I’ve been using Atlassian tools at work for a few years now, and it’s hard to imagine how much different developing software would be without them. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Atlassian, here’s the 10,000 foot view.
The Atlassian Toolbox
Jira is the cornerstone of the stack and, with the addition of the ‘Agile’ GreenHopper plugin, is an ideal tool for tying together issue tracking and project planning in one easy to work with bundle. Crucible and Fisheye provide peer review and repository browsing. The Confluence wiki provides a great framework for organizing and sharing knowledge. Bamboo is an extremely versatile continuous integration platform. Crowd provides SSO and identity management. And they all can link together nicely to provide consolidated views spanning the entire stack.
Here Be Dragons
Late in 2009 Atlassian started a new marketing campaign geared towards smaller deployments: $60 to purchase 10 user licenses for the entire software stack, including 30 day trial licenses with support. Previously some of the applications were available for personal use(2 or 3 Users only) at no cost, and indeed I have a Confluence install I’ve been using for the last year, but this deal makes the entire stack available at what is really a very reasonable price. And they even include a fun, if slightly corny, tutorial which guides you through installing and configuring all of the applications to link them together. So here’s my experience ‘Slaying the Dragon’.
The very first thing I discovered was that my years old Intel iMac with 1GB of memory just wasn’t going to cut it. The recommendation is for 2GB of memory and “No other applications running — just the operating system, JAVA, PostgreSQL and the Atlassian applications” so I of course took that as an opportunity to ask Santa for a memory upgrade.
Ten days later, with 4GB of brand new RAM installed I got much further than the SLOW grind that was Crowd + Jira + Confluence + iTunes fighting with each other over 1 gig of memory(shudder). Aside from a couple of minor hiccups, everything installed without hassle and the instructions were nothing short of spectacular. I did have to make some tweaks to the postgres database configuration upping the number of allowed connections; apparently this setup is more than a little connection hungry, tsk tsk. Crowd is the one application I’m least familiar with, and integrating with it seemed to be the most actual ‘work’ but hey – if manually copying around and modifying a couple of configuration files is the biggest hassle involved in providing SSO for 5 enterprise apps, I think I can live with it. I am probably going to have to bite the bullet and invest in a more practical server machine, but I’m pretty sure the 2010 budget can find room for at least one new computer.
Been There, Done That, Where’s my T-shirt?
I’ve already started to plan out milestones for the new year’s projects in Jira, so I guess I’m already committed to paying the $60 when my trial period expires. Especially when Atlassian is donating all proceeds to Room to Read. I get enterprise-ready software for cheap AND all the money goes to a good cause. Win-win in my books – and a great job by Atlassian(on both the software and the charitable good.) Did I mention they’re sending out free t-shirts to anyone who completes the challenge?
In the gallery below is a screen shot for the single Jira Dashboard view you end up with at the end of the exercise. It ties together activity from each of the applications into one homogeneous view, and each widget is color coded to represent where the data is being drawn from. If you’re looking for an affordable solution to help streamline your work at home or in a small development team, check it out!