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Ask HN: Looking for an Alternative to Jira
60 points by philpem 53 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments
I've been using Jira on a Starter licence since I was in university. Over time I've found that it's become steadily more bloated, heavy and costly. Several key features which were previously built-in are now plugins with a fairly high aggregate cost.

I've been out of the open-source bug-tracker loop for way too long. Are there any good alternatives to JIRA?

Essentially I need a bugtracker which can handle multiple projects and separate the bugs out on that basis. Custom workflow support would be good, but not essential (as nerdy as it sounds, I sometimes use JIRA as a digital to-do list).

You can try Taiga [1] it supports kanban style or scrum style development with a very beautiful interface. It has all you need built-in with issues, epics, tasks, sprint or just a kanban board.

Both front-end and back-end are open source. It can be customized easily and can be integrated with video conference, IRC, slack, CI, Gitlab, GitHub, kallithea-scm or just with git and mercurial easily.

Backend is built using Python Django framework with celery and front-end as SPA in angularjs. Give it a try I think it's also a very good example production system in Django with angularjs to learn from.

[1] https://github.com/taigaio

I've noticed a lot of people mentioning Taiga in the comments, and it looks like it's got everything we'd need.

I'll have a dig and see if there's a Docker script to run up a test/eval installation. I might have tried to install it before, but the separate "backend" and "frontend" made it look quite complex to install.

Python is a big plus, I know how to make that decently performant on our VPS (half our tech stack is Python based).

My team had built a lxd image to run it as lxd container. It's easy to do.

It also has great documentation check at http://taigaio.github.io/taiga-doc/dist/

You can look at installation setup production system. It has a built-in script which can automate installation too with systemd service setup.

Obviously forgot to mention you can have it as SaaS if you do not like to do self-install. Check https://taiga.io/

If your source repositories are on Github, please consider Github issues. You'll need to setup a lot of labels to handle the different status, priority and component fields that you'd normally get in JIRA, and you'll have to use Github "projects". You'll also have to use issue checklists instead of subtasks. I'd do it myself if our organization's process wasn't so deeply integrated with JIRA.

Any issue tracking system is only as good as your ability to act on the information in it. Github issues' apparent simplicity is to your advantage here so I'd stay away from trying to recreate Jira with it.

Kanban boards are a great visualisation tool but the lack of screen real estate limits their effectiveness - more than two screen of information and you end up not being able to see the forest for all the trees in the way. Github projects help a lot with this as you can usually break a project down by structure (modules) or time (milestones). On a given Github board you can easily move cards between projects so the system becomes quite scaleable - within reason.

Kanban boards (if you can keep them manageable) are also a great customer-facing tool. The structure is simple enough to comprehend easily and the customer, product manager, etc. can visualise progress much more easily. They are a great communication tool as they deliver a certain amount of empowerment to the customer.

Checklists are infinitely better for subtasks for similar reasons as the boards - all information and all progress is forced to be on one card - that means it has to be readable and understandable by everyone.

The only limitation I have found with Github issues is that the screen real-estate in the editor is relatively limited. If they had a more complex editor along the lines of Google Docs then it would be possible to achieve the Holy Grail of Issue Tracking where all tickets were well written and had all the information in one place.

+1 for GitHub Issues as it is closely integrated with code.

If you are using GitLab, then GitLab also has its equivalent called Issues.

I absolutely love Github Issues, and if I could get the budget I'd get us a Teams subscription and run with it.

The problem is that the main projects I work on are for non-profit volunteer groups, so anything without a direct attendee benefit is an extremely hard sell. :(

Lack of issue deps and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gantt_chart are the biggest annoyances.

We've settled down with YouTrack (by JetBrains). It doesn't look pretty buy it's designed by (and for) people that uses it. Its command management is AWESOME. It's also quite cost effective compared to other solutions. Couldn't find a more productive tool that that one if you want to have something more organized than trello (eg. timetracking and customizable fields)

I absolutely love Youtrack from a feature perspective but it still has the same dealbreaker problem as JIRA -- it's Java-based and needs a fair amount of CPU/RAM resources.

Sadly that's one of the big reasons we're moving away from Jira. The full set is:

* We don't have the money for a 10+ licence * It's slow (our VPS is underpowered and we don't have the money for a faster one) * Too many features are now part of pay-for licences, which pushes the aggregate cost over our self-imposed "how easy is this to justify to our attendees?" limit.

In the end, it boils down to the aggregate cost to get what we want.

We are using YouTrack cloud and while it does the job, it's not really satisfying to use. We would like to see more and better integrations. My current frustration is the Git integration; it only works with commits (not PRs) and is not 100% reliable. There is also a Confluence plugin that someone wrote for their hosted version 6 years ago, but the company won't enable it for the cloud version.

On the plus side, I've had pretty good interactions with their support team and they seem pretty responsive. Given that they are located in Eastern Europe, the team communicates very well and I generally don't have any trouble getting them to understand what's going on.

You can get reasonably far with Trello, if all you're doing is item tracking. If you're trying to do anything more than a free-for-all workflow, or wanting to do reporting, it's less good.

https://restya.com/board is open source Trello alternative

Thanks for the link to that -- I've been looking for something like this too!

+1 on Trello. I'm a Scrum Master and we use it in our current team (~10 devs). I miss the reporting JIRA has tbh, but we get along just fine using workarounds (estimating in cards, etc).

Good luck!

Why not use pivotal tracker then? It is trello + estimation.

Ohh, I didn't know about this - thanks for the heads up!

You can give a try at Redmine. I've used it and I think the differences might be pros for some and cons for others. The UI is, in my opinion, bad, and it lacks some features from Jira. That being said, since it's open source (coded in Ruby), you can personalize it, add your own features (or others that are already out there) and host it yourself. At the same time there's a lot of hosting companies that do that for you if you don't want to play this kind of game. Using hosting services usually makes it a lot more complex to add your own features though!

+1 for Redmine, as it can be self-hosted and doesn't need to hand out your information to SaaS ones like Trello or Taiga

Taiga is open-source and can be self-hosted.

A few years ago we migrated from Jira to Gitlab. To use their project-planning features (Epics, etc) they take a massive preḿium if you're not interested in the other features.

Still, the basics are sound, and even without epics and a few of the other neat but expensive features, it goes pretty far.

> massive preḿium

That massive premium bothers me too. I don't mind paying for those premium features, but as a small company (less than 20 employees) the cost is not justifiable.

We already use GitLab's community edition as a self-hosted package combined with MatterMost, and we love it. We are not using its issue tracker, only the git repository hosting and integration with MatterMost.

However, having to go to enterprise tier just to get epics is not an option for us. I really wish GitLab would price their tiers more appropriately for small businesses.

Also, what on earth are you doing with that acute accent on that poor m?

Checkout gitlab. They have issue tracker and wiki along with everything else DevOps.

You can also have a look at https://clubhouse.io

For me, Clubhouse has the best UX ratio of personalization, features and simplicity... Hopefully it will continue to be only improved and not extended

Agreed, we've been using Clubhouse for the past few months and it really hits the sweet spot. Not as complicated as Jira but more features than Trello.

Clubhouse. It's genuinely brilliant https://clubhouse.io/. Basically super trello, has epics, projects, milestones, GH integration etc, but doesn't feel bloated.

How do you work with bug triage in Clubhouse? So far I've found categorising a bit difficult, especially for long-term tracking of issues.

Azure DevOps is pretty good - https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/services/devops/

Comes with a full suite of Agile project management tools with Kanban boards, Wiki etc. and then integrates with pull requests etc. through its Git repository hosting system.

Would say the same... thought it's constantly adding/changing features which is a mixed bag, I really like it. IIRC it's free for up to 5 users in a team.

DevOps has a horribly confusing and slow interface, IMO.

Seems fast on my machine. It seems to be constantly improving. I've only recently started using it but it's quite god.

* good

Did you try the "New Jira"[1]? It has been pretty decent for us.

[1] https://www.atlassian.com/blog/jira-software/the-new-jira-be...

Atlassian has a major flaw in their understanding of how a lot of developers work and it is evident by all heir "new" versions of stuff. They've made simple editing harder (WYSIWYG only, which often makes bad assumptions), made drastic changes to the UI, broken workflows, removed keyboard shortcuts and made it impossible to open an issue full page by clicking a linkbun the web app without first loadingbit as an overlay. They are, hands down, the worst offender of "if it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is" that I've ever seen. I'm constantly advocating for anything else in every org I work with. An issue tracker doesn't need to be full of sugar, it needs to be simple and consistent. Atlassian fails magnificently at both of those.

It absolutely feels like a tool for managers, not developers. I just want to see what I'm supposed to be working on and push them to the right person when I've done my part, and all of the rest is noise to me.

Jira puts issue management first (and even fails a bit with that IMO), and makes getting work done more painful than necessary.

It's prettier, but painfully slow (even slower than the old version).

I would suggest you to take a look at Tuleap https://www.tuleap.org/, an all-in-one 100% open source tool for agile management and development tool. You have a panel of modules you can choose to work, with by project. It supports Scrum, Kanban, waterfall-oriented approaches. It provides a powerful issue tracking system with hight level of workflow customisation options. It integrates finely Git, Gerrit, Jenkins and Test management as well as Document Management.

Disclaimer: I'm fan of Tuleap as I'm member of the Tuleap team :-)

Which are the key features they've made paid only which you miss?

I'm currently working on an alternative to Jira at present with an issues list and roadmap combined - very early stages as yet (just about to launch the issue tracker product), but I'm really interested in feedback and happy to offer discounts/free use in return for some feedback. It's at https://projectpage.dev

Please get in touch at kenny at projectpage.dev as I'd be really interested to get your perspective on this and let you try it out.

Linear http://linear.app

Beautiful design, extremely fast, keyboard shortcuts. Still in private beta for now, but you can request access on the site.

https://www.phacility.com/phabricator/ I loved using this with my friends.

+1. Phabricator is great and such an underrated software!

It's much more similar to Gitlab than Jira, though, so you might want something more specific. That said, I quite like the way Phabricator handles Tasks and Projects.

By far the best I've used and administered (self-hosted) is: https://bestpractical.com/request-tracker

Killer feature for me: "Seamless Email Integration". As a client or a provider you never need to open the web interface. Just the managers do.

I spent two years using and then administering two RT servers.

I arrived with effectively no real PERL knowledge but a high level of Linux sysadmin competency

I hugely enjoyed working with the system. It was productive, flexible, and never gave me unexplained errors.

Even scripting on the perl api was an excellent experience.

Moreover the devs were extremely helpful in their irc channel (circa 2014-2016 at least) and walked me through a manual upgrade caused by the previous admin customizing the database schema in an unsafe way

Would highly recommend

Yes indeed it is highly customizable application in Perl.

In my old company it was used for many things.

1. Customer service

2. Incident Management

3. Task management

4. ITIR style ITIL incident Management integrated with configuration management.

5 Integrated bug tracking with SVN.

It's open source nature and highly customizable architecture made it very easy to work with it.

Subsequently my teams moved to other platform but I still like it.

I've used Phabricator (https://github.com/phacility/phabricator) for years. It's a bit rough around the edges, but it's robust, straightforward and well maintained.

I actually tried to get Phabricator up and running not long ago -- the main issue I have with it is that it seems to need a server (at least a database server) all to itself. It's probably a resolvable issue using some kind of container, but it scared me off a little bit.

I cant beleive nobody mentioned Redmine (foss). Its the best tool for that purpose out there that can run hundreeds of projects with thosands of users without a hitch. You can customize it to extreme with plugins to look whatever you like but even clot instance is very capable. Its extremelly stable and secure too. Cant recommend it highly enough.

Gitlab iz alternative too but most of it is complete DevOps platform with lots of opionions you may not want or like many of which are not customizable. Redmine has thousands of plugins and its focus is project management, not necesserally development projects too, you can even use it as service desk for end users.

Ended up evaluating bunch of different Saas services last year and the best I found for the team and our use cases was Wrike. The UI was quite slick and didn't come between the developer and the task too much. Had quite good reporting and support for project hierarchies etc. Wasn't the most expensive but wasn't the cheapest.

Currently using Jira with "next-gen" project. It's slicker (but still slower to use than Wrike) to use and admin but lacks lots of useful features and is buggy. This morning our project lost epics for few hours without any explanation. Fffuun!

But yep, almost everything is better than Jira if you have the possibility to switch.

Gitlab (issues+board), Github (issues+project) and Azure DevOps (free up to 5 users).

I used JIRA also, and it is huge indeed, well combined with bitbucket also as code repo. I'd say stay with what goes well with your repo (what integrates well).

A self hosted option I developed - http://duetapp.com

Actively working on it now, so if there are any specific features you need, definitely let me know so I can add them

Huge fan of Asana. One feature I've only ever seen in Asana is the the ability to have a single task added to multiple lists with the ability to independently drag to prioritize on different lists. You might be ordering your list by customer priority including marketing and sales tasks, I can order mine by the order I'll tackle them in including unrelated devops tasks. We can have different priorities without breaking things and it's still one task so if either of us marks it as done the other sees it as done.

We use Zenhub with Github issues. Zenhub adds more structure over Github project. It hit the sweet spot for small teams, not too basic where we can't use it to run our processes, yet not so bloated where we need a manual for doing things. The tight integration with Github is a big win for us. But you can't customise things so when the team gets bigger we expect to move.


Since nobody mentioned it...

I spent a number of years running and customising Trac (https://trac.edgewall.org) in a multi-project environment (400+ repos, etc.).

It's not pretty and has some strange abstractions, but it can be customised to a surprising extent.

Edit: also https://gitea.io. The issue tracker works, even if it's very streamlined.

Give Trello a try,really. I’ve been using Jira for small and medium projects for years with custom workflows and similar cool features, but i’ve slowly became tired of the extra complexity, which i could understand was needed for some projects, but wasn’t my case, so gave it Trello a try, and yeah, lacks lots of stuff, but honestly, it’s simple and fast UI will help you find workarounds for your needs

We have built a lightweight alternative to JIRA - https://zepel.io

Our primary focus is to help product teams plan and track their features. We support bug tracking and cross-functional collaboration as well.

It's under active development. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

If your project is really small you might get away with “Microsoft Teams” which for most business people comes free with Office.

It integrates directly into your Office 365 users and supports some very basic features such as custom swim lanes, multiple channels, tagging (only a few colours available), due dates, calendar view

You mean Azure DevOps?

Used PivotalTracker a while ago and liked it much more than JIRA. Trello will get you pretty far. If you're using Github, Github issues and all their PM tooling look feasible and I like the idea of code/PM living in the same place/tool.

- Try clubhouse.io

- If Jira is settled in the org and there's virtually no way of getting rid of it, then use tools like go-jira. I was skeptical at first, as it turned out - Jira's UI is bulky and slow, its API is not so horrendous.

It's buggy and not production ready

Mantis Bug Tracker might be worth a look for you. It handles multiple projects well, and you can get quite far customising it via the config file.


You should give Taiga a try, it is self-hosted but it is seriously fast and fun to try.

We had that in my previous workplace and it worked like a charm for us.

I would highly recommend GitLab for your use case. It is open source, it can be either on-prem or use their cloud offering, and features the GitLab Issues which is a neat issue tracker.

The free version of GitLab has very limited support for issues, though. Things like 'related issues' are only available in the paid offerings.

I would suggest https://notion.so. It's not an open source product but I like their UX approach

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned bugzilla so far.

Our product owners happily switched from jira to clickup: https://clickup.com

We use Scrumwise. This is focused on Scrum and Kanban, and also supports issues to a certain amount. The staff is very responsive.

Some free alternatives: 1) Trello (already mentioned) 2) Remember The Milk (free for 2 people) 3) Todoist 4) PivotalTracker

GitLab works perfect for my needs. Using it for planning work, version control and CI/CD. No complaints.

has anyone tried https://monday.com? I've not tried them yet, but I've seen lots of ads

yeah i did, its quite cool, JS heavy UI though, and you may end tired of so many tables but has a lot of nice features!

just stumbled upon https://quire.io

Gitlab onpremises is a really good option.

I just use gitlab's issue board

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