As the first of a series of customer interviews, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of our favourite customers, Matt Tucker – the CTO of “Jive Software”:http://www.jivesoftware.com about their company, their unique development process and how they use JIRA.
*Give me the two minute elevator pitch on Jive Software. What do you do, how did you get started, where are you based and how many people do you have?*
“Jive Software”:http://www.jivesoftware.com creates collaboration software. Specifically, “Jive Forums”:http://www.jivesoftware.com/producs/forums, “Jive Knolwedge Base”:http://www.jivesoftware.com/products/kb, and “Jive Messenger”:http://www.jivesoftware.com/products/messenger (an IM/chat product using the open XMPP protocol). We’re based in New York City with under 10 employees. Our customers include companies such as Sun, IBM, Oracle, BEA, Citrix. You’ll also find Jive Forums powering the community on “Atlassian’s website”:http://forums.atlassian.com.
*From a technical perspective, what makes Jive Software different to other software companies?*
Jive Software was started by developers and our products appeal to developers. Each product is extremely customizable and pluggable. The source code is provided to customers so they can modify it for their own use. There is also a major emphasis on performance and scalability in our software, as it runs on some of the largest sites on the internet.
*Tell us a little about your typical development process. Would you consider it ‘standard’? Do you follow any particular methodologies or techniques?*
About half of our engineers are remote from the main office. This means that the tools we use for collaboration and coordinating development are very important. All developers constantly use IM, and issue tracking and CVS synchronize our development efforts.
*You guys have been using “JIRA”:http://www.atlassian.com/software/jira for a while now. How do you use it within Jive Software? Has it changed or helped your development process?*
JIRA has become a core part of our development process. Every bug and feature request goes into the system and is tracked using comments and and workflow. Having JIRA is especially important to us since we have remote developers.
I think JIRA in combination with support forums is an especially powerful combination for software companies. Customers use the “support forums”:http://www.jivesoftware.com/support.jsp on our site to ask for help and to report bugs. Once a bug is confirmed, we can easily move it into JIRA and then track it further.
*I see you’ve integrated JIRA with your “website”:http://www.jivesoftware.com/xmpp/smack/. How does that work? Was it hard to do?*
Smack is an Open Source XMPP client library we develop. Most of our JIRA projects are internal only, but we wanted to make the Smack issues public. So, we used JIRA’s RSS feature to display the latest issues on the Smack website (using the Open Symphony “OSCache”:http://www.opensymphony.com/oscache and “transform”:http://www.opensymphony.com/transformtags taglibs). This is a great way to give users a snapshot of what’s happening in the latest releases.
We’re planning to do further integration work in the near future, such as integrating the JIRA and Jive user and authentication systems, and creating a Jive Forums filter so that JIRA issues can be automatically linked with syntax such as [issue]forums-56[/issue].
*What are your favourite JIRA features?*
Did you mean “favorite”? We love JIRA’s clean look. The dashboard configuration feature in 2.x is also great.
*What features would you like to see added?*
Tighter integration with CVS would be great, as well as a simple search box for each project that would do a text search of all data without having to use the more complicated find issues interface. We’d also like to see more advanced reporting, including pretty graphs.
*On a strange note, someone told me that you guys sell Smack – is that true?*
As I mentioned before, we do run an Open Source project called “Smack”:http://www.jivesoftware.com/xmpp/smack. Since that’s free, I’m not sure you could say that we “sell Smack”. However, our commercial products are rather addictive once you start using them, so perhaps that could qualify?
*Any last parting words?*
*Any questions I didn’t ask that I should have?*