Wednesday, December 31, 2008

JIRA Timesheet options

Ok, so now that you have Worklog Assistant helping you get hassle-free time tracking for JIRA, just what do you do with that data?

On your JIRA project's homepage you will see the helpful looking link "Time Tracking Report" pictured below:

Unfortunately, the only useful thing it really does is answer the question: "How far are we off track for Version N?"

A question that should be asked, no doubt. But maybe not the only question. Consultants may be interested in how much they should bill their client this month. A development manager of a remote team may want to know if any people on his team are in danger of burning out. Or you might just want to know what your company was up to this week.

By using time tracking for JIRA, this information is already available, but it is just not possible to get it out using the default reports. The rest of this post covers one alternative and lists a few more for your investigation.

Timesheet Report and Portlet

  • Pivot table report with multiple axes of decomposition
  • Configurable portlet
This is the plugin I currently use. I think its main feature is that it is really simple to use. I'll walk you through how I generate a report for my work on Worklog Assistant. Obviously if you are following along, you need to install the plugin.

After installing, locate the report link, "Time Sheet Report", by visiting the project homepage:

This takes me to a page where I can configure the report parameters. If I click "Next" without modifying anything, the report will cover the current user's activities for the last 7 days. However, I've changed some parameters to show that you can limit according to the project and the group among other things. So if you have a software development organization, you can easily see how long QA spent on Project B this week.

So here is the detailed report of what I've been doing in the last week:

With this report, I can easily see:
  • Which issues I've been working on this week
  • Any worklog comments I made
  • The total, or "How much should I bill myself?"
To me, being able to see the worklog comments like this is really useful as it helps me gauge how close I am to completing an issue. A doubly cool thing is that these reports, including parameters, can be bookmarked, so you can always jump to the latest data or send the link around.

The portlet associated with this plugin gives me a nice overview of what I've been doing this week. The only problem with this portlet is that it does not allow you to configure exactly the same parameters as the report above. This means that you can't view your QA group's progress at a glance, atleast not in a portlet. Here is a screenshot of the portlet as it stands right now:

Not too bad.

The Timesheet Report and Portlet plugin for JIRA is a simple way to get useful timesheet data out of JIRA. By no means is this the only way to slice and dice your time tracking information. Here are a few alternatives:
Greenhopper has what is called a "burn down" chart which shows how much time you have remaining. This means that your team needs to continually revise its estimates.

The Time Tracking Reporting Collection is just what it sounds like, a ton of reports on time tracking. My guess is that this will be really useful for a larger team. Additionally, the portlets are configurable so you can finally know what your QA team was working on this week in your dashboard!

Kaamelot is a bunch of reports and some additional functionality that helps with time tracking. It took me a few months to even figure that out.

??? is because I'm sure I missed a bunch but I hope you will correct me!

Please note that none of these reports can be useful if don't you have the time tracking in JIRA to begin with. While there are multiple options for time tracking in JIRA, my company's application Worklog Assistant makes it really easy :-)

It's still in beta but you can download a free trial.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Ok, I know Worklog Assistant has not been out publicly for more than a week but I've still been wondering how to make it better given some comments I've received. Most interestingly, I got some pointers to simpler timer UIs which I blatantly ripped off to produce the following.

Note that while this works, it will not be part of the product for a long time, if ever. There are more things to think about (configuration, do I want to make the extra workflow operations available somehow, etc.)

That being said, I'm quite proud of it from a desktop-app-jealous-of-web-2.0 perspective. The coolest part? There are no precomputed "shiny button" images involved.

Thanks to all!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hello 30 day sprint people

I've just added myself to the 30 day sprint feed. I figure if David Scott Kane can morph it into a 30 year project, I can put my app up here.

Just kidding David :-)

Anyway, a little bit about my app. I've been working with JIRA which is a bug tracking system for a while now and I quite like it as far as these things go. My main issue with it has been that it is nearly impossible for a human to actually record time spent fixing an issue properly. Worklog Assistant fixes that problem very nicely.

I've been using it myself and with a couple of other users for about a month now and it is working out very nicely. Just yesterday, I uploaded the public beta. I have not yet started advertising to the target market as I want to get my payment in place first but some data points seem favourable.

Anyone feel like wishing me good luck and suggesting how I should get my payments in place? Following Steve McLeod's lead, I am leaning towards FastSpring but they seem to require you to use their DRM.

Thanks to the original sprinters for the inspiration.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Open beta goes live!

Download Worklog Assistant.


PS: Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

JIRA time tracking options

It is asked over and over again: how do I make time tracking with JIRA easier? A major issue for some customers is that time tracking for JIRA is very much divorced from the normal workflow. Users have to remember to manually enter worklogs.

My preferences when using any piece of software is that the software is:
  • Simple
  • Automated
  • Follows the DRY principle (Don't Repeat Yourself)
This needs to be especially true for time tracking applications. I've got way too much to do to worry about tracking time. I'm sure other developers are the same.

The options for JIRA, as far as I am aware:
  • Worklog Assistant is an application that my company wrote to solve this very problem. With this application, it becomes nearly impossible to forget to enter time. As a bonus, you work in your own timezone whereas if you enter directly into JIRA, you must work in the server's timezone.
  • Use a separate time tracker like Rescue Time. While this is an interesting way to track time, it is separate from JIRA which means you have to enter the worklogs manually.
  • Logging to a disparate system like Replicon Web Timesheets. In this case you have to sync: your JIRA issues, your separate time tracker and your timesheet system.
  • Pen and paper. I mention this because it was the first thing I tried. Massive fail. You can probably also stick "Excel Worklog Templates" in here.
If your company already requires the use of a timesheet system, a time tracker integrated with JIRA can still help you. Using the timesheet reporting plugin for JIRA, you can see right away what you should enter in your timesheet, taking it from a chore to a mere annoyance. There are still some DRY-violations here but it is reduced enough to be manageable.

I'm sure you will be able to guess which I prefer. I would recommend you try all the options and pick whichever one suits you best. Get started by downloading Worklog Assistant right now!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why write Worklog Assistant?

Hassle-free time tracking for JIRA

When I first started using JIRA, I was very impressed as it is:
  • Flexible
  • Open
However, as I began using it, some things jumped out at me. I could live with all of them except one: logging work done against issues.

I've used quite a few bug tracking systems that had some sort of time tracking built-in. In the best case, I could enter the time worked against an issue manually. In the worst case, I'd have to login to a separate timesheet system, do the math in my head, find the right field in the right spot and hopefully get it right. Needless to say, my timesheets began to say 8 hours for some random category, Monday to Friday, holiday or not (quite funny now that I think about it!) I can't remember how many times my boss rejected my timesheets only to get random but realistic looking guesses back.

Oh, I'd also have to remember to put in "time spent" when closing any bugs. Not fun.

With JIRA, we pretty much had the best case I had experienced in my time. However, after using it religiously, I realized that it was still too painful to bear. Worklogs again began deteriorating into random guesses. So I started using a separate time tracker that I wrote myself. It turned out that even this wasn't good enough because I had to remember to log time. I am notorious for forgetting to do stuff if it isn't in the bug tracking system. Fail.

In my ideal world, I would never open up JIRA to do any worklog related stuff. In my ideal world, I would never do the math again. In my ideal world, I could just do all my timesheets in JIRA.

Enter Worklog Assistant for JIRA.

Worklog Assistant is the client end of the loop. With it, I have been able to track exactly how long I work on something and how bad I am off my estimates. This in turn has helped to improve my estimates (surprise!)

Indeed, I used Worklog Assistant to track the development of itself.

I believe it is time to realize that timesheets for JIRA do not have to be painful. Worklog Assistant is here (ok, not here yet, still in closed beta!)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hello, World


What is this blog about? Primarily, it will cover the development of Worklog Assistant, an application which greatly simplifies time tracking with JIRA. My goal is to ensure that time tracking with JIRA becomes hassle-free, at least so far as I can help it.

Welcome. I hope you enjoy your stay.

About this blog

We strongly believe that tracking your time properly is the first step to deterministic software development. If you feel that you have been guessing or you can't be bothered to remember to log time, Worklog Assistant might be for you!

Give it a try!

Please download a free 30-day trial today by clicking on the link below: Download