Jira to Postgres

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Jira and load it into PostgreSQL. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Jira?

Atlassian's Jira is an issue-tracking tool with collaboration and elements of agile project management woven into it. You can track progress, assign tasks, and introduce results all from within the product.

What is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL, often known simply as Postgres, is a hugely popular object-relational database management system (ORDBMS). It labels itself as "the world's most advanced open source database," and for good reason. The platform, which is available via an open source license, offers enterprise-grade features including a strong emphasis on extensibility and standards compliance.

PostgreSQL runs on all major operating systems, including Linux, Unix, and Windows. It is fully ACID-compliant, and has full support for foreign keys, joins, views, triggers, and stored procedures (in multiple languages). Postgres is often the best tool for the job as a back-end database for web systems and software tools, and cloud-based deployments are offered by most major cloud vendors. Its syntax also forms the basis for querying Amazon Redshift, which makes migration between the two systems relatively painless and makes Postgres a good "first step" for developers who may later work on Redshift's data warehouse platform.

Getting data out of Jira

You can get your data out of Jira by using Jira's REST API, which offers access to issues, comments, and numerous other endpoints. For example, to get data about an issue, you could call GET /rest/api/2/issue/[issueIdOrKey].

Sample Jira data

The Jira API returns JSON-format data. Here's an example response from the issues endpoint.

    "expand": "schema,names",
    "startAt": 0,
    "maxResults": 50,
    "total": 6,
    "issues": [
            "expand": "html",
            "id": "10230",
            "self": "http://kelpie9:8081/rest/api/2/issue/BULK-62",
            "key": "BULK-62",
            "fields": {
                "summary": "testing",
                "timetracking": null,
                "issuetype": {
                    "self": "http://kelpie9:8081/rest/api/2/issuetype/5",
                    "id": "5",
                    "description": "The sub-task of the issue",
                    "iconUrl": "http://kelpie9:8081/images/icons/issue_subtask.gif",
                    "name": "Sub-task",
                    "subtask": true
                "customfield_10071": null
            "transitions": "http://kelpie9:8081/rest/api/2/issue/BULK-62/transitions",
            "expand": "html",
            "id": "10004",
            "self": "http://kelpie9:8081/rest/api/2/issue/BULK-47",
            "key": "BULK-47",
            "fields": {
                "summary": "Cheese v1 2.0 issue",
                "timetracking": null,
                "issuetype": {
                    "self": "http://kelpie9:8081/rest/api/2/issuetype/3",
                    "id": "3",
                    "description": "A task that needs to be done.",
                    "iconUrl": "http://kelpie9:8081/images/icons/task.gif",
                    "name": "Task",
                    "subtask": false
                  "transitions": "http://kelpie9:8081/rest/api/2/issue/BULK-47/transitions",

Preparing Jira data

Once you have the JSON in hand, you need to map the data fields into a schema that can be inserted into your database. This means that, for each value in the response, you need to identify a predefined datatype (i.e. INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) and build a table that can receive them.

Check out the Stitch Jira Documentation to get a sense of what fields and datatypes are provided by each endpoint. Once you've identified all of the columns you want to insert, you can create a destination table in your database into which to load the data.

Loading data into Postgres

Once you have identified all of the columns you will want to insert, you can use the CREATE TABLE statement in Postgres to create a table that can receive all of this data. Then, Postgres offers a number of methods for loading in data, and the best method varies depending on the quantity of data you have and the regularity with which you plan to load it.

For simple, day-to-day data insertion, running INSERT queries against the database directly are the standard SQL method for getting data added. Documentation on INSERT queries and their bretheren can be found in the Postgres documentation here.

For bulk insertions of data, which you will likely want to conduct if you have a high volume of data to load, other tools exist as well. This is where the COPY command becomes quite useful, as it allows you to load large sets of data into Postgres without needing to run a series of INSERT statements. Documentation can be found here.

The Postgres documentation also provides a helpful overall guide for conducting fast data inserts, populating your database, and avoiding common pitfalls in the process. You can find it here.

Keeping Jira data up to date

At this point you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Jira.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Atlassian modifies Jira's API, or the API sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.

Other data warehouse options

PostgreSQL is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To BigQuery, To Snowflake, and To Panoply.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Jira data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your PostgreSQL data warehouse.