Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Sign up Log in

Earn badges and make progress

You're on your way to the next level! Join the Kudos program to earn points and save your progress.

Deleted user Avatar
Deleted user

Level 1: Seed

25 / 150 points

Next: Root


1 badge earned


Participate in fun challenges

Challenges come and go, but your rewards stay with you. Do more to earn more!


Gift kudos to your peers

What goes around comes around! Share the love by gifting kudos to your peers.


Rise up in the ranks

Keep earning points to reach the top of the leaderboard. It resets every quarter so you always have a chance!


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

6 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.

Like Tarun Kumar likes this
6 votes
David Sumlin
Rising Star
Rising Star
Rising Stars are recognized for providing high-quality answers to other users. Rising Stars receive a certificate of achievement and are on the path to becoming Community Leaders.
Oct 15, 2021 • edited Aug 22, 2022

I know this is an old post, but I've found two reasons to get the outward and inward designation correct.

1 - It makes importing related issues more difficult

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.

2 - Addon JQL functions that use the link type 

Some JQL functions have a link type parameter. The addon documentation will usually give you an example of how to use the function. 

The problem is that if you reverse your outward and inward designations, then the JQL syntax needs to be reversed to what the user expects it to be. This can make the function syntax look "wrong" and can be difficult to explain to users during support.


If you setup your Jira and start adding and using links and get the outward vs inward designation backwards, the users "may" never notice, but your CSV imports and JQL syntax will become more difficult.  (lessons learned and still dealing with) 

3 votes
Nic Brough -Adaptavist-
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
Jul 06, 2018

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
Dugald Morrow
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
Apr 19, 2022

Hi @Nic Brough (Adaptavist) , @Alexey Matveev , @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,



A bit of a dark way to remember...shooter vs target...

  1. A blocks B: the Outward Issue is B...might be easier to imagine the Outward Issue as being the target. Can imagine A shoots B. So Outward Issue == target ..."A" is for "Attacker".
  2. B is blocked by A: the Inward Issue is is the incoming, attacking force; it is the "active shooter". Can imagine B is being shot by A's incoming bullets. So Inward Issue == shooter ...the shooter A is charging in to attack B

One way to examine these relationships is through the REST API: $SERVER/rest/api/2/search?jql=key = $SOME_KEY_YOU_WANT_TO_EXAMINE where $SERVER is the base URL of your Jira instance, and $SOME_KEY_YOU_WANT_TO_EXAMINE is a key that has Inward and/or Outward relationships.

And in maybe 6 months, I will be searching for this very post to refresh my memory, again.

0 votes
Alexey Matveev
Rising Star
Rising Star
Rising Stars are recognized for providing high-quality answers to other users. Rising Stars receive a certificate of achievement and are on the path to becoming Community Leaders.
Jul 06, 2018


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 # people like this
Alexey Matveev
Rising Star
Rising Star
Rising Stars are recognized for providing high-quality answers to other users. Rising Stars receive a certificate of achievement and are on the path to becoming Community Leaders.
Jul 06, 2018

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