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2/21/2012
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Atlassian Boosts JIRA Social Features, Social Integration

Bug tracker and workflow software adds @references and the ability for external apps to create activity stream posts along with work items.

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
JIRA is taking on more of the characteristics of its social software cousin, Confluence, with the JIRA 5 version released Wednesday.

Atlassian's Confluence is a wiki that has expanded to include other social software features such as status updates and activity streams. JIRA is best known as a bug and issue tracker for software development teams, although it can also be used to organize, assign, and track other sorts of work items. JIRA has its own activity stream, where users can see a filtered list of message posts and notifications generated by the application, and with JIRA 5 it adopts the convention of @references made popular by Twitter and Facebook for tagging other users in a post. Confluence 4 added those features to the wiki platform when it was released a few months ago.

"There is a big trend toward the infusion of social norms and social networking behaviors in traditional enterprise apps," said Ken Olofson, group product marketing manager for JIRA. "This gives us a way of connecting people, just like in Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, where you can put in the '@' symbol, type the name, and that person will be notified that they've been mentioned in a conversation about an issue."

Atlassian recognizes the importance of having a unified enterprise activity stream, which can be accomplished through integration with Confluence or by providing an RSS feed from the JIRA activity stream to other applications, Olofson said. On the other hand, there is a place for more focused, application-specific activity streams, he said. "People want to have that stream where they live and work every day."

[ Why not learn about innovation from a master? See 3M Applies Social Business To Product Development.]

This release also significantly expands JIRA's REST-based application programming interface, making it possible for other applications to create, search, access, or update issues and activities in the system and also to generate posts to the JIRA activity stream. For example, one internal application of the feature has been an integration with BambooHR system Atlassian uses, where once a new hire is recorded in the system, it automatically spawns 18 issues in JIRA and assigns them to the people responsible for making sure the new employee will be provided with a computer, a desk, a phone, an email account, and other necessities for getting to work, Olofson said.

Because the API is built around basic web protocols, integration can encompass both cloud and on-premises applications and requires no special software plugins or adapters. More than 30 integration partners will take advantage of the API, including Jive, Gliffy, Google Docs, Zephyr, Zendesk, Salesforce.com, Tempo, and GetSatisfaction, according to Atlassian.

Atlassian has also created a more stable plugin API for this version, making a commitment to ensure that any plugin that works with 5.0 will be compatible with all future 5.x releases, Olofson said. Of the 400 add-ons available in the JIRA plugin exchange, more than 100 will be compatible on day one, he said.

Atlassian is also introducing a series of enterprise pricing options associated with a higher level of service, with 24-hour, seven-day-a-week support, free online training, and free on-site training and certification of one administrator included. Previously, organizations that grew beyond the 10-user, $10 startup kit paid between $1,200 and $8,000 for JIRA, with the top price applying to any organization with more than 100 users. The new price points apply to organizations with more than 500 users ($12,000) more than 2,000 users ($16,000), and more than 10,000 ($20,000).

By enterprise software standards, that pricing is still cheap, Olofson said. JIRA's very largest users had been signaling that they needed more support than Atlassian previously offered, and they were willing to pay for it, he said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard

The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 26-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.

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