Genre analysis of software release notes
Beecken, Kathryn M.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
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This study performs a corpus-based genre analysis of software release notes. It begins by evaluating the context and communicative purpose of software release notes that are used by technical teams to upgrade organizational software systems. Based on the framework of how release notes are used, a close examination of release notes in the corpus identifies a common structure for how a collection of release notes is presented and the moves within individual release notes. Commonly used textual features, such as bulleted lists, bold text, and hyperlinks, are also seen throughout the corpus. In addition, several features are observed that are unique to the role of release notes and are not seen in traditional instruction manuals, such as types of notes specific to a point in time and intended for a different audience than the end users. These findings help technical communicators who write release notes adhere to emerging conventions of the subgenre and pave the way for future studies into release notes. Recognizing release notes as a distinctive form of technical communication demonstrates the need for further study and training of release note writing.
Communication of technical information