How To Get The Best Jira GitHub Integration

Published: August 28, 2023
Last Updated: May 07, 2024
This blog post was written by Exalate.

Companies and organizations use work management systems and online repositories to maintain their code. But due to compatibility and interoperability issues, syncing data between different systems could become a challenge.

Imagine your development team uses GitHub for version control, and your IT team uses Jira to manage their work. In this case, you’ll need a Jira GitHub integration solution to sync data between both teams so they can work in harmony, regain autonomy, and guarantee security.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the steps involved in integrating Jira with GitHub. But let me explain why you need this integration in the first place.
How To Get The Best Jira GitHub Integration

It is a table of contents. Click on the needed subheading and switch between parts of the article.

Benefits of a Jira GitHub Integration

Here are the main reasons why companies connect their Jira with GitHub using integration solutions.

  • Connecting GitHub and Jira optimizes your team’s workflow by eliminating redundant tasks of manually moving code, issues, and commits back and forth.
  • Using a GitHub Jira integration solution allows you to automate the process of syncing data. Bi-directional syncs ensure you can share information in both directions, specifically between support and engineering teams.
  • Jira integration with GitHub makes it possible to unify both platforms to a central view while maintaining decentralized control from either side.
  • You also get the best of both worlds: GitHub’s version control and Jira’s ticket (work issue) management system.

How to Set up a Jira GitHub Integration in 6 Steps

Before setting up a connection between Jira and GitHub, there are a few things to take into consideration if you want your integration to meet your requirements:

  • Decentralized architecture to maintain independent control over incoming and outgoing information
  • Flexibility and customizability to cover all integration scenarios from basic to the most advanced ones
  • Scalability to enable teams and companies to add more customers/partners/vendors/ etc to their network efficiently as they grow
  • Reliability to handle workloads without breaking down constantly
  • Security to protect sensitive data and prevent data leaks

One third-party integration solution that fits the bill is Exalate. It’s a decentralized bi-directional integration solution that allows users to connect Jira with GitHub and other ITSM systems to exchange information seamlessly.

How to Set up a Jira GitHub Integration With Exalate

First, you need to install Exalate on both platforms before creating a Jira GitHub sync. Check out this installation guide or go to the detailed documentation for more information.

Let’s dive right into it!

Note that you can initiate the connection from either end.

Step 1 – Install Exalate on Jira (Cloud)

  • Click the “cog” in the top right to open the settings.
  • Click “Apps” > Go to “Find new apps” in the Atlassian Marketplace.
  • Search for “Exalate”.
  • Click “Exalate Jira Issue Sync & more”.
Install Exalate on Jira (Cloud)
  • Click the “Try it free” button in the top right.
  • Click “Start free trial” on the pop-up that appears.
  • After installation, click “Get started” on the pop-up to start exploring.
  • Exalate will now become accessible on Jira’s “Apps” screen.

Note: If you are using Jira Server or Data Center, have a look at this guide instead.

Step 2 – Install Exalate on GitHub

To install Exalate on GitHub, go to the GitHub Marketplace.

  • Type “Exalate” in the search field.
  • Click “Exalate Two-Way Issue Sync” > Click the “Set up a plan” button > Choose “Install it for free.”
  • Exalate will be available on your GitHub account.

  • Choose which repositories to grant Exalate access to. You can allow it to access all of them or specific ones.
  • Grant the necessary permissions > Click the “Install” button.
  • Set up an OAuth token or allow Exalate to use your username and password to access GitHub.
Install Exalate on GitHub
  • Click “License Details” in Exalate’s left-side menu > Click “30-Day Trial”. This will give you an evaluation license for GitHub.
  • Enter your email in the popup that appears.
  • Go to your inbox and copy the license key to your clipboard.
  • Back in GitHub, click the green “License Key” button at the bottom left of the “License Details” screen.
  • Paste your license key into the field that appears > Click “Update”.
  • Your Exalate license is ready to be used on GitHub.

Note: You can also get Exalate’s GitHub Connector for Jira through the Atlassian Marketplace.

Now let’s proceed to step 3 and connect the two instances to start the sync.

Step 3 – Connect Your Jira and GitHub Instances

With Exalate installed on both GitHub and Jira, you can now start the connection. Come along with me as I take you through the process.

You can initiate the connection from either the Jira or GitHub side. The steps are the same. Let’s start from the Jira side.

  • Click “Apps” > Look for “Exalate” in the left-hand menu.
  • Click “Connections” > Click the “Initiate Connection” button.
Connect Your Jira and GitHub Instances
  • Enter your GitHub instance URL in the field provided. If you were in GitHub, you’d enter your Jira address instead.
  • Choose the Basic Mode or the Script Mode.

The Basic Mode has a set of predefined sync rules that allow syncing issue fields like summary, description, and comments; the scope is limited.

The Script Mode allows you to establish custom sync rules to determine what you want to sync between both sides. The scope is limitless and you can implement almost any use case using only a few lines of code.

Configure Your Sync Using the Basic Mode
 Configure Your Sync Using the Basic Mo
  • Select “Basic Mode” > Click “Next” > Select the Jira project from which you want to synchronize issues.
  • Verify if you have admin access to the GitHub side by clicking “Yes, I have admin access” > Click “Initiate”.
  • If you don’t have admin access, you will be redirected to the GitHub side to paste an invitation code.
  • Select the repository you want to synchronize on the GitHub side and click “Confirm”.
  • Once the connection has been successfully established, enter the issue key from the repository and press “Exalate”.
  • Wait for some time before the issue is successfully synchronized.

Configure Your Sync Using the Script Mode
Configure Your Sync Using the Script Mode
  • Select “Script Mode”.
  • Name the “Local” and “Remote” of the connection.
  • Add a description if you want. This will help you later when you have a list of connections.
  • Click “Next” > Select the project on the Jira side > Click “Initiate”.
  • Exalate will now generate an invitation code. Click the green button to copy it to your clipboard.
  • Head over to GitHub (you can do this by clicking “Go to remote”).
  • In the left-hand Exalate menu, click “Connections” > Click the “Accept Invitation” button > Click “Next”.
Accept Invitation
  • Choose the repository name from the drop-down list.
  • Click the green “Confirm” button.
  • Your connection is ready and you can move on to configuring it.

Step 4 – Configure Your Connection to Determine What Gets Shared

  • Click the “Edit Connection” icon. You’ll see a screen with four tabs.
  • Go to the “Rules” tab. Here you can see two sets of rules: the Outgoing Sync rules and the Incoming Sync rules.
  • Start tweaking the code to establish your own rules.
These rules are written in the Groovy scripting language. Each line handles a specific field.There are comments that start with “//” for single-line comments or are surrounded by “/*” and “*/” for multiple-line comments. You can use them to temporarily disable the things you don’t want to sync. Just put “//” at the start of the line. To reactivate it, remove it again.

To learn more about sync rules, take a look at our documentation.
Configure Your Connection to Determine What Gets Shared

Step 5 – Set Up Automated Synchronization Triggers

You can manually sync entities between Jira and GitHub, but you can also set up triggers to automate your integration.
  • Next to the “Rules” tab, you’ll see “Triggers”.
  • You can also access triggers from the main left-hand menu.
  • Click the “Create trigger” button. The “Add trigger” pop-up will appear.
Automated Synchronization Triggers

Step 6 – Start Synchronizing Tasks

After completing the Jira integration with GitHub, you can start sharing tasks between them. You can check your connection statistics to see that items are being shared.

If not, take a look at your rules and make sure there are some items they apply to. You can also click on “Errors” on the main menu to troubleshoot your connection.

Key Takeaways

Implementing a secure Jira GitHub connector allows your teams to connect and collaborate seamlessly. By combining the capabilities of both platforms, you can bridge the gap in functionality for independent teams.

With a reliable and flexible integration solution such as Exalate, teams can sync information between Jira and GitHub seamlessly without worrying about security and duplication of data.

You can book a free session with an integration engineer to see how it’d work for your specific use case.

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