A first look at Youtrack

In this series, we want to highlight competing products to Atlassian Jira and we start with a familiar name in the software development world, Jetbrains.

Many software companies already have licenses for Jetbrains products, be it for the popular IntelliJ, Webstorm, PyCharm or Resharper. Jetbrains' ticket management software Youtrack still is not well known in many places. Why is that, and could that change with Jira Server's end of life?

The installation of Youtrack is very easy. You can install Youtrack via Docker Images, i.e. a Linux server with a current Docker environment is sufficient. And thats what we did - after creating 4 directories for data, logs, backups and configuration, we started Youtrack and followed the setup wizard. The setup takes about 15 minutes if you have some basic Docker knowledge. Since Youtrack uses an integrated database, the setup of an external database is not necessary.

If you do not want to install Youtrack yourself, you can subscribe to it via Cloud. As with Atlassian, the first 10 users are free of charge.

Youtrack is based like Jira on the concept of projects that can be created from templates and boards, which are visual representations of the tickets within. You can import projects directly from Jira if you want, Jetbrains offers a wizard for this. By the way - Jetbrains also offers discounts for users who switch from competing products like Jira.

The web interface of Youtrack differs slightly from Jira, but offers comparable functions due to the similar project structure. A Kanban Backlog feature is available as in the newer Jira versions. The interface is simple - but there is a query language like in Jira with an autocomplete help. But still, Jira users will come across one or the other new concept - for example, Kanban cards can be blocked so that they cannot be moved to the next step. Another new concept for us was the fact that user stories can be swimlanes and they have a parent child relationship with other issues.

Remarkable is that Youtrack offers some features that are only available in Jira via Apps or only in the DataCenter version, for example the support for SAML2 authentication and the possibility to define announcements and terms of services for users to agree to. A Gantt Chart planning tool is also included in the product which is great for product or project managers.

And a feature that many Atlassian users have always missed - notification emails can be customized directly in the UI - for each project individually.

Besides the ticket management feature, Jetbrains has implemented a simple knowledge base system into the product this year. So users do not have to operate and buy two systems, which further underscores the lower price of Youtrack compared to Jira.

The user interface strongly reminds us of Confluence. The editor is Markdown with a WYSIWYG function - macros are not supported, but multimedia content and Google Docs are. Full-text search, comments and notifications are all available - Confluence users will get used to it very quickly in our opinion.

Similar to Atlassian, Jetbrains offers a whole suite of developer tools, such as the source code management UpSource and the build management tool TeamCity.

These can be linked natively to Youtrack and activate additional dashboard widgets, for example.

In conclusion, we found Youtrack offers a massive amount of features out of the box for a fair price. And everything can be had on premises. When it comes to drawbacks - the choice and type of plugins in Youtrack is very limited and not comparable to the amount of apps you can get in the Atlassian Marketplace in our opinion.

This concludes our first - very brief - look at Youtrack. Be sure to let us know if you want us to have a deeper look at certain features!

Youtrack is absolutely worth a look, especially for Atlassian users from the software development environment. The deep integration with version control systems, the focus on agile teams, the integrated knowledge base - Youtrack is a solid Jira alternative without big weaknesses - as long as the small ecosystem does not bother you.