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In Jira, (probably) in next-gen board, when specifying relationship between two issues, I have the following choices:

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-- i.e. specifically "[A] depends on [B]" and "[A] is blocked by [B]".

What is the difference? Does "is blocked by" imply some stronger kind of dependency? Or are meanings of these items just project-dependent (i.e. no universal guideline)?

4 Answers 4

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Jira links are broadly used, as far as I can see, for an information-only purpose.

All in all, it boils down to how your team uses it.


With that in mind, it'll strongly depend on what is considered a "dependency" and a "blocker" in your context.

Given the following scenario:

foo depends on bar

foo is blocked by baz

One way of reading it is as:

  • Foo cannot be started until bar is completed
  • Foo was started but baz happened (an external factor, probably) and it's blocking it's progress

Which could be derived into:

  • Depends are used for known or planned activities
  • Blocks are used for unexpected activities
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    Simplified examples: "Icing a cake" is dependant on "baking a cake" - you can't ice a cake you don't have. "Baking a cake" can be blocked by "roasting a chicken", because your oven is currently unavailable / in use. Commented May 23, 2019 at 8:39
  • @Chronocidal I'd agree with using block for the mentioned scenario, but it is a bit different from what's written in this answer - it certainly doesn't have to be "unexpected".
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 12:24
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    I would say "cannot be started or finished". Making a cake is dependent on having every required ingredient, but you can certainly start without having an ingredient which you only need at the end (although whether you should start is another question entirely).
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 12:27
  • I would say my 2 cents, I would not see it quite like that . In my impression blocked by means a task can't be started due to that blocked by task totally since it's blocked. However depends on means a functional dependency where the order of execution of processes is basically started, or originates in a dependency. Eg dependency being a webservice endpoint, whereas the task dependent being a webservice caller, request, connector.
    – FantomX1
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 8:34
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I have always looked at them in the following manner: Depends On indicates a relation and order of a task to another, and Blocked By is a task progress status.

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    I agree with this. "Blocked by" is a current status, dependencies are forever
    – JollyJoker
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 10:32
  • Not wrongly said, but what you mentioned I tend to think it is a consequence, not the causal factor. The ramifications of this are that a blocked by defines that a blocked by is a complete stopper for implementing the functionality, whereas depends denotes the sequence flow of the business process.
    – FantomX1
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 8:37
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Though being a blocker or a dependency are colloquially similar, Jira Roadmap timeline view can treat them differently. By default:

"blocks"/"is blocked by" is the link type required for the Roadmap view to show issues as linked in the Gantt-style timeline view. If you manually/visually link issues within the Roadmap timeline view by clicking the link handle from one issue to another, it creates a link of this "blocks" type.

"depends on"/"is a dependency of" links are not reflected in the Roadmap timeline chart, nor are they the link type created when manually as described above for "blocks" link types.

This distinction is configurable for Advanced Roadmaps by a Jira administrator. It may be configurable for links in regular roadmaps, though the documentation is a little less clear about that.

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    Although the "blocks" relationship is the default, that's configurable, right? It means one could also use "depends" relationship.
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 12:32
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    @TiagoCardoso, thanks for sharing the Jira configuration details. Based on your link, it does look like "one" could configure it to use "depends". However, it looks like the "one" who could change that configuration must be a Jira administrator (not just an admin of the specific Jira Board). Looks like it would affect your entire organization.
    – Scott H
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 19:33
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    @TiagoCardoso, actually, the link you shared is for Advanced Roadmaps, and it does say that it is configurable (again, by a Jira admin). However, the page specific to regular project roadmaps does not mention configurability, saying "the timeline can only show issues with the Blocks issue link type"
    – Scott H
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 19:39
  • Good catch, folks. Thanks!
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 9:03
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Dependencies and blockers are the same thing. The difference in tag typically means whether the event was planned for or not, whether it presents an unusual problem to be solved, whether it is escalated for different sets of eyes and/or hands, and possibly which bucket of dollars is being used to work it.

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