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Top 5 Free Changelog Tools for Developers and Founders

November 17, 2020

Are you looking for free changelog tools that you can use to keep users informed about releases? The most successful software companies around the world publish changelogs to keep track of updates and make sure they’re transparent. If you want to impress your users and keep your internal dev team on the same page, changelogs are a must. In this post, we dive into examples of public changelogs, suggest free changelog tools, and also showcase a couple paid changelog tools as well.

What is a changelog tool?

A changelog is a chronological record of all changes made to a product or project. Software companies often publish changelogs to inform users and customers about product releases. At the same time, changelogs are useful for software development teams, who can more easily stay aware of changes to features or APIs that they don’t work on, as well as what’s happened historically with the product they’re building. A changelog tool is simply software that helps you create and manage your changelog so you don’t have to code the online publication yourself or manually add every release note. It’s important to publish a changelog for your users for several reasons:

  • Show users that your product is always being updated in order to raise the perception of the value of your product subscription.
  • Help improve user retention by informing users about the new features and the results they can provide.
  • Proactively share very specific feature updates so that users are better prepared to navigate the changes.

Examples of public changelogs

Let’s take a look at some examples of public changelogs. This can help you see the format of what other companies are doing so you can decide what you might want to emulate. Keep in mind that most public changelogs are organized like this:

  • Reverse chronological order
  • Includes all noticeable updates within that date
  • Offers links from release notes to additional information for top features and announcements

Looking for a free changelog tool? Check out Frill.co. For a limited time, we’re free for all beta users. Sign up now.

Tick Tick’s changelog

Tick Tick has a nicely-formatted changelog with tags for brand new updates and improved versions of features that previously existed. This helps users skim the updates quicker and decide what they want to read in more detail.

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Check out the example changelog here.

Help Scout’s changelog for their mailbox API

Help Scout has different changelogs for different products. Below is a screenshot of their changelog for their mailbox API. As you can see, the changelog links out to other pages, so that users can find more information about these features and updates.

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Check out the example changelog here.

Percy’s changelog

Unlike most changelogs, Percy’s includes images in most of the updates. This isn’t necessary, but it is a nice way to call attention to certain updates. You could even add product screenshots or gifs to your changelogs.

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Top 5 free changelog tools

The good news is that there are free changelog tools you can use to update your users and teams about updates and releases. Here are our recommendations for changelog software:

1. Frill

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Frill is a customer feedback software that includes not only feedback collection but also roadmap management, changelogs, which the platform calls Announcements. The tool is known for having a much smoother UX than its competitors. The customer feedback tool lets customers upvote suggestions from other users. This is helpful because it reduces duplicate suggestions and also helps your team prioritize updates. You can also seamlessly integrate customer feedback into your roadmap all in one centralized location. As for their changelog capabilities, Frill is a really great option because the app allows you to input images into your announcements. This makes them more interesting for customers to read, and with visual content in place, they can understand the announcements even if they don’t read them. Learn more about Frill.

Looking for a free changelog tool? Check out Frill.co. For a limited time, we’re free for all beta users. Sign up now.

2. GitHub

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GitHub is a development platform used by over 50 million software developers around the world. It doesn’t have a beautiful changelog feature like Frill, but there are some workarounds. You can automatically generate a changelog from the commit messages in your Git repository. These won’t feature images, and won’t be automatically formatted in an attractive and user-friendly way. Your team will need to custom code the output so that the changelog publication looks nice. You’ll also have to be careful as a team to write quality commit messages, otherwise you run the risk of boring and confusing your users who want a resource where they can learn about updates. Learn more about using Github to generate changelogs .

3. Beamer

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Beamer is a changelog tool that allows you to make a standalone changelog page or to update users with a changelog notification widget in your app. Their free changelog tool is only available to businesses with fewer than 1000 visitors of the changelog page or notification app. That’s why this is only a good fit for hobbyists or brand new apps. In addition, you’ll also need the paid plan in order to access their user feedback features.

4. Headway

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Similar to Beamer, with Headway, you can create a public changelog page or an in-product widget. It also offers custom branding to ensure that your changelog matches the style of your website and app. You can create changelog updates not only for new releases, but also to inform users about bugs your team is aware of and is currently working on addressing. This gives you a swift communication channel for all product news. The free option does give you some great features (such as unlimited changelogs, design customization, and a Twitter integration), but you will need the paid plan to host your changelog on a custom domain. In addition, Headway is only a free changelog tool, and doesn’t offer other features that SaaS teams need such as customer feedback and prioritization or roadmap management.

5. Composer

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You can also create changelogs with Composer, an open source dependency manager for PHP. Composer-changelogs is a Composer plugin that helps you turn your Composer updates into announcements that can be read and understood by your users. Here’s what the site Awesome Open Source has to say about it:

It displays some texts after each Composer update to nicely summarize the modified packages with links to release and compare urls. Just copy it in your commit body and you get a nice description.
Of course, the downside is that it won’t be as fast and easy to add imagery, brand your changelog, or make it engaging and user friendly. But this is an option if you’re looking for a 100% free changelog tool. # Bonus: paid changelog tools to consider Now let’s take a look at some more options for changelog software. These tools do not offer free plans, but you can take them for a spin with a free trial.

6. Changelogfy

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Changelogfy is a product that lets you manage your public changelog and collect feedback from users. You can also transparently share your roadmap with users so that they know what you’re working on and what you’re prioritizing next. With the changelog feature, you can embed the update widget in your app and also collect reactions and feedback for each changelog update. This is great for keeping track of what updates and releases get the most amount of positive and negative feedback from your users so you’re not releasing into a void. Reviews show that it’s UX isn’t as user-friendly and fast to navigate as Frill .

7. ReleaseNotes

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As far as paid tools go, ReleaseNote is an affordable option for publishing product releases in a user-friendly format. In addition to the changelog creation and management, you can also spread the word about your product releases with an embed widget for your app and release banners for your website.

The widget shows users how many product updates they haven’t read yet, so that they are reminded to check the release inbox and get the latest news. You can also send nicely designed emails to your users to promote recent updates. This makes ReleaseNotes a nice all-in-one solution for managing and promoting your changelog. However, ReleaseNotes doesn’t have other important features to help you consolidate your product updates techstack, such as user feedback collection and roadmap management and publication.

Using a changelog tool is a fast and easy way to update everyone about all the hard work your team is putting into your product. Choose the right one and use it to keep customers and users in the loop.

Looking for a free changelog tool? Check out Frill.co. For a limited time, we’re free for all beta users. Sign up now.