Release notes: what's your standard like?

Subject: Release notes: what's your standard like?
From: Jenn Wilson <jenn -at- mylar -dot- outflux -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2005 13:13:46 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, everyone --

I'm curious how your respective organizations view and publish release notes.

Most of the software companies where I've worked have used them in a pretty typical format: a list of bug fixes, known issues, workarounds, and (depending on the standard at hand) installation instructions. Once in a while, the document would include a quick overview of major changes, but for the most part, granular instruction was left to the standard documentation set. A set of release notes was included with any release.

In my current company, before my time, the Powers That Be decided to reinterpret the form. In brief, our release notes are quick-shot descriptions of changes made to the software, whether they're minor tweaks or massive new features. Each release note is directly associated with the trouble ticket or change request that tracked the development. People access them within our support website, using a date-driven search.

The primary goal for these is business development. Clients who are considering a software upgrade can review the release notes to get a feel for what's new, and whether it would benefit them enough to justify the cost. As you might guess, then, our release notes only point out positive, progressive change. Bug fixes aren't included in this standard. (We have a rather strange business model to begin with, and the model drives this decision, in part, but that's a different discussion.)

I have many frustrations with this setup, and would love to overhaul it... however, I won't waste list bandwidth to vent my complaints. ;)

As I've stated above, I am curious whether others here have encountered non-traditional uses for release notes, and how it all works out. Anyone?



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