Come for the products,
stay for the community

The Atlassian Community can help you and your team get more value out of Atlassian products and practices.

Atlassian Community about banner
Community Members
Community Events
Community Groups

Issue links - what is the meaning of "inward" and "outward"

When creating an issue link type, I understand that the inward and outward descriptions clarify the relationship between the issue; i.e. A blocks B, and B is blocked by A.

What I don't understand is if it matters which description is "inward" and which is "outward"?

Is there some implied meaning behind those terms? Is JIRA core using the "inward description" for some purpose, and/or the "outward description" for some other purpose

5 answers

The Inward/Outward refers to the directionality of the relationship as it is stored in the database. The table that stores issue links (issuelink) has a source issue id and a destination issue id. The outward relationship refers to the relation from source to destination, and the inward relationship refers to the relation from destination to source.

The outward relationship tends to be the relationship that is the causal direction, meaning the source issue is taking action on the destination issue.

i.e. the source issue can block, clone, duplicate, relate, resolve etc.

The inward relationship tends to describe the issue that was acted upon. 

i.e. the destination issue was blocked by, cloned by, duplicated by, related to, and resolved by etc.

Great explanation. Very helpful.

I know this is an old post, but I've found one aspect of the outward vs inward designation that is important to understand.

When importing issues via CSV, the CSV importer always uses the outward designation. It assumes that you're importing issues that are related to pre-existing issues, therefore, your new issues are probably the issues that block, impact, resolve, are children of, etc to existing issues.

If you setup your Jira and start adding and using links and get the outward vs inward designation backwards, the users will never notice, but your CSV imports will become more difficult.  (lesson learned) 

3 votes

I suspect that the inward and outward thing is probably partly inherited from the code and how the language is used in there.  Sadly, it's still quite fuzzy on what the exact difference is.

Links are directional, and the inward/outward thing is supposed to tell us which direction you are looking at.  For example, if you have a link of "Block", you are using it to say "Issue A is blocked by B".  That description is only half the story, because you can also say "Issue B is blocking A".   So it distinguishes between the two points of view.

But it doesn't really tell us which is which, as you could swap the descriptions of those without changing the inward/outward.

So, the answer is only partial.  The inward/outward is about the directionality of the link, but I am not sure which way round it is.

1 vote

Hi @Nic Brough (Adaptavist) , @Alexey Matveev _Appfire_ , @Jonathan MacDonald and @David Sumlin , I also became confused by issue link data returned from Jira's API so I investigated and created a blog on the topic:

I hope this helps,



0 votes


When you make a link between issues, one of the issues has the outward connection and the other one has the inward connection. You have these two connections because if you have a link called Blocks, then one issue is blocking the other issue and the other issue is blocked by first issue. That is why you need two different descriptions.

Hello Alexey,

As I stated, I understand the need for two descriptions. I don't understand the use of the terms "inward" and "outward". What is the relevance of the terminology? Is JIRA executing some functionality based on "inward" and "outward"?

Like Yan likes this

As @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ said, it might be a way of coding links. I think it is the same like why we call transitions from statuses outgoing and incoming. Somebody just named it like this.

Suggest an answer

Log in or Sign up to answer

Community Events

Connect with like-minded Atlassian users at free events near you!

Find an event

Connect with like-minded Atlassian users at free events near you!

Unfortunately there are no Community Events near you at the moment.

Host an event

You're one step closer to meeting fellow Atlassian users at your local event. Learn more about Community Events

Events near you