Using JIRA with overseas offices

When you use JIRA to communicate with colleagues in other offices around the world, it is nice to have some kind of central focus page that people can visit to get latest announcements and connect with other offices.

I have made a kind of community dashboard page called “INFO” and published it to all users.  This page contains:

  • Customized World Time
  • Shared Interactive ‘global calendar’
  • Announcements
  • Key JIRA usage statistics

Customized World Time

jira-timezones

This little homemade ‘widget’ shows Current time at each of our office locations, and highlights the text to green if office is now open, red if it is closed.

I built this using some very simple PHP and it is hosted in a ‘secret place’ on the web server (it doesnt have any authentication or anything, but the webpage is blocked to search engines and has a weird URL).  I then used the Improved HTML plugin for JIRA, and inserted a little iframe to load the secret webpage.

See my related post about overcoming the JIRA timezone problem.

Shared Interactive ‘Global Calendar’

jira-calendarIt is also nice to have some kind of lookup feature to see if another office is on a public holiday, or if a particular user is on a business trip, or if there is a big seminar going on that is going to make everyone really busy.

I found that JIRA doesnt offer any function like this, so I decided to make my own using Google API.  the result is custom calendar that anyone can edit within the company.  It doesnt need any instruction because people can gauge from the example data already added what is appropriate to add as an event on the calendar.

There is a yellow box below the calendar to allow users to add new events or delete old ones.

As above, I use the Improved HTML plugin to show an iframe that loads a custom webpage hosted externally to JIRA.  This webpage is created in PHP to load and interact with the Google Calendar.

Announcements

I have also got a simple search filter on the page to show ‘Announcements’ (this is a custom issue type I set up for most projects) from all projects.  I will post separately about my custom announcement scheme.

JIRA Usage Statistics

jira-stats

Finally I thought it would be a good idea to show users an overview of all the activity on JIRA.  I am showing a nice pie chart (using the JIRA charting plugin) that shows ‘all issues updated in last 30 days’.  The chart is divided by project.  Users can then see which projects are busiest.  The idea is to surprise users into knowing that the system gets used far far more than they may expect, as most users are only involved in a very small % of total issues on the system.  It also has the purpose to kick up the bum project that are not being led properly by the project leaders (ie. they are still using email all the time to communicate, ignoring company rules!).

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4 thoughts on “Using JIRA with overseas offices

  1. Hey! Seems like you added some great functionality to Jira. We are using it frequently in our project and as we are a big team with subteams we would need a calendar exactly like the one you developed, therefore I was wondering whether your extensions are by any means available somewhere?

    Greetings,
    Rob

    • Hi Roberta,

      It is not that difficult to make a custom google calendar like this if you follow their API instructions. I think I did the whole thing in a day. Once you work out how to show the google calendar in a webpage and login to update it, its just simple PHP and HTML to make an interface to allow users to add/edit/delete events. As it is for internal use, I added on very minimal error and security checks.

      One problem I found was that I wanted to add layers to the calendar, so that the UK office has its own layer, US has its own layer, and then each layers events are shown in a different color or can be hidden. You can do that easily using Google Calendar directly, but via the API it didnt seem to be possible.

      In general, I found the Google API to not work very well, I was dissapointed with it and had to make a lot of compromises, but it is better than the alternatives out there.

      Good luck with it,
      Zac

  2. Hey,

    we are getting started with confluence and jira. I find your hints very helpful. Especially your timezone widget looks great. Do you think you could provide the code for it? I’d like to put it next to our “communication list” in confluence. So you can easily see if they already started working oversea.

    Would be great if you share your experience or give us a more detailed hint on how to complete this!

    Thanks in advance,
    Paul

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