I seem to remember that there are a number of improvements logged to do with labels, including a "rename existing", but Atlassian don't have them high on the to-do list.
I suspect it's partly because the labels field is not like select lists and "renaming" a label would be a "search and replace". With a select list, there's a list of "options", and the issue holds one (or several if it's multi-select) pointers to each selected option. When rendering the field, it looks at the "option" and gets the name from it. So renaming an option is as simple as changing that name on the option. If you've got 50,000 issues, you're changing one field in one row in the database. With labels, there is no object with a display name, each label is as written as on-screen in the issue's label field, so editing a label that's used in 50,000 places is 50,000 rows to edit and 50,000 re-indexes.
That's not a good excuse, just an explanation that labels would have to be re-architect-ed (bad word there, my imagination has failed me). I believe labels should be editable the same way options are.
There's other things a redesign would help with. For example, try putting a label on a few issues, then removing it - the "dead" label on no issues still pops up in search autocomplete because it has gone into the index and isn't removed when the last instance is removed.
Annoyingly, I've ended up writing code to fix both of the problems above, which is definitely something that shouldn't be needed.
Tag management functionality -- and labels are essentially "tags" -- is very important and sorely missing from Jira. Frankly speaking, I cannot think of another system that utilizes a "tagging" construct and does not provide tag mgmt functionality. In fact, in several systems that I've worked on, I've literally used Jira's handling of tags/labels as an anti-pattern on how not to handle tag mgmt. It's bad, atrociously bad.
Here's one painful example: In one Jira domain I work in, folks inadvertently created "iOS", "IOS", and "ios" labels over the years for the same purpose. However, now when a user tries to add an "iOS" tag, they get presented all 3 options and all 3 options were used between hundreds and thousands of times over the years. Trying to fix this single issue took about 15 hours of intensive manual labor and generated around 5k notifications to dozens of users! This is what I'd call a UX Disaster...
How to fix this this:
There is no default feature in Jira to edit labels. One workaround is to do bulk edit mentioned above. However, if you want easier to use interface which provides overall labels management features, we have released a new add-on which does exactly that:
This is currently available for Jira Cloud. It allows you to:
- View all labels in one place
- Number of issues under a label
- Rename or change label (which is reflected in all issues)
If you find any bugs or have questions, feel free to contact us.
I don't normally endorse plugins that provide features Atlassian should already cater for, but this plugin is remarkably good value for the problems it solves.
Not only does it help minimise "label pollution", but can also serve as a replacement for those painful-to-manage custom fields with drop-down values that then have different values per project.
I have multiple projects that use variations of the same base workflow. The variations depend on the requirements of the project or issue type. The variations mostly come in the form of new statuses ...
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