Atlassian’s overhaul of Jira is complete, with a more user-friendly interface for the cloud-native era

An overview of the new design for boards in Jira. (Atlassian Photo)

The process of developing software has gone through incredible changes since 2002, when Atlassian first unveiled its Jira bug-tracking software. A new version that the company believes was designed around the way modern teams work will soon be available.

Since that launch, Jira has evolved quite a bit into more of a complete software project-management tool. The New Jira (as co-founder and CEO Scott Farquhar called it in a blog post Thursday) will allow developers to move faster and spend less time configuring a product that has been widely adopted but oft-criticized by weary admins and frustrated users.

“When a modern cloud team has built something of value, every day can be launch day,” Farquhar said. As software eats the world, it’s exposing companies with software development teams that can’t move as fast as their newer rivals, and Atlassian hopes the new Jira will provide those teams with the tools they need to modernize their processes.

The company is introducing Roadmaps, a feature that lets users across a company see the progress of a particular project. It can be easily adjusted as time estimates change, and gives people not directly involved with a given project a better view into its overall progress.

An animation of how the new Roadmaps feature in Jira works. (Atlassian GIF)

One key shift in software development philosophy over the past few years has been the embrace of microservices, which breaks down a big pile of code into much smaller pieces that can be updated and tweaked without affecting the rest of the code base. That lets companies ship updates much faster, but creates headaches for managers trying to stay on top of an array of fast-moving small projects, and Roadmaps will help them keep track of everything, said Megan Cook, head of product for Jira Software Cloud.

“Cloud has completely changed the software industry,” Cook said. “We realized that we needed to change Jira software to be able to support those ways of working by making it simple and very powerful at the same time.”

As part of the new overhaul Atlassian redesigned boards, the fundamental view of an ongoing project that users see when they log into the tool. The new user interface is much cleaner, with drag-and-drop settings that used to be buried deep within a menu or required custom coding to actually enact.

The old design for boards in Jira. (Atlassian Photo)

It also reflects the trend towards smaller projects by allowing users to customize their software workflows to reflect their needs, rather than forcing them to use a a basic standard workflow. The result is that developers feel “much more like you’re working in a laboratory,” Cook said, as opposed to a factory with rigid steps in the process.

Along those same lines, the Issue tracker in Jira was “completely overhauled” to pave the way for users to add custom features to this central part of the software, which tracks bugs, monitors projects, and describes the scope of the work, said Jake Brereton, head of marketing for Jira Software Cloud.

This was all possible because of Atlassian’s decision to move Jira off the company’s own infrastructure to Amazon Web Services two years ago, Cook said, a move Atlassian completed earlier this year in March. That decision has allowed Atlassian’s own developers to move much more quickly on new features such as Jira Ops, which took three months to build before it was announced in September, a dramatic increase in velocity for the company’s developers.

But there are lots of choices for software development teams looking for help managing their projects. GitHub announced its own product this week that allows the millions of developers using its service to automate steps in the software workflow process, and younger companies like Asana have been making gains in this area as well.