Issue Templates for Jira – Advanced Features: Alternative Source

Issue Templates have proved itself as a tool that allows to handle repetitive tasks painlessly. The app uses Scopes, or specified sets of fields, to define which fields are used in a specific action, such as Autocomplete or Copy. However, not many users know that the Scopes can be modified further to make creating issues from templates even more flexible. You can prevent a copied field value from editing, overwrite it inside an existing issue or provide an Alternative Source – be it the parent issue or any other task that you have in Jira. In this article, we’ll show you how to set up Alternative Source and examples of its use in your daily work.

Setup Guide

As you may already know, the template settings have moved onto a dedicated panel at the issue view since the 7.0 version release for Jira Data Center/Server. There you can change the Scopes for the selected template, create new ones and edit them on the fly. The advanced settings are still available under the Project settings.

Defining the alternative source

These settings are on-and-off buttons for each separate field in a Scope. When you click on Alternative Source, a pop-up menu appears to specify what should it be like. Choose the issue to take the desired value from and the source field – and you’re basically done!

There are some little tricks in setting this up for different field types, though. For Text fields, there are Prefix and Postfix options; you can add some text there that will appear before or after the copied value in the target issue.

Defining prefixes and postfixes

For Date fields, such as Due Date, you can get the target value from the current date, shifted by a given amount of days if necessary.


For User fields, there is a cool Random thing. It allows to define a user for the field automatically by random selecting from a given user group.

Defining groups

Now let’s see how you can put this feature to work.

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Use Cases

Insert common texts into descriptions

Let’s say you decided to template bug reports for different types of systems, applications or projects. Even though the descriptions for all of them may slightly differ, you may want to add a general checklist of what should a bug report include. Instead of typing it into every template’s description separately, you can include this common text into the Scope itself by providing a Prefix.

Highlight templated texts by formatting

What’s more, these fields support formatting tags. You can add an opening tag as a Prefix and a closing one as a Postfix to make the copied text bold, italic or even coloured. It is useful when your team edit the description a lot, and you’d like to keep track of what’s been added.

Automate due dates for sub-tasks

When a new employee is about to start working, there’s much to be done before he or she steps into the office. You may need to prepare the papers and the workplace, buy a laptop, print business cards, etc. So immediately after the positive decision you create a ticket in Jira with these sub-tasks attached (from a template, we suppose), and the logical way to automate it further is to set the Due Date on each sub-task based on the current date. So the paperwork, which should be ready in the first place, would have currentDate +1 setting, a laptop purchase could go currentDate +4, and in the end (say, on currentDate +7) the employee arrives.

Assign tasks to a team automatically

Recently, Jira has become increasingly popular among non-technical teams, such as marketing. Apparently, they like templated issues very much, as they don’t have to delve into the software’s complexities – they just focus on their daily agenda. So if you have a template for the upcoming event or a rebranding campaign, you can assign it to any user from the marketing-users group by selecting the Random option as the Alternative Source. They will take on the task and distribute the roles on their own.

Key Takeaway

As we can see, our app provides almost infinite possibilities of setting up issue templates and making them useful for your team. By putting your finger on Alternative Source, you can use any field that you have in Jira as a value source, and the additional options for different kinds of fields allow to automate some aspects of a template’s creation.

The Alternative Source is available in the Issue Templates for Jira app on Data Center/Server hosting. Cloud instance users will find the same functionality in a Smart defaults feature.

Also published on the Atlassian Community.

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Dzmitry Hryb

Dzmitry is a Marketing Manager at Deviniti. For the last couple of years, he's been on the mission to help people make the best use of Jira Software and Jira Service Management at work by creating guides and tutorials for Atlassian users all around the globe. He received the Atlassian Community Content Awards three times in 2018. He spends the rest of his time winning pool tournaments, producing music, biking around, and playing with his two cats.

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