Atlassian's app dev issue tracker gets an upgrade

The Jira 4 tracker now features integration with OpenSocial gadgets to boost collaboration among developer teams

Atlassian this week launched its Jira 4 issue tracker for software development projects, featuring a refreshed UI, activity streams, search, and OpenSocial gadget integration.

The UI provides a new look and feel. "It's a little slicker and a little bit faster," said Ken Olofsen, product marketing manager at Atlassian. Context-awareness enables the UI to be aware of what projects a developer interacts with, Olofsen said.

Activity streams add a concept similar to Facebook.  Activities can be examined by project, user, or issue to boost collaboration among developer teams.

The Jira dashboard serves as an OpenSocial container, where OpenSocial gadgets can be taken outside the dashboard, showing status and network updates. OpenSocial is a Google-championed common API for social applications across Web sites. Jira gadgets can be added to OpenSocial containers like Gmail while OpenSocial gadgets can be added to Jira.

"As more and more tools start to build gadget integration, the OpenSocial standard is kind of a great way for them to interoperate using a common standard," Olofsen said.

Version 4 also features a search capability based on Jira Query Language, for finding issues and setting up e-mail notifications or RSS feeds.

Jira has allowed customizability and the ability to integrate with different tools, Olofsen said. It was first offered years ago at a time when developers had been tracking issues either via Excel or by some large-scale IBM product, he said. "A lot of companies ending up building their own issue-tracker," he said.

"Today, bug trackers play a much larger role in software development," Olofsen said. "It's now managing the entire project."

With Jira 4, Atlassian is changing to a user-based pricing scheme as opposed to basing pricing on the edition of the product. Different user tiers are offered to make the product accessible to smaller teams, Olofsen said. A 25-user perpetual license with one year of maintenance costs $1,200, for example.

Atlassian also will offer a $10 starter license for teams of 10 users, with proceeds going to the "Room to Read" charity for building schools in impoverished areas.