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December 11, 2023

#BigTip: Adding dynamic project content to the Confluence page & Jira dashboard

Jira
Project Management
Reporting
System Administration

The BigPicture app is an excellent source of information about your projects and portfolios. But what if you just want to look up something quickly? Or collect and combine different pieces of information to present them in an easy-to-digest format to other users — without launching the app every single time?

No problem. All you need to do is to add dashboard gadgets to your Jira or Confluence.

What is a gadget in BigPicture?

A gadget, or a dashboard item as it’s called on Jira Cloud, is a small but dynamic and interactive element you can add to your Confluence page or Jira dashboard. It helps you (and other permitted users) see the project’s specific aspects or data without switching back to BigPicture.

As such, BigPicture gadgets serve a similar purpose as Jira dashboard gadgets, but they are based on native BigPicture functionalities. They mirror BigPicture’s modules.

A Jira dashboard housing several BigPicture gadgets. You can enlarge each gadget using the two-arrows icon on the gadget headbar.

 

Each gadget shows the name of a project (or other box type) under the headbar. It’s like a shortcut you can click to launch a project directly in BigPicture. And since each gadget is linked to its respective “parent” module, your project will open in that particular module. 

Fast and convenient! 🙂

Depending on a particular gadget’s “parent” module, you can have five different types of gadgets on your Jira dashboard or Confluence page.

Dashboard gadget/ items types

The five BigPicture gadgets represent individual modules available in the app, which you won’t find in native Jira. Those gadgets are as follows:

  • Overview gadget (mirrors the Overview module)
  • Roadmap gadget (mirrors the Objectives module)
  • Calendar gadget (mirrors the Calendar module)
  • Gantt gadget (mirrors the Gantt module)
  • Risks gadget (mirrors the Risk module)

You can add as many gadgets to your Jira dashboard or Confluence page as you want and tweak their scope via filters and search bar whenever applicable. 

This way, you can see and track different data, even with only one type of gadget. Or customize them for individual users. But if you want another person to view them, you’ll need to grant them the permissions of at least a Box viewer.

Each gadget displays read-only data you will generally find in their parent modules. So because they simply mirror the data, you won’t be able to introduce any changes, like moving risk cards or adding new boxes to the hierarchy. 

Overview gadget

The Overview gadget gives you a high-level overview of all the programs and portfolios of projects available in your organization. It displays the same box hierarchy and data columns as in the Overview module inside BigPicture. So you can see what kind of initiatives are being run, including their status and progress.

Like in the Overview module, you can expand each parent box to inspect its children (sub-boxes) or click on the box to launch it in BigPicture.

The Overview module (top) and the Overview gadget/dashboard item (bottom). The gadget shows the hierarchy for all the project programs and portfolios.

 

This gadget offers several useful functionalities that you can use to see what you want while still in Jira. For instance, you can sort the available boxes by different parameters (e.g., name, status). You can also use filters to look for specific box(es), for instance, by type or status, and use a search bar function.

With the Overview gadget, you can also quickly navigate to the box configuration or jump to any module of a given box.

Roadmap gadget

The Roadmap gadget is based on the Objectives module and allows you to read the status of the objectives for the selected box. Although it displays read-only data, you can configure it to show you data for a Program Increment (level -1) and going down to individual iterations/Sprints (level -2).

The Objectives module (top) and the Roadmap gadget/dashboard item (bottom). The gadget shows the objectives for each time per iteration/Sprint, just like the Objectives module.

 

To see objectives for future iterations, you can enlarge the gadget or scroll along the timeline at the top.

Calendar gadget

The Calendar gadget provides a neat list of the upcoming tasks for your selected box (e.g., project, iteration). With a glance, you’ll know what tasks are due and when. If you want to track tasks from multiple projects, you can add several Calendar gadgets to your dashboard or Confluence page.

The Calendar module (top) and the Calendar gadget/dashboard item (bottom). The gadget shows you a chronological list of tasks for the next few days.

 

Apart from the task list, the gadget also offers the same set of filters as its parent module, including Quick filters, date range, as well as text- and JQL-based search capabilities. These two sets, however, are independent of each other. So, if you want to activate a specific filter on your Calendar gadget, this won’t affect the active filters in the Calendar module.

Gantt gadget

The Gantt gadget is an excellent way to check your project schedule quickly. It shows WBS with the same set of data columns and Gantt timeline as the Gantt module. Like in the Overview module, you can zoom in, zoom out, and drag the schedule timeline. 

But because it doesn’t allow you to configure those columns, we recommend having a separate box for your project where you’ll keep a Column View specifically for the gadget.

The Gantt module (top) and the enlarged Gantt gadget/dashboard item (bottom). The gadget shows a hierarchy and schedule of your project.

 

You can edit the Gantt gadget to ignore the task structure, hide the Infobar and resources, and change the effort mode for the resource workload distribution.

Similarly to the previous gadgets, the Gantt gadget also inherits the parent module’s filters and text- and JQL-based search capabilities as the Gantt module. But you activate filters on the gadget independently of the Gantt module. Additionally, you can activate different filters on individual Gantt gadgets if you have multiple on your dashboard or page.

Risks gadget

The last dashboard gadget on the list is the Risks gadget, which helps you increase risk awareness in your team or organization. The gadget mirrors the risk matrix of the Risks module. But if you want to see your risks in the form of a table/list, you’ll need to go to the module.

The Risks module (top) and the Risks gadget/dashboard item (bottom). The gadget shows a risk heatmap for the selected project (or other initiative). 

Here, you can also use filters and a search bar without influencing the settings on the Risks module.

Adding a new dashboard gadget

You can add a BigPicture gadget directly on the Jira dashboard. The process for adding a gadget to a Confluence page is a bit less straightforward but isn’t too complicated, either.
Add a BigPicture gadget to the Jira dashboard

Navigate to your Jira dashboard and click the Add gadget button to prompt a modal. Then, click the “Load more” link and use a search bar to narrow the list of gadgets to the BigPicture ones. Finally, add the gadget of your choice.

Select the BigPicture gadget from the list to add it to your Jira dashboard.

 

Your new gadget will appear in the edit mode at the top of the Jira dashboard.

Customize the Jira dashboard and BigPicture gadgets

You can customize gadgets on the Jira dashboard at any point of use.

To open the gadget settings, navigate to the gadget headbar and click “” (triple dots) in the right corner. Select “Edit” from the menu list.

Two Gantt gadgets on the Jira dashboard. The one on the right is in the edit mode.

 

You’ll notice that the settings options aren’t the same for every gadget, but some are common. For example, the gadget headbar color, “Refresh Interval,” and “Height.” Only the Overview gadget has no customization options.

You can drag and drop every gadget to swap their position and order. You can even change the Jira dashboard’s layout to display data however you like.

Click the “Edit layout” button to change how Jira displays your dashboard gadgets.

Add a BigPicture gadget to the Confluence page

First, go to the Confluence administration page and click “Application Links” to add the link to your Jira instance. Next, enter a URL address to your Jira > select “Authenticate to see status” > finish with the “Allow” button. 

Second, open the Jira dashboard and follow the same route as you did when adding a gadget to the Jira dashboard. (Click the “Add gadget” button and the “Load more” link on the “Add gadget” modal.) From the list of BigPicture gadgets, copy the address for the “Gadget Specification URL” of your choice from the XML link box.

Click “Show XML link” to get the address for the selected BigPicture gadget and copy it (ctrl/cmd-c).


And third, open the administration settings page. Look for the
External Gadgets tab > “Add a new Gadget” section > “Gadget Specification URL” box. In this box, paste the URL of a gadget XML file you have copied in the previous step.

Type in or paste the gadget’s URL into the “Gadget Specification URL” to add it to the Confluence page.

 

Now that you’ve linked Jira and BigPicture to Confluence and added links to the dashboard gadgets, you must embed them on the page.

  1. Open your Confluence page.
  2. Click the Edit button.
  3. Click the “+” (plus) button (or type a forward slash “/” inside the block where you want to add a gadget).
  4. Choose the BigPicture gadget from the list.
  5. Click “Save” and “Insert” the gadget.
  6. Update your Confluence page.

You now have a pretty dynamic gadget on your page!

Sign up to try BigPicture for free

BigPicture helps you plan, build, and manage complex projects and portfolios. You can take advantage of its core features even without launching an app in the form of dashboard gadgets. They allow you to add and track key aspects of your projects and portfolios directly on the Jira dashboard and Confluence page. 

Sign up for a 30-day free trial and discover how BigPicture can help you build and execute projects more easily — no matter how big, complex, or unique they are. We also encourage you to join our live demo webinar. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see for yourself why more than 20,000 PPMs and their teams trust our software to build their amazing products.