Basic Terms and Principles
Automation is the mechanism that allows users to build "dynamic" structures. Such structures show Jira issues arranged into hierarchies based on the relations between issues, such as Issue Links, Epic Links, Sub-Task, grouping by Jira fields, etc. The hierarchies are automatically updated if the underlying Jira data changes, thus always giving you the real-time data representation. You can also adjust the hierarchy and through that change the underlying data and relationships.
To build such structures you can use Generators - rules based on which the structures are created. Different types of rules produce different results. They allow you to:
- Insert - add issues into the structure. Inserters are usually used to pull in the initial set of issues from which you start building the structure.
- Filter - hide some of the issues from the structure or from certain level in a structure.
- Sort - sort issues by some field on all levels or on a particular level.
- Group - break down issues into groups by the values of some field.
- Extend - pull into the structure the issues that are linked to the issues that already in structure. You can use different types of relations including Epic Links, Issue Links, Sub-Tasks and a few others.
Combining them together you can build all kinds of structures for different purposes such as work breakdown structures, distribution of work by sprints, versions or assignees or any other view, which will give you the information you need.
There are several common approaches you can use to build your structures. For details, please see the section 2 below.
The generators can be added under any "static" part of the structure. There are several common options here:
- You can add them directly under the root item with the structure name, which becomes visible once you switch to Automation editing mode. In this case, their scope will be the entire structure - such generators will "see" all the structure content. This is the best option if the entire structure is based on the same set of generators.
- You can start by adding some folders or issues into your structure manually (dragging in existing ones or creating new ones). Then you can add generators under these folders or issues - in this case the generators will only affect part of the structure built under each particular folder or issue and won't see what's going on under folders/issues, which are outside. This is useful if you want to combine several sets of issues in one structure, but you want to organize them differently. For example, you may have several teams, which use different organization of issues. In this case you can visualize work of each team under a different folder and then see the progress, totals or formula results for the entire hierarchy across all teams.
Generators Execution Order
The generators added under the same parent are always executed in the order that is defined by the generator type, regardless of the order in which you add or arrange them:
- Insert generators
- Extend generators
- Filter generators
- Group generators
- Sort generators
If you have multiple generators of the same type, the ones that are higher in the list will be executed first. For Insert, Extend or Filter generators the order will make no difference and regardless of the order you will see the same results. But for Group and Sort generators the order does make sense. If you group by several fields, first the issues will be grouped by the field used in the first grouper (higher in the list), then by the second, etc. The same for sorting - the order of the Sort generators defines by which field you sort first.
Whenever you perform an action in structure that is either not supported by the configured generators or requires your attention, you will see a decision panel at the bottom of the screen with the problem description and suggested actions. There are several common situations you may see when working with Automation:
- Cannot move a non-issue here. Such messages are shown if you try to add a new generator or move an existing generator under an issue that was added by other generators. The rule is that you can add generators only under static content. You can click Acknowledge to undo the move or creation or drag it under the correct parent - static issue or folder or the root.
- What would you like to do? You will see such messages if you are moving an issue under a parent, which falls under the scope of several generators and it's not clear, which of them should be used. For example, you will get such a message if you move an issue under a new parent that is in the scope of the links and epic links extenders. You will need to decide if you want to change the link or the epic link. To minimize such requests, make sure you set the level setting for different generators if it makes sense, so that different generators work on different levels.
- You may also see different decision panels in situations, when you try to make a change to the structure, which has no corresponding generator or it's not allowed by Jira. For example, trying to put an epic under another epic when you only have an epic extender (since epics cannot have epic links), trying to reorder issues when they is no sorter, etc.
For situations, when you do want to adjust your structure in a way that is no supported by the generators (override the generators rules), you can enable manual adjustments. You can find more details on this feature here.