Appendix A - Extending JIRA

JIRA is very flexible, and has a number of extension points where JIRA's data can be queried or its functionality extended. This page provides an overview of the mechanisms available for extending JIRA. 

(info) JIRA Add-ons: For information on installing or enabling existing add-ons, please read the Managing JIRA Add-ons documentation. To learn about creating your own add-ons, see developing add-ons with the Atlassian Plugin SDK.

Note that an add-on that specifically plugs into the architecture of an Atlassian application such as JIRA is sometimes called a plugin, although the terms 'plugin' and 'add-on' are often used interchangeably.

Custom Field Types

JIRA comes with various custom field types defined. New types can be written and plugged into JIRA. See the How to create a new Custom Field Type tutorial for more information.

User Formats

JIRA comes with many options to change the look and feel of features in the system. User formats are a feature that can be customized by add-ons. You can write your own User Format add-on to change the display of user details in JIRA, e.g. display a profile picture. See the User Format Plugin Module for more information.


New gadgets can be created by writing an XML descriptor file, packaged as an Atlassian plugin. See Writing an Atlassian Gadget for more information.


JIRA comes with various reports built-in. Using the plugin system, new reports can be written, providing new ways of viewing and summarizing JIRA's data.

Workflow functions and conditions

JIRA's issue workflow (states and state transitions an issue can go through) can be customized through the web interface (see the workflow documentation. The workflow engine provides hooks where you can plug in your own behavior:

  • Run arbitrary Java when a certain transition occurs, via post-functions.
  • Limit visibility of transitions to certain users, via conditions.
  • Validate input on transition screens (eg. in comments), via validators.

See the How to create Custom Workflow Elements for JIRA guide for details on how to write your own workflow post-functions, conditions and validators. Once written, these can be packaged as plugins and reused.

Issues and Projects

One the 'View Issue' page, some issue information (comments, change history) is displayed. Likewise, the 'Browse Project' page contains separate sections, listed on the far left, for different types of project information:

By writing a plugin, you can add new issue or project sections (that will be listed in the left panel) to JIRA. For instance, you may wish to display project/issue data pulled in from an external source. This is how the JIRA Subversion plugin works. See the plugin guide for more information on writing these plugin types.


JIRA has a complete event subsystem which fires events whenever anything happens. For example an ISSUE_CREATED event is fired whenever an issue is created. A listener is just a class which implements a JiraListener interface and is called whenever events occur in JIRA. Using those events, you can then perform any action you want. For example the email sent by JIRA is driven by the MailListener. This is useful when you want to drive or affect external systems from events which occur within JIRA - usually used to push data into outside systems. For more information, read the listeners documentation.


Services are classes which implement the JiraService interface. When installed, you specify an update period and JIRA will call the run() method of your service periodically. A sample service is provided called POPCommentService. This service checks a particular POP mailbox periodically and if it finds messages, tries to extract an issue key from the subject. If the subject contains a key, the body of the mail is added as a comment to the message. Services are useful when you want to periodically pull data into JIRA from outside systems. For more information, see the services guide.

SOAP and XML-RPC remote interfaces

JIRA has a growing SOAP and XML-RPC interface. This enables you to drive JIRA automatically from external systems. For example you can have a Java program, Perl script or C# client add issues to JIRA. See the JIRA RPC Services overview for general information. For building RPC clients, check out the Creating a JIRA SOAP Client and Creating an XML-RPC Client tutorials. New RPC endpoints can also be added to JIRA as plugins - see the RPC Endpoint Plugin Module.


JIRA has a full set of Java APIs that can be used to update information with in JIRA.
You can view the API here. JIRA commercial customers get full access to the JIRA source (see bottom of the downloads page), so you can modify JIRA itself if necessary. See the Building JIRA from Source page for more information.

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3 Archived comments

  1. User avatar


    In 'Appendix A - Extending JIRA' under 'Workflow Functions and Conditions' it mentions that we can "Run arbitrary Java when a certain transition occurs, via post-functions." I need to be able to update a remote (non-Jira) database when a transition occurs. I can write some Java code to update the database but do I need to build my own workflow plug-in to be able to execute it or is there an easier way?

    30 Jul 2012
  2. User avatar

    Jonathan Dowd

    In the first row named "Custom Field Types" the link in "See the How to create a new Custom Field Type tutorial for more information." is dead.

    04 Oct 2013
    1. User avatar

      Andrew Lui [Atlassian Technical Writer]

      Thanks! Fixed.

      07 Oct 2013
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