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JIRA is an antipattern

By John Lafleur 2 minutes read

TL;DR: JIRA is very good at tracking iterative development and bug fixes. But it is a tool deeply ill-suited to be the map of a project’s overall vision or infrastructure. Stop using JIRA as the primary map and model of project completion.

  • One thing that writing elegant software has in common with art: its crafters should remain cognizant of the overall macro vision of the project, at the same time they are working on its smallest micro details. JIRA, alas, implicitly teaches everyone to ignore the larger vision while focusing on details. There is no whole. At best there is an “Epic” — but the whole point of an Epic is to be decomposed into smaller pieces to be worked on independently. JIRA encourages the disintegration of the macro vision.
  • Feature-driven JIRA does not easily support the concept of project-wide infrastructure which does not map to individual features. A data model used across the project. A complex component used across multiple pages. A caching layer for a third-party interface. A background service providing real-time data used across multiple screens. Sure, you can wedge those into JIRA’s ticket paradigm … but the spiderweb of dependencies which result don’t help anyone.
  • Because of how Jira is built, people take tickets, implement them as written, pass them off to whoever is next in the workflow, consider their job well done, even if working on scattered groups of them in parallel might be much more effective … and without ever considering the larger goal.
  • To write elegant software, you must keep both the macro and the micro vision in your mind simultaneously while working. JIRA is good at managing micro pieces. But you need something else for the macro.
  • Allow me to propose something shocking and revolutionary: prose. Maybe a ten-page overview describing the vision for the entire project in detail, and a six-page architectural document explaining the software infrastructure,
  • Let JIRA map the micro work; but let good old-fashioned plain language describe the macro vision, and try to pay more attention to it.

 

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