Atlassian Summit 2010 Day 1 Wrapup

Atlassian Summit 2010Atlassian Summit 2010 kicked off at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco. Here are my notes from day one.


Scott Farquhar (co-founder and co-CEO) kicked off Summit:

Atlassian Summit

  • 550 attendees this year, completely sold out with 200 more people on the waiting list
  • this year won 2 HR awards plus were mentioned by Dan Pink in his TED talk as well as his book Drive
  • Atlassian now has 18,000+ customers plus 50,000 starter licences (with all starter licence proceeds going to Room To Read)
  • Crucible has seen an 88% increase this year
  • Atlassian Hosted (JIRA Studio) has seen a 253% increase this year
  • 512 plugins, doubled in last year
  • easy to write plugins intrepreneurial and entrepreneurial – growth area for Atlassian and their plugin providers
  • introduced the Universal Plugin Manager – upgrades plugins automatically as well as assisting with Atlassian product upgrades, available now as a plugin for JIRA and Confluence and will be worked into the entire product suite in the future

Mike Cannon-Brookes (co-founder and co-CEO) then took the stage to announce some new products:

Atlassian Summit

  • concept to launch – concept, plan, build, launch
  • Confluence – new editor coming in 4.x that will combine the best of the wiki markup and rich text editor
  • JIRA – new wallboard feature, just a dashboard – available in alpha now
  • GreenHopper – 900 users last year and 10,700 users this year, fastest growing Atlassian product ever, GreenHopper 5 announced with a completely overhauled user interface


A live voting vendor presentation, where a number of vendors get five minutes each to demo their plugins and get votes via SMS from the audience.

Atlassian Summit

Atlassian Summit

Unsurprisingly, Gliffy took out the voting with their pirate costumes with Near Infinity the runner up.

Going Agile with PBS

Tristan Mayshark from PBS Interactive delivered this session.

Atlassian Summit

  • use LAMP, Amazon Web Services and Red Hat
  • tools include Komodo, full Atlassian Suite with Gliffy, Balsamiq and Adaptavist Theme Builder under community licence, SVN, Git and Gitorious (front end to Git) and TestLink for managing manual test cases
  • have made a switch to agile recently and it has had real benefits, initially used JIRA sporadically and no standard QA process

Agile definition at PBS:

  • empowering teams with the tools and communication to succeed
  • accept changing priorities are the norm
  • developing products in an incremental way
  • minimize time to market and maximise value
  • start with an envision session using stickies on a wall, then using GreenHopper enter cards and estimate using t-shirt sizes (anything over 4 is an epic)
  • group stories into a release that adds business value, and then to 2 week iterations
  • drive stand-up meeting direct from the GreenHopper task board, for distributed teams use DimDim (alternative to WebEx)
  • Bamboo pointed at Git and SVN, use Selenium for UI testing (but manually test Flash as it is problematic to test), keep screenshot artefacts from Selenium on the Bamboo server as a visual history
  • TestLink (open source) integrates nicely with  JIRA for manual tests (when something fails it fires off a JIRA ticket), but Bamboo is replacing much of the functionality, has nice charting functionality
  • still deciding best practice for code reviews using FishEye and Crucible
  • Confluence used for documentation and run books (support documentation)
  • Crowd used for access control
  • gains are visibility, transparency and efficiency
  • next step to look into JIRA API (using Django), tying Crowd into the current internal directory
  • try to do stories in an iteration, if that is not possible tie to an epic in the release

Performance Tuning: Pulling A Rabbit From A Hat

George Barnett from Atlassian on how they performance test JIRA.

Atlassian Summit

  • what you monitor you can improve
  • using JMeter (shocking interface but best tool out there), published scripts for JIRA and Confluence,  patched version of JMeter to get around issues with the JavaScript
  • automate using Bamboo and Maven
  • weekly soak test runs for 12 hours (1-2 months of load), daily test runs for 30 minutes
  • upgrade Java from 1.5 to 1.6 – out of support, better runtime code and better support for newer hardware – massive performance increase including 25% CPU improvement (equivalent of one core), better performance on the current versions of Java 1.6 than earlier
  • faster memory will give Java better performance – DDR3 gives 3 times improvement over DDR2, and current hardware makes a massive difference
  • garbage collection – Parallel New and Parallel Old much faster than CMS, so choose the right one
  • virtual machines are a performance impact (43% hit), but we are talking 100ms, on average about 30% slower (100% slower when resource starved), Atlassian have recommendations for JIRA and Confluence in a virtualised environment
  • upgrade browsers to a modern browser (IE6 is unsupported and slow)
  • heap size tuning – we know the JVM will starve with not enough memory, but it does not drown with too much memory (big performance jump from 1.5Gb to 3Gb, not much gain after 6Gb)
  • SSD does not show much considerable gain for read only, shows most improvement when putting the database on SSD
  • MySQL Percona release showed no considerable improvement for JIRA over standard MySQL database due to caching (but good for applications that have high query rates above 3,000-4,000 queries per second), MySQL tuning did not have much advantage either

State of the Union (Part I)

An overview of the new features coming up in JIRA and GreenHopper.

Atlassian Summit

Delivering World Class Documentation And Support Through Confluence

Sarah Maddox presented this session on how the technical writing process is done at Atlassian.

Atlassian Summit

  • using comments – strive for fun and emotion
  • embed Wufoo into the page using the widget connector
  • linking to external blogs where there is a good how-to information (just indicate that they are linking to external content)
  • using Twitter for release notes – highlights from the release notes with a short URL, not concerned
  • tips for using Confluence via Twitter (going live in the next few weeks), using the widget connector to embed Twitter
  • doc sprint (sometimes known as a Book Sprint)- get people together in a room for a few days to write documentation – when you put people together and give them a purpose they do awesome stuff
  • take photos when doing Doc Sprints and have fun – the photos are good to convince others to join next time
  • dragon slayer documentation for complex steps or documentation – 8 stages with many steps
  • people love a challenge and a game, so make documentation fun
  • free t-shirts help too…

Confluence As A Support Knowledge Base

Jeremy Largman presented this session.

  • low barrier to launch – just setup a space and create a template for consistent look and feel
  • documentation theme is good for managing documentation hierarchically
  • key to a good knowledge base is proactive articles
  • knowledge base surveys (was this helpful?), intelligent search to get highly ranked articles to the top and federated search in the knowledge base survey plugin
  • use an internal tool called Hercules to scan Confluence pages for error messages to give cutomers a response when they raise a support ticket in JIRA
  • is it working – do a knowledge base survey, use Google Analytics, measure support tickets and do business intelligence on the database
  • Google Analytics shows that 99% of hits come from Google not from Atlassian website, but once they hit the site they stay and search within it
  • measure impact on support – unnecessary (could have found it themselves), avoidable (would have been avoidable if the knowledgebase existed) and necessary (a knowledge base would not have helped)
  • measure to ensure unnecessary and avoidable and decreasing and necessary are increasing
  • satisfying for support engineers to be proactive

Other Stuff

I stopped by the Atlas Bar to ask some questions for my colleagues in the hope I would get some brilliant answer I had not already considered:

  • LDAP for JIRA – we just hooked our JIRA instance up to AD, but, unlike Confluence, JIRA does not have the property to allow users to be automatically added to the database. The bad news is there are no easy answers to this currently, about the only way is to write a script to keep the users in sync. The better news is that JIRA 4.3 is supposedly getting an LDAP overhaul, so I’ll hunt down some more information tomorrow.
  • Searching attachments in JIRA – there is no way out of the box to search attachment names or to search the contents of attachments, and there are no plans for such functionality. However, there is a plugin called the JIRA Searchable Attachments plugin that does exactly what we want, unfortunately, it is not compatible with JIRA 4.x so it might require some code hacking to get working effectively.

I also recorded about 20 minutes of questions and answers for a customer video during the afternoon, I am going to be very interested to see what comes out of the editing process (and what gets left on the cutting room floor!)

Scott Farquhar


4 thoughts on “Atlassian Summit 2010 Day 1 Wrapup

  1. Pingback: links for 2010-06-11 « The Adventures of Geekgirl

  2. Hallo Craig
    Thank you for the great summaries! You managed to snap quite a cool photo of me giving the presentation. Huh, is that what I look like? 🙂 It’s impressive how much detail you’ve managed to note down for each session. Awesome.

  3. Pingback: Social media in technical documentation – a presentation « ffeathers — a technical writer’s blog

  4. Pingback: CDS43: 2010 Review « CDS 43

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