Atlassian launches Compass to help developers keep track of software tools

A portal that Atlassian boasts will help developers tame software sprawl.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
Image: Atlassian

Atlassian has announced the launch of Compass, a portal touted to help software developers overcome the complexities of building and operating software architecture using multiple tools.

Speaking to ZDNet, Atlassian agile and DevOps solutions product head Tiffany To said Compass was born from an internal tool the company built to help its developers keep track of the tools they were using.

"Just as an order of reference, Atlassian manages 1,500 microservices for our cloud products, so that type of sprawl is just really hard for [DevOps] teams to manage," she said.

"It's coordinating, collaborating who owns what dependencies -- it just gets insanely difficult … so we ended up building our own tool to track all of these things."

To said Atlassian decided to invest further in the internal tool through its Point A innovation program and, as a result, developed Compass.

"What we see is the work happens in Slack; they're sending messages like, 'Who owns this thing? Who owns that thing?', or 'It's down, we should triage it'. That clearly is not going to scale and be efficient, and so bringing it together into a tool that sits above the proliferation of all the other DevOps tools that gives them one single place is part of our mission," she said.

Read also: Atlassian's Agnes Ro on how the role of developers has evolved

Compass consists of three main features. The first is a components catalogue, which To describes is the "source of truth" that maps out all the components developers use to assemble their software in one place, including shared components, documentation, and any other information used to build software.

"Think of it as a parallel to Jira where Jira is your source of truth for planning and project management," she said.

Compass can also automatically help populate the so-called health status of each component found in the catalogue, so developers can assess, measure and evaluate the security and compliance they need to meet based on Atlassian's integration data with third-party tools, such as GitHub and New Relic.

"All the integrations we've done with third-party tools, we take the data through those integrations, and then we put them into scorecards on top of those components," To said.

The new tool also features an extensibility engine called Apps, this allows developers to customise their usage of Compass. It is also fully compatible with Forge, Atlassian's cloud app development platform that was introduced last May.

"What we find is you've got to give customer a tonne of flexibility to really customise workflows," To said.

"By using Forge, we allow those dev teams to fully customise Compass to make it look the way they want, have it highlight the workflows that they want -- that's important for adoption because we would never take an internal tool and just try to productise it and give it to everyone else because we know our way of working isn't the same as everyone else."

Compass is currently available in alpha, with Atlassian expecting to roll out beta in the next two months. 

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