How to Prepare Release Notes
Release notes are technical documents that accompany software products in beta stages or software products that have been enhanced or repaired. These notes explain to the customer or client the details of the particular version of the product they are using. They attempt to assist the customer with installing the update as well as provide confidence in the user regarding the product. Preparing release notes can be a tricky endeavor for this reason. Release notes are required documents, so they should be efficient to create and informative to the reader. Use these steps for writing release notes.
Detail system requirements.
- Start with the very basic information the customer or client must know in order to use the product. Even if the release note is reporting an update, the product might require additional hardware or other software to be installed prior to the new product's use.
- Give a full account of operating system requirements and memory usage.
Explain how to install the product.
- Provide minute detail on the actual installation of the product. Release notes should be able to standalone as a technical document and helpful tool for users. If the installation steps are extensive, the release notes should refer to a specific document customers can refer to for the installation procedure.
Include extra notes about updating versus installing.
- Create a section that explains how to update the product without performing a full installation. Many software program enhancements simply need a downloaded update to fix bugs instead of a new install.
Report what is new with the product.
- Supply an overview of new features and enhancements the product possesses. Include a concrete, explicit reason for the release. This might mean admitting prior defects, but it must be disclosed to keep customers' trust. This section of the release notes provides the most important information in the document. It is what users look to when deciding if the update is crucial to them. If the release is a small fix on an application an individual customer never utilized, he or she might not need to update.
Note the changes in the release.
- Go into detail about the bugs and problems that have been fixed. Explain what exactly was wrong and the steps that were taken to restore the product. Corrections should be summarized at the least and explained in full detail at the most. Full detail includes the issue number, the symptoms, its cause and the correction employed.
Reveal outstanding issues with the product.
- Disclose even minor problems that have been found with the new release. These problems should not be grave enough to warrant a totally new release; but they should be explained to the user in the notes regardless.
Incorporate as many troubleshooting tips as necessary.
- Include 2 columns: One should have basic troubleshooting tips and the other should have more advanced tips. You will not be able to include every possible stumbling block and its solution, but you should include the most obvious obstacles.
Add contact information at the bottom of the release note.
- Point the readers in the right direction in terms of customer service queries, technical queries, etc. Include the company's website in this portion of the release notes.
Video: How Visual Studio Team Services builds Release Notes (Aaron Bjork)
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