Overcoming the JIRA timezone problem

Update Sept 30 2011: JIRA 4.4 has timezone support.  The post below refers to previous versions of JIRA.

Background

No doubt you are aware already that JIRA doesn’t handle timezones well.  It simply shows the server timezone on all issues, instead of letting users select their own timezone.  Our server uses EDT so it means that us in Japan, and our users in Europe etc, all have to do some maths to work out what time a comment was posted.  Its actually quite a pain.

This issue has been heavily requested to Atlassian to fix, but I am not hopeful it will ever be done.  It is issue number 9 (JRA-9) in their feature tracking system, meaning it was requested very early in JIRAs lifetime, and the issue has been open since Feb 2002 with 187 votes, 87 watchers. They keep promising to address it but I can only imagine that their code is too tied up in spaghetti to fix it.  If all dates were recorded consistently as timestamps, surely it would be very simple indeed to just allow the user to set a timezone, and then apply that timezone to the timestamp before outputting a date.  So I am assuming from the age of this issue that dates have not been handled well making this a huge bug to fix.  (I think it is fair to call it a bug when they market the product as enterprise class.).

Solution

So what you can do about this?  The idea I came up with is weak, but better than nothing.  I have updated the footer template used on every page in JIRA to show the ‘current server time’:

current-server-time

This then allows the user to compare the issue comment date to the server time, then compare the server time to his local time, to get an idea of how old the comment is.

Example:

  • comment date: yesterday at 4PM EDT
  • current server time: 5AM EDT (therefore comment is 13 hours old)
  • current user local time: 6PM JST (therefore comment was added at 5AM today, local time)

Method

You need to update $JIRAHOMEincludesdecoratorsfooter.jsp

...
<div class="footer">
Current Server Time: <%= new java.util.Date() %> <br/>
...
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3 thoughts on “Overcoming the JIRA timezone problem

  1. Pingback: Using JIRA with overseas offices « Tips and tricks for JIRA administrators

  2. Hi Zaccary,

    Thanks for sharing your useful tips.
    They are really useful for Jira administrators and I would recommend them to subscribe to your blog.

    Keep it up 🙂

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