JIRA Fundamentals

There are a few notions you’ll meet regularly when you work with JIRA. Concepts like issues, issue types, workflows, fields, etc. I introduce them to you right away so you’ll be better at ease with all the stuff this blog is about. Let’s start with issues.


What is a JIRA issue ?

If JIRA is an issue tracker, the JIRA issue is the very element you want to track. Let me quote Atlassian here : according to your activity, a JIRA  issue “could represent a software bug, a user story, a project task, a helpdesk ticket, or a leave request form, the list is endless!”.

A JIRA issue can be whatever you want to track. It’s all about how you configure your instance.


What is an issue type ?

The JIRA “issue type” notion refers to the kind of issues you want to track. For instance, the JIRA Classic project configuration provides the 4 following issue types for software development projects tracking :

  •  Bug
  •  Improvement
  •  New Feature
  •  Task


This means that every JIRA project using the Classic configuration, can be used to track bugs, software improvement requests, new features and task requests.

Every single issue in JIRA belongs to an issue type. You are required to have at least one issue type per JIRA project. You won’t be able to create issues otherwise.

Issue types usually correspond to qualitative subdivisions of your activity

PS : JIRA is flexible enough to let you create your own issue types.


What is a JIRA workflow ?

Atlassian defines a JIRA workflow as “the set of statuses and transitions that an issue goes through during its lifecycle.”

A JIRA workflow includes at least :

  • A unique initial step, generally followed by the “Open” step
  • A final “Close” step, which is also supposed to be unique – If you follow the best practices


JIRA provides a default built-in workflow but you are free to create your own. Actually, a huge part of JIRA configuration consists in implementing a workflow which matches your activity processes.


The JIRA built-in workflow

The JIRA built-in workflow

How about fields in JIRA  ?

JIRA provides you with built-in fields and a powerful custom fields generator. Fields in JIRA are always associated with issues. For instance, the “Summary” field is the title of your issue, the “Creation” field is the date of creation of your issue  and you can create as many custom fields as you want. These custom fields can be text fields, numbers, select lists, etc. JIRA provides 21 different kind of custom fields. Feel free to use them according to your need.


How about JIRA Projects ?

A project is a collection of JIRA issues. According to your needs, it might be :

  • A collection of issues related to your marketing campaign
  • A collection of tickets submitted to your service desk
  • A collection of bugs or enhancements requests submitted to your sofware development team
  • And so on…

The following information are required to create a project in JIRA :

  • A name, for instance “JIRA Support” if you want to use JIRA to track the activity of your support team
  • A key, which is the internal identifier of your project
  • A project lead, who is the JIRA user responsible for your project from an operationnal perspective



What is a JIRA component ?

Components are optionnal subdivisions of JIRA projects. Thus, since we stated that projects are collections of JIRA issues, we can see components as subcollections of JIRA issues within projects.

Let me illustrate this with a concrete example drawn from my experience.

One of my JIRA projects consisted in deploying JIRA for a support team in charge of the maintenance of 20 applications.  In order to do so, we created a JIRA project called “Support” and we created 20 components, each one corresponding to one application.

Components usually correspond to structural subdivisions of your activity.


What is a JIRA version ?

Versions are another optionnal way to organize your issues within JIRA. They are mostly used in the software development industry.

For instance, most of the time a software can not fix all the bugs related to its products within one shot. He will then tend to organize the delivery of its bugfixes into several versions, each one corresponding to a given delivery date.

The screenshot below presents the Road Map gadget which is used to monitor gadgets on the JIRA dashboard. It shows off :

  • The version name (Angry Nerds 3.0, 2.0 et 3.1)
  • The delivery date scheduled for each version (Febr 17, March 27)
  • Stastistcs regarding the number of issue solved vs created




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