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Structure allows you to visualize the relationships between issues across multiple projects, in as many layers of hierarchy as you need. Let's imagine you're trying to complete a set of epics, and you need to see which issues are holding you up. Obviously, you need to know which stories aren't finished yet - but you probably need to go further that. What issues are blocking those stories from getting done? And do those blockers have blockers of their own?

Let's take a look at how easy it is to visualize all of your blockers, across multiple projects, in a single structure. 

Step 1: Insert Epics

Starting with a brand new, blank structure (see Creating Your First Structure), click the Automation button to turn on Automation Editing mode. Then click the + button and select Insert.

Select Insert generator from the Structure menu

This will display the Insert generator options. Select JQL/Text Query...

You can add issues based on a JQL or Text search. For this example, we're going to add the epics from our "Learning Structure" project using a JQL search. 

Search Inserter settings dialogue

To learn more about JQL, see the Atlassian article on Advanced Searching.

Once you click Apply, the Inserter will pull all issues that match your query into your new structure.

Structure with inserted epics

Your automation rules are listed in red.

  • To make changes to a rule, double-click it.
  • To delete a rule, highlight its row and click the delete icon (x) or delete key.

Step 2: Extend with Stories and Tasks

Now it's time to Extend our results to include Stories and Sub-tasks. Make sure the top line of your structure is still highlighted, click the + button again and select Extend.

Add Extend Generator

Next, select Stories under Epics...

Stories under Epics extender

Next, you'll be asked to select which levels you want the Extender applied to. For this tutorial, we'll use the default setting. To learn more about customizing levels, see Generator Scope.

Stories under Epics extender settings dialogue

After clicking apply, Structure will add any linked stories or tasks beneath the epics we added in the previous step.

Automated Structure with stories under epics

If you forget to highlight the top line of your structure before adding the Extend generator, you may get the following error:

Error message

Since we started with a global automation rule (affecting the entire structure), all other automation rules need to be global as well, to avoid any conflicts. Simply highlight the top line of your structure, and try again.

Step 3: Add Blockers with the Linked Items Extender

Now it's time to add our blockers. Make sure the top line of your structure is still highlighted, return to the Automation menu and select Extend again.

Add Extend Generator

This time, select Linked Items...

Linked Items extender

Since we want to see all blockers affecting our issues, we're going to set the Link Type to Blocks, Link Direction to parent issue is blocked by sub issue and Extend Levels to All levels up to 10 (see Linked Items Extender to learn more about these options).

Linked issues extender settings dialogue

Blockers will now appear beneath the issues already in our structure. Notice that some of these blockers are from different projects, and some of them have their own blockers as well. Now we can quickly spot which issues are holding up our project!

Structure with epics, stories, and linked issues

Taking it Further

This is just one of many ways to build a top-down structure. Depending on your needs, you may want to:

  • Include different types of links, or view different link types on different hierarchy levels.
  • Add sub-tasks with the Sub-task Extender.
  • Include stories and sub-tasks from a Next Gen project with the Next-Gen Hierarchy Extender.

We don't have space to cover all those options in this guide, but you can explore your options in the Automation section of our User's Guide.

Next Steps

Next, we'll take a look at how to create a bottom-up structure, which can be very useful for tracking projects and tasks across teams or departments.

Bottom Up Automation for Backlog Grooming

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