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Cover image for Group project tip: How to set up a Jira board and link it to your GitHub project

Group project tip: How to set up a Jira board and link it to your GitHub project

Hannah Gooding
Associate Software Engineer at Lyst. Founders and Coders bootcamp graduate.
・3 min read

During my web development bootcamp at Founders and Coders we built a new group project in a couple of days every week. We raised issues on our GitHub repositories, and then used the GitHub project kanban boards to visualise our issues into the default recommended columns: To Do, In Progress, Done.

As we moved to building bigger projects in longer sprints, we wanted to try out linking our GitHub repo to Jira instead because it has a lot more features out of the box like issue priority tags, time tracking and sprint points (note: GitHub has loads of marketplace tools that you can manually add on to your project boards instead, but it's always fun to play with new software).

Jira is a very popular tool for project tracking, not just in software engineering teams. In my previous life before becoming a programmer I worked in a photography studio for an e-commerce fashion brand and they used Jira to track the status of the product photos (whether they had been shot, retouched, etc.).

I've picked up that people seem to have a love/hate relationship with it, and it can be quite difficult to use as a beginner. When I set up my first Jira project I was overwhelmingly confused, but hopefully I can break it down for those who want to try it and become bosses at sprint planning!

Step One - Set up Jira project board

  • Set up your Jira account if you don't already have one.
  • On Jira, go to Projects > Create Project and select Classic Project.
  • Take note of the project key as this is what will link to your GitHub branches and issues.
  • Choose your project board template, I'd recommend Kanban for an open-ended project, or Scrum for fixed sprint planning. I'm going with Scrum for this tutorial.

Step Two - Set up GitHub integration

  • On Jira, go to Apps > Find New Apps and search for "Github for Jira".
  • Select Get app and once it is added successfully, select Get started.
  • Select Add organisation which will take you to your GitHub account.
  • If you don't see your organisation listed, select Install Jira where it says: "Don't see your account? Install Jira on your user account or an Organization you own.".
  • Install on all or only selected repositories.

Please see the docs for more details.

Step Three - Add your teammates on Jira

  • Go to People > View all people and teams and select Add People to add your teammates to your Jira site.

Step Four - Add issues on Jira

  • Now you can start logging your issues into your Backlog on Jira.
  • You can assign Priority arrows for each issue, and also Story Points and Original Estimate (time estimation).

Step Five - Sprint planning

  • Once you have logged all your issues you can select Create Sprint and start dragging the Backlog issues into the Sprint.
  • It will tell you at the bottom the points Estimate so you can keep track.

Step Six - Start the sprint!

  • When you select Start sprint you can configure the duration and start date.
  • Then you will be redirected to the project board where you can move issues across columns. This can now also be found when you navigate to Active Sprints.

Step 7 - Linking your GitHub branches and commit messages

  • Now you can start assigning issues to team members and start coding!
  • But wait, how do you link the branches you're working on and commits that you make? Well, remember the project key? That's why all my issues are named COOL-1, COOL-2, etc.
  • To link a branch to your Jira issue make sure the branch name starts with the Jira issue name, e.g. COOL-1_create_readme
  • To link your commits, start the commit message with the Jira issue number and then add your message
git commit -m "COOL-1 Create README file"
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Step 8 - Log your time

  • You can keep track of your work by logging the time spent on each issue on Jira so you can review how well you estimated at the end of each sprint.

That's it for setting up a basic project! There are so many more features that Jira has to offer, but this was sufficient to take us through our group projects.

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