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How to build a winning Jira Server UI with Dynamic Forms


Karolina Lasoń - 25 March 2019 - 0 comments

How to build a winning Jira Server UI with Dynamic Forms - cover image

User experience is important not only when it comes to the customer support but also our own employees. If we want people working for us to be happy, we need to look at them as internal customers who have their needs and expectations we have to fulfill. That’s why we need to take a closer look at the working environment, especially at the software our employees work with, and make their work tools as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. We should get to know what are the most frequent pain points or what takes most of the employees’ time during their interaction with the software. Especially when using such complex project management tools as Jira, we need to ensure that there are no bottlenecks, no communication problems, and each action taken within the software is seamless and trouble-free.

How people feel with Jira Server interface

On social media and even within the Atlassian Community, we can come across people hating Jira Server for its poor user interface, thus user experience. Yes, Jira may not be as intuitive as, for instance, Trello, but it was also designed with a different target group in mind. Only in the last few years, Jira has become a tool used not exclusively by technical staff but also by those who work in sales, marketing or even HR departments, where people aren’t usually as technically fluent as their colleagues from IT. For them, this software may look a bit raw and unintuitive at times in comparison to Trello or other project management tools they’ve used before.

In comparison to Trello, creating issues in Jira may look a bit raw and unintuitive to non-technical users

In comparison to Trello, creating issues in Jira may look a bit raw and unintuitive to non-technical users

The truth is, Jira can be a hard nut to crack for those new to this software as well as for those who work in it on a daily basis. It can be a result of either lack of communication between Jira admins and teams about recent updates to Jira Software, improper configuration of projects, or even limited knowledge of the tool. Seeing that employees in the IT industry spend probably every business day working in Jira, these factors can greatly affect how people in the companies use it, as well as their productivity in general. They need to create documents, track their progress, plan their work, add new tasks to their boards, which means going through all those screens full of fields and options and often challenging to wrap their mind around. Seeing too many fields to fill on the Create screen may sometimes be overwhelming. Without the knowledge about how to use Jira properly, it becomes a chore for them to interact with the software and not a friendly work tool that’s there to help tackle the most complex assignments. 

By devoting our time to configure Jira properly and educate our employees on how to work with it, we make it easier for them to navigate, understand, and even enjoy using the tool.

Designing better Jira UI with advanced configurations

Jira has loads of features allowing to adjust our project to the team’s needs. Unfortunately, only a few of them are intended for Create Issue screen. Luckily, we can improve our employees’ experience using dedicated apps available on the Atlassian Marketplace. One of them is Dynamic Forms for Jira, which enables us to make short issue creation forms going from general to particular. 

More intuitive custom fields use with Dynamic Fields

One of the features of the abovementioned app lets us create a structure of fields. Each option selected on the so-called master field has a set of other fields assigned, which will be displayed on the Create Issue form after selecting it. To use Dynamic Fields in Jira, we need to start with adding a new custom field. There are five types available for us in the application: Dynamic Select, Dynamic Multiselect, Dynamic Cascading Select, Dynamic Checkboxes and Dynamic Radio Buttons. When we’ve already created dynamic custom fields, we need to configure them. To do it, we go to Jira Administration  Manage apps → Dynamic Forms (in Dynamic Forms section) and click Create Dynamic Forms.

To use Dynamic Fields in Jira, we need to set up the details in the Dynamic Forms Configuration.

On the configuration screen, we select options which will be the triggers for related fieldsGloves typeGlasses type, Shoes type and Size custom fields appear after checking the right options in Protective clothing type custom field. The good news is that we don’t have to set our configuration manually on every Jira instance. It is because we can easily Import and Export configuration from or to a .json file. These options are available in thDynamic Forms Configuration.

In the safety workwear example, we have three levels of dynamic fields in the structure. By default, this is the app’s limit, but there’s the Deep Nesting toggle in the Dynamic Forms settings which makes it unlimited when turned on.

In a situation when the structure is too big, it may be hard to understand dependencies between our custom fields. That’s why we developed Dynamic Forms Visualization – a feature showing those relations on a clear dependency graph.

If we set that some fields are required in the Dynamic Forms Configuration, it will be also marked on the visualization

If we set that some fields are required in the Dynamic Forms Configuration, it will be also marked on the visualization

Organizing the Create Issue screen with Dynamic Tabs 

The Dynamic Tabs feature enables to control the visibility of tabs on the issue creation screen. The app adds another custom field which allows us to display additional tabs on the form depending on the options selected from a field. To benefit from such a solution, we should add Tabs Visibility Control to Jira and to the right screen. Then we proceed to Manage apps  Dynamic Forms  Dynamic Tabs  Dynamic Tabs Configuration, where we map the field’s options with appropriate tabs to display.

Let’s say we’re filling out a form for new hardware. We need to decide if we want to have the laptop delivered to the office or to our home. After choosing the Company option, an additional tab with Business address shows up next to the General tab. 

Since we want to make our employees’ jobs easier, in the hardware request example we also used Mapper. It’s yet another custom field which enables us to map its values to other custom fields’ values, projects, groups or users. For instance, when we select the Company Delivery option, then we’ll know we should notify Mark Evans about this kind of issues.

Bundle custom fields in Jira Software

We’ve already described quite a few custom fields. They are very helpful in our daily work, but we know that many Jira admins complain about too many custom fields in the instances which they run. How to solve this problem? 

As the Community and Atlassian Support advise, if we want to reduce the number of custom fields, we should delete the ones that aren’t used and those that are duplicated. We can also convert our custom fields (Select, Radio buttons, Checkboxes, Multiselect) into Jira dynamic fields. This way we don’t have to create new fields to use our helpful feature. Migrate Custom Field to Dynamic Field option is located in the Dynamic Forms section in the Manage apps tab.

When creating new custom fields, we recommend not to duplicate the fields which already exist in the other projects and use contexts which we can configure. We can also merge the fields into Bundled Fields. This feature, available in Dynamic Forms for Jira, puts all separate fields (which we’ve chosen) into one custom field. We add the needed fields in Bundled Fields Configuration and set the alignment of the fields – vertical, horizontal or layout. The last option enables to change the fields’ size and location. To make it work, we need to switch the toggle to on in Turn on Edit mode option

In Dynamic Forms 4.0 you can change Bundled Fields layout with Edit mode

 

Let your team create issues effectively

The Create Issue screen may not seem as something very important from the business point of view, even though it’s the most used screen in Jira, and probably everyone had to fill one at least once in their career. No one likes scrolling through dozens of questions which can even have nothing to do with our request or the question we answered two fields earlier. Dynamic Forms for Jira helps us with structuring Create forms so it’s easier and faster for the users to fill in the relevant fields, and they don’t have to spend too much time on overthinking the meaning of a question on the form, because it’s not clear for them or isn’t necessary for certain issue types. Let’s put comfort and clarity in the first place when it comes to our employees’ work tools.

Dynamic Forms for Jira enable us to go from general to particular when creating issues

Here we can see the use of Dynamic Fields, Dynamic Tabs, Mapper and Bundled Fields

 

If you’d like to learn more about Dynamic Forms for Jira, take a free 30-day trial from the Atlassian Marketplace. You can also book a live demo via Calendly, if you’d like to see the app in action, or read more on letting your team work faster and easier in Jira Software:

Also published on the Atlassian Community.

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