Support Release Notes

Given the astounding amount of work I've seen that goes into making Aha's own stellar release notes comprehensive, detailed, and rich with media, I thought first-class support for release notes might be a nice addition to our workflow–as well as others.

 

Details

Currently a basic implementation of this could be done with a custom note field on either Features or Releases, or both. To get truly peerless experience, though, I think we could do a couple of neat things if we made them first-class. Here's how I envision this feature:

Essential
  • Add a release note note field to Features
  • Add a release notes view for seeing these in aggregate per Release
Negotiable
  • Each feature's release note could be displayed in the order the Feature is positioned within the Release
  • Each feature's release note could be editable from this aggregate view as well
Optional
  • Allow adding this release notes view to Notebooks

Being able to view each release's feature's release notes in aggregate, in a single place where they can be edited or added to notebooks, exported, etc, cannot be done in custom fields alone.

 

Benefits

The real gain here is enabling out-of-band collaboration on these notes within Aha! by presenting them in the right places at the right times with the right amount of context to the right people.

It allows the person who owns a feature, when transitioning it through their workflow to indicate its completion or readiness for review, to take the opportunity to jot down any important information while it's still on their mind, and add screenshots and other media right at the moment when they've been vetting its quality and getting ready to share its completion with others. They don't have to navigate through a larger note elsewhere in the system to find the place to add such details, it's right there in the context the feature owner cares about, independent from other features or release details. Furthermore if the feature gets moved around its notes follow rather than an external note having to be updated. Finally, any revelations that come up in discussion in the comments section on a feature can be immediately injected into the release notes at the moment they're noticed.

Meanwhile, the PM who owns releases can, when transitioning it through their workflow to indicate its completion or readiness for publication, see all important info about its features at once without having to mine the discussion for each feature for information in the myriad of places such discussion might occur. They can polish them right there, or delete them entirely if the feature isn't worth mentioning in the release notes, without having to navigate elsewhere in the UI. Seeing this live aggregate data in Aha! would also help prevent small features slipping through the cracks in a large release.

Allowing these to be added to a 'Release Notes' notebook affords an effortless way to keep release notes data fresh and easy to publish for consumption by stake holders and end users all within Aha! without introducing any new publishing concepts into the application. Even if the PM didn't use notebooks to publish these notes publicly, if they're made exportable to HTML/Markdown/Plain Text it'd give them a great head start. However, even without publication options I think this feature would enhance the release preparation experience.

 

Thoughts

I think the trickiest point in the implementation would be ensuring that the published view hides features with empty release notes entirely, but still displays them in edit mode to prompt PMs to add them if they deem it appropriate. Both omitting notes for some features, and being prompted to enter in notes for features that have none, seem non-negotiable to me.

Possibly the aggregate view could allow for custom ordering of notes for publication, but using their release order seems a sane default.

In the event that this clutters the UI of feature or release drawers in any way, or necessitates adding a navigation element to the main Aha! menu or submenus, this feature should probably be toggleable in Project settings (much like Ideas) so that the extra surface area can be opt-in. I imagine that many projects would never need this feature, even if the ones that do would benefit greatly from it.

If the individual release note for a feature that originated in the idea portal somehow made its way back to the idea creators and watchers, I think it would give them even more closure and pride, encouraging further interactions and contributions. Being able to not just point at an idea that got released because of me, but see the actual official company announcement for something I had suggested, would be a very rewarding moment. Perhaps these idea portal users could even be automatically mentioned or thanked in the published release notes themselves (of course configurable, perhaps per note). Little hat tips like that go a long way to building an impassioned community of customers around your product.

 

In summary, I think adding first-class Release Notes in Aha! could greatly lower the friction for PMs to create comprehensive, detailed, beautiful documentation about their releases by making it easier for other people to contribute to the notes well before release time rolls around, and by seamlessly hooking them into the excellent Aha! content editing and publishing experience.

  • Christopher Keele
  • Jun 10 2016
  • Likely to implement
Release time frame
  • Attach files
  • Shri Iyer commented
    June 30, 2016 17:35

    Release notes are a very important feature that should be added to Aha. Given that all ideas, features and requirements exist in Aha and tracking of those features within releases and against initiatives is in Aha, it makes sense that release notes are created, generated in Aha and shared from Aha (an internal share and an external share with customers). This is a very important need for the the release notes process right now is being done externally.

  • Vedran Blazanovic commented
    September 29, 2016 20:45

    Agreed, it would help round out the release process all being within Aha! and it would certainly add value to an already valuable tool. The original post is also an extremely well written Idea, I vote for it being the best in this portal.

  • Paulo Branco commented
    October 19, 2016 18:52

    I totally agree.  We are doing all the work on planing the releases and track in Aha, it would just make sense to be able to have a page showing my releases.

    I would start it simple. A comment field and somehow make each release note a hyperlink, clicking on it would list the features added to that release (included in notebook flag checked). 

    Release page would look like this example with the drill-down page to show the list of features for that respective release.

     

    Oct 15, 2016 (5.2)

    Sep 20, 2016 (5.1)

    Aug 20, 2016 (5.0)

  • Guest commented
    January 26, 2018 23:56

    TL;DR - Build release notes as you go on a feature by feature basis.  Export for consumption at the end of a release.