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Jira Administration Expert Advice

Getting a Handle on Jira Custom Fields

by Jenny Choban on June 6, 2018

You know the danger. Too many custom fields and your Jira instance will slow down. You know the drama. People want what they want, and they want fields specific to their needs. As the makers of ProForma Custom Forms & Fields for Jira, we think we’ve come up with a pretty good solution to the custom field conundrum. ProForma forms, which embed in Jira issues, are an easy way to add all of the process-specific fields you need to an issue without requiring Jira custom fields. If you haven’t tried ProForma, we thing you’ll find it eases your Jira admin burden even as it helps you expand Jira to more teams. But what about all of those custom fields that you’re already responsible for?

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Maybe you started out with a blank slate. Maybe you did everything right and never accumulated an unmanageable spaghetti plate of custom fields. Awesome for you! But many Jira Administrators find themselves responsible for maintaining hundreds, and in some cases even thousands, of custom fields.

Our friend, Rachel Wright, recently did a webinar for Service Rocket on Jira Custom Field Clean Up. Along with useful tips such as publishing a list of already existing custom fields so users know what’s available, Rachel described her process for auditing and pruning custom fields.

Auditing Custom Fields

Custom field clean up has to be done carefully. There’s no way to restore fields that have been deleted, and there’s no way to recover the data. So, start by doing a thorough audit of your existing custom fields.  Rachel recommends the following steps:

  1. Download a list of your custom fields into a spreadsheet.
  2. Sort the fields into three categories; those created by Jira, those created by Jira add-ons; and those created by admins.
  3. Now you will sort through your list of fields and flag ones that need to be fixed (wrong field type, misspelled name, etc.), ones that are duplicates, and ones that are no longer in use (were added by add-ons that are no longer in use) or could be easily merged.Atlassian provides SQL queries to help you identify custom fields in your system and how they are currently being used. Rachel also recommends a few add-ons which can be used for finding/cleaning custom fields:

Identifying which custom fields need to be changed or deleted is not a task to be taken lightly. Go slowly. Check if fields are included on screens or used in workflows (in conditions, validators or post functions). If you’re changing or deleting fields you’ll need to adjust these workflows first.

Changing / Deleting Custom Fields

Once you’ve identified fields to be changed or removed, you’ll want to back-up your system. Then move data from any fields that you’ll be deleting into a field that will remain available. Reindex after you’ve deleted the unwanted fields.

Keeping users informed is an important part of the process. Notify users that a clean up has taken place and ask them to redo their filters and queries.  Last, but not least, update your documentation so that it accurately reflects fields that are available and how they’re used.