Creating and Managing High Quality Software Release Notes in Complex Environments


Casey Jordan
Co-Founder JOrsek LLC, Developers of the easyDITA CCMS


March 8, 2017 - 2:00 PM


March 8, 2017 - 3:00 PM

Creating and Managing High Quality Software Release Notes in Complex Environments

As a company managing and releasing regular updates to our product, across multiple versions and feature tiers, we understand how challenging it can be to keep users and customers up to date with changes in real-time. Yet, we also know that this is a critical activity for many companies that can affect revenue, customer satisfaction, and retention. Known as ‘release notes’, these updates are particularly suited to authoring and management in a structured component content management system (CCMS).

Every year software users are becoming savvier and are requesting that companies provide more detailed information about updates. Users want to know what is new, what has been improved, and what bugs have been fixed. Creating high quality release notes is an opportunity to wow your customers and give them confidence the product is advancing and their feedback is making an impact. Release notes are also a marketing opportunity. By including more than just a list of changes, release notes can become promotional material for prospective customers. However, most companies fail to create these materials because it often falls behind documentation timelines and other deliverables. And for most software companies that create and support multiple versions of a product, tiers, or product lines, the task of managing all the different versions of release notes, ensuring they are consistent with the documentation and relevant to the user can be very daunting. Writers often resort to copying and pasting information between documents which becomes increasingly hard to keep consistent and manage over time.

In this presentation we will talk about strategies for creating and organizing release notes so they are friendly to the end-user. We will discuss how we can use structured content formats like DITA to improve this process, and re-use content between multiple versions of release notes and the documentation. And lastly, we will show how parts of this process can be automated within a component content management system (CCMS) to generate new release notes, when needed, to remove costly and error-prone copy and paste processes.

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