Jira vs. YouTrack — Why did we change our project tracking tool?

When we work with our partners we want to provide them with ready-made and well done solutions. Usually, our code is responsible for the work of thousands of devices, so it has to be good. That’s why the process of developing software is so important for us and it starts with planning. So choosing the right and reliable project tracking tool is crucial.

Firstly, we chose Jira. This software is one of the most popular ones and is used by teams around the world. We have used Jira for few years. It worked well, but had some drawbacks. However, we have found YouTrack recently, we tested it and now all of our work is planned and managed via this project tracking tool. Today, we would like to share our thoughts about switching from Jira to YouTrack and mark important pros and cons of these two products.

Jira - project tracking tool dashboard
source: https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira

Main idea 

Jira is older than Youtrack. It was made by Atlassian and released in 2002. While Youtrack made by JetBrains was released in 2009 (a company which also created popular IDE — IntelliJ.) So the main con is the fact that YouTrack is younger and the period of development is 7 years shorter. This means that it can lack some functionalities which you are used to while using in Jira.

Fortunately, YouTtrack’s support is better. They do not only give users an opportunity to report bugs and add new feature requests as issues in YouTrack development project. They also choose feature requests which are the most popular in YouTrack’s community and publish them in plans for future releases. JetBrains answers to the new functionalities proposals and quickly publishes bug fixes for critical bugs. So when you miss something, write about it here.

When will they release “this” feature?

No one knows. However, there is a new patch every two weeks. Also JetBrains releases few updates during a year. There are four which are the minor ones and one major update released every year.

The must-have of every project tracking tool – Agile boards

YouTrack gives us better Agile (kanban) boards. They are independent from projects and have more configuration options. We can use them to represent a single project or create high-level view with main issues (like epics) of multiple projects. But the best part — and giving most flexibility — is an option to configure how issues are linked to the boards. We can manually assign issues to sprints or make them linked based on selected properties. For some project this property will be a sprint name/number, for others — a planned fix version. And we can also filter some issues out of the board. This way we can better adjust our project tracking tool to our team’s workflow.

The next important part of working with YouTrack is the fact that its kanban view has a built-in real backlog. Instead of collecting all future tasks in one column, you have them in a separate place, just like on your real, physical boards. You can gather them up and down there and then work with them in the future. We can move, edit and assign them to other tasks as subtasks, so development is more structured. And of course add them from a backlog to sprint by a simple drag and drop.

An interesting feature is the possibility to set your own filter key in YouTrack’s kanban view, so you can easily find elements with the desired parameter.

When you work with Jira you have to choose between simple Kanban or Scrum and the whole view of the project is based on it. Then, when your project is in progress it’s not easy to change it. In YouTrack there is no such a problem, you can simply change or add new agile board that represent your current development workflow.

In Jira everything is sorted based on projects while in YouTrack there is nothing like a “project view”. The “project” page shows only people assigned to it and configuration options for its administrator. Everything else — issues, agile boards, reports — you can find in its own pages. It may look strange at first, but then you will discover how useful this ability to quickly find data from across the projects is (e.g. all issues assigned to you).

YouTrack - project tracking tool dashboard
https://www.jetbrains.com/youtrack/features/reporting_analysis.html< /figcaption>

When we want to get reports of our work…

Reports generated by YouTrack are more flexible too. For example, you can create a matrix report for multiple projects using any of their issues’ fields for X and Y axes. In Jira you can do it too — if you buy an appropriate plugin. However, sometimes they lack basic information about time tracking and time management. In Jira we have used a plugin called “Tempo” which has given us — both developers and managers — a nice view of time spent on work. Unfortunately, YouTrack’s reports for that are less clear. But there is an issue for that awaited by more people, so hopefully JetBrains will upgrade this part of reports-making in the future.

To sum up…

It’s not easy to say that YouTrack or Jira is better than its competitor. Everything depends on our own needs. I have chosen YouTrack, because I like its pace of development and a different, more flexible approach to project managing. We were tired of Jira’s business model, which forced us to pay extra for basic functionalities. Instead of paying for parts of the project tracking tool, I got a full package from JetBrains. Obviously, it’s not perfect, but it fits the needs of our developers and mine as a Manager of Developers at Blast Lab.

Author: Maciej Radzikowski — Senior Developer at BlastLab Ltd. Java EE developer and database architect focused on making work of others programmers easier.

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Jira vs. YouTrack — Why did we change our project tracking tool? was originally published in The Official BlastLab Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.