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I am in the midst of writing a software release note, and I can empathize with
> * Who writes them, the documention writers or the
I believe that it's the software manager's responsibility to list the 150 bug
fixes or changes to software in her report (and she does).
I'll try to explain our path-to-release-note sequence:
1. Changes to software originate from, for example, (1) QA and/or (2) Customer
2. Something changes on the software.
3. When the change takes place, and prior to release, our software manager
alerts Marketing, Tech. Pubs (me), Technical Support and Test Engineering depts
as an in-house release
4. I also generate a list of changes noted by developers in a database set up
for Documentation impact that helps me in adding content to the topics.
5. My list of changes becomes a "general release" document for customers.
Note: We are recently adding these release notes to a help system being attached
to the software.
The biggest obstacle is the number of people involved who approve the release.
The positive side is that everyone seems to understand the changes so that there
are no surprises.
> * How does your company decide what type of information needs a note or...
The information that impacts the interface. For instance bug fixes (used
regularly here) are not usually included if the software was intended for the
> can you get
> your company to lighten up on the RN load?
I think that this depends on your audience and thus the level of presentation
involved. I made an outline to be sent to several dept heads; it was created in
Word as a simple list and roughly 50 items listed.
The document released to the customer will include more time and effort.
The list may also grow before release. But I specifically noted only
information with interface impact.
> We tend to
> get very specific, yet we are not
> allowed to use certain words like "fixed" or "bug", believe it or not, due
> to Marketing constrictions!
Since Marketing is involved, I assume customers are your audience.
In that case, specific information is necessary.
Hope that helps! :)
* Chris Fitzgerald
* Technical Writer -Software Documentation
* Digital Instruments Veeco Metrology Group
* (805)967-1400 ext. 2323
* fitzgerald -at- di -dot- com
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