Modern software development has become an increasingly complex process, with businesses relying on distributed architectures and teams to build and maintain their critical applications. Where once a single monolithic application may have sufficed, today’s apps are assembled from dozens or even hundreds of microservices, containers, serverless functions, and other components.
While this distributed approach allows for greater scalability, resilience, and velocity, it also introduces major challenges for developers and IT operators. With so many moving parts developed by disparate teams, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain visibility and alignment. Crucial information gets lost in the cracks between siloed systems, hindering productivity, security, and reliability.
Developers waste countless hours hunting down documentation, permissions, and dependencies. When incidents inevitably occur, lack of insight into the overall architecture leads to lengthy diagnoses and repairs. Pressure mounts on already overtaxed engineers, contributing to burnout and turnover. Innovation and responsiveness suffer as technical debt piles up.
Clearly, there is an urgent need for solutions that can help teams master the complexity of modern distributed architectures. Recognizing this need, Atlassian announced the launch of Compass back in 2022, a new product emerging from their Point A incubator program. Compass aims to serve as “mission control for building software better,” providing development teams with greater transparency and control across their interconnected landscape of components, services, tools, and processes.
Compass’s Three Pillars: Catalog, Scorecards, and Extensibility
Compass is founded on three key pillars designed to meet the challenges of cloud-native development head-on:
- Components Catalog
At the heart of Compass is a catalog that provides a comprehensive map of all architectural components, their dependencies, and the teams responsible for each one. Developers can quickly look up any component to find associated documentation, permissions, APIs, repositories, tickets, and other details required to work with it effectively. The catalog helps eliminate blind spots by making it easy to identify all inputs and downstream dependencies for a given component. When issues arise, teams can trace relationships and coordinate fixes across boundaries. Tribal knowledge stays visible rather than getting trapped in engineers’ heads or scattered across wikis.
- Health Scorecards
On top of the basic catalog, Compass introduces team-customizable scorecards that evaluate the health of each component based on user-defined criteria. Scorecards may monitor performance, stability, security, compliance, and other key metrics, enabling problems to be detected early and corrected before they cause outages. Unlike sporadic manual audits, Compass scorecards provide near real-time insights, allowing teams to measure trends over time. They help reinforce best practices by calling attention to components that fail to meet standards. Overall system resilience improves as trouble spots get remediated before they trigger incidents.
- Extensible Apps
Compass allows boundless extensibility through its apps framework. Teams can build or install apps to connect Compass to their existing tools across the DevOps lifecycle, including CI/CD pipelines, ticket trackers, APM, log analysis, and more. Events from integrated tools automatically update relevant components to reflect the latest changes.
This open ecosystem approach allows Compass to adapt naturally to any tech stack or workflow. Custom apps tailored to teams’ needs and preferences provide an optimal user experience. Compass becomes the central nervous system unifying and enhancing existing systems rather than another silo.
With these three pillars—catalog, scorecards, and extensibility—Compass gives teams unified visibility, health monitoring, and cross-tool integration to overcome the fragmentation and opacity that threaten modern distributed architectures.
Key Benefits of Atlassian Compass
While Compass provides broad value across software development and operations, some of its most impactful benefits include:
- Accelerating on-boarding for new team members by instantly providing all needed context on services, tools, and processes.
- Eliminating wasteful searching by making it fast and easy to find any component and understand its dependencies.
- Enforcing consistency and best practices using scorecards adjusted to team standards.
- Improving security and compliance with proactive monitoring and alerts on policy violations.
- Shortening root cause analysis and remediation through insights into component relationships and health.
- Reducing configuration drift by automatically updating component metadata on changes.
- Smoothing coordination across team boundaries with shared visibility.
- Increasing productivity by integrating frequently used tools into a unified interface.
- Preventing knowledge loss when team members leave by persisting information in the catalog.
- Optimizing toolchains by choosing integrated apps tailored to team needs.
By providing these advantages, Compass allows teams to take full control over the complexity of their architectures. Developers gain back time to spend writing code and innovating rather than wrestling with integration and informationscatter. With Compass as their guide, teams can build software faster, better, and more reliably.
Compass Philosophy: Open and Collaborative
True to Atlassian’s values, Compass is designed as an open and collaborative solution. It embraces transparency and integration with the diverse array of components, tools, and workflows that represent the modern multicloud reality.
Rather than dictating a rigid framework, Compass meets teams where they are and helps them organize organically around their existing ecosystems. It serves as a facilitator and multiplier for other tools’ value.
Compass also believes in continuous improvement through observability and user feedback. The shift from manual to automated scorecards epitomizes this philosophy, constantly assessing component health in real-time through an open dialogue between systems and their operators.
With extensive configurability and compatibility, Compass molds to teams—not the other way around. It aims to remove friction and make life easier for developers, operators, and all others involved in the software lifecycle.
The Rapid Adoption of Compass
Since its launch, Compass has seen tremendous adoption among software teams looking to optimize their complex architectures. Attracted by the promise of greater visibility and control, over 50,000 organizations are already using Compass in production.
User feedback has validated Compass’s value in clarifying convoluted component relationships and dependencies. “It’s become an indispensable part of our dev process,” said one adopter. “Compass gives us a crystal clear window into our architecture – our team is hooked!”
This enthusiasm is reflected in extremely high engagement metrics, with users spending hours exploring interactive visualizations of their systems. Feature utilization is also universal, with nearly all customers leveraging core pillars like the catalog, scorecards, and integrations.
Atlassian’s launch integration partners have proven popular as well, as customers connect Compass with existing tools like Datadog, Splunk, and PagerDuty. The Compass app ecosystem is flourishing with custom solutions tailored to unique use cases.
With Compass now firmly established as a mission-critical platform, Atlassian continues working closely with its vocal user community to drive ongoing evolution via feature requests and feedback. Their commitment to transparency and openness aims to make Compass the essential hub for modern software development.
An Indispensable Tool for Software Teams
In the years since its launch, Compass has already become an indispensable tool for many software teams. The feedback from these early adopters has shown Compass’s immense value in untangling intricate, distributed architectures.
Development teams rely on Compass for its comprehensive catalog of components and dependencies. With this contextual map, they can navigate complex codebases and quickly locate needed information. Architectural blind spots are eliminated, avoiding surprises down the line.
Automated scorecards help reinforce operational best practices by continuously monitoring components for risks. Issues get surfaced early, leading to more resilient and secure systems over time.
Tight integration with existing tools through Compass apps provides a unified workspace tailored to each team’s tech stack. Centralized access to all systems enables faster troubleshooting and onboarding.
While technology alone cannot solve every challenge, purpose-built solutions like Compass empower teams with the integrated insights required to continuously improve. It has quickly become relied upon as a catalyzing force for better, more innovative software development.