An add on is a sort of plugin that delivers a functionality that doesn't come standard with JIRA. All add-ons can be found on https://marketplace.atlassian.com/. Some of them are payed and some of them are free. I can't really list all the things that can be done with add-ons because there are just to many.
You probably won't need to build your own add-ons if you are still new to atlassian, only if you REALLY need a functionality that isn't there yet.
You can build your own add-on when you wanr to extend the out-of-box capabilities of JIRA.
Example: In JIRA you can use special JQL queries to find issues. Lets say you want to search for issues with no subtasks. Surpisingly there is no possibility to perform it using standard JQL functions. So you can create your own JQL function. Or you can find appropriate add-on on Atlassian market.
1. Find out what are the standard capabilities of JIRA.
2. Imagine what you want JIRA to be able to perform as an extra action and find/create add-ons.
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