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June 05, 2024

#BigTip: Sizing and performance: Get the most mileage out of BigPicture

System Administration

It’s not uncommon for enterprise organizations to employ dozens of ARTs working on thousands of tasks daily. Or to run several portfolios on large (or even multiple) Jira instances. The more people and tasks involved, the heavier the job for BigPicture.

Apps, like cars, perform best when they are fine-tuned to the most optimal settings. How can you go about it? We’ll explore this topic from the Jira and BigPicture angles.

Today, we’ll cover:

  1. Jira and BigPicture sizing: Adjusting apps to your growing needs
  2. BigPicture app performance: Settings and best practices

Jira and BigPicture sizing: Adjusting apps to your growing needs 

BigPicture builds on the Jira instance, so let’s start with Jira sizing and how Atlassian recommends approaching it.

S or XL? Gauging the size of your Jira instance

Jira sizing provides guidance to self-hosted (data center) users on how to select the technical parameters of the environment to match the Jira size they want to use in their organization. The size is based on the number of users, issues, custom fields, workflows, etc.

Atlassian’s size profiles (size tiers) use T-shirt sizes that range from S (Small) to XL (Extra Large).

Whether your instance’s size profile will be small, medium, or (extra) large depends on the volume of the 11 following metrics:

A table featuring Jira sizing, namely the metrics and the corresponding Jira instance size.

The overall size profile of your instance is typically determined by the largest size profile of any metric you previously collected. So if any single metric is categorized as Large, it’s reasonable to classify the overall size profile of your instance as Large.

For instance, if the volume of Issues your organization typically handles falls in the 150,000 to 600,000 range, your size profile is Medium. If the volume were exactly or over 2,000,000 (two million), then your tier would be Extra Large.

But in some situations, one metric might bloat the overall size profile of your instance.

For example, you might have a Large volume of Issues but a Small volume of other metrics. A single bloated metric can impact your instance performance. But you can fix it by, e.g., moving or archiving project issues or improving custom field management.

Ensuring uninterrupted experience with the right hardware

Jira profile size is the fundamental app performance measure to take care of.

However, you should also keep in mind that any additional app you attach to your Jira instance will also impact your experience. To ensure BigPicture works as smoothly as you would expect, here’s a set of recommended hardware and software on the user (client) and server sides.

Server-side hardware

You can configure BigPicture in many different ways, which makes it difficult to estimate an exact metric you should aim for when making room for BigPicture. We recommend using 20-30% more powerful servers to ensure a smooth experience with the app.

The choice of database also has its share. You may want to store your data in the MSSQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, or Oracle database. (Please note that we don’t support HSQL and H2 databases.)

BigPicture size profile

We based our sizing on similar volume metrics as Jira.

BigPicture sizing guide in the table form.

If your metrics grew beyond the Large-scale ones, it means your instance falls into the Extra Large size profile.

BigPicture app performance: Settings and best practices

Fine-tuning app performance doesn’t end on hardware. You may also consider practicing a few housekeeping measures and checking the in-app settings.

The following best practices will help you maintain a better app performance. And if you are in a self-hosted Jira environment, you’ll eliminate the risk of causing any slowdown of your Jira instance caused by data synchronization.

We collected and organized the BigPicture app performance tweaks around three main themes: optimized data synchronization, module page load time, and UI (user interface) responsiveness. We also included a few tweaks to lower the risk of Jira issue pages loading slow.

Optimized and safe data synchronization

If you’re experiencing Jira performance issues caused by BigPicture data sync, look into the “Performance” tab we’ve recently added to the App Configuration page.

The “Performance” settings allow you to optimize BigPicture’s continuous synchronization of updates you make in Jira. This can significantly reduce the risks of those updates negatively impacting your Jira instance—even if over 30,000 users are working on over 1 million issues.

The following settings will also speed up data sync between both apps.

The new Performance tab > Sync rules page on the App Configuration page. (Screenshot from BigPicture for Jira, data center)

Sync rules

The new partial sync rules allow you to customize how certain app elements will be synchronized.

Synchronization time interval

This option defines how frequently BigPicture will sync data; range: 1-10 seconds. Increase the value to improve app performance.

Updates processing control

We introduced two new update processing modes to handle long queues of BigPicture updates knocking on Jira’s door – and vice versa.

You can control how updates between the two apps are synced. (Screenshot from BigPicture for Jira, data center)

 

  • Simple updates processing is the default mode BigPicture operated in before the two other modes were introduced. This mode should process all updates quickly. But when processing large volumes of data, it may be inefficient and cause a risk of high CPU load.

  • Optimized updates processing (recommended) splits a long queue into smaller ones. It prioritizes updates from Jira coming to boxes that are currently or frequently used (high-priority queue). All other updates from less frequently used boxes go to the low-priority queue, which processes them at fifteen-minute intervals. As a result, the app doesn’t process a large volume of data every few seconds, decreasing the risk of high CPU load and a negative impact on Jira.

  • Limited updates processing is similar to the optimized updates processing queue. However, we don’t recommend using this mode if you work with large data volumes. This mode continuously syncs updates from the currently and recently used boxes, but there’s no low-priority queue. So, even though the risk of negative impact on Jira is lower, this mode will increase the sync time of less frequently visited boxes.

The Limited and Optimized updates processing modes include three additional customization options to fine-tune how the app syncs updates.

  • Box activity threshold defines a period for a box to be classified as active. You define the period in hours ranging from 1 to 144 hours.

  • Active box limit defines the number of boxes that the high-priority queue will support. The priority ranges from 10 to 100 boxes.

  • Box synchronization threshold defines a box synchronization timeout. You set a timeout in milliseconds, ranging from 5 to 10,000 milliseconds.

Settings moved from the “Technical info” tab

Three more options allow you to customize the synchronization and performance-related settings further. They were previously located under the “App Configuration > Advanced > Technical info” tab.

We tidied up the performance-related settings. You can now review and customize the above and the new settings (Sync rules) all in one place. (screenshot from BigPicture for Jira, cloud)
Scheduled synchronization

Scheduled sync ensures that all your data is up to date. It’s especially important if the app doesn’t live sync data from Jira correctly. You schedule the sync process based on the cron expression.

We recommend scheduling a sync process once per week during the off-peak times as it may decrease the performance while it’s running.

Live sync 

The entire Live sync section was moved from the “App Configuration > Advanced > General” tab and is now a sister section to the Sync rules under the “Performance” tab.

Live sync determines how frequently data from individual modules and markers will be synchronized, expressed in seconds. Decrease the values or toggle the option off to improve performance.

Customize the live sync settings for better app performance. (Screenshot from BigPicture for Jira, data center)

Reduce the custom field mapping

Field mapping is responsible for bidirectional data synchronization between BigPicture and Jira. You can customize the field mapping setup, but try not to customize every single field, as this may impact the app’s performance.

Keep your box structure tidy

As the project portfolio in your organization grows, so does the volume of boxes in the box hierarchy.

When you deliver your project or other initiative, close and archive the box – BigPicture doesn’t refresh closed and archived boxes, which results in better app performance.

If you don’t need to keep any of the boxes any longer (e.g., it’s just a test box), delete it altogether.

You can easily archive, delete, and manage your box statuses on the Home level in the Overview module. (Screenshot from BigPicture, cloud)

While you’re archiving your boxes, you may also want to do the same with Jira projects.

Faster module page load time

When working with the app, you might notice that the module page you view doesn’t load fast enough. A few tweaks can fix that problem and speed up data sync along the way.

Customize settings under the “Performance” tab

The new “Performance” tab is not only for data synchronization. Two dedicated settings are also worth considering if you want to improve page load time when working with BigPicture modules.

  • Maximum tasks to load option limits the number of tasks BigPicture will load based on your scope definition settings. Decrease the value to load tasks faster in your box.

  • Task grouping limit option limits the maximum number of tasks the app can group. The fewer the tasks, the faster the grouping process.

Limit the number of structure builders

Structure builders let you shape the task structure in your box. But too many of them can negatively affect page load time and data synchronization. For that reason, we recommend using up to three structure builders in one box.

Keep the volume of your columns under control

Columns display information about your project, such as start/end dates, assignee, cost, and much more. You can additionally aggregate column data to monitor progress and changes in key aspects of your project.

So, it might be tempting to add many columns to track more data. However, too many columns can affect page load times in the Gantt and Scope modules.

To fix it, avoid having more than ten columns per view. If you want to utilize more columns, create several column views, each with an optimal number of columns.

Better UI responsiveness

BigPicture can hold and visualize a large volume of issues to help you plan and monitor even the most complex initiatives. That’s why the scope of the box has no upper limit as to how many project items you can store in a single box.

Our load and performance tests confirm that the BigPicture app runs comfortably with even 30,000 tasks in a box. But if you notice some UI (user interface) responsiveness issues when working on your tasks, try the tweaks below.

Ensure you have the right hardware and software

As a BigPicture user, your device and browser play an important role in app performance.

A device equipped with a quad-core CPU, preferably an Ice Lake series for Intel, and at least 8 GB RAM (preferably 16) will allow you to work with your project comfortably.

As for the software, we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browsers. Please also ensure that your browser doesn’t block caching.

BigPicture lets you hide (collapse) dependencies for all the tasks and display dependencies for only the selected tasks. This way, you will de-clutter your dependency view and greatly improve UI responsiveness on the Gantt and Board modules.

Check the box in the upper menu to collapse dependencies. When you mouse over the bubble with a number next to a task, you can inspect dependencies for that task. (Screenshot from BigPicture for Jira, data center)

Use simple JQL queries

In BigPicture, you can narrow the active (visible) data in your box using JQL, either in quick filters or on the scope definition page. JQL is a powerful tool for building complex queries.

However, complex queries can impact UI responsiveness and page load times. For that reason, try to keep your JQL queries simple. If you need to perform more complex operations on your scope, break your query into several simpler, quick filters.

The default JQL-based queries on the quick filters page. You can add new filters and edit the existing ones. (Screenshot from BigPicture for Jira, data center)

Lower risk of Jira issue pages slowing down

If you notice that your data center Jira instance doesn’t perform as fast as usual when BigPicture is in use in your organization, we recommend using the following settings in BigPicture.

Disable BigPicture widgets

The WBS and the Skills widgets add more information to the Jira issue page. But they might slow down Jira issue view loading time. If you experience such situations, disable one or both widgets.

Toggle off non-essential options

BigPicture lets you save task changes as comments on the Jira issue pages (App Configuration > General > Field mapping). Disable this option for better app performance.

Toggling off some in-app options may positively affect the overall Jira issue page and app performance. (Screenshot from BigPictur for Jira, cloud)

 

You may want to try one more option.

Go to the App Configuration > Advanced > Technical info tab. Next, scroll down to the “Others” section, where you’ll find settings for the logs collection.

The fine-grained logs the app collects are helpful if you want to help our Support Team troubleshoot your problem faster, but it may slow down your application. Reduce the granularity level and let the app collect the “Warnings only” or  the “Information and warning.”

Highly detailed log collection can also impact app performance. (Screenshot from BigPicture for Jira, data center)

Sign up to try BigPicture for free

BigPicture helps you plan, build, and manage complex projects and portfolios. It’s a robust application that builds on Jira capabilities, necessitating bidirectional synchronization. We have equipped our users with various settings to tailor to their instances and needs to ensure they can carry out their work without unnecessary app performance hiccups.

But we’re not stopping there.

App performance is an important part of the BigPicture development roadmap, and we continue to make tremendous progress in that area. For instance, recently, the sync times for data center and cloud users working with a high volume of Sprints and tasks have been drastically reduced. BigPicture users will also notice faster load and rendering times for their task dependencies on the Board module.

Sign up for a 30-day free trial to see how BigPicture streamlines projects of any size, complexity, or uniqueness.