Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mylyn tasks in Eclipse and viewing the Jira dashboard

In my previous post, I described how to connect Mylyn in Eclipse Indigo SR 2 to a Jira server. I will continue with creating Mylyn tasks in Eclipse, working with those tasks, Seeing the tasks using the Jira server through your browser, and finally, closing the task.

Creating tasks in Eclipse
First create a folder in Eclipse by right-clicking in the Mylyn "Task List" window and selecting New -> Category. I created a category called 1box.
Next, let's put a new task in the 1box category. Right-click in the Mylyn "Task List" window and selecting New -> Task. Then choose Box Jira (or whatever you called your repository). On the next screen, choose the appropriate project (I chose "1box (BOX)").

I filled in the task with some simple things. Note that the Estimate is 15m, for 15 minutes. The "Affects Versions," "Fix Versions," and "Components" depend on what your Jira administrators have set up. Finally, I assigned this to myself by clicking the icon at the far right of the text box.
After submit, notice the changes in the name (Jira appended "BOX-15") and that the Unsubmitted folder went away and that there's a new defect assigned to me.

Working with the task
You can activate the task in a couple of ways. You can click on the purple button next to the title ("Issue BOX-15"). Or you can right-click on BOX-15 and select Activate in the context menu. (If there are tabs from other files open, please right click on the task tab and then choose "Close Others" from the context menu.)
The context tells you what files you've viewed or changed. This is one of those features that make it a really helpful tool.
I selected the Context tab at the bottom and the Package Explorer tab at the left. My screen appeared as follows.
No files visible!?
When you start, you have an empty context. Hold down the Alt key and press on the "Empty Context" message. Instead of drilling down by pressing the black + on the left side of the project or folder, keep the Alt key pressed down and press on the blue + on the right edge of the name. Drill down until you find the file or files that you want to change. (I find this tedious. Better: Search for the file. Or if you looked at the file recently, choose Navigate -> Back. Or press the pull down next to the left-facing yellow arrow to see the last ten files. Or F3 on a resource that you'd like to open.)
As you open files, your context will grow. Only those files that you view will be visible in the package explorer.
Since Mylyn gives you just what you're working on for the task, it becomes a helpful mnemonic for what you worked on.

View from the Jira side
Jira is a way to view everybody's tasks and defects. I opened up a Firefox tab and went to, logging in with my corporate password. When I look on the summary tab, I see BOX-15 in several places.

I can start work on the task, assign it to someone else, add comments, or close it. If I change it on the Jira side, then I'll see it reflected in Eclipse/Mylyn fairly quickly.

The Atlassian products are already a joy to work with as an individual, but the team aspect adds a new dimension. Our department works across three time zones, and tracking tasks through email is difficult. With a Jira server and a Mylyn front end integrated into Eclipse, we're hoping to make it much easier to figure out who did what, to keep notes on what we did, and to figure out what files got touched.

We're only using a fraction of the Jira features, but the graphs are nice and they are helpful for getting the view from 20,000 feet.

Of course, it's also helpful for me to have a record of what I changed some months ago.

Closing the task
I can also close the task in Eclipse. But before I do, note that the two files that I touched are still open and that these are the only leaf nodes in the package explorer.

There you have it: Discovering Mylyn, getting Mylyn to talk to Jira, creating tasks in Mylyn. Happy team building.

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