An Easy, Homegrown, GitHub Issue Management System for Your Developer Outreach Efforts

Do you need to know what issues devs are having with your API or platform in near to real or real time?

Does your team have a platform, API, BaaS or other solution that calls for community developer involvement and developer outreach/evangelism through GitHub? 

Do you need to be responsive to developers that file issues about your product in your Github repo?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above then this GitHub Issue response system tutorial is for you!

This tutorial will take you through the steps to set-up a multi-layered way to manage incoming Issues via GitHub.  Multi-layed GitHub-driven Issue alerting accelerates the break/fix process and eliminates bottlenecks by getting information into multiple points in the Agile cycle. The system outlined here makes your Agile team as responsive as possible to every incoming GitHub Issue for a given repository.

This system puts developer feedback instantly to work for your team by getting critical feedback into your Agile workflow in all the right places: during planning via a Pivotal Tracker new Story and text message, during testing via a new Zendesk Ticket and post-release via a Ducksboard heads up display.

This type of multi-layed response let's developers know that you are listening actively and it gets valuable developer feedback into the hands of multiple members of your team quickly so that it can be acted upon quickly and iteratively, the way Agile was designed to.

This tutorial uses the following: a GitHub repository, Zapier, Ducksboard, Zendesk and Pivotal Tracker.

You can choose to use the whole system or just the parts you love, it's up to you. GitHub and Zapier are the only items that are definitely required for this tut and for the most part they are both free.

Follow the steps and at the end of the tutorial you will have a system that takes an incoming Issue from a GitHub repo and then:

  • files a new Support ticket to your Zendesk account
  • sends a text message to a set of phone numbers like your PM or developer evangelist
  • files a new Bug in your Pivotal Tracker to be triaged (if you use Agile)
  • makes a post to a Ducksboard heads up display wallboard

Step 1

Turn on Issue Tracking for the GitHub repo that your open-source code or SDK reference material resides in. Turn on Issue Tracking by going to your repo and then go to Settings -> Features -> check the box to allow Issues.

After enabling the Issues feature the Issues option will appear for all users as a top level tab next to Pull Requests and Wiki.

Step 2

Let's get the part working that opens your Zendesk ticket, files a Pivotal Tracker Bug and sends a text message (aka SMS) to some mobile numbers.

Set-up an account (it's free) at Zapier.

Have your GitHub, Pivotal Tracker and Zendesk account pages open and handy so that you can grab authentication details.

Set-up an account with the SMS folks at, make a new campaign while you are there, name it anything you'll remember, pick a keyword it can be anything, check off the "MO" box under the Keyword field. Keep the user/pass handy.

Now for the fun part!

Create a new 'Zap' on Zapier by finding GitHub in the services marketplace and dragging the GitHub icon into the box on the left. Click the New Issue trigger from the GitHub trigger choices.

Find the Zendesk icon and drag that into the box on the right, select Create Ticket as the action.


Click Create This Zap. The page will set-up forms to collect your auth details for the GitHub side and then the Zendesk side.

In Section 2 drag in the fields from the left that you'd like to populate the new Ticket with.

Scroll all the way to the bottom (don't worry about Filters or Tests right now) and click Enable.

You'll land on your dashboard page and see the new Zap live under the Live Zaps table.

Click Create New Zap and run through the same process again but this time use GitHub New Issue on the left and drag Pivotal Tracker over onto the right. Choose New Story for the Pivotal Tracker action.

Enter the auth info for your Pivotal Tracker account. Scroll down drag in the fields from the left that you'd like to populate the new story with and Enable the Zap.

Now the last Zap!

Click Create a New Zap. Drag GitHub to the left as with the previous two, drag Mobyt SMS onto the right. Choose New SMS as the action.

Drag the Mobyt SMS icon into the right side of the Zap and select New SMS as the Action.

Add your authentication info for Mobyt.

Decide what fields you need the people getting the text message really need to see. I normally use the Title and Body.

From the dropdown on the Mobyt side, select the keyword that you set up earlier, it should be the only one there at this point.

In the Recipient field enter the mobile phone number that should get a text message when a new Issue is filed.

Just enter one to get this going, you can add more later once you know it's working the way you want it to.

Select the Campaign and Keyword that you set up when you opened the Mobyt account. It will be the only option in the list.

Head over to GitHub and file a new Issue in your repo.

Open up your Dashboard on Zapier. All of your services should be Live, not Paused.

Click the gear to open up the menu for each service.

Click Run for each service.

Click the Run icon to run your new Zap and test it.

After running each service you should see a new Ticket filed over in Zendesk, a new Story filed in Pivotal Tracker and a new text message arrive on your mobile phone.

This next step will allow you and your team to see all of your GitHub Issues in real-time on your heads up display. 

Ducksboard is a versatile real-time dashboard visualization web page that can be displayed on a monitor, a TV or you can link to your Ducksboard page from your Intranet, site or Wiki.

Here is an example of a sample Ducksboard that is displaying recent issues from GitHub, a list of a repo's followers and some info from Pivotal tracker.

This example is a Ducksboard that shows GitHub Issues, Followers and Pivotal Tracker actions for a given repository.

To use GitHub with a Ducksboard just head to Ducksboard and create an account, there are plenty of free and trial options.

Click the + sign on your first board and scroll around to find the GitHub widget.

Pick the GitHub Issues group then select GitHub Issues, One Column/Two Rows.

After authenticating click Choose Content from the tabs on the left.

Add your GitHub username and the name of the repo where you turned on Issue Tracking.

Save the preferences for that widget and presto, your Ducksboard will begin loading the issues from the repo.

You can add other widgets to the Ducksboard and then share the link with folks on the team who need it or add it to a wall board on a TV etc.


We just created a new Ticket in Zendesk, a new Story in Pivotal Tracker, a text message and a heads up display all from a single new Issue filed on GitHub!