Boondocking with Jira and Confluence

Truck and Travel Trailer

Did you know I’ve worked from the road for over 3 years?  It’s a lot like working from home except when I look out the window of my home on wheels, the scenery is always different!  In May 2015, we got rid of most of our stuff, sold our cars, and hit the road in a travel trailer.

Strategy for Jira Tour

Our trip started in Virginia.  From there we traveled South through the Eastern states, explored the entire Florida coast, visited 8 Texas cities, stayed a while in Arizona and California, and then went North through Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.  This entire time I’ve worked as a Jira administrator, consultant, and speaker on the Strategy for Jira Tour.  The tour highlight was speaking at the Atlassian office in Austin, TX and at Summit!

Boondocking

After three years, we’ve decided to add a new element to our mobile lifestyle:  boondocking.  Boondocking is camping without hookups to city power, water, and sewer systems.  We’re used to bringing our own internet connection but until now, we’ve paid a campground to supply the other utilities.  It’s a bit limiting though;  it means we can only go where others have resources available for us.  I’d prefer the ability to go anywhere (anywhere with a usable cell signal, that is.)

So what does all this have to do with Jira and Confluence?  Plenty!  Throughout my trip, I’ve had to guarantee my access to power and wifi in order to work, support the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, and participate in the Atlassian Community.  I need reliable access to Jira and Confluence for my consulting practice, for my volunteer work, and for my personal life.  Without Jira, I can’t access my “to do” list, help Jira administrators clean up too many custom fields, or prepare to merge multiple applications.  I track where we go in Jira and record the specific details of each location in Confluence.  Now, I’ll need to do all that without the convenience of “full hookups.”  We’ll need to bring our own water and store it – before and after we use it.  Most importantly, we’ll need to find a way to generate our own power.

Power Options

There are a few power generation options so I used Confluence to research and make the decision.  The travel trailer has its own 12 volt battery that’s responsible for the lights, water pump, fire and carbon monoxide detection systems.  It also generates the spark for propane appliances, like the fridge, stove, and oven.  The battery is constantly recharged when connected to city power but without it, it doesn’t last very long.  We need a way to recharge it and heavily researched all the methods including:  solar or wind power, gas or propane generator power,  disconnecting the battery altogether (not sustainable), and even sacrificing one or a series of $80 batteries (not smart).

We really love the idea of solar, and want to have it one day, but it’s not simple (or cheap) to set it up correctly.  And, it’s not fool-proof.  For example, what if it’s a cloudy day?  “Sorry, Jira, there’s no power to launch your URL today!”  🙁

For our first foray into boondocking, we purchased a small gas inverter generator.  Our $500 unit won’t provide luxury.  We won’t be able to use the microwave, air conditioning, or coffee maker.  But doesn’t a coffee press make better coffee better anyway?  It’s enough to periodically charge the 12 volt battery however so we can run a minimum amount of electronics.  We’ll limit ourselves to the really important things:  2 cell phones, 2 laptops, and one wireless internet router for WiFi.  We’ll open the windows if it’s hot, light a lantern if it’s dark, and generally try to live even more simply than before.  It will be less “glamping” and more “camping.”  I do hope we’ll have enough battery power to run a small fan though.  We’ll see.

We’ve been researching and learning about volts, amps and watts.  I estimate it takes 65 watts to access a local Jira instance and 71 watts (computer + router) for a Cloud instance.  I’m new to these calculations though and my estimates could be way off.  Time will tell!

Official Test

Starting July 8, we’re “cutting the RV cord”.  We’re going to the middle of a field in Pagosa Springs, CO to test our setup and spend a whole week “off the grid.”  If all goes as planned, I’ll be doing all my favorite Jira and Confluence activities like always.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have you boondocked, dry camped, or gone “off grid”?  Share your stories and tips in the Comments section below.

Atlassian Customer ShipIT Creates Dynamic Jira Map

Each quarter, Atlassian has a 24 hour hackathon, called ShipIt, where they stop all work duties to create something awesome.  It embodies their culture of innovation and demonstrates a sacred company value: “Be the change you seek.”

This week, 24 non-Atlassians participated in the first Atlassian User Group (AUG) Leader ShipIt.  Since we’re Atlassian customers, volunteers, and have work duties we can’t ignore, our hackathon lasted 3 weeks, instead of 24 hours.  We worked nights and weekends to bring our ideas to life and then submitted our finished products as a three minute video.

Project Planning at Atlassian Summit

We were one of 10 teams that accepted the ShipIt challenge.  Our team included six AUG Leaders from all over the country.  We named ourselves “Atlas”.  We wanted to solve a visibility issue that impacts the AUG program and we wanted to use Atlassian products to do it.

Problem Statement

As an Atlassian User Group Member, an AUG Leader, or member of the Atlassian Community Team, I’d like to:

  • See a visual representation of the active AUG locations around the world
  • Find the user groups near my location
  • View each group’s size, contact details, and the website URL
  • Encourage traveling users to connect with additional groups
  • Create a dynamic solution which will never be out of date or require manual maintenance
  • Encourage new membership by showing existing user groups
  • Encourage new group formation by showing location gaps
  • Use Atlassian tools to store the data and collaborate during the project

Our Solution

Jira Custom Fields

We built a dynamic map that pulls its data from Jira issues!  We started with a Jira project, where each user group is represented by an issue.  The project has custom fields, like “Map Location” and “Group Size”, to hold information about each group.  The project has custom workflow statuses, like “Active” and “Inactive”, to show the current state of each group.

We used Jira’s REST API to retrieve issue data for only user groups in certain statuses.  Next, we injected the JSON results into SQL 2016.  We then restructured the data for map use.  For example, we translated the plain text “Map Location” values into coordinates the Google Maps API would understand.  Finally, we created a script that automates the REST API calls and the Geocoding of the locations.  The script also generates an HTML file with all the user group data plotted.  The process of updating the HTML file on the server is automated too.  The file is uploaded to our Confluence instance and versioned through the REST API.  It is also published to an external website, demonstrating additional viewing abilities.

When a user group transitions to another status, or if any Jira issue data is updated, those changes are automatically reflected on the map!  This includes changes to the group’s name, estimated user counts, and group contact information.  The map requires no manual updates, which was a project goal.

Clicking a map pin displays city information, like the group size, the city contact email address, and a link to the group’s website.  The map also automatically centers to your current location and counts the total number of active user groups displayed.  The look and feel is fully customizable and results can be embedded on other websites, including Confluence and Jira.

Additionally, we used HipChat’s Botler service to create map entry point.  In HipChat, if an AUG Leader types “an AUG in” as in “Is there an AUG in Nebraska?” a link to the map will automatically appear.  See our creation in action with the three minute ShipIt video below.

You can also demo our proof of concept live!

Atlassian Products Used

We started collaborating in person at the Atlassian Summit user conference and used Atlassian tools to stay connected after returning home.  We used:

  • Trello to collect user stories, feature requests, and track progress,
  • Confluence to make decisions and document solution details,
  • HipChat for daily discussions and immediate feedback,
  • and Jira to store all user group location and status data.

Our Team

We’re very proud of what we built and had an awesome first Atlassian ShipIT experience!

  • Mark Livingstone, IT Director at Qualcomm and San Diego, CA AUG Leader
  • Marlon Palha, Head of Business Systems at ITHAKA and New York City AUG Leader
  • Stephen Sifers, Network Operations Center Manager at Sagiss and Dallas, TX AUG Leader
  • Jeff Tillett, Agile IT Operations Manager at AppDynamics and Dallas, TX AUG Leader
  • Justin Witz, Chief Technology Officer at FRA PlanTools LLC and Charlotte, NC AUG Leader
  • Rachel Wright, Author of the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook and member of the AUG Leader Council.

Mistakes Were Made

Rachel Wright with her Adaptavist shirt, Atlassian socks, and the JIRA Strategy Admin Workbook

In April 2017, Rachel Wright joined Adaptavist’s Matthew Stublefield and Ryan Spilken to discuss JIRA administration, in the Mistakes Were Made episode, of the Adaptavist Atlassian Ecosystem Podcast.

In this episode we explore how we got our start as JIRA administrators, utilizing test environments, unintended consequences of cleaning up your application, and ways to learn about JIRA administration.

Listen Now
Length: 22 minutes
Release date: 17 April 2017

About the Podcast

The Adaptavist Live! podcast highlights topics and events within the Atlassian Ecosystem and at Adaptavist.  Matthew Stublefield and Ryan Spilken use their unique brand of humor to make technical topics interesting and understandable.

Adaptavist helps the world’s most complex Enterprises get more from Atlassian software through professional services, Add-Ons, training and managed services.

Catch the entire Adapatavist Live! series at: https://soundcloud.com/adaptavistlive

Welcome JIRA, RIP Test Director

“Catastrophic Failure” – my favorite application error.

Before JIRA, I was using an ancient bug tracking application.  By ancient, I mean software that would only load in a browser version which was no longer available.  The manufacturer had stopped supporting it many years prior and it was becoming increasingly unstable.  We couldn’t have been more excited to ditch it and switch to Atlassian’s JIRA. Continue reading “Welcome JIRA, RIP Test Director”