is it possible to configure the navigator columns on a per project/ project category/ user basis? As far as I know only jira admins can configure jira wide columns.
Because the navigator is not tied to a project, category or user directly. There's nothing to configure - a filter can report across several projects and be used by several users.
You CAN save navigator columns with saved filters, so that if you come up with a useful filter and share it, and save columns, then anyone using it will get those columns (they can swap back to their own view of course, or define their own on a copy of the filter), but navigator-columns-by-project is simply not logical or useful.
That's a nice idea if I've understood it - for a user to say "I have 5 views, I want to see this filter via view 4 today"
I don't see it being heavily used though - I think "see this shared filter in the way I designed it" is more useful generally, and not many people would bother to define their views. I know I wouldn't, I just add/remove columns from my default when I feel like it and have a handful of saved filters with views appropriate for why I defined the filter.
I could see it becoming a lot more useful if Atlassian ever fix the "hide field from list unless it's valid for every possible issue I might return" design flaw.
For your information, currently, JIRA do not have the feature to configure the issue navigator column per project level. You can refer from this ticket https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/JRA-17343?page=com.atlassian.jira.plugin.system.issuetabpanels:changehistory-tabpanel
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