secret project - whether a new hire or plans for the boss' birthday party - under wraps until release.

Secure Content provides an easy to use, secure location for your most sensitive information.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Atlassian facilitates best collaborative practices and your best processes with their entire product suite. You gain the full benefit of your team's expertise as they contribute to the CMS, share knowledge and align business strategy. Atlassian gives you the utmost transparency so everyone stays "in the know" and interacts in real-time. Getting efficient and documented feedback, you can seamlessly track user stories to stay involved in the collaborative process from ideation to release. As Atlassian product and process experts, Praecipio Consulting offers services around the innovative suite of tools to help you achieve best collaborative products and practices. We get you what you need - from process optimization to product licensing - to facilitate your best collaborative practices. The greatest ideas come from inspiration through collaboration. Harness the full brain power of your organization with the Atlassian product suite and Praecipio Consulting's best collaborative practices. 

Topics: jira blog best-practices confluence implementation process-consulting questions-for-confluence collaboration consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
5 min read

Top 5 Ways Jira Portfolio Increases ROI

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 15, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Your organization is made up of many moving parts- from team members, to products, to stakeholders. Everyone has different project management needs, and the larger your organization, the greater the need for best practices in project management. Nobody knows project planning and tracking better than Atlassian, who continue to build industry-favorite SDLC tools like Jira and Confluence to enhance your team's collaboration and visibility. This year, they raised the bar even higher with the release of Jira Portfolio. You can track real-time adjustments to product releases and analyze use of resources in one central location to determine the best course of action every time for reliable delivery.  

At Praecipio Consulting we are excited to offer our Atlassian expert services around Jira Portfolio, bringing you this revolutionary product from licensing to implementation, configuration, and training. As businesses around the world begin to catch on to the robust planning power of Jira Portfolio, Praecipio Consulting helps you get the maximum return on your SaaS investment. So, how does Jira Portfolio increase your ROI? Here are just a few ways...


5. INITIALIZE YOUR INITIATIVES

Seasoned users of Jira know about using the epic designation in Jira Agile to collect user stories from multiple tasks under a larger project heading, but now you can expand your business narrative with initiatives! An initiative aligns epics and corresponding user stories to link together all the moving pieces of your business processes. Unfamiliar with Agile practices? Use Initiatives to give each team a vision for their part of the story- whether you're the one developing the product or the one marketing it. Each team's actions in Jira track back to Jira Portfolio under the larger initiative plan to give PM's and stakeholders an accurate overview of how the initiative is developing to ensure an on-time delivery. Get all your resources from all involved teams on the exact same page with initiative-setting capabilities in Jira Portfolio.

Before Jira Portfolio: Countless cross-team meetings to convey initiative vision and goals

After Jira Portfolio: Epics and stories streamlined by initiative to keep your teams aligned under the same vision and goals

 

4. THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE RIGHT JOB

Who has time to work on the project? Who has the required skills? Finding answers to these questions used to take significant time- time that could be spent moving ahead on your project- that is, until Jira Portfolio. Now it's easy to search resources by availability and skill set to assign the right person to the right job. Never again have to guess whether your assigned developer has UI/UX experience- just check Jira Portfolio and see! Not only can you find the perfect person for the task by filtering searches for specific skills, but you can view their availability to determine if they have the bandwidth for your project. If only online dating were this easy!

Before Jira Portfolio: Mismatched assignees who may (or may not) have the skills needed to finish the job right, and on time

After Jira Portfolio: Find the perfect fit for the job by viewing resources' skills and availability 

 

3. EASY ESTIMATION

So, you've found your Mr. Perfect Developer or Mrs. Right Marketing Resource. How much time will it take these team members to complete their assignments? With Jira Portfolio, your resources gain the ability to project the time they need to get the job done. By documenting these estimates in Jira Portfolio, PM's get a percentage breakdown across teams and users for the most accurate, up-to-date forecast of your project timeline. User friendly charts and percentages automatically generate based on the estimated time required, showing you the workload make-up of your project. And, with report export capabilities, the only thing PM's have to do is press print and hand over the beautifully accurate and informative analysis to project stakeholders for easy and always available project tracking. 

Before Jira Portfolio: Imbalance of time allocation per development phases; Searching multiple locations for data then keeping fingers crossed in hopes that the search provides an accurate forecast to stakeholders

After Jira Portfolio: Each phase gets the time it needs; One central location with reporting options that allows you to see your progress in a single glance 

 

2. SCRUM AND KANBAN- YOU GET BOTH!

Your methodology is personal to your organization. Often, teams within the same company, teams operate using different processes. Jira Portfolio meets the process needs of every team with options for Scrum and Kanban. Using Jira Portfolio's iteration-based scrum scheduling abilities, your project moves through a workflow based on completion of one to several week-long iterations. Need continuous scheduling ability? Jira Portfolio has you covered with the Kanban-style scheduling that organizes the stages of your workflow to align with a traditional process workflow, moving to the next step once the previous one has been completed and closed out. Jira Portfolio provides a project planning tool to fit any process methodology in your organization.

Before Jira Portfolio: Different methodologies requiring different software for different teams, preventing cross-team collaboration and centralized reporting for PM's

After Jira Portfolio: One SaaS to rule them all! Any methodology, or even multiple methodologies in the same organization, achieve the same traceability and process maximization

 

 

1. LET'S GET REAL

Perhaps the most exciting feature of Jira Portfolio (but really, how can we pick just one?) is the ability for real-time planning and forecasting. While this is nothing new for Atlassian users, Jira Portfolio takes it one step further, allowing administrators to project timelines based on resources, dependancies and completion of iterations. Need to spend more time in testing before release? Update your date fields, and the project tracking timeline adjusts to re-schedule your release date accordingly. How much time could you gain by adding an additional resource to a phase? No need to guess- just add the resource and Jira Portfolio shows you, based on the resource's availability and role, the new timeline to reflect the extra team member's projected contribution. Those who love to ask "What if?" Jira Portfolio allows you to explore different scenarios to determine your best course of action before making the call. 

Before Jira Portfolio: Guessing at deadlines and making partially informed decisions 

After Jira Portfolio: Real-time forecasting of scenarios to get your best course of action every time

Atlassian's new Jira Portfolio bring robust, flexible, dynamic scheduling capabilities to your organization for best project management practices. This exciting Jira add-on delivers big results, streamlining your organization's numerous projects for supreme visibility and providing thorough, accurate reporting. Masters of best technology and business practices, Praecipio Consulting is here to bring Jira Portfolio to your organization! A one-stop shop for all things Atlassian, we provide implementation, configuration, process consulting, training and anything else you need to get your organization using Jira Portfolio with best-in-breed practices. 

Ready to learn more about Jira Portfolio and how it revolutionizes business practices? Join us on November 5th for our Introduction to Jira Portfolio webinar, which includes a live demonstration of the application and a Q&A opportunity with Praecipio Consulting's Atlassian Expert Consultant, Amanda Babb. Contact us to learn how Jira Portfolio can maximize your project planning and how Praecipio Consulting sets you up for your greatest success.

All images courtesy of "Dilbert" by Scott Adams

Topics: blog best-practices optimization process-consulting training consulting-services portfolio-management project-management marketplace-apps

Introduction to Jira Portfolio

By Amanda Babb on Oct 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Want to connect your business strategy to development reality? Jira Portfolio, Atlassian's newest product, allows for easy and accurate planning across multiple projects and teams. Get an inside look at the latest offering and learn how to connect strategic goals to development reality with Jira Portfolio.

Topics: best-practices implementation product-services training webinars portfolio-management marketplace-apps cumulus-cloud
5 min read

Paying for Mistakes: The Cost to Fix a Software Defect and How to Avoid It

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 9, 2014 11:00:00 AM

In 2002, a study by NIST reported the U.S. Economy spent $59.5 billion annually fixing software defects. Less than a decade later, Cambridge University found the cost to have risen (in 2007 to 2011) to a global cost of $312 billion per year. With technology becoming an ever-growing presence in our society- from smart phones to smart cars- the pressure to build infallible software is at the forefront of companies' minds. A software defect, which can be caused by omitting even one character in pages of code, can have far reaching repercussions.

These kind of non-conformance expenditures spent repairing software defects impact your Cost of Quality, costing your company profit and maybe even your professional reputation. Customer satisfaction fuels the reputation of businesses, and even a small software defect can translate into billions of dollars in lost revenue when people become frustrated over non-functional or mis-operating products. 

"To err is human." So, how do we reduce software defects caused by user error?

With the Atlassian product suite, you have security with well-documented, well-reviewed process capabilities- You just have to begin with the end in mind. This should be the mantra for any software development effort. To start, gathering clear requirements in Confluence will allow a team to have a single point of truth when in the early stages. Developers, QA, Stakeholders, Product Owners, Scrum Masters- everyone should be involved in the process. Before kicking off a new project, ask yourself:

  • What are we trying to create? (e.g. a new feature, an enhancement to an existing product or offering, a cleaner UI)
  • Why are we doing this and why is this a need? 
  • Who are the end-users and how will they be using the product?
  • Where in the application will this sit? (e.g. Is it middleware? Is it database transactions? ) 
  • When can we release this? 

These 5 questions can get ideas flowing. Recommendations regarding this phase include creating user profiles to help determine acceptance criteria. In Agile, the creation of user stories helps here too. By beginning with the end in mind and leveraging Confluence, there is no question as to what the expected function of the product is and what is considered done.

Once the requirements have been reviewed and agreed upon, now is where we start tasking. Within Confluence, selecting text and creating Jira tickets is easy once the applications are linked. These issues should be created with the mindset that after an iteration, the issue is complete and potentially shippable. 

Fail fast... then fix it!

These checkpoints in the SDLC process have the opportunity to make or break a deliverable's release, reducing extra costs to the company. Depending on the phase in which the defect is introduced, and how long it takes to catch, the losses can quickly add up. Finding an architecture issue in the construction phase will cost 10 times as much than if it were caught in its starting phase. A requirements issue found in post-release can cost up to 100 times as much to fix than if identified from the beginning. How can you ensure you're shipping a defect-free product that won't cost your company profit or credibility?

Take a moment to think about what potentially shippable means. These items have been developed, tested, re-tested, merged, and are ready to meet the outside world. With a click of a button in Stash, these items can be merged with the Master Branch and are now available for use. But to get to this point, the Scrum Team must have had some way to develop and test and merge and flag issues without affecting the Master Branch or Production System. Here's where integrating Jira, Bamboo, and Stash come in handy. You can create a feature branch, develop against it, and merge it with everyone else's branches to ensure there are no defects. Bamboo will see the new branch and build. Fail Fast. Within a short period of time, the team can see what they did (or didn't do) to make sure the units are potentially shippable- troubleshoot, fix, then merge again. When a build fails or a branch doesn't merge, defects can be filed in Jira and added into the Sprint. 

Accidents will happen.

Even with multiple checkpoints in place for accuracy, a user may spot a defect. In this case, leveraging Jira Service Desk can provide immediate feedback to customer service regarding the problem. By providing a way for customers to communicate their issue immediately, you are able to respond to their complaint- preserving the reputation of your business and gaining important information on what went wrong (so you can avoid it next time). Everybody makes mistakes- it's how (and how fast) you fix them that leaves a lasting impression with customers. 

Limit Defects, Avoid Loss, Increase Productivity

With the Atlassian product suite, user errors that create defects in software are identified and weeded out before your deliverable ships, allowing you to continually increase profit and get solid results. Best practices in robust tools like Jira, Confluence, and Stash help your organization achieve traceability and thorough documentation through continuous integration. Leveraging administrative and reporting functions, including permission setting and customized workflows, you can track project development and identify blockers in real time to mitigate profit loss. Atlassian further stacked their product line to increase visibility and keep deliverables on time and defect-free with their new offering, Jira Portfolio

Million dollar profit or million dollar loss? The omission in a single character in one line of code can be catastrophic to your deliverable, so early detection is paramount. Atlassian helps you catch those bugs before they turn into an infestation and with our extensive knowledge of best practices and process optimization around the product suite can maximize your defect defense. Learn more about how Praecipio Consulting can help you avoid those costly errors. With the money you save, you can treat your team to an Atlassian training course!

Topics: blog scaled-agile best-practices bitbucket confluence process-consulting roi consulting-services jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
3 min read

JIRA Portfolio: Atlassian's Latest & Greatest Release

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 19, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Five major announcements at Summit 2014 weren't enough for Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike-Cannon Brookes. Sneaking in a "Number 0" announcement after such crowd pleasers as Jira Service Desk agent-based pricing and HipChat for Server and iOS8, the San Jose Convention Center nearly exploded when Mike introduced the world to Atlassian's newest addition:

 

Since Jira first hit the marketplace in 2004, usage has gone through the roof with worldwide adoption of the popular issue-tracking product by industry giants with enterprise needs. In ten years, Jira has only gotten better with age, as Atlassian continuously pushes to improve products based on user feedback. That kind of user response- from Atlassian Experts who implement Jira, to stakeholders looking for a larger return on their investment- drove the design, development, and release of Jira Portfolio. Designed for maximum traceability, projects can be easily viewed to enable strategic planning, provide project reporting, and link work amongst teams for greater consistency in realizing business initiatives. Jira Portfolio adds value to every Jira instance in your organization: from stakeholders needing at-a-glance analytics, to technical leads scheduling project delivery, to team members who need to see how their work fits into a larger context. 

ONE SOURCE FOR ALL

Standardization across teams is important in your business processes, especially in organizations with cross-functional team projects! Leveraging Jira Portfolio across your organization fosters collaboration amongst teams and provides supreme visibility. Jira Portfolio makes use of the integrative power that we know and love in Atlassian products, seamlessly communicating with your other tools including Jira Agile and Confluence, making it a major force of functionality in the world of technology solutions.

ON TIME, EVERY TIME

Jira Portfolio is a centralized home for business development projects that unifies your organization, allowing for project tracking in real-time across teams for incredibly accurate strategic planning. Never miss the mark on a scheduled release again! With Jira Portfolio, you can track projects (Yes, more than one project at a time!) from proof-of-concept to delivery thus cutting cost-of-change and continually improving business processes through the use of dashboards and workflows.

TELL BETTER STORIES

Keep your team fully informed with the integration and cross-team collaboration you get with Jira Portfolio. When builds grow from business initiatives, you can keep your devs clued into the strategy by linking projects with themes. With Jira Portfolio, your user stories have more narrative power, as epics and stories can now point to business initiatives and themes. Your dev teams can build products informed by the business initiative that outlines its place in the market. Your business team can see the development of the product they're marketing and advertise its upcoming release.

ALL OF THE FRAMEWORKS

Want Jira Portfolio but don't know how it will work in your framework? Atlassian washes those worries away with Jira Portfolio's Framework-Agnostic compatibility. No matter what framework your organization uses, Jira Portfolio will always be a perfect fit. 

LOW COST POINT

Jira Portfolio makes your Jira instance even more robust by driving down development costs, but your savings don't end there. Jira users can expand their Atlassian product suite to include Jira Portfolio, gaining the highest functionality of strategic planning software available at a fraction of the cost of competitors. 

With Atlassian's new Jira Portfolio, you can achieve your best business processes. Drive costs down with strategic planning, easy cross-team collaboration, and high-level reporting to take your organization to a whole new level. At Praecipio Consulting, we're just as excited about Jira Portfolio as our clients! And...we're thrilled to offer a first look inside the hot new offering in our upcoming Jira Portfolio webinar on November 5th. Join one of our Solutions Architects and Certified ScrumMaster, Amanda Babb, to learn how to unlock the power of Jira Portfolio.

Wherever you want to go with the Atlassian product suite, we'll take you there.

Topics: atlassian blog atlassian-summit best-practices process-consulting consulting-services marketplace-apps
4 min read

The Future of Atlassian: Blowing Minds at Summit '14

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 17, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Make a list of all the things you'd like to see in new and existing Atlassian products. Dream big. Get thoughts from other Atlassian users. Then- build, test, deliver and repeat. No, this isn't the Atlassian version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

It's the future of Atlassian- and your mind will be blown!

Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes kicked off Summit 2014 in San Jose, CA with an Opening Keynote that not only inspired the audience, but moved them to on-going applause as one-by-one new products and features were announced. For those of us streaming the presentation remotely, HipChat rooms all over the world were surely abuzz with excited talk about the new offerings, all of which were on our personal wish lists! 

Without further adieu, we present six more reasons that Atlassian is the shiz: 

6. The Atlassian Family is growing!


Atlassian is expanding- and we don't just mean their product line.

They've welcomed 9,000 new users (Many of whom we've introduced to Atlassian!), added over 300 new Atlassian team members, spent 1,600 hours giving back to non-profits and, most notably, opened a new office in Austin, Texas (but we're biased). 

It's a good thing Atlassian added to their ranks, because they are going to be very busy with the next 5 announcements!

5. HipChat comes to iOS8!

All the Apple users of HipChat had their (mindblown) when Atlassian announced the new HipChat app for iOS8.

The re-designed app allows you to view HipChat in your lock screen and go straight to notifications in an easy-to-use pull down screen for reading and replying.

Just when we thought we couldn't love HipChat any more than we already did! 

4. Holy Confluence 5.7, Batman!

Wouldn't it be nice to simultaneously work on a single, shared document in Confluence and offer in-line comments to collaborators on pages and attachments?

Atlassian thought so too- that's why they included these real-time, collaboration-enhancing features to their already robust CMS.

The fastest way to get your non-technical team members to love Atlassian? Introduce them to Confluence 5.7.

3. Unlimited Customer Usage of Jira Service Desk!

Since making its debut at Summit 2013, Jira Service Desk has quickly become one of Atlassian's hottest, most used products. Thousands of teams received thousands of requests through Jira Service Desk- and now, all those customers are FREE.

With new, agent-based pricing, you get Jira Service Desk 2.0 for your team to serve as many customers as you can. Just one price, no matter the size of your client base! 

2. Stash in the Enterprise! 

Stash is the latest Atlassian product, after Jira and Confluence, to join the Data Center offering- and it's set to be the biggest Data Center release yet!

The first high-availability Git repository, Stash Data Center is a dream for teams running mission-critical processes with no room for downtime and a great need for scalability. 

1. Introducing Jira Portfolio!

On the last day of Summit, attendees packed into Demo Alley to get a glimpse of the newest addition to the Atlassian product line: Jira Portfolio.

The world's largest companies leverage Jira for this purpose- and Atlassian is providing even more planning, reporting and traceability than ever before!

Improved strategizing, change response and growth planning? We're signing up right now!

Where are you going with Atlassian? 

Judging by the non-stop excitement and discuss by our team, nobody is more enthusiastic about the future of Atlassian than Praecipio Consulting! 

Our passion is improving your processes- making them better, faster and stronger so you can achieve best practices for your best product- and those are the tools Atlassian builds.

No matter if you're a new user, a small start-up or an industry giant- wherever you want to go with Atlassian...

...We'll take you there.

Topics: jira atlassian news blog atlassian-summit best-practices bitbucket confluence hipchat mobile jira-service-desk marketplace-apps
1 min read

Brikit: Getting More From Your Confluence Investment with Theme Press

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 7, 2014 11:00:00 AM

Software developers have known for years that Confluence is the ultimate collaboration tool. While the value may be apparent for some parts of your organization, others might be intimidated by new technologies, preventing your company from reaping the full return on your Confluence investment. Accentuating the power of Confluence to share information, Brikit's Theme Press gives companies an out-of-the-box tool that will trigger a Confluence adoption craze across your whole organization. Perfect for company intranets as well as external use, the beautiful design and unrivaled usability of Theme Press gives you the flexibility to customize your website for your purposes.

At Praecipio Consulting, we customized our Confluence-based website utilizing Theme Press while incorporating new pages and content into the same design. Victor Vargas, Praecipio Consulting's in-house graphic artist, pushed Theme Press to the max and was excited about the results. "As a designer, it's an effective and robust platform to use." Our new website even caught the attention of Brikit founder Darryl Duke, who featured praecipio.com (at 6:54) in this online Theme Press demonstration. To that end, we at Praecipio Consulting are excited to add Theme Press implementation to our robust service offerings, bringing this innovative platform to new and existing Confluence users. Contact us to learn how Praecipio Consulting can revolutionize your Confluence with Theme Press.

Theme Press has taken Confluence outside of the development team silo and launched a simple, dynamic, user-friendly platform that increases adoption across your organization. With customization, endless design possibilities and the easiest of editing capabilities, Theme Press puts a new spin on an old Atlassian classic to bring Confluence to a wider audience than ever before. 

Check out praecipio.com at 6:54!

Topics: blog brikit confluence implementation technology-partners consulting-services integration marketplace-apps
7 min read

Team Calendars 2.3 Released

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 26, 2012 11:00:00 AM

We’re excited to announce the release of Atlassian Confluence’s Team Calendars 2.3. For this Team Calendars release Atlassian focused a lot on helping you stay up to date with upcoming events in your team.

Here’s a list of highlights for this release…

Upcoming Events View

Atlassian’s created a new upcoming events view in the Team Calendars macro. It’s great for keeping your team informed of leave, travel or upcoming Jira project milestones. Embed it on your team homepage, or your project status page: 

 

Upcoming Events In Confluence Summary Email

Confluence 4.2 introduced weekly/daily summary email, helping you stay on top of popular and important content right from your email. Team Calendars now integrates nicely to these summary emails so you can stay updated with upcoming events in your team, project or company events right in your inbox: 

Learn more about using Jira Calendars to track your upcoming releases and issue dates.

 

Improved Confluence 4 Editor Experience

As of Team Calendars 2.2, Atlassian’s stopped adding new features for Confluence 3.5.x. You can now start taking advantage of all the new 4.0 editor plugin points.

Quickly Switch Calendar Views

Now that newer versions of Team Calendars support Confluence 4.0 or greater, you can start to make use of some of the Confluence 4.0 editor plugin points. So you can now quickly change calendar views using the editor property panel.

See Calendar Names

Previously, when you embedded a calendar on a page you would see something like “calendarID=349834j232″ in macro parameter list for the macro – which wasn’t helpful in identifying what calendars were embedded. As of Team Calendars 2.3, you will now see a preview of the calendar name(s) that you have embedded.

 
 

Other Improvements

  • For People Calendars, we now show the event summary in month and week views for some more context
  • To avoid any silly mistakes, Atlassian’s added a delete confirmation if you try to delete an event from the edit event dialog

Release Notices

  • Reminder: Team Calendars 2.2 was Atlassian’s last feature release for Confluence 3.5.x. Only critical bug fixes will be ported back to Team Calendars 2.2.x. These new features are available on Confluence 4.0 or greater.
  • The Email Summary Integration feature requires Confluence 4.2 or greater.

Upgrading to Team Calendars 2.3

Upgrading from a previous version of Team Calendars is straightforward. We recommend that you back up your Confluence database (which includes Team Calendars data) before upgrading.

  • In Confluence, simply click ‘Upgrade‘ in the Team Calendars entry of the Plugin Administration screen.
    Alternatively, download the latest release from our plugin exchange and install it via the Plugin Administration screen. This should upgrade Team Calendars to 2.3.0 (or higher).

Issues Resolved in this Release

 

 

Type
Key
Summary
Assignee
Reporter
Priority
Status
Resolution
Created
Updated
Due

 

 

 
TEAMCAL-652
Integrate with daily/weekly summary email
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
22/May/12
23/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-116
Add new “Compact List View” to macro
David Chui [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
11/Jun/11
10/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-246
Add month, week and list view to Team Calendars macro properties panel
David Chui [Atlassian]
Bill Arconati [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
27/Jul/11
16/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-664
Constructing a mail should not result in resolving resources over HTTP
David Chui [Atlassian]
Fabian Kraemer [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
25/May/12
04/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-533
Adding a new calendar UX – clicking OK should give “Adding…” feedback.
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
21/Feb/12
30/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-642
Macro placeholder image
David Chui [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
13/May/12
10/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-33
People calendar should show event description in month and week views
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
24/Apr/11
10/Jun/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-634
Space picker when creating a new calendar should span the full width of the field
David Chui [Atlassian]
Sherif Mansour [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
08/May/12
28/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-605
Delete Confirmation Required in Event Edit Window too
Matthew Erickson [Atlassian]
Mark Russom
 
 Resolved
Fixed
12/Apr/12
30/May/12
 
 
TEAMCAL-668
‘Unable to format date/time’ error when viewing an event anonymously
David Chui [Atlassian]
Foo Guan Sim [Atlassian]
 
 Resolved
Fixed
28/May/12
28/May/12
Topics: jira atlassian blog calendars confluence release teams upgrade integration macros marketplace-apps
4 min read

Atlassian Releases Jira 5

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 22, 2012 11:00:00 AM

So you’ve probably heard already – Atlassian released Jira 5 today, loaded with tons of new stuff. Here’s Atlassian’s press release, which gives a cumulative primer:

“SAN FRANCISCO & SYDNEY, February 22, 2012—Atlassian, the leading provider of collaboration software for product teams, today launched Jira 5, the latest release of its flagship product. Available through both an OnDemand and on-site offering, Jira 5 offers a social product development platform that connects people, applications and activity to accelerate the software development process. New social features such as mentions, sharing and live activity streams immediately bring users into real-time discussions.

Jira 5′s platform – including an expanded plugin API and improved REST APIs –allows third-party software vendors to easily integrate with Jira and create products that are seamlessly compatible with future Jira releases, saving companies time and money. More than 30 integration partners, including Box, Gliffy, New Relic, Zephyr, Zendesk, Salesforce.com, Tempo and GetSatisfaction are launching Jira 5 compatible third-party products. More than 100 commercial and free plugins are also available with today’s launch.

“Jira 5 continues to push the software development process forward, this time through new social capabilities that improve real-time communication and better connect developers, technical teams, business users and customers – basically everyone building software products together,” said Jay Simons, president of Atlassian. “Jira 5′s enhanced integration platform also helps connect information from other enterprise products – a sales ticket from Salesforce.com, or a customer service request from Zendesk – directly to the Jira issue tracking and workflow engine, putting more information directly into the hands of product teams.”

Jira is used by more than 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Jira sits at the center of the software development process, connecting teams with development tasks such as bug tracking, feature development, agile planning, and activity monitoring.

Sharing Features Connect Developers, Teams and Data in Real Time

“Before Jira, our developers lost so much time reproducing the wheel through a tedious process of figuring out what had been done and who’d already been involved,” said Alex Kirmse, head of mobile development for Zappos.

Jira 5’s new sharing and mention features makes it easy to pull team members or co-workers into the conversation. Live activity streams update team members on all related activities and information, much like Facebook and Twitter activity streams.

“The effectiveness of our team’s communications has increased with direct commenting to individuals and live activity streams,” said Max Pool, Founder of Sycorr, a mobile banking company. “The integration platform for Jira 5 is the best yet. REST APIs improve our ability to integrate across platforms, while improvements to Jira’s powerful search engine (JQL) – such as historic change support – allow us to get even more creative in how we use the system and get the data we want from it.”

Building Businesses on the Jira 5 Platform

Jira 5’s new stable plugin API and improved REST APIs make it easy for integration partners and other plugin developers to build integrated software products. More than a quarter of Jira’s 400 plugins and more than 15 remote SaaS integrations are launching with Jira 5 compatibility. Plugins built using the Jira 5 stable plugin API will be compatible with future upgrades to Jira.

“We feel confident in betting our business on Jira’s success,” explains Samir Shah, CEO of Zephyr. “Jira 5′s new API connects development to QA, and gives our test case management tools more adoption because users know they can upgrade to future releases without having to wait on add-on upgrades.”

“Jira 5 is another quantum leap by Atlassian in their mission to creatively enable large scale collaboration at the nexus of engineering and support,” said Adrian McDermott, vice president of engineering and product management at Zendesk. “This integration redefines how support and engineering teams can work together to enrich customer satisfaction.”

Availability

Starting today, Atlassian is offering a free 30-day trial of Jira 5. Jira can be purchased for on-site download for just $10 for 10 users, or OnDemand starting at $10/month for 10 users.

New Jira Enterprise Offering

To ensure the success of large deployments, Atlassian is introducing a new Jira Enterprise offering with additional support, training and engagement. Customers with 500 or more Jira users can now receive 24X7 phone support, end-user training, and administrator certification, among other enhanced services. For more information, go to http://www.atlassian.com/enterprise.

Additional Resources

About Atlassian

Atlassian products help innovators everywhere plan, build and launch great software. More than 18,000 large and small organizations – including Citigroup, eBay, Netflix and Nike – use Atlassian’s issue tracking, collaboration and software-development products to work smarter and deliver quality results on time. Learn more at http://atlassian.com.”

Topics: jira atlassian news blog connect enterprise facebook salesforce software stream twitter zendesk zephyr saas tempo collaboration developers download gliffy integration jql marketplace-apps
8 min read

Best of 2011: Confluence Edition

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 5, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Here’s Atlassian’s Matt Hodges’ take on Atlassian Confluence’s best additions of 2011, which he says “paved the way for the future of online collaboration:”

2011 was the year Atlassian satisfied more than 2,235 of our customers’ votes for new features and improvements with three of our biggest releases, ever. 2011 was the year Atlassian took Confluence to the cloud with our new OnDemand platform, made it even more affordable for small teams, and started to get you new features, faster.  2011 was the year a new era in content collaboration was born.

Taking a page out of Ken’s book, here’s my pick of the starting XI of 2011 for the Confluence Family.

Keeper – The Anchor

No. 1  – A Faster, Richer, Simpler Editor

Suitably, this position is filled by the brand-new editor that shipped in Confluence 4.0. On-top of a brilliantly simple design, it’s packed full of rich editing features that make it lightning fast and able to satisfy two of your top 10 most voted feature requests – Merge Table Cells and Copy and Paste Images.

 

 

Defense (4) – A Solid Foundation

Any winning team needs a strong defensive line. In 2011 Atlassian built and improved upon four rock-solid pillars to ensure Confluence continues to thrive in 2012.

No. 2  – Easier Connections to Active Directory, LDAP, and Crowd

Connecting Confluence to an external user directory used to be painful, whether it was Active Directory, other LDAP servers or Atlassian Crowd. You had to edit XML files, and the configuration options were limited. Confluence 3.5 brought a simple, powerful , and flexible directory management interface and support for nested groups, another top 10 most voted for feature request.

 

No. 3 – Stronger Jira Integration

 

Confluence is great for collaboratively defining specsJira‘s perfect for tracking the tasks that need to be completed to make those specs a reality. In Confluence 3.5 Atlassian made it easy to link the specs you develop in Confluence to the actionable issues you track in Jira, without leaving the editor.

Since more than half of Confluence customers also use Jira Atlassian wanted to reduce complexity with your setup and give your users one username and password for both applications. With the release of Confluence 3.5 and Jira 4.3 you can now manage all your users in one place by allowing you to delegate Confluence User Management to Jira.

No. 4 – New Installer with Guided Upgrades

With new releases coming frequent and often Atlassian wanted to help you get new features to your users, faster. Much to the delight of any sysadmins that are looking after Confluence, Confluence 4.0 brought with it new guided installers for Windows and Linux.

No. 5 – More Plugin Points for Developers

Confluence 4.0 was designed to allow for constant innovation and improvement. Atlassian worked closely with our amazing partners to make sure they can take advantage of the power of the new editor. The latest version of Gliffy is an excellent example of how plugin developers can deliver a more powerful and most importanlty, intuitive user experience in Confluence.

 

Midfield (3) – The Collaborative Engine

Soccer is a team sport. It’s ultimately a collaboration amongst players that leads to a result. Midfield starts the plays. They facilitate the collaboration that helps win games. In 2011, Atlassian added 3 new features to help users share and discover the rich content they create to foster collaboration and achieve better results.

No. 6 – A New Way to Share

 

Tired of copying and pasting Confluence links into emails? Atlassian was too, so in Confluence 3.5 they added a ‘Share’ button to every page and blog post. Then in Confluence 4.1 Atlassian gave you a simple keyboard shortcut – ‘S’ – so you can bring right people into the discussions and projects that are taking place in Confluence without picking up your mouse.

No. 7 – Autowatch Content You Care About

Have you ever forgot to watch a page that you’ve created, edited, or commented on? Autowatch ensures you are always kept in the loop by automatically watching any pages or blogs posts that you contribute to. You’ll never miss another play again.

No. 8 – Familiarly Social @mentions

@mentions are a great way to notify other users about content and conversations they should be involved in. Best of all, they work just like Twitter and Facebook. When mentioned, users receive an email notification so they can jump right into Confluence and start contributing.

 

Strikers (3) – The Cutting-Edge

There are some features that are game-changers. They kick goals and win games. That’s how I like to think of these three features Atlassian gave you in 2011.

No. 9 – Autoformatting Magic

With the new editor in Confluence 4.0, came more power and speed thanks to Autoformatting. Type wiki markup and watch Confluence convert it to rich text, on the fly. Bold, italics, strike-through, underline, headings, lists, emoticons, tables – it all works.

 

No. 10 – Professional Image Effects

Creating content that looks good has never been this easy. Click an image and choose from a set of professional effects. That’s it. Whether it’s screenshots in your release notes or snaps from your company’s holiday party, Image Effects makes everyone look like an editing pro.

 

No. 11 – Instant Autoconvert

Autoconvert takes the links you paste into the editor – Confluence pages, Jira issues, YouTube videos, Skitch images, Flickr photo streams, and Vimeo videos – and transforms them into the dynamic content you desire. Autoconvert will save you valuable time everyday, helping you get things done, faster.

 

Off the Bench – Awesome Additions

There when you need them, your substitutes can fill the holes that pop up during play and change the game. They add the extra flare that’s sometimes needed to win. 2011 was a year Atlassian saw some incredible add-ons – new and old – jump off the bench and shine.

No. 12 – Manage Leave and Track Projects with Team Calendars

In June, at our third annual Atlassian Summit Atlassian revealed a brand-new add-on for Confluence – Team Calendars – where people, projects, and content meet. Since then Atlassian’s given you a new Team Calendar release, 30 days or less…guaranteed. Our two most recent releases delivered the new features you’ve been asking for – now you can share your custom date fields from Jira and add multiple people to a People Calendar event.

 

No. 13 – The SharePoint Connector Meets Confluence 4.0

That’s right, just last week Atlassian released version 1.5 of the SharePoint Connector. Compatible with Confluence 4.0, the SharePoint Connector takes full advantage of the new Confluence editor to make SharePoint integration easier to discover and use.

No. 14 – Get Schooled at Atlassian University

Also revealed at Summit 2011, Atlassian University is an online training tool that teaches your company how to use Confluence through videos and step-by-step interactive tutorials. With over 40 self-paced classes, it’s the fastest and most intuitive path to becoming a master of Confluence.

 

No. 15 – Incredible Add-ons

Confluence 4.0 paved the way for plugin developers to provide a more natural, richer, and intuitive user experience. Here are some stand-outs:

What Will 2012 Hold?

There’s no doubt it’s been a big year for Confluence, our biggest yet. Atlassian has an awesome team that continues to grow and execute. Thank you to our customers, new and old, and the extended Confluence community – users, experts, and plugin developers. Happy Holidays and safe New Year from the Confluence Team.

 

 

Topics: atlassian blog calendars confluence experts flickr release teams user vimeo community features marketplace-apps
8 min read

Jira: Best 11 of 2011

By Praecipio Consulting on Dec 30, 2011 11:00:00 AM

2011 was an epic year for the Jira Family including two massive releases, the launch of a new product – Atlassian Bonfire – and the introduction of Atlassian OnDemand just to name a few things. Atlassian’s Ken Olofsen had a tough time whittling this list down to just 11 things, but “did his best” to use a “traditional 4-4-2 formation“ (see primer on jersey number relevance) to highlight his “Jira Best XI” for 2011. So, here’s Ken:

The Keeper

For anyone who’s played the game, you’ll know that goalkeepers are a special breed and sometimes a bit looney – no offense to Michael Knighten or any other ‘keeps out there.

Keepers are typically the older veteran who is wildly popular with both the team and the fans, and for our team this is no exception:

No. 1 – User Timezones

JRA-9 was not only the oldest, but also the most voted feature (454 votes), we added to Jira in 2011. And we didn’t just add timezones support, we took timezones to the next level by making it clear for distributed teams to see when other teammates are either sleeping or on the job.

The Defense

A solid foundation is the key for any winning team, so it was important for the Jira team to bolster the back line and build a platform for success:

No. 3 – New Installers / Upgraders

At the heart of the back four we have the new installers for Windows and Linux. Not only did we add simple way for administrators to setup and configure Jira, we inculded an unattended installer and automated upgrader for pain-free Jira deployments going forward. On top of that, we even provided a self-updating plugin manager, database config tools and enhanced importers.

 

 

The other anchor in defense, Application Links are the glue holding all your Atlassian tools together providing aggregated activity streams and key integration capabilities.

For example, connecting Jira to Confluence allows quick issue creation and linking of Jira issues from Confluence. In fact, with the recent release of Confluence 4.1 Jira issue links will instantly autoconvert in the Confluence editor:

 

No. 2 – Admin Overhaul

In addition to adding LDAP & Active Directory support, centralized user management, and a new visual workflow designer; we revamped the Jira Administration interface to make it easier than ever to manager your instance. A new project-centric administration screen makes it simple to see how each project is setup, so you can make changes quickly.

 

No. 4 – Jira on the Bookshelves

Four new books hit the shelves this year providing an excellent array of resources for Jira admins and plugin developers:

 

          

The Midfield

As the engine room of the team, the midfield is where the heavy lifting happens. We added a number of key features and enhancements to make Jira even more powerful than ever.

No. 6 – Visual Workflow Designer

Jira’s versatility is rooted in it’s powerful workflow. That’s why I was personally very excited to see the acquisition and integration of the Visual Workflow Designer making it easier than every to create and modify workflows on the fly:

 

 

 

No. 7 – Activity Streams

No one can quite “bend it like Beckham”, but Jira Activity Streams are incredibly flexible and configurable.

Each team member can dial in their personal activity streams to keep tabs on the specific systems, people and activities that are important to them. They can also vote, watch and comment directly from their dashboard, or drop custom streams into their favorite RSS reader.

No. 8 – JQL Search Change History

Jira Query Language set the gold standard for advance search within issue trackers. In 2011, JQL blossomed into the prototypical “two-way player” by adding historical search capabilities. Use the “WAS” operator on everything from status to assignee and uncover changes made “BY” certain people anytime in the past. Great for building killer dashboards, ad hoc reporting or just sleuthing around Jira.

No. 10 –  Issue Creators

The spark at the center of midfield is the “creator” who gets it all going. Jira has no shortage of ways to create issues – the web, your browseryour IDEemailremote APIs, applications like Confluence, and more. In 2011, we introduced Jira Mobile Connect for collecting user feedback and crash reports from your mobile apps and the Jira Issue Collector for creating issues from your website:

 

And just wait, 2012 promises even more!

The Forwards

Leading the attack, the forward line is always part of the action and usually the ones making the real difference. In our team, the strikers come from our popular add-ons, GreenHopper and Bonfire:

No. 11 – Rapid Board

After spending a few months in the “GreenHopper Labs”, we finally unveiled the Rapid Board. Based completely on JQL, Rapid Views introduce a new way for agile teams to view issues in Jira and work through their daily tasks.

 

No. 9 – Session-Based Testing

Atlassian Bonfire is the newest member of the team and is already blazing a trail for exploratory testing. We all rely heavily on automated testing, but with the growing emphasis on usability and user experience, many software teams are spending more time manually testing applications.

Bonfire’s session-based testing evolved out of our own need for better tool for managing our agile testing efforts.

 

Off the bench

 

Every strong team needs the support of a deep bench, and ours knows no limits:

No. 12 – The Jira Ecosystem

This year the Jira ecosystem exploded, bringing the list of Jira add-ons – plugins, applications and integrations – to over 400!

No. 14 – Slick New Emails

Email notifications got a nice refresher ensuring we find out exactly what happens, as it happens, on any device.

2012 and beyond

The Jira team has been working very hard to make all of our customers, new and old, as happy and successful as possible. And with Jira 5 on the horizon, 2012 promises to be even more exciting for the Jira Family.

On behalf of the entire Jira Team, I’d like to thank you for being part of our success. Happy New Year!!

 

PS. Don’t forget to check out the Confluence Starting XI for 2011. While no match for this Jira team, it’s quite impressive as well.. 

Topics: jira atlassian blog scaled-agile twitter cloud development greenhopper email-notifications marketplace-apps
4 min read

Hey Atlassian Users: Easy Release Management with Bamboo 3.2!

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 28, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Bamboo 3.2 Now Available

Automate your complete release process down to one-click, add manual Stages to your deployment process, and re-run failed Stages with the newest version of Atlassian’s continuous integration server, Bamboo 3.2.

What’s New in Bamboo 3.2

1. Release Management
The dream scenario with any release process is to automate all of your release activities down to the click of a single button. Bamboo 3.2 and the new Release Management plugin for the Jira bug tracker aims to do just that – one-click release management.

  • Prevent mistakes from being made as part of a long, manual release process
  • Remove the barrier to release
  • Speed up the release – the more often you do it, the faster you will make it
  • Manage all your releases from a centralized and controlled location
  • Use the same streamlined, automated process every time you release

Release in Jira, build in Bamboo! Create a release pipeline in Bamboo to automate your release process: use Stages, Jobs and Tasks to build, run tests, generate release artifacts, publish and deploy your release. Then initiate your release activity or event with one-click directly from Jira when you’re ready.

Run a release build in Bamboo from the Jira Versions tab without leaving Jira. 

When releasing a version in Jira you will have the option to run Bamboo builds.

If the build is successful the version will be released in Jira.

Automate the steps that traditionally are performed to release an application:

  • Building and testing
  • Tag the releases, assign a version
  • Create and populate the release branch
  • Deploy the release to a a deployment server or production environment
  • Release the new version in Jira, move the unresolved issues to the next release
  • Release or activate the new version in Production

Bamboo ships with a number of Tasks to build and deploy including Tasks to tag or branch a repository.

For Jira-Bamboo users the latest release of the Bamboo-Jira plugin is now compatible with Jira 4.3 and provides this release management functionality.

2. Manual Stages
Manual Stages allow you to interrupt/halt/suspend automatic build execution at a specific Stage in the build plan. For Plan execution to continue a user must manually trigger the Stage.

  • The default behavior of any Build Plan in Bamboo is to go to the next Stage upon successful completion of the current stage. Depending on your needs you may need to introduce a manual checkpoint into your build plan before going on to the next Stage:
  • Use a manual stage for deployment to give your QA team a chance to perform a few manual tests before your software goes into production
  • In a release pipeline, you may want to separate your ‘publish’ step from your ‘install’ step and install only after backups or clean shutdowns have been confirmed
  • Introduce a ‘quality’ gate, between build and deploy stages, to allow members of your team to approve and promote a particular build
  • Any other step that’s difficult to automate or that requires special attention

 

 

3. Re-run Failed Stages
It’s not always the code that is broken. Infrastructure problems and other issues can cause a Job, and therefore the Plan, to fail. In these scenarios Bamboo can re-run failed Jobs without having to re-run the entire Plan once you’ve resolved the problems. This can save heaps of time and build resources.

 

4. Filter Bamboo Dashboard by Labels
Bamboo now allows you to label your build Plans. The Bamboo Dashboard can be filtered to only show plans with labels that you are interested in. Filter out the noise on your Bamboo Dashboard.

Hint: When viewing a Plan use the keyboard shortcut “l” to bring up the label dialog for the Plan. When viewing the Bamboo Dashboard press “l” to filter the dashboard by label.

And More…

  • Improved Jira integration – delegate user management to Jira, easier application linking
  • EC2 improvements

This release has over 50 new features and improvements implemented. Check out the full release notes for more details.

Also make sure to check out the new agile testing tool for Jira, Atlassian Bonfire.

Ready to download?

Download Bamboo 3.2 now to get started with a 30-day FREE trial or upgrade your current instance.

Topics: jira atlassian blog automation bamboo confluence dashboard management plan process release software deployment environment integration marketplace-apps
3 min read

New (Awesome) Confluence Calendar Add-On

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 21, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Built from the ground up for collaborative teams that use ConfluenceTeam Calendars is a must have fully-supported addition for your wiki.

 

Built for Your Specific Needs

After lots of listening and watching how you use Confluence, Atlassian noticed a trend. Your work revolves around people, projects and content. You need to:

  1. Quickly track and report on your project releases
  2. Understand how the availability of your team members can impact those projects
  3. Communicate the status of your projects and team’s availability to your stakeholders
  4. Plan events and dive deeper into Confluence content related to them

You also told us that current solutions make it difficult to share calendars, are not project-oriented, and are not tightly integrated with your content.

After a lot of listening and learning, Atlassian was stoked to announce the availability of Team Calendars for Confluence - where people, projects, and content meet.

Choose from Three Calendar Types

People Calendars to schedule team leave, Jira Calendars to track projects, and Event Calendars to plan just about anything.

1. Schedule Team Leave with People Calendars
Atlassian’s made it easier for you to plan events around people. People Calendars help you schedule team leave and travel planning, create your support and IT on-call team rosters, and and most importantly, help you plan who stocks the team beer fridge. With People Calendars you can:

  • Link events to people - displaying their profile picture against the event
  • Link events to content - link to your leave, travel or roster plans to the actual event
  • Create recurring events - quickly create rosters and repeating events

Creating rosters, scheduling team leave, and planning travel just go a whole lot easier since you always know the whereabouts of your teammates. 

2. Track Projects with Jira Calendars
Communicating the release plans for your projects is quick and easy with Jira Calendars. Pull project version and issue due dates into Confluence where everyone can see them – keeping your project on track. View them alongside your People Calendars to see how your team’s availability will impact your release schedule.

3. Plan Anything with Event Calendars
Event Calendars are perfect for sharing company milestones, team events, training sessions, public holidays, or any other type of event. Put them on a calendar that everyone can see and subscribe to. While this may seem like ordinary functionality, this calendar is anything but, as you can link your events to the wiki pages capturing all the finer details about those events. Finally, a calendar that’s tightly integrated with your content.

Share and Subscribe to Calendars

1. Share Any Calendar
Atlassian’s made it fast and easy to share the calendars you create with the rest of your team.
2. Embed Calendars
Embed your calendars on any page to keep everyone up-to-date. Put a Jira Calendar on your Development Team Dashboard in Confluence so your whole team can charge towards a common goal.

3. Search and Subscribe
Subscribe to popular calendars upon your first visit and search at any time to discover new calendars to help you build your own single source of truth. Search makes it easy to find and subscribe to calendars that are relevant to you.

 

Works with Outlook, iCal, and Google Calendars

1.Import from Google Calendars
Build your own single source of truth. Bring your calendars that live outside Confluence – Google and iCal – into Team Calendars. Mash them up with your existing Team Calendars so you have one place to go and view all your team events.


2. Subscribe to Team Calendars
If you live in email all day long you can still stay-in-touch by subscribing to Team Calendars from your favorite email client, like Outlook and iCal. 

Available Today – 40% OFF for a Limited Time

This is the first of many releases and to celebrate the release of Team Calendars for Confluence you can get 40% off the price of a new license (for a limited time).

Topics: jira atlassian blog calendars confluence dashboard google teams development integration marketplace-apps
2 min read

Introducing Bamboo 3.1

By Praecipio Consulting on May 12, 2011 11:00:00 AM

So, what’s new in Bamboo 3.1? Check it out this update from Atlassian:

1. Tasks replace Builders
We’ve replaced Builders with a more flexible and extensible concept called Tasks. Multiple Tasks can run inside the same Job sequentially with access to the same build directory. Previously, a Job was limited to one Builder – Ant, Maven, MSBuild etc. For anything more than just running a Maven Goal or executing an Ant Target, you were stuck with creating a script that performs a number of actions…until Tasks. 

Package up your software and upload it to your website, continuously deploy new version on a QA server or even into a production environment. What you do with Tasks is completely up to you because Tasks are implemented as Plugins (and easy to write). Discover available Tasks and install them in your instance of Bamboo on the Atlassian Plugin Exchange.

All existing Builders have been converted to Tasks and tested (we recommend that you upgrade any custom Builders you may have).

2. Plan Variables and Parameterized Builds
You’ve always been able to specify global variables for use in your build configuration. However, all Plans shared these variables and only Administrators were able to create them, making it hard for individual projects to truly utilise this feature. To help maintain your builds with ease we’ve introduced Plan Variables. You can now specify variables that can be used in your build scripts and Tasks across Jobs in a single Plan.

Taking this a step further, we realized that during the development process there are times when you may want to run a build with customized parameters. These “special builds” can play an important part in the release and deployment process. Bamboo 3.1 allows you to parameterize your build when you manually trigger it and overwrite any Plan or Global variables that you’ve used in your build configuration.

3. .NET Support
With the re-work of Builders into Tasks we had the opportunity to improve upon Bamboo’s .Net Support, and we took it. We thank you for your feedback which helped us implement the following new features:

:: Visual Studio – Build Visual Studio projects devenv.exe.
:: Supports different architectures – x86, AMD64, IA32, IA64
:: MSBuild – Run MSBuild as part of your build
:: NAnt – Execute NAnt targets to build your project
:: MSTest Parser – Parses and displays MSTest test results
:: MBUnit Parser – Parses and displays MBUnit test results
:: NUnit Parser – Parses and displays NUnit test results

We’d love to know what you think about these new features and please tell us if there are any other improvements or .Net features you need.

4. Improved Bitbucket and GitHub Support
Bamboo 3.1 improves on the integration with Bitbucket and GitHub. When configuring your Bitbucket or GitHub repo simply enter your username and password and Bamboo will load the available repositories in a convenient dropdown from Bitbucket or GitHub.

5. Universal Plugin Manager (UPM)
Managing plugins and performing Bamboo upgrades are now much easier. The Universal Plugin Manager (UPM), already bundled with Jira and Confluence, is now bundled with Bamboo. The UPM allows you to:

:: Perform a plugin compatibility check before upgrading Bamboo.
:: Install new plugins from the Atlassian Plugin Exchange – like Community Tasks.
:: Manage existing plugins.
:: With just one click, upgrade all plugins that have updates available.
:: View and track updates via the audit log.

Topics: jira atlassian blog bitbucket bamboo confluence support git marketplace-apps

Speakeasy = New Atlassian Extension Mechanism

By Praecipio Consulting on May 9, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Check Speakeasy out here. It’s an experiment right now, with these basic design goals:

  • social extensions
  • augmentative extensions
  • user-level extensions
  • extensions written using simple web technologies

From Atlassian: “If you’re familiar with our normal plugin system, you can think of an extension as a subset of a plugin that has slightly less capabilities but is much faster to write, much simpler to write and quicker to deploy. Note – plugins are still very useful for heavy modifications and full applications, we’ve learned they’re just too heavyweight for simple customizations.”

Topics: atlassian blog marketplace-apps
1 min read

Happy Earth Day!

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 22, 2011 11:00:00 AM

From the team at Praecipio Consulting, Happy Earth Day 2011! Since 1970 Earth Day has reminded folks of environmental issues they have the power to resolve. Consider today what you can do to consume less energy, reduce waste and pollution, and live more sustainably.

Here’s some fun stuff to spark your Earth Day spirit:
01. 10 apps that make it easy to “go green”
02. Free coffee at Starbucks (with a re-useable travel mug)
03. 40 Earth Day deals from stores across the country

And some ideas from our environmentally-oriented business ventures on sustainable living:
01. Glean Organics
02. in.gredients

Enjoy!

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography

Topics: blog issues reduce sustainability waste energy environment marketplace-apps
3 min read

SharePoint 2007 vs. SharePoint 2010

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 1, 2011 11:00:00 AM

There are many long, thorough comparisons of SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 out there. This isn’t one of them. Instead, we’ve created a brief list of what’s new in SharePoint 2010, so SharePoint 2007 users can quickly learn about the advantages of upgrading to 2010 and weigh their decision criteria.

We’ll start with the “big” new features. They include:

Office web apps. Work together in Microsoft Office web apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) simultaneously and see team members’ changes in real time. The web apps allow light edits to documents; document formatting and content are maintained when changes are made from the web.

Co-authoring. With co-authoring, you can work together in Microsoft Office applications and see changes from other team members tracked in SharePoint 2010-hosted documents.

Easy access to templates. You can access document templates stored in SharePoint 2010 via the New Document wizard in Office 2010 applications.

Reusable, content-based workflows. SharePoint Designer 2010 supports reusable workflows and workflows attached to content types.

Online presentations. Audiences don’t need PowerPoint 2010 to view presentations; they can see the presentation with high quality online.

Direct saving. You can save Office 2010 documents directly to the SharePoint 2010 document library from Office Backstage view.

SharePoint 2010 also boasts these new capabilities:

Read and write capabilities. SharePoint 2010 allows you to create web parts that read and write data to external data sources.

Web analytics. An improved set of out-of-the-box Web Analytics reports, offering insight into the behavior of your SharePoint users.

Full-fidelity mobile viewing. It’s much, much better than 2007 mobile views.

Editing to mobile. Perform light edits to Office documents from your mobile device via Office web apps.

Contextual ribbon. Customizable, context-sensitive ribbon menu atop each SharePoint page. Informative Slideshare from Shai Petel here.

Microsoft Silverlight. SharePoint 2010 comes with out of the box Silverlight web parts, making the inclusion of Silverlight apps much easier.

                                         Typical SharePoint 2007 view

                   Enhanced view in SharePoint 2010, with customizable ribbon

You’ll also notice these improvements in 2010 – along with many unlisted improvements that make some 2007 operations easier to execute:

  • Metadata/tagging at the item level; tag clouds; tag profiles
  • Keyword suggestions
  • “Ask Me About” web part in profiles (helps users find answers from qualified co-workers)
  • Noteboard (enables users to comment on any SharePoint 2010 site)
  • Recent Activities
  • Bulk check-in/check-out
  • Organization Browser
  • Enterprise wikis
  • Compliance everywhere
  • Flexible records management
  • Shared content types and managed metadata service
  • Content organizer
  • Rich media management
  • Word automation
  • Better support for accessibility standards
  • Search “in context”
  • Social behavior improves search relevance
  • Thumbnail previews in browser
  • KPI details
  • Enhanced filtering
  • Javascript object model
  • Powershell scripting
  • Better fidelity with Excel workbooks
  • Integrated filter framework
  • Improved visualizations

At this point, if you don’t have SharePoint and are preparing to implement it, we strongly recommend you go with SharePoint 2010. Not only is this important to ensure compliance and compatibility for the future, but it allows you to take advantage of 2010 features. If you already have SharePoint 2007, you could do fine without upgrading so long as you’re okay with lacking the social features, improved mobile access, and better cross-browser performance of 2010 – that decision depends on what you need/value technologically. If you have SharePoint 2003, upgrading is becoming imperative in order to stay above water, so to speak.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint workflows microsoft marketplace-apps
2 min read

SharePoint for iPhone: SharePlus

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 17, 2010 11:00:00 AM

As we mentioned in SharePoint in Safari Mobile, we neglected to review SharePlus – another popular SharePoint for iPhone (and in this case, iPad) app. SharePlus takes the cake from the four apps we reviewed in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps.

 SharePlus, by SouthLabs, $14.99
SharePlus offers a more extensive user capabilities, as you see below.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: YES (via Documents To Go)
  • Upload documents: YES
  • Email documents: YES

A key advantage SharePlus has over other apps is its ability to add pages as “Favorites.” All of the apps we’ve reviewed, including SharePlus, organize a SharePoint site’s lists, libraries, etc into one alphabetical list – very counter-intuitive in comparison to how you’re used to navigating SharePoint from a browser. With Favorites, however, you can at least choose which lists and libraries you access most frequently to prevent having to scroll through a huge list. Then, when you open the app, simply click on the Favorites page to have your frequented pages ready to go.

Other perks include an email and refresh button on every page, so you don’t have to restart the app to speed things up. Page load times are decent in areas with good cell or wireless coverage, depending on the size of your site. Be aware ahead of time that the initial loading of your site to the app will take a few minutes.

The $14.99 price is by far more than any of the apps we’ve reviewed. We see both sides of the coin here. The ability to edit documents, email documents, cut down on search time with Favorites, and operate via iPad are legitimate advantages. But you’ll have to weigh the cost of those extra capabilities against the basic functionality of other apps.

Our take: if you need to edit and send documents frequently from your mobile phone, SharePlus is worth your investment. If you hardly use that functionality and just need to view documents on-the-go, you may need to consider your decision more thoroughly.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
1 min read

SharePoint in Safari Mobile

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 9, 2010 11:00:00 AM

As we said in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps, iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor.

After testing popular SharePoint apps for iPhone (with the exception of SharePlus, a late-comer we plan to review soon), we found that accessing SharePoint from Safari mobile was either just as good or better than using an app – especially because of its capability set:

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

There were some trade-offs, of course. Using an app allowed us to find information a little more quickly, for example, since page reloads weren’t a part of the search process. On the flip side, exploring sites and folders on the app was a bit counter-intuitive since we’re so used to browser-based navigation.

Also, SharePoint pages configured for mobile access loaded quickly in Safari; pages that weren’t loaded more slowly and showed up very small, requiring us to use our fingers to zoom in to make page text readable. Configuring a SharePoint page for mobile access isn’t rocket science, but does take a little effort and forethought.

Overall, however, mobile access via Safari was good enough to lead us to this conclusion: there’s just not a huge advantage either way. While apps offer easier access to information on sites with good information architecture, browser-based access offers similar performance – and a look/architecture you’re used to.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 2, 2010 11:00:00 AM

A few years ago, the idea of accessing a powerful application like SharePoint on a mobile device was jaw-dropping. Today, the experience itself is dropping jaws.

iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor – and offers slick browsing performance on SharePoint’s mobile pages, which we’ll talk about in more detail on 9 November.

If browser navigation isn’t for you, a handful of iPhone apps have made it easy for users to perform most basic SharePoint tasks from their phones. We’ve taken the time to compare four of the best SharePoint apps on the market, contrasting their capabilities. Here’s what we found:

 

Attaché by Lûcrum, $0.99
Attaché has a decent-looking user interface (UI), but there are some key things missing – including a refresh button, document properties, and SSL connections. In addition, some lists and libraries are incompatible with Attaché, and simply aren’t shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: NO
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Moshare by Moprise, $1.99
Moshare’s key advantage: it allows you to email documents. It also imports your SharePoint contacts into your iPhone address book, making it easy to email documents on the fly. In addition, you can change the way list items and documents are sorted by tapping sort buttons at the bottom of the screen (which match the list or library’s attributes field).

On the down side, however: like Attaché, there’s no refresh button, and some lists and libraries are incompatible and not shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: YES

 

iShare by Spyk Software, FREE
iShare, unlike each of the other apps we reviewed, allows users to add and edit list items – perhaps the most practically valuable capability on our list. This enables users to update project status on the go.

In addition, iShare offers search, refresh, and secure access to each of your site’s subsites. To choose between sites, simply tap the site’s name in the list of sites. None of the titles or properties are truncated, allowing for a less annoying viewing experience.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Sharetica by Jacek Rutkowski, $0.99
Sharetica’s a fairly good app to navigate and view SharePoint in. You can’t add or edit list items or upload/email documents, but if you just need to view a document on-the-go, Sharetica’s got you covered.

One kink we noticed: document properties are truncated if they don’t fit the iPhone’s vertical screen, and there’s no way to toggle over to view the whole thing. Flipping the screen to landscape mode helps, but doesn’t always catch the full property. All of our documents have important properties, so this was pretty annoying.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

Of these four apps, iShare impressed us most. The ability to edit and add list items is a key “on-the-go” capability, and the easy navigation between subsites made jumping around SharePoint quick and easy. Moreover, iShare’s free as opposed to the others.

As for user interface, all of the apps looked similar aesthetically – as most iPhone apps do. We were slightly opposed to Moshare’s slimy green theme, and a little annoyed by iShare’s abundance of pumpkin orange. But hey, we’re talking about accessing SharePoint from a mobile device, not which shades of colors we’re subjectively inclined to enjoy.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

Microsoft Office 2010 vs. Google Docs - Can They Compete?

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 30, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Microsoft Office 2010 vs. Google Docs conversations aren’t just happening in the break room. Microsoft and Google themselves have taken some careful shots at one another over the last few months – the most explicit of which include Google’s claim that Google Docs makes Office 2003 and 2007 better (don’t adopt Office 2010) and Microsoft’s counter blog claiming “that’s not true.”

If Google Docs and Microsoft Office 2010 were as similar as tom-ay-toe and tom-ah-toe, we could simply lean back in our chairs and laugh at this whole thing. Problem is, they’re not. There are still differences between the two’s capabilities. Here’s the skinny:

Google Docs. An innovative, free way to create, edit, and share documents online. The browser-based office suite includes slimmed-down comparisons to Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – which allow you to do almost every basic operation you need.

The advantages:

  • Collaborative editing in real-time (though SharePoint 2010 now has real-time editing also)
  • Easy document sharing
  • Gradually maturing security platform and enterprise capabilities
  • Google Docs is free; Google Apps for Business is just $50 annually per user

The disadvantages:

  • Lacks formatting and template abilities compared to Office 2010
  • Lacks ability to open/save a wide variety of file types
  • Lacks integration with most enterprise IT platforms
  • Still depends heavily on an internet connection

Office 2010. Microsoft’s freshest batch of office tools – Office’s power set (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) plus OneNote, Publisher, Visio, etc. – accompanied by the debut of the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Similar to Google Docs, these browser-based versions offer higher quality tools with lower quality collaboration. Their web apps marketing video indicates they’re meant for on-the-fly editing.

The advantages:

  • Scalability of the software – i.e. the ability to perform high-level operations
  • Broad formatting and template ability
  • Integration with Microsoft SharePoint; online 2010 version a la Google Docs
  • Established enterprise reputation

The disadvantages:

  • Software and licensing costs, plain and simple
  • Alleged “forced integration” with other Microsoft products – a claim Microsoft has reversed and applied to Google

Who Wins? That depends. As you can see, Google and Microsoft’s business suites have pros and cons over one another – the most notable of which is Google’s outright victory from a cost perspective. Businesses who don’t need extensive document formatting options may benefit from Google Docs while businesses who use their office suite for high-level operations may not.

One of the more “on the fence” issues here is security. The security of Google’s business suite has been questioned consistently in recent months. Those questions, however, are beginning to taper off as more large public agencies adopt Google Apps for Business as their office platform. Notable recent adoptions include Boise State University, the District of Columbia, the City of Orlando (FL), Kansas, and New Mexico.

The biggest news here occurred this Tuesday, when Google announced Google Apps for Government – an Apps Premier edition that meets the US’ federal security requirements. The new edition received an FISMA-Moderate rating from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – meaning it’s authorized to host sensitive (but unclassified) data if stored on servers within the United States.

While Google Docs doesn’t yet have an excellent reputation in terms of security, these recent adoptions indicate they’re gaining ground. The fact that most federal and public agencies are strapped for cash and looking to cheapen technology costs, however, doesn’t allow us to let go of our questions just yet.

That being said, the gap between Google Docs and Microsoft Office still remains – though it’s narrowing by the day.

Topics: blog business efficiency enterprise google management process sharepoint value collaboration microsoft marketplace-apps

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