When to Use Jira Filters and Jira Query Language (JQL)

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When to use Jira Filters and JQL header image

In this article, you will learn how to:

  • Search in Jira
  • Save filters
  • Subscribe to filters
  • Use filters on Jira dashboards

Searching in Jira

There are currently two ways of searching in Jira – using Basic Search or Jira Query Language (JQL). Both of them will help you aggregate your issue data and filter through the information to find what’s important to you in Jira.

I generally recommend that users new to Jira begin with Basic Search – you’re able to select the fields you want to filter down from dropdowns, with helpful guidance for more advanced functions (like dates). With the Basic Search, you can easily filter your results down by data points like Project or Issue Type, even selecting only issues that you created or are assigned to you. You can see in the screenshot below that I’ve filtered down to only issues in the Support project that are assigned to me. I can select columns to show or hide to visualize any other important information about the issues.

Screenshot of Basic Search in Jira

When you’re using JQL, you can do a little bit more than you can with Basic Search, but really it is just the back-end of the basic search, exposed. Although the name may sound super technical, once you spend some time creating filters of your own you’ll see that it is pretty straightforward. On top of that, Atlassian has made using JQL even easier to learn with the auto-complete functionality. When you start typing, you’ll get suggestions that can push you in the right direction.

I’ll tell anyone who will listen that if you’re looking to expand your JQL knowledge, the best way to begin is to build your filters in the Basic Search. Then select that ‘Switch to JQL’ button next to your search bar to see what the JQL is behind what you’ve just built.

That same Basic Search above looks like this in JQL:

JQL search

That’s not so bad, right?

Once you’ve got the hang of how to search in Jira (using Basic or JQL), you can save those searches as Filters and do even more with the data in Jira and Confluence.

Saving Filters

Saving your search as a filter is as simple as hitting the ‘Save As’ button above the search bar. Once you’ve created a filter, you can do a lot with it. If you’re looking to come back to the same report every morning, or want to send the search you’ve saved to a colleague, a filter is nice and straightforward. You can even determine who in your organization is able to see your filter by updating the sharing settings.

Tip: You can use currentUser() in your JQL to show the relevant information to whichever user is viewing the filter, e.g. assignee = currentUser().

Filter Subscriptions

Additionally, filter subscriptions are an often overlooked but very powerful feature in Jira. While many of us are trying to get out of our inboxes, for some users the best way to be reminded about their work is via email.

If you want the results of a filter to be emailed to you on a set cadence, filter subscriptions are for you. You can even customize it to only send if there are issues returned. For example, you want a daily or weekly email of all issues that have missed due dates in your projects (and if you’re really on your game and there aren’t any missed dates, your inbox won’t be cluttered with empty filters).

If your Jira admins have allowed, you can subscribe groups to filters in the same way. Be careful with this power, though! There’s no better way to make enemies of your colleagues than filling their inboxes with emails they don’t care about.

Jira Dashboards

Saved filters can also be used to visualize the same information elsewhere, like on a Jira dashboard or Confluence page. If you want to view multiple filters at one time, the Filter Results gadget allows you to select from an existing saved filter and insert it directly into a dashboard.

Additionally, filters can be used in tons of different dashboard gadgets, including things like Pie Charts or Two-Dimensional Filter Statistics. If you’re a new user, I would encourage you to review which options are available when you select ‘Add Gadget’ on a dashboard before building your first dashboard. Then you can figure out which ones will work for you.

Morgan is a Seattle born and raised lover of rain and software, particularly software that isn’t a pain in the bum (like some Atlassian tools can be). This is why she’s a Custom Charts for Jira superfan and jumped at the chance to contribute to the solution herself. She specializes in Agile, Scaled Agile, and ITIL in the Atlassian app space, loves a cross-country road trip, and is on a mission to find the cutest coffee shop in every town she visits.