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Sakai Jira Guidelines

Sakai uses Atlassian's Jira software for issue management. It is used to track a variety of issues, including bug reports, suggestions for new functionality, tasked work, and community contributions. Outlined below are the general practices, procedures, and definitions adopted by the Sakai community for using Jira. If you have questions regarding Jira, please send them to

Jira Account

You can search and view content in Jira without an account, however, you do need one to comment on or post information. Jira accounts are available through self-registration. (Note that Jira and Confluence share accounts, however, Jira/Confluence accounts are separate from Collab accounts.)

General Workflow

What happens when an issue is created in Jira? The workflow for a given issue is dependent on what type of issue it is. The sections below describe the overall path an issue of given type will follow. Guidelines are also presented for the various groups interacting with issues, such as Designers, Developers and QA, and discuss when and how to adjust an issue's status, resolution, versions, etc.

General Workflow by Issue Types


  1. Issue is Opened.
  2. Issue is vetted for accuracy and completeness of information and linked to related issues.
    • (Duplicate) If it duplicates a previous issue, then the newly opened issue is:
      1. Linked to the original issue as "duplicates"
      2. Commented with a note to look at the linked-to issue to track further progress
      3. Closed with a Resolution of "Duplicate"
      4. Fix Version and should be set to "Unknown"
    • (Incorporated) If it is incorporated into a previous issue, then the newly opened issue is:
      1. Linked to the original issue as "incorporated by"
      2. Commented with a note to look at the linked-to issue to track further progress
      3. Closed with a Resolution of "Incorporated"
      4. Fix Version and should be set to "Unknown"
    • (Non-Issue) If it turns out that the issue was the result of a mis-understanding of how Sakai operates, then:
      1. An effort is made to clarify the situation.
      2. If the mis-understanding does not suggest a design flaw, then it is Closed with a Resolution of "Non-issue"; otherwise, the design flaw could be captured to Bug or Feature Request.
      3. Fix Version should be set to "Unknown"
    • (Incomplete) If insufficient information is provided to describe the issue, then:
      1. A comment is added to ask the user to include the needed information (should list the information needed)
      2. The issue is closed with a Resolution of "Incomplete"; issue can always be Reopened.
      3. Fix Version should be set to "Unknown"
    • (Cannot Reproduce) If the issue cannot be reproduced on one of the QA test servers, then:
      1. A comment is entered to indicate what was attempted to reproduce the issue (e.g. "followed steps in issue")
      2. The issue is closed with a Resolution of "Cannot Reproduce"; issue can always be Reopened.
      3. Fix Version should be set to "Unknown"
  3. Issue is assigned to the appropriate project lead or the Sakai Maint Team.
    • Further vetting, as above, may be necessary for particularly complex issues.
  4. Initial estimates of the scope of the bug and the resources required to address it are made and the reported Priority and Fix Version are updated accordingly.
  5. An issue may be re-assigned to others or Watchers added to facilitate discussion of its resolution. The Priority, Fix Version, Components, etc. should also be updated as necessary as discussion around the issue evolves.
  6. Assignee Resolves issue with relevant #Resolution when work is completed, and updates Fix Version to the major release version (or other version in special circumstances.)
    • (Fixed) Most issues that reach this stage are resolved and their resolution is set to "Fixed".
    • (Won't Fix) Some issues are identified as conflicting with the expectations of the currently adopted design or represent technical "impossibilities" and resolved as "Won't Fix", or they can be Moved to become Feature Requests for future consideration; their Fix Version should be set to Unknown.
  7. QA team verifies resolution of issue.
    • If it passes verification, then it is Closed.
    • If it fails verification, then it is Reopened and re-assigned for further work, and the Affects Version is updated to include the version tested.


  • Tasks are used by project teams to track the addition of or changes to functionality.
  • When the task is completed, the Assignee Resolves it as Fixed, as above with Bugs.
  • It is not necessary to set an Affects Version for a Task.
  • When a Task is created, and is in an Unresolved state, its Fix Version should indicate for which version of Sakai an issue will be addressed.
  • When a Task is Resolved/Closed and Fix, then its Fix Version should indicate in what version of Sakai it was addressed.

Contributed Patches

  • Issue is vetted for accuracy and completeness of information.
  • The issue is evaluated by the appropriate project team, just like a Feature Request or Branch, for inclusion in a future release of Sakai.
    • In some cases, a Contributed Patch may run counter to the Sakai design and cannot be incorporated, and maybe marked as Won't Fix and an explanation as to why provided. In this case, the contributor of the Patch may choose to continue developing the patch for future versions of Sakai.
  • Until the patch is integrated in Sakai, the community encourages the contributor to be responsive to comments and feedback provided by other users of the patch and to continue to update the patch to current versions of Sakai.


See #Jira Branches below.

Feature Requests

  1. Issue is vetted for accuracy, completeness of information, relevance to Sakai's overall design, etc.
    • A good Feature Request should explain clearly what a user is trying to achieve. Use cases and scenarios can be helpful in communicating that.
  2. Assigned to appropriate Project Team or Working Group lead, The will evaluate and discuss such issues periodically, when the group reaches an appropriate point in the release cycle to adsorb community input.
    • If the decision is made to not address the issue, then it should be resolved as "Won't Fix" with appropriate comments.
  3. When a project team is ready to address the issue, it should be Moved to a Task and an initial estimate of the Fix Version set.

General Workflow by Role


The Sakai community is encouraged to report issues and post feature requests in Jira, however, it should not consider as a primary destination for users of their own instance of Sakai to report issues. Rather, each organization running Sakai is expected to provide its own front-line support.

  1. User searches JIRA to see if the issue already exists (Sakai Jira Search)
  2. User searches the sakai mailing lists archives (nabble sakai lists archives)
  3. User creates an issue in Jira (create issue)
    • The component should be set if it is known (leave blank if not sure)
    • The Assignee should be set as Unassigned (ideally) or left as -Automatic- (do NOT assign to a developer directly)
    • The Affects Version should be set to the released version of the instance of Sakai being used.
    • The Fix Version should be left set to the default of Unknown. The project teams will set the Fix Version once they have had time to review the issue and estimate when they believe they will be able to address it.
    • As much of the following information should be included as possible (to avoid the issue being closed as incomplete)
      • Sakai version
      • (bugs) Steps to reproduce (detailed and step by step)
      • Environment details (DB type and version, tomcat version, OS type and version, Browser and version, etc.)
      • (bugs) URL to the page where the error occurs
      • (bugs) Stacktrace (traceback) if available
      • (bugs) relevant portions of the server logs (do not attach your entire logs, we do not have time to read through 1000s of lines of logs and figure out where the relevant parts are)
      • (bugs) Screenshots showing the error
      • (feature) Use cases and detailed requirements
      • The desired resolution



As new issues come in and as you periodically review the status of existing issues, use the Fix Version to indicate for what version you expect to implement a solution for the issue. If you are unsure when you will be able to address the issue, then leave or set the Fix Version to Unknown.

Creating an Issue

Typically you will be creating Task issues to describe new features or functionality you are planning to implement. If the change is significant or experimental in nature, consider creating a Branch issue instead and doing the work in a Jira Branch. (See the Release Practice Guidelines for more details on Jira Branches.) You may also need to create Bug issues for problems you uncover and need to fix in your project.

For all issues, please provide a simple Summary and Description that can be understood by all in the community, not just yourself or other developers. If you need to include some techno-babble, in addition to the plain language, for other developer types to understand the full details that's fine, but consider placing it in a comment on the issue.

Also, please provide an initial estimate of when you plan to fix an issue by specifying an appropriate future release of Sakai as the Fix Version. Generally this will be the next major release of Sakai (e.g., 2.6).

If you need to include a large piece of information in an issue, such as a stack trace, please do not put it in the Description field. Instead, add it as an attachment or a comment. (This makes it a lot easier to view and parse issues in most browsers.)

Sometimes you may uncover bugs in your own code and need to create a Bug issue. If you think the bug does not affect past versions of Sakai and only exists in the code you are actively working on in trunk, then use the tentative release version that trunk will become as the Affects Version (e.g., 2.6 [Tentative]). Or, if you're working in a Jira branch, then use "branch" as the Affects Version.

Working on an Issue

In most cases you will be working on an issue in trunk and should do the following (otherwise see exceptions):

  1. Assign the issue to yourself to work on.
  2. If you are implementing a Feature Request or Contributed Patch, first use Move to covert the issue type to a Task and set the Fix Version to reflect for which version you expect to complete your work (see #Planning above.)
  3. Work on the issue, updating, modifying, commenting, re-assigning, etc. as necessary to achieve resolution.
  4. When work is complete, and if the resolution of the issue is Fixed, then Resolve the issue and set the Fix Version to the next major release (e.g., 2.6 [Tentative]). If the resolution is other than Fixed (e.g., Duplicate, Non-Issue, Cannot Reproduce, Incorporated), then set the Fix Version to Unknown.

    • For Tasks, if there is nothing explicit for the QA team to test, then please Close the issue.
    • For Bugs, just leave the issue as Resolved, and the QA team will Close it after verifying it, or Reopen it for further development if the original issue was not resolved.


Working in a branch?

  • Follow the same procedures as working in trunk, except use branch as the Fix Version.
  • When your branch is completed, follow the Jira or Experimental Branch procedures for merging your branch, and reset the Fix Version appropriately.

Working on a bug specific to a maintenance branch?

  • Follow the same procedures as working in trunk, except use the maintenance branch version (e.g., 2.4.x, 2.5.x) as the Fix Version.
  • You should also coordinate your work with the Branch Managers.

Working on a bug specific to trunk, in other words the next release?

  • Sometimes as trunk evolves bugs get introduced that do not affect a past release, only the current, evolving codebase in trunk.
  • Use the next release (e.g., 2.6 [Tentative]) as the Affects Version. (If the bug is not fixed before the next release is made, then the issue will end up correctly listed as a Known Issue without any further intervention.)

  • If you plan to fix the bug in time for the next release, you can use the same version again as the Fix Version. If you plan to fix it for a later release, enter that release's version as a tentative estimate for completion; otherwise, leave the field set to Unknown.
  • (Issues with equivalent Affects and Fix versions will not generally be reviewed by QA, as they are considered transient issues.)

Security Releases

As of Sakai 2.5. Security Releases are no longer being made. Instead, maintenance releases, which will include security fixes, will be provided. (Previously, security releases included only security fixes on top of the previous major release, but did not include any other fixes; such releases did not meet the needs of the community and are no longer provided.)

Maintenance Branches

See Maintenance Branch Guidelines.

Feature Branches

See Feature Branches.

Jira Branches

See Jira Branches.

Quality Assurance (QA)


  1. Select an appropriate issue from the list of issues "QA Awaiting Verification".
  2. Attempt to verify the issue.
    • In the process of verifying the issue, if you discover a different problem, create a new issue to capture it, rather than re-opening the current issue and re-using it; reserve re-opening only if the original problem is still present.
    • Some issues can not be easily verified and may require special testing conditions or input from developers.
  3. If the issue passes verification:
    • Verify the Fix Version is correct. Generally the Fix Version of an issue will be correctly set when it is merged into the branch, however, under certain circumstances, such as re-resolving re-opened issues, the Fix Version may need updating. Typically the Fix Version is the version of Sakai you've verified the fix in.
    • Close the issue. This will move the issue from the "Awaiting Verification" to the "Verified" list in Jira.
  4. If it fails verification:
    • Update Affects Version to include version tested.
    • Reopen issue and re-assign to the developer. If is not clear to whom the issue needs to be re-assigned, then assign it to default.

Maintenance Branches

See Maintenance Branch Guidelines.

Security Releases

To be filled in...

Maintenance Branch Manager

See Maintenance Branch Guidelines.

General Workflow by Task

Suggest Merge to Maintenance Branch

Set the appropriate maintenance branch "status" field to "Merge" for an issue to indicate that you would like to see it merged to a particular Maintenance Branch. Each Maintenance Branch has its own status field: 2.4.x Status, 2.5.x Status, etc.


Issue Type

Issue Type

Definition for Sakai


An error in design or implementation which directly impedes a user from achieving their expected result.


A new capability being added to Sakai.

Feature Request

A desired capability, for inclusion in a future release of Sakai; ideas that come with resources interested in implementing them are more likely to be developed than those offered with the hope that someone else will step forward to do the work.

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Contributed Patch

A community-contributed patch to a particular version of Sakai. The origin of such issues may lie in Bugs or Feature Requests which Sakai has not yet evaluated for implementation. Under such circumstances a linked issue is generally created by cloning the original issue in order to track Sakai's work on the issue. [Use at your own risk!]



An experimental branch of code, which may or may not be merged back into the main code after the experiment completes; identified in SVN by a branch named with the Jira Key.



Definition for Sakai


Issue is under consideration and investigation.

In Progress

Issue is actively being worked on.


Issue was thought to be resolved, however, it did not pass QA and needs further work.


Issue has been addressed and is ready for QA testing.


Work on issue is complete and has passed testing.
NOTE: Issue may still need to be merged into related branches.



Definition for Sakai


Issue is under consideration and/or actively being worked on.


Issue has been addressed through changes to the design or code. When viewing an issue, the "Subversion Commits" tab provides specific details regarding code changes.

Won't Fix

Issue will not be addressed because it does not match project goals.


Issue turned out not to be a problem with Sakai.


Issue is a duplicate of a previously submitted issue. A link to the other issue is added so that progress on the issue can be easily accessed.


Issue has been incorporated into another issue. A link to the other issue is added so that progress on the issue can be easily accessed.


Not enough information has been provided to identify the issue.

Cannot Reproduce

Issue cannot be reproduced.


Each Jira issue has an Affects Version and a Fix Version. Generally speaking Sakai uses these values to indicate:

  • Affects Version - Version(s) in which an issue is observed, and should be a released version of Sakai. Do not use unreleased versions.
    • If you find an issue in trunk, and it is a problem that only affects trunk and not previous releases, then please use the next planned release as the Affects Version. If the issue also affects released versions of Sakai, then please include those versions too.
  • Fix Version - Version(s) for which an issue is anticipated to be fixed (for Unresolved issues) or in which it is actually fixed (for Resolved/Closed and Fixed issues).

Further notes on Version Numbers

  • Alpha, Beta, and RC tags (e.g., alpha03, beta02, RC01) - After a release is made, the interim alpha, beta, and release candidate versions are merged into the released version. For example, 2.6.0-alpha01, 2.6.0-alpha02, 2.6.0-beta01, 2.6.0-rc01, etc. would be merged into 2.6.0. The merging is necessary for keeping it simple to search, filter, and view issues for released versions of Sakai; however, the original version numbers are still associated with each issue in the database, if there is a need to extract such information later on.
  • Maintenance Branch versions as Affects Versions (e.g., 2.3.x, 2.4.x)  You should generally avoid using maintenance branch version as an Affects Version, unless you are sure an issue does not affect past releases on that branch. This is important because branch versions are moving targets; what affects 2.5.x one day will not necessarily affect it in the future, after the issue is fixed.
  • Maintenance Branch versions as Fix Versions (e.g., 2.3.x, 2.4.x) - Generally the only branch version a developer needs to be concerned with is the next major release version for changes they are checking in to trunk. Only the Branch Managers should worry about using maintenance branch versions as Fix Versions. They will use maintenance branch versions only when the fix is actually checked-in to the branch. It should not be used as an indication that one would like a fix merged (rather one should set the maintenance branch's status to "Merge".)
  • SAK Experimental Branches (i.e., branch) - Use the generic "branch" version as the Fix Version when working on subtasks under a SAK Experimental Branch. If and when the branch is merged into trunk, please remember to update the Fix Version appropriately (generally this will mean changing it to the next major release at the time the branch is merged to trunk.)

Maintenance Branch Version Numbers

A ".x" version is used to track issues relating to maintenance branches. For instance, 2.5.x is the version number representing the 2.5 release's maintenance branch.

If someone is basing their deployment on a maintenance branch, then there is the potential for confusion when using it as Affects Version, since the maintenance branch is a moving target. When reporting issues, it is important to indicate the revision number in the issue, so that folks know to which revision of the maintenance branch you are reporting the issue against. Even better is to determine if the issue affects the last maintenance release, and, if it does, use that as the Affects Version instead.


The Priority field in Jira is used by Sakai to reflect a combination of issue characteristics, including:

  • Number of users affected
  • Resources required to resolve

In practice, the Jira Priority field is utilized by Sakai at two times: during prioritization of feature requests/branches/contributed patches for implementation or merging, and when making decisions on what will actually appear in a release. Initial priorities, when an issue is first reported, may be changed to reflect needs as a release moves forward and priorities evolve.

As a release date approaches, priorities will also be adjusted - and lowered, if necessary - to reflect the decreasing availability of time and resources.


Definition for Sakai


Release will not be completed until issue is resolved.


Issue will most likely be resolved for release.


Issue should be resolved for release.


Issue may be resolved for release.


Issues that might be resolved before a release.


  • A brief statement summarizing the issue. (Field is limited to < 255 characters.)


  • A description of the Sakai environment in which the issues was encountered, e.g., web browser, operating system on which Sakai is installed.
  • For QA participants this is a good place to note on which test server the issue occurred (e.g., MIT Stable HSQL, MIT Stable Oracle, MIT Stable MysQL, Nightly)
  • If you're reporting an issue with a maintenance branch, please include the revision number of your version of the maintenance branch here.


  • A detailed description of the issue, including the steps necessary for reproducing the issue.
  • You can also add attachments, including screen shots to help illustrate the issue.


  • The particular part or parts of Sakai related to the issue.

Security Level

  • Controls the visibility of the issue; currently toggles between viewable by anyone or by just the committers and testers (and the reporter of the issue).


Whenever a Jira issue is modified, the issue's Reporter, Assignee, and any Watchers will receive an email notifying them of the change. To become a Watcher on an issue, go to the issue and view it, and click on the "Watch It" link.

There are also a couple of strategies for monitoring Jira issues en masse:

Email Summaries of Jira Filters

You can subscribe to filters in Jira and receive an email summary of the filter's contents at a time interval you specify.

For folks interested in a daily summary of updates in the Sakai project in Jira, you should subscribe to the "Updated in Last 24 Hours" filter, and specify a 24-hour or 1-day time interval. (Note that the time of day when you subscribe is the time of day when Jira will send the digest, so you probably want to subscribe to the filter early one morning.)

On-Event Automated Notifications

Jira can also send on-event notification emails, such as whenever an issue is created, updated, resolved, closed, etc. If you are interested in receiving such emails, then please contact


  • All issues resolved as "Fixed" should have a Fix Version set, which generally is the next major release version (e.g., "2.6 [Tentative]").

  • All issues resolved with a resolution other than "Fixed" should not have a Fix Versions set, (they were not fixed!) Their Fix Version should be "Unknown".
  • No labels