In the nascent phase of the IT industry, it was a common practice to release major upgrades to software products every quarter or even in lengthier cycles. But with the popularity of Agile development methodologies going through the roofs, iterative delivery has become a norm. With it comes the challenge of maintaining an accurate & useful changelog.
A changelog is a crucial component for any software product. Its primary purpose is to keep all the stakeholders informed of any changes to the product – be it new features, bug fixes or improvements.
Technically, release notes & changelog are different things. But for this post, we are treating them interchangeably.
Why do you need a Changelog?
Changelogs are fundamental to any project and a one-stop destination for viewing its life journey. All stakeholders, from the product team to the users, can tap into a changelog to view all the essential changes made from one version to another.
With the help of changelogs, all the parties involved in a project can transparently view the changes made to them and how these updates impact the product and its usage.
Here are some vital functions performed by changelogs:
- Create reports about updates made to mobile & web applications, and marketing websites
- Maintain an account of new features, and bug fixes between different product versions
- Offer a chronological history of a project/product with the inclusion of its priorities, contributors, and errors fixed
- Create product roadmaps and feedback routes where all stakeholders can become contributors
- Make way for better engagement between users and product development teams
- Raise product visibility with customized release notes designed using unique brand language
8 Trusted Changelog Tools
It’s no secret that a changelog can help you in multiple ways and makes it simpler for all parties involved to get a snapshot of the product’s history. How and which changelog tool you use depends on many factors, such as the size and scale of your project. Here’s a look at some of the most trusted changelog tools that you can consider:
1. Release notes
Consider using releasenotes.io if you wish to create a detailed and attractive changelog. What’s better is that this tool makes changelog accessible for users with the help of a website widget. One of its best features is the ‘unread’ badge that immediately updates users about new releases not yet seen by them. Conversely, this tool scores low on gathering customer feedback and creating a roadmap.
This tool combines three functions in a simple yet effective manner. It facilitates the submission of ideas by users and other parties and a discussion by creating a feedback board. A roadmap follows this, and the feedback loop is closed with a changelog.
A changelog tool with multiple functions, Headway helps you with all three- a changelog page, a widget embedded in your product, and a custom domain for your changelog page. Furthermore, it can be integrated with Slack and Twitter and helps you create custom categories. It’s a good option for those seeking a changelog, but it doesn’t offer a roadmap or feedback board.
4. Automated Release Notes for Jira
A clutter-free tool developed exclusively for teams that are using Jira, Automated Release Notes (ARN) increases engagement with your product and processes by facilitating communication with customers and stakeholders. With its focus on automation, ARN also helps you to create a complete customer portal with the combination of Roadmap portal for JSM & Embedder for Confluence. With support for release notes generation in multiple various formats, it just goes about solving all the release notes related pain points – right from their generation to distribution.
A versatile tool, Beamer is used by big setups and smaller builders. It’s a simple and accessible option that helps you create a changelog page on your website and use a widget in your app.
6. Next Release
Next Release helps by automatically generating changelogs and release notes to share knowledge about the team’s progress. It takes a few clicks to create release notes that can be shared with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including users, sales, and support.
Essentially a product communication tool, AnnounceKit helps you create a ‘newsfeed’ on your site that can be utilized for a changelog or release notes. Some of its prominent features ensure user integration and help you boost certain notifications. You also have the option of linking it with Slack and email. However, its feedback tool has a limitation. It allows users to respond only to announcements and updates that have been shared.
This one is a bit of an oddball. Not really a changelog tool, Github it has become a de-facto standard for developers to maintain their code repositories. And with developers doing their thing, it has become a cakewalk to generate & host changelogs automatically within Github. Best suited for open-source projects and internal changelogs, GitHub works primarily because of its simplicity and ease of use. However, it needs images and formatting that make the changes challenging to read for users with a non-technical background.
Stay ahead of the curve
Changelogs are vital and integral to keeping all stakeholders abreast of changes and updates. You can choose your changelog tools based on your product’s needs, customer base, and budget—a wide range of tools are available, from free and essential to advanced ones that may cost more.