A release note is a document that explains what new features users will find in an updated version of your application and how they can update to that latest version. These notes go hand in hand with version numbers and updates.
They are usually released alongside a new application version but can also be terminated at any time, especially for bug fixes and feature improvements. Creating such a document is complex and requires time and effort. Release notes are usually concise, with just the most essential information about what is new or fixed in the release.
- Who creates release notes?
- 5 Objectives and Importance of Release Notes
- How to Create A Release Note
- What does a good release note look like?
- Channels to Distribute Release Documents
Release note is not just created for users but for developers, QA team members, and other stakeholders involved with releasing software. You must produce a well-written release log for each update you publish to create a great user experience.
This document helps users understand the benefits of updating your app. Most organizations publish a scrum release note after an update or service pack has been released on an official website or blog. It lets users know when updates will be available and gives them time to prepare themselves before updating the application. Software users should be on the lookout since updates may happen anytime.
Who creates release notes?
Release notes are written by release management personnel responsible for releasing software, such as software engineers and developers. Depending on the number of people involved with releasing software, more than one person may create and distribute the notes.
5 Objectives and Importance of Release Notes
Release notes communicate to users the purpose of an update and what is changed. This information helps users to decide whether they should update the application and what the benefits will be if they do so. Here are five objectives that developers need to have in mind when writing the notes:
Update Frequency and Planning
Aside from the apparent objective of users being notified of changes, there is another purpose for releasing software updates more than once a month. It saves time and money on developing new updates.
That is especially true if a developer releases only one update every month. A software vendor might want to give their users a heads-up about what changes are coming soon so they may decide whether or not to update their applications now or later.
Therefore, developers must consider how often they should release new versions of their applications to optimize development times. The release document should capture updates on the planning and frequency of updates.
One key objective in releasing software updates is enhancing an application’s features. Developers must track which enhancements have been made to which applications before announcing any changes in future updates via the notes. Developers should explain this decision in notes to avoid discouraging potential users from updating. That means it is also an objective of the document.
End-users must also know when an update will be released and how frequently they will receive it. This information should be given in a release that explains the frequency of new releases, how often developers have updated their applications, and when updates will be released.
It is also essential for developers to publish information about which parts of their applications are supported with the new versions. As time goes by, users should know whether or not an application can still provide valuable features. Users should know what to expect when software updates of a particular feature no longer work with a specific release.
Finally, developers should publish information about which applications have been made vulnerable. Suppose an application has recently been compromised through security vulnerabilities in third-party libraries or other users’ software. In that case, developers must let end-users know so they can switch to using secure versions of the same applications until they can adequately secure them. It is one of the objectives of these notes.
What Does the Release Note Contain?
• Header – the header may contain the product name, release date, document name, and version
• Issue summary
• Steps to reproduce
• End-user impact
• Support impacts
How to Create A Release Note
In order to create an effective release note follow these steps.
Add a title
Add the title to describe what is in the release document
Include product/company details
Add the company name and product.
Mention details about the release version
This can be a version number, a date, or the name of an operating system and where it was released
New feature details
You can cover all the new features in this step
Explain all the issues fixed
List all the problems fixed in the software
Mention improvements made
Here, you are supposed to mention all the improvements made to the software
This includes a list of all the additional resources to help troubleshoot
These are references to related documents or software where additional information is available
Include contact information at the end of the document
What does a good release note look like?
In general, there is no set way to write the release note. The release note template can be used as a basis, but some developers may want it to have a personal touch which is okay.
At the top will be mentioned the name of the product or software and the date. After this, there will be information about the release, such as new features, bug fixes, and changes to documentation.
The body of the document will cover all areas regarding release in detail. There should be a legal disclaimer at this stage. Once all these are covered, it is time for the wrap-up. The note should mention any known issues that may arise from users using the software or readers using the document. This section is generally called Assessments.
It must also include future releases, development plans, and acknowledgments for those who have contributed to those projects. Before ending the document, there should be any technical requirements, such as minimum system requirements that must be followed before installing the software or service on users’ computers. That way, they will know what they are getting into before installing it.
Channels to Distribute Release Documents
There are several ways you can send the release documents to the users. The distribution channel may include:
This distribution channel is especially ideal for those who don’t have time to review lengthy documentation for every vital feature of your software or service
Involves assembling documents or resources into one paper, which can be sent to the users as an email. You can merge information from one document with another and add new documents by cutting, pasting, or renaming them
Company social media
You can also send the notes via the social media pages for the company, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn
You could add a tiny banner on your website to indicate essential releases. They could be at the top of the most viewed pages on the company website.
Customer success managers
You can also send the notes to your customer success managers, who will reach out to customers and users.
You could send the release documents to your merchants who sell your products or services.
Client service reps
Whenever you make a change that might require any knowledge or explanation, you could consider sending it out to your client service representatives. Also, they would have a better idea of how a user would use the application and its importance.
Customer support center
Many people, email their queries directly to customer support centers, so you could also consider sending them the notes via this distribution channel.
Why do you need a release note?
It helps users to understand what changes are made and when, so they know the context in which they need to use the application.
Who is responsible for releasing notes in scrum?
The development team should be responsible for the notes. The scrum master should make sure that it is visible to everyone. In most cases, the development team members are asked to write the note by the scrum master.
What is a release note template?
It is a document to follow when writing a note. It usually consists of sections like introduction, why and how, what happened since the last release, the changes and their impact, etc. Though there are no set rules for a release note template, most will have a particular format.
Why do you need release notes?
The notes are always valuable to keep track of the changes, so engineers can go back and see the history of the application. The notes also help users understand what is new in the app.