The Atlassian Dragons Exercise

The installation process for the Atlassian Starter suite – Crowd, Bamboo, Fisheye, JIRA, Greenhopper and Confluence – is quite daunting and takes about 5 hours+ (way more on my Parallels VM setup, but I did expect that).

It’s obvious that the different Atlassian products have been built by different teams, at different times and sometimes even different companies. Although, AFAIK, all products are built with basically the same base technology (J2EE), each product has some minor differences in

  • Installation
  • Configuration
  • Directory set-up
  • Starting up / Stopping products (e.g. there’s no shutdown command for Crowd, Bamboo automatically installs as a service)
  • Configuration files

If the suite has to be installed manually, consistency in the setup process trumps everything. This is even more relevant if the suite is installed by a non-IT, non-Java plain old-fashioned C++ hacker like me.
Generally, editing the configuration files was no big deal, although the sheer number of changes necessary induced cross-eyes at times.

Including Crowd into the installation process made the setup process quite involved and complicated. Although single sign-on is quite a feature, I wouldn’t consider it crucial for a 10 user set-up. I would’ve preferred to make integration with Crowd an optional exercise. Plus, removing Crowd from the standard equation would have enabled more detailed feedback on setting up the different applications’s integration features.

Kudos to the Atlassian documentation team responsible for the detailed step-by-step descriptions. It was close to perfect, just very very minor errata in terms of version numbers. A few more screenshots would have been helpful, but would have made the endeavour of documenting the suite’s installation process not only daunting, but outright impossible to maintain over time.

I was very disappointed that Crucible was neither part of the exercise nor part of the $10 offer. Atlassian, please make Crucible part of the Dragons exercise and part of the $10 / 10 users offer. I’m sure there were very good technical and/or business reasons not to include it, but if the Atlassian team can pull of a stunt like the Dragons exercise, I know they can pull off including Crucible, too. It just takes a few more beers, I suppose. German beer, of course. ­čÖé