The support for OpenSocial gadgets in the latest releases of Atlassian's products (specifically JIRA 4.0 and Confluence 3.1) provides some interesting opportunities for creating dashboards as well as aggregating information into the application from external sources to enrich the overall information context.
This capability is even more relevant to us at zAgile because of the core premise of our platform of semantically integrating information from heterogeneous sources (tools) in a contextual manner to provide a more cohesive view. Hence, we have been exploring this capability within our solutions. One of the easiest and most intuitive is our implementation of Semantic Search. This functionality has been available in zAgile Teamwork from the very beginning, but now to implement it as an OpenSocial gadget made it portable, both within the applications as well as outside. Within JIRA and Confluence, gadgets can be placed anywhere, particularly for building various dashboards or views. Outside of JIRA and Confluence, OpenSocial gadgets can be incorporated into any compliant container. Once you have a unified information repository, then it is more compelling to be able to access that information from a variety of sources rather than resorting to specific container applications. This is where our platform comes in.
zAgile's Semantic Search has the following characteristics:
- It accesses a single composite information repository which comprises of information from multiple sources, such as JIRA, Confluence (and soon) Subversion, CruiseControl, SalesForce, etc.
- It is domain independent, driven solely by underlying ontologies and metamodels implemented as OWL-DL triple stores comprising of inferred and indexed models. Therefore,
- It can search based on taxonomic structures (ex: searching for an Issue or a specific Issue type such as Bug, Task, etc.). Furthermore, you can also filter on specific properties (ex: search for a Jira Project that implements a specific Requirement).
- It can search for inferred categories (a Person or an Author; an Issue or a Resolved Issue)
- The results returned are of a specific category (specified in the search parameter) so you are not going to get anything that matches a particular search string. Search here is much more precise.
- It also returns semantic properties of each instance in the result set (ex: project related to an issue, issue status, related requirement, related test cases, etc.)
- It provides semantic (contextual) navigation to related items (from the issue navigate to its related project and project properties, from the project, navigate to project overview document, etc.) -- that without leaving the page or gadget.
- Direct access to the resource - at any point during the search, you can go to the specific resource (issue screen, requirements page, etc.)
All of this is a manifestation of the semantically captured information from various sources. How powerful is this that you can view information from within Confluence that may actually be created by JIRA or SVN or any other tool, without needing to explicitly specify it on the page or even be aware of it. This begins to shift the pradigm from an application-centric environment to one that is more information-centric.
Finally, what if there are multiple Confluence or JIRA instances? Well, in this case, they all show up in a unified manner, and references to specific entities within these applications are captured so that navigation directly to the source is always available.
You can test drive the capabilities of zAgile's Smart Search (or Semantic Search) in the sandbox. A login is required with email validation and here you will find both Confluence and JIRA hosting this feature.
The screenshot below shows the results of a search for JIRA Projects in an OpenSocial gadget in a Confluence page. Project properties including related entities (such as Requirements, etc) are also shown along with drill down into one of the related entities.