What's the difference between a gadget I can place on a dashboard and reports? I'm not clear on the distinction and, if dashboards are meant to be one place I can get an overview of what's happening in my project, why can't I place a report on a dashboard?
The main difference is structural. Gadgets are reports coded in an add-on format that allows them to be added to dashboards, and reports are coded as an add-on format that adds them to projects.
Some of them are doubled-up - you can get a gadget that is much the same as a report, and vice-versa, but, in my opinion, far too few of them. In some ways, I'd rather Atlassian binned the "reports" framework they had and replaced it with a "run a gadget in a dashboard framework that only shows one gadget".
To add to the answer from @Nic Brough [Adaptavist] with many elements of JIRA having their own way of reporting it is very difficult to get the single view of a project. It is entirely possible for a project to have reports in JIRA Software that relate to the delivery of the next version, whilst also having reports in JIRA Service Desk about the performance of the current version. At present the gathering of this information in a single view to provide to managers is challenging. Whilst many of the core JIRA gadgets are available for use in Confluence which allows for a much richer reporting interface many of the reports for JIRA Software/Service Desk are restricted to only being available as reports.
Another key difference is that reports are static, they show the data at the time you runt he report. Whereas gadgets on a dashboard are dynamic as you can set the refresh interval.
Maybe they should just get rid of reports and just have everything as gadgets? So instead of a reporting page for a project, you'd have a project dashboard that would have the standard reports presented as gadgets (that could dynamically refresh).
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