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Tool Presentation VMware: RNA! Or Technical Writers Winning the Battle with Countless Tools When Producing Release Notes

Release notes are not the most important document produced by a tech comm department, yet they take a lot of time and effort. Our IX department set a dream goal for all involved, technical writers and engineering teams, to significantly reduce the time for producing release notes documents and optimize our efficiency KPIs. We did it by automating authoring, reviewing, and publishing. We developed a web tool that integrates with our existing tools, eliminates hopping, provides templates, and publishes. Production speed increased 4x. The tool was recognized with the Rare Bird Award from CIDM.

The presentation will cover the following areas:

- Problem definition. Writers can spend up to 2 weeks per major release working on release notes. Up to 30% inconsistently formatted known and resolved issues across documents. Non-standard document templates. A multitude of tools: Dreamweaver, Notepad , CVS, Perforce, Jenkins.

- Project development. Started as a tool to export issues from Bugzilla to a web tool. Multiple features were added to make it a self-help tool that is easy to use even from people outside of the Information Experience team.

- RNA main features. Create new documents either empty or from existing. Versioning options through Perforce, history, freeze state. One-click export to PDF and HTML. Integration with bug tracking tools and publishing tools. Email notifications. Automated workflows.

- RNA vs current model comparison. Comparison of: collaboration levels, standardization, HTML skills required, knowledge of internal tools, structuring a release notes document, history, export, etc. Time comparison in some very repetitive tasks. Visual demonstration of current vs improved workflows.
Target audience: Professional level

Required knowledge for participation: Good understanding of what is the purpose of release notes. Basic knowledge of the process of authoring such documents.