Introduction to Atlassian Jira plugin development

13. October 2023

Jira is a popular project management tool used by teams across various industries. One of the key reasons for its popularity is the ability to enhance its functionality through plugins. Jira plugins offer additional features and capabilities that can greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of project management. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of Jira plugins and how they can help teams streamline their workflows and achieve better results.

Jira plugin development

Jira is a powerful project management tool used by teams all over the world. With its key features like customizable workflows, issue tracking, and collaboration features, it has become an essential tool for many organizations. However, what sets Jira apart from other project management tools is its extensive plugin ecosystem which benefits user experience.

Jira plugins, also known as apps, allow users to extend the functionality of Jira to fit their specific needs. These plugins can range from simple Jira integrations with other tools to complex Jira automations and reporting features. In this brief blog post, we will explore the world of Jira plugin development and provide you with the basic knowledge and resources you should know before developing one on your own. Let’s tackle this!

Why Develop a Jira Plugin?

Before we dive into the technical aspects of Jira plugin development, let's first understand why it is worth investing your time and resources into creating a plugin.

Customization and Integration

Jira plugins allow you to customize and integrate Jira with other useful tools and systems already used by your team. This can greatly improve your team's productivity and efficiency by streamlining workflows and eliminating manual tasks.

For example, you can integrate Jira with your team's communication tool, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, to receive notifications and updates directly in your chat platform. You can also integrate Jira with your code repository, such as GitHub or Bitbucket, to automatically create issues and track code changes, definitely a time saver!

Jira Plugin Features

Jira plugins also enable you to automate repetitive tasks and generate custom reports. This can save your team valuable time and provide valuable insights into your project's progress and performance, which is essentially going to lead to more effective decision making and project management.

For instance, you can create a plugin that automatically assigns issues to team members based on their workload or skillset. You can also develop a plugin that generates custom reports on project progress, track progress, team performance, and issue resolution times. It is all up to you and believe me you can get truly creative and make anything that suits your personal needs or the market needs. Identifying a possible solution for certain concerns other Jira users may be experiencing might be your golden ticket to Jira plugin development game.

Getting Started with Jira Plugin Development

Now that we understand the benefits of developing a Jira plugin, let's dive into the technical aspects of it.


Before you start developing a Jira plugin, you will need to have a basic understanding of Java and web development. You will also need to have a Jira instance set up, either on your local machine or on a server.

Choosing a Development Framework

Jira offers two main development frameworks for creating plugins: Atlassian Plugin SDK and Atlassian Connect. The Atlassian Plugin SDK is a Java-based framework that allows you to create server and data center plugins, while Atlassian Connect is a web-based framework that enables you to create cloud plugins.

Depending on your project's requirements and your development team's expertise, you can choose the framework that best suits your needs. However, keep in mind that Atlassian Connect is the recommended framework for future-proofing your plugin, as Atlassian plans to phase out server and data center plugins in the future and focus solely on cloud versions.

Understanding the Plugin Lifecycle

Jira plugins have a specific lifecycle that determines when and how they are loaded and executed. Understanding this lifecycle is crucial for developing a successful plugin.

The lifecycle consists of the following stages:

  • Installation: The plugin is installed on the Jira instance.
  • Activation: The plugin is activated and registered with Jira.
  • Startup: The plugin is loaded and initialized.
  • Runtime: The plugin is running and can be accessed by users.
  • Shutdown: The plugin is stopped and unloaded.

Each stage has its own set of events and actions that can be triggered, allowing you to control the behavior of your plugin at different points in its lifecycle.

Choosing a Development Environment

To develop a Jira plugin, you will need a development environment that allows you to write, test, and debug your code. You can choose from a variety of integrated development environments (IDEs), such as Eclipse, IntelliJ, or NetBeans.

Additionally, you can use the Atlassian Plugin SDK to set up a local development environment that includes a Jira instance and all the necessary tools for plugin development.

Best Practices for Jira Plugin Development

Now that we have covered the basics of Jira plugin development, let's explore some best practices to help you create a high-quality and successful plugin.

Follow Atlassian's Guidelines

Atlassian has a set of guidelines and best practices for software developers developing Jira plugins. These guidelines cover everything from coding standards to security and performance considerations. It is essential to follow these guidelines to ensure your plugin is compatible with future Jira updates and meets the expectations of users.

Test Your Plugin Thoroughly

Before releasing your plugin to the public, it is crucial to test it thoroughly. This includes testing activities such as testing for compatibility with different Jira versions or testing for bugs and errors. You can use Jira's built-in testing tools, such as the Jira Plugin Test Console, to test your plugin in a controlled test environment.

Provide Clear Documentation

To ensure your plugin is user-friendly and easy to use, it is essential to provide clear and comprehensive documentation. This should include installation instructions, usage guidelines, and troubleshooting steps. You can also include code examples and a FAQ section to help users understand and use your plugin effectively.

Real-World Examples of Successful Jira Plugins

To give you a better understanding of the potential of Jira plugin development, let's look at some real-world examples of successful Jira plugins from the Atlassian marketplace.

Zephyr Scale

Zephyr Scale is a test management solution in Jira which features include advanced test planning, reporting, and reusability features. It allows testing teams to perform smarter test management, easily track requirements across the whole testing process, and generate reports with their extensive features. This plugin has over 27,000 active installations and users love it due to its easy usability and great, optimal reporting.

Timesheets by Tempo

Tempo Timesheets is a plugin that provides time tracking and reporting features for Jira. It allows users to track time spent on different issues and projects and generate custom reports. This plugin has over 30,000 active installations and has been praised for its user-friendly interface and powerful reporting capabilities.


Jira plugin development offers endless possibilities for customizing and extending the functionality of Jira. By following best practices and understanding the plugin lifecycle, you can create a high-quality and successful plugin that meets the needs of your team and users. With the right tools and resources, you can master Jira plugin development and take your project management to the next level or even make it a business and start earning with Atlassian. As mentioned the plugins above it is definitely possible to make a living on Jira plugin development, however your plugin needs plenty of customers, at the end like any other business. If you don’t sell, you don’t make the buck as simple as that.

Author: David

If you're looking for more tips and tricks on managing tasks efficiently, check out Mastering Jira Subtasks: A Comprehensive Guide. You can also boost your JIRA experience with our plugin Subtask navigation for Jira, which makes the navigation much faster, no need to navigate back to parent to see siblings or descriptions. Lastly, if you are interested in developing Jira plugin on your own check out as well our older blog How Do We Develop Jira Plugins for some inspiration.