8 Ways to export issues from Jira in 2021

Leo Díaz
Feb 18, 2021 4:30:00 PM

Export issues from Jira are one of the features that make the tool more powerful, mainly because it offers the freedom to work with external tools for a variety of use cases; maybe you need to know how to extract data from Jira using API or doing a Jira XML export, or perhaps you need to make Jira Service Management (formerly Jira Service Desk) exports to Excel. It will depend on your needs, and we will cover different scenarios and solutions in this post.

Although each case is unique at the time to export issues from Jira, it's handy to create Jira reports outside Jira, Jira audits, analyzing SLAs, performing Jira migrations, and more.

After a couple of years of this post being published and following a recommendation from our Twitter community, we got hands-on to update this guide to export issues from Jira. This was the conversation that motivated us (You can always follow us there, too 😉):

 

When Jira issues are filled with information, they give detailed information. Given the granularity each issue contains, it fits perfectly into an Excel spreadsheet, where each issue occupies a row and each field a column. Hence, exporting issues from Jira is a must when working with this information outside the tool.

Why export issues from Jira?

Users have said they export Jira issues mainly because they need to treat information differently from what Jira offers. Therefore, we'll show everyday situations that motivate people to export this data from Jira. Later on, we'll discuss different ways to export issues and their contents.

Share information with external people: It's usual for clients to request detailed reports in different formats, generally Excel, CSV, or PDF.

Analyze data in Excel: Given the management staff, it's usually very skilled within Excel, exporting detailed information from each Jira issue is helpful to understand the data and create reports there.

Audit Jira information: It's possible to audit your instance directly in Jira. However, this implies investing in hours of training on Jira. If that would be the case, your auditor should:

  •    Know how to use Jira.
  •    Have Jira Administrator privileges.
  •    Learn to find and collect the information needed from Jira dashboards and reports.

This highlights the simple benefit of exporting the raw data and letting them explore at their own pace with the tools they master; it's usually the best way to go. 

Analyze SLA compliance: When managing service delivery in Jira, it's usual Service Managers or customers need to get statistics about their SLAs, and sometimes, the Jira reporting engine may fall short for such a task. Therefore, it's normal to look for reporting alternatives in the Atlassian Marketplace such as eazyBI and/or export the issues to CSV, PDF, or Excel to analyze the compliance of their SLAs.

Migrate issues between Jira instances: It's possible to natively import issues to a different Jira instance with a CSV archive, which is specifically useful when partial migrating issues between instances; To do this, previously will be necessary to export these issues CSV to import them into the target instance later. The relationship between the origin and destination environments would be the following:

  •    From Jira Data Center to Jira Cloud.
  •    From Jira Cloud to Jira Data Center.
  •    Between similar environments. 

How to export issues from Jira?

In essence, exporting issues from Jira, it's very straightforward; it requires three basic steps:

  1. Select the issues you need to export from Jira.
  2. Search for the export button located at the Issues Navigator menu.
  3. Select the format in which you want to export the issues.

Despite how easy it seems to export these issues from Jira, it's also true there are several limitations, especially when exporting the full content each issue contains:

Which additional content can be exported from Jira issues to Excel?

  •     Jira Cloud: It's possible to export more than a thousand issues natively. To export transitions and comments, get Exporter for Jira from the Atlassian Marketplace. 

  •     Jira Data Center (or Server): It's possible to export more than a thousand issues by modifying the properties file -below, we explain how-. To export transitions, comments, and attachments, you need Exporter from Jira.

Which additional content can be exported from Jira issues to CSV?

  •    Jira Cloud: You can export the comments of each Jira issue to CSV natively. To export more than 1000 issues, the history of issue transitions, and opt to change the delimiter (dot, semicolon,...), you will need Exporter for Jira.

  •    Jira Data Center (or Server): It's possible to export comments, change the delimiter (point, colon, semicolon...), and export more than 1000 issues natively; this last option can be done by modifying the Jira properties file. Exporter for the Jira does the same, besides exporting the history of the transition.

Limitations when exporting Jira issues

These limitations may vary; it depends on whether you're in Jira Cloud or Jira Data Center, as we have shown. In the following, we'll explain more about these limitations; there are three:

  1. Jira does not allow exporting issues from Jira to Excel, or PDF: It's not possible to export issues to Excel from Jira Data Center; on the other hand, it allows exporting issues to Word formats and CSV, which changes in Jira Cloud; it enables opening Jira issues in Google Spreadsheets or Microsoft Excel 365. It's amazing!
    open-jira-issues-in-google-spreadsheets-or-microsfot-excel-365-deiserHow to export Jira issues to Excel? Well, we love this Jira Cloud feature of opening issues in Google Spreadsheets.

  2. Jira does not export all the content from Jira issues: The native exports from Jira issues usually omit critical data such as transitions, comments, or the attachments of each issue.

  3. It is not possible to export more than one thousand issues from Jira in the same action: Although Jira Cloud allows it (only when exporting to Excel) with the option we pointed at first (opening issues in Google Spreadsheets), in Jira Data Center, it's not possible to do so by default; Installation level changes and a system reboot are required to enable this option. In the following list, we'll tell you how to do it:

Export project information from Jira Cloud to Power BI >>

8 Ways to export issues from Jira

Let's go through the eight most common ways to export issues from Jira, motivated by some, all, or none of the reasons we discussed earlier.

The two first alternatives are meant to be performed by regular users (it doesn't require much tech knowledge), and the six remainings are mostly targeted at Jira Administrators.

We want to know your perspective! As you have seen already, we're all ears. Contact us, write it in the comments, or reach us on social media if you have something to add.

1. Export issues from Jira using the "Export" button located in the Issue Navigator

This is one of the easiest options to perform, as we explained before. Likewise, it has the limitations also stated:

There are no native exports to Microsoft Excel in Jira Data Center, and only up to 1000 issues can be exported. In Jira Cloud and Jira Data Center, it's impossible to export issues with attachments, comments, or transitions. If you are happy with the result, you should probably embrace it; there's no reason to reinvent the wheel.

Take a look at the Atlassian documentation on the different default export formats: you can export to Word and/or CSV; Export Jira issues to XML is handy for developers who want to process data.

2. Export Jira issues with an Atlassian Marketplace app

Finding the app that best suits you requires exhaustive research work on each possible option available in the Atlassian Marketplace.

Given the ignorance of the options available within the marketplace, which in most cases represents the easiest way to add functionality to the Atlassian tools (Jira, in this case), counting on the assistance of Atlassian Certified Professionals for this task -although it may involve additional investment- will save you several headaches, since Atlassian apps do not require maintenance or compatibility with the most recent versions of Jira.

Among the most popular options, there's Xporter for Jira, which allows you to customize how the information is exported visually. On the other hand, Exporter for Jira will enable you to overcome the limitations of Jira in terms of the number of issues to export or the complete information of the issue in useful formats. There are also general applications that allow it, such as the Jira CLI, which is more complex and useful for advanced data processing.


From now on, to understand the following options, you'll need more in-depth tech knowledge, so don't take it as a strict recommendation of what you should do.

If you're not sure to understand any of the following solutions, don't do it! It could work, or it could create more significant problems. In any case, all the elements to be mentioned are real solutions because people are doing it:

3. Modify the Jira properties file to export issues (Only for Jira Data Center or Server)

There are three ways to export issues from Jira following this route:

3.1. Reactivate the Excel export option from the Jira menu

This option allows having the Excel export option available from the Exports drop-down menu.

Note, the "Excel document" that Jira will export is an HTML document that can be outdated at any moment. Any process depending on this configuration may have to change when Atlassian stops supporting this export mechanism.

How to reactivate issue exports to Excel from the Jira menu?

Remember to perform this action at off-peak hours since the following steps require to stop the system:

  •    Stop Jira.
  •    Go to the directory <jira-home> and find the file jira-config.properties
  •    If the file does not exist, as will be the case for new Jira installations, go ahead and create it.
  •    Edit the file (follow these instructions if you are not familiar with the process) and add the following parameter on a new line:
    jira.export.excel.enabled=true
  •    Save the configuration file, and close it.
  •    Restart Jira.
  •    Share it with your team.

3.2. Increase the limit of the property to 1000 results per search

Although it's a simple configuration that works like the previous one, it doesn't solve the issues' limitations in formats and content. This configuration will also require stop and restart Jira.

Atlassian suggests doing large exports in batches to avoid out-of-memory exceptions. If you're correctly monitoring the performance of your Jira instance, and you're comfortable testing the limits without blocking the tool, or if you have too many issues with adopting the batch approach, you can change the export limit of 1000 issues from the properties file:

How to surpass the limit of the property to 1000 results per search?

  •    Stop Jira.
  •    Go to the directory <jira-home> and find the file jira-config.properties
  •    Edit the file with the new desired maximum [new max]:
  •    jira.search.views.default.max=[new max]
  •    Restart Jira.
  •    Share it with your team.

3.3. Surpass the limit of the property to 1000 results per search (for certain users)

This option privilege a small group of Jira users to overcome the property that limits exports to 1000 issues each time. This configuration requires stopping and restart the tool.

The issues to be exported will be the ones filtered in the issue browser at that time. Ensure the group of users with access to these exports understand the responsibility it implies, and they are aware of how it will affect the instance's performance.

Depending on who is exporting and for what purpose, you may want to remove Jira Administrators' restriction, i.e., the IT directors of your company.

How to bypass the Jira export limit for a selected group of users?

  •    Stop Jira.
  •    Go to the directory <jira-home> and find the file jira-config.properties
  •    Edit the file with the new limit for administrators:
  •    jira.search.views.max.unlimited.group=jira-administrators
  •    Restart Jira.
  •    Share it with the team that has this special permission and explain the following in an email:
    •  To exceed the limit, Jira administrators can edit the URLs.
    •  Copy the search URL into the issue navigator.
    •  Paste it on a new tab.
    •  Edit the max parameter at the end or remove it entirely to get the full results.

4. Export more than 1000 issues to CSV from Jira Cloud

As long as we refer to CSV exports, Atlassian shares this alternative as a solution for Jira Cloud instances regarding the exports for more than 1000 items.

Suppose you are exporting from Jira Cloud to Microsoft Excel. In that case, Atlassian allows that fantastic option to open Jira issues directly in Google Spreadsheets or Excel, and from there, to open more than 1000 issues.

5. Export Jira issues for migration or backup purposes

Suppose you are carrying out a backup or a migration process. In that case, this is the best option since creating a backup with the information of your instance will get a massive bach of information... everything you have in your Jira, including the attachments of each issue. Here are the full instructions Atlassian offers for these scenarios.

Obtaining the backup file is simple. The tricky part is to extract only the issues from the entity.xml file, where the projects, users, groups, components, etc., coexist. If you're interested in getting all the information about just the issues, you'll have to dig into the XML file to get them. That's hard work!

6. Export Jira issues with the Java API

This option will allow you to set up the outputs as you wish before exporting the issues; If someone on your team is familiar enough with Java development, it's an excellent option to pass the JQL query through the Java API. You will speak to Jira in its original language:

How to export Jira issues via Java API?

The query for versions previous to Jira 8:

String jql="assignee=currentUser()"; SearchService.ParseResult parseResult = searchService.parseQuery(applicationUser, jql); if (parseResult.isValid()) { try { /** * Execute the search and get the issues */ List issues = searchService.search(applicationUser, parseResult.getQuery(), PagerFilter.getUnlimitedFilter()).getIssues(); }catch (SearchException ex){ LOGGER.error("Error searching: ",ex); } } else { LOGGER.error("Error parsing: " + parseResult.getErrors()); }

The query for Jira 8 versions onwards:

String jql="assignee=currentUser()"; SearchService.ParseResult parseResult = searchService.parseQuery(applicationUser, jql); if (parseResult.isValid()) { try { /** * Execute the search and get the issues */ List issues = searchService.search(applicationUser, parseResult.getQuery(), PagerFilter.getUnlimitedFilter()).getResults(); }catch (SearchException ex){ LOGGER.error("Error searching: ",ex); } } else { LOGGER.error("Error parsing: " + parseResult.getErrors()); }

Download the full .java snippet for previous Jira 8 versions, and here for Jira 8 versions onwards, given it has changed getIssues( ) to getResults( ) from the Jira 8 version onwards. This code includes authentication and imports. Just add a class and a method to make the call.

7. Export Jira issues through the REST API

This Jira export API option is simple and answers the central question: How to extract data from Jira using API? The answer is straightforward; with it, you'll get a JSON output file, although the results cannot be shared immediately (Same as the previous Java API example).

Following the GET method of the REST API, once you've logged into Jira, you'll be able to retrieve all the issues using a specific JQL from a URL:

 Method: GET 
Url: JIRA_BASE_URL/JIRA_CONTEXT/rest/api/2/search?jql="assignee=currentUser()"

Paste this URL directly into your web browser for on-screen results; Instead, you'll probably rather use an API development environment like Postman or a command-line tool like Curl.
Something to avoid is looping through the resulting JSON as a user.

If you are looking for the Excel Jira REST API, to give you an idea, here's a screenshot with the beginning of the data of an issue and how it's displayed:

Jira export API REST and the looks of the data of an issue and how it's displayed.Example of how the data of an issue looks when exporting it with the Jira Rest API.

… and it goes like this for yet other 86 lines.

8. Export all the content from Jira issues: Comments, attachments, and transitions

There are ways to export Jira issues, as you might see. Besides, several options available in the Atlassian Marketplace take the export of Jira data to another level; the solution you'll choose will depend on your needs.

Suppose your need relies on auditing tasks, analyzing SLAs, making Jira reports outside the tool, etc. In that case, you'll need to export comments and transitions from either Jira Cloud or Jira Data Center (or Server) with Exporter for Jira.

On the other hand, if you're considering migrating from Jira Server to Jira Cloud, this is a valuable option to extract data from Jira and move your information from one instance to another. This can be done with Exporter for Jira Data Center (or Server) by exporting Jira issue attachments.

Finally, if you need to create instant internal reports for team meetings, exporting issues to PDF, both in Jira Cloud and Data Center (or Server), is the way to go, and Exporter for Jira does it for you.

8.1 Automate issue exports delivered to your email inbox 

If you need to run issues exports periodically and you don't want to keep wasting time by setting up the information you need to export every time, by choosing which columns, selecting the format, choosing if you also need to export the comments and transitions, etc, the recent BETA feature of Exporter for Jira Cloud might help you on this.

The Scheduled Exports is the latest feature for the app exclusively in Cloud, allowing users to plan the frequency to download a specific export of Jira issues and also allows you to save the download settings.

On the chosen day, you will receive an email in your mailbox with a link to download the file back to Jira. It will also be possible, right from the top menu of Jira, in the Apps drop-down menu, to see the details, manually run the export, edit parameters, or delete any or delete them if you no longer need them.
Have in mind, your Jira Administrator will need to perform a previous configuration filling the details of your email server in the Exporter sub-menu, located in the Jira administration panel.

This is a solution available in the Atlassian Marketplace. Avoid the human error factor, and start configuring and automating the delivery of your Jira Cloud issues to your email inbox, and exporting right from Jira; this solution guarantees you will always have the same configuration of your issues export available to download it at any time you need.

 

Ultimately, whatever the chosen method, once the data is extracted from Jira, the dilemma relies on which treatment will remove that information.

Before going through, it's important to reflect on: Is it indispensable to have this information outside Jira for reporting purposes? Nowadays, Jira Software and apps offer different ways to create and export reports, even at the project level, right from the tool, without processing the data outside the Jira. Whichever option you choose, we hope it will be beneficial for you.

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