December 30, 2009

Put Some Meat on It: Writing Release Announcements

Article Source Dissociated Press
December 30, 2009, 4:53 pm

I've been spending a fair amount of time away from the computer while on vacation, which has been nice, but I took some time yesterday to catch up on my RSS feeds. Even thought it's pretty quiet out there right now, I found several posts and announcements about beta releases, project releases, and so on.

Two things kept catching my eye. One -- I'm surprised by the number of projects that do release announcements without any packages for users. I guess if you only care about catching the small percentage of users who are willing and able to compile their own packages -- or if you think your only audience is developers for downstream projects like openSUSE -- then this strategy makes sense.

If, however, you want to interest mainstream users and testers... then coordinate a release announcement to go out after you have packages ready. A release announcement doesn't need to go out the very instant that code hits the version control system. Proprietary companies don't throw out a press release the instant that a product hits gold. There's no good reason why open source project can't take a lesson here.

The other thing that caught my eye is how little information is provided about the releases. Again, this makes sense if the audience for the release announcement is a really small group of people who follow the project closely -- but no sense at all if you're writing for a larger audience and/or hoping that bloggers and reporters will write about the project.

Creating a release takes a long, long time. Take a couple of hours to create a good release email or blog post to help amplify that effort and make sure that it gets a better reception outside the immediate community of developers that follow your project.