Reasons why we chose JIRA over FogBugz

Please keep in mind that the following points may not apply to the latest FogBugz / JIRA versions (check the update below). We evaluated FogBugz and JIRA in the summer of 2006 before going with JIRA. At this time, we’re still on JIRA 3.x due to licensing changes in JIRA 4 and being trapped in interiorcad 2010’s release tornado.

  • With JIRA, we got the source code – in a standard language we are vaguely familiar with using open-source technologies – capable of running on a variety of platforms, including MacOS X which we’re most familiar with (and, quite frankly, prefer)
  • We could start without a separate database server. Plus, no need to license SQL server. Forums were quite clear at the time that FogBugz and MySQL didn’t play as well together as we needed
  • Attachments in FogBugz were stored within the database (at the time). This was the showstopper for us. At least 50% of our 18000+ issues in JIRA have 5MB+ attachments to them. I don’t want these bytes in a relational database. Don’t tell me this is no problem with database server XYZ. I have been a database guy for a very long period of my professional life. No binary large objects in my databases as long as I can still breathe.
  • We didn’t want to administer a Windows server machine – Although FogBugz could be run on Linux or MacOS X, the forums showed that the jury was still out (at the time) if this was a good idea
  • Licensing – There was a unlimited users license of JIRA at the time, which was more affordable for a smaller company like us. This has changed with JIRA 4 (for the worse).
  • Plug-ins – There was and still is a lively plug-in community for JIRA – I understand that the latest version of Fogbugz offers plug-ins, too

One area where FogBugz is way better suited to our needs is E-Mail integration. Basically, e-mail integration in JIRA sucks for us. Way too complicated to set-up & manage. Plus, the e-mails sent out by JIRA are basically unusable for end-user support (at least without a lot of tinkering).

Overall, we have been very happy with our choice. JIRA has been extremely reliable for us – which is requirement #1. We need to get our software done. We aren’t paid for fiddling around with third-party software (for set-up information go here, you will be amazed). Does its job well. JIRA 4 looks like a substantial step forward in terms of UI improvements. There are quite a few other products from Atlassian which play well with JIRA and which we’re looking very closely at, namely Confluence, Crucible and GreenHopper.

E-Mail integration / Using JIRA for technical support still sucks as far as we are concerned (Small company dealing with thousands of not-too-computer-savvy customers around the world). JIRA is quite enterprisey, and it shows – in terms of set-up, in terms of administration and in terms of features. Sometimes, less would be more as far as we are concerned.

[Update 7/26/11:]

We are now on JIRA 4, 25K+ issues, still operating on a Mac mini, 8GB RAM, Intel Core Duo, 160GB hard drive. In 2010, we purchased Confluence and are running Confluence on the very same mac mini as JIRA. Everything is still solid as a rock. We use JIRA’s internal backup mechanism to back up JIRA’s database 3 times a day, Confluence’s internal backup runs once a day. At night, we clone the hard drive via SuperDuper!. Of course, the Mac mini runs protected by a UPS. Both JIRA & Confluence are still on HSQL (I can almost hear the cardiac irregularities of Atlassian support reading this).

My major complaint at this time is pricing:

Our development team consists of 7 engineers, 1 product owner, 1 CTO).

We are heavily invested in Scrum. Therefore, we would love to use GreenHopper. However, we would have to license GreenHopper for all 50 users of JIRA (instead of licensing it for our dev team only), thus adding $550 to our yearly Atlassian upgrade bill. I think this is way disproportional compared to the upgrading cost for JIRA. Thus it won’t happen.

We have a Confluence 100 users license in order to accommodate both our internal staff and partners / distributors.

Team Calendars looks like an absolutely fantastic tool for our development team (sales & marketing uses Exchange, no way of moving them over). However, we would have to license Team Calendars for all 100 users (instead of licensing it for our dev team only), thus adding another $550 to our yearly Atlassian upgrade bill. I think this is way disproportional compared to the upgrading cost for Confluence. Thus it won’t happen.

Oh, and E-Mail integration / Using JIRA for technical support still sucks. But I haven’t given up on Atlassian to come up with a nice JIRA-based user helpdesk solution.


Make sure to read I smell a disturbance in the Atlassian force to get my latest take on Atlassian’s pricing and product strategy.