Store Changelog
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Dear developers: Please start using changelogs for Windows Phone 8.1 apps

Changelogs. They’re the list of reasons why we want to update an app or game. It’s the simplest thing that some app creators often ignore. It’s baffling. Version 1.2 of your app is out? Great, umm, why do I care unless you tell me?

Granted, in Windows Phone 8.0, and earlier there was no real region for a proper list of changes, resulting in some developers creating pop-up screens detailing the fixes upon first launch, or a separate area under ‘About’ where they can detail their continuing hard work, or even jamming it under the app description in the Store. It wasn’t ideal, but people definitely appreciated the effort.

But developers, you no longer have such an excuse with Windows Phone 8.1. And we hope you notice.

For our audience, if you head to the Store in the 8.1 Preview, you can tap on an app to see the new layout. There are four sections, including Overview, Reviews, Details and Related. You’ll want to start paying attention to the Details page, because developers now have an optional ‘New in this version’ subheading. That’s where you’ll find those app changes (assuming the developer filled it out).

Changelogs are a small but important addition. We’re already seeing our favorite indie developers using it with vigor for each and every 0.01 update. And that’s just it, my developer friends. No one cares how insignificant the change in your app or game is just tell us, because if you don’t care enough to tell me, then I feel less inclined to update. Plus, you will look like you’re doing stuff to support your creation! At the very least, give yourself some credit for your programming effort.

Microsoft has now given you the proper space to talk to your audience. Use it. They’ll thank you for it. 

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Reader comments

Dear developers: Please start using changelogs for Windows Phone 8.1 apps

173 Comments

Daniel, i can always tell when you post an article just by your titles :P
but yeah i agree. it is annoying when they don't post changelogs.

"Daniel, i can always tell when you post an article just by your titles"

Are you saying that's a good thing or bad thing?

Everyone reads my articles. It's mandatory. They often read them twice. I've had to stop people on this site from re-reading them, so that they'd feed their children or take their grandmother to the hospital.

lol it is not good or bad :D
I can just tell when Sam or Daniel writes an article by the title

Sam usually has a bit of humor(and a typo lol) and Daniel's tends to have a slight bit of snark or sarcasm :D

Honestly, it probably should be mandatory.  Its so frustrating to hear of a new app update to have no clue what or why I need this new version.

 

Even the Blue Skies example is helpful...yes, bug fixes...I'll have that please!

'Be destroyed' like Nokia? How many of apps update from Nokia have changelog with them? I have barely seen them following this.

Did I put Nokia on a pedestal and say they were awesome at doing changelogs? No, no I did not. This article, last I checked, was for all developers. I don't discriminate on race, creed or even being Finnish.

When i finish my port of tileworld (which is a freeware port of chip's challenge) I will include changelogs or be destroyed as you command

This is my cue to say: the fact that that song is full of examples of irony that aren't actually ironic, is itself ironic - maybe Alanis was just trolling before it was cool?

Damn, I wish there was a way to retrieve cancelled notification. I am going to ask MS to add that into WP9, just for the sake of Daniel Rubino :)

even if you didn't it wouldn't be rude... and Developers should help site like WPcentral who make news about updates sometimes.
and maybe then you and other won't be like "X app was updated, we see this and this new thing, we didn't notice anything else so if you see something new please tell us" or "we don't see anything new but... we got the update" of course if there was a changelog you wouldn't probably try to find what the update was about and you would just say exactly what the update is about if it's bugfix or has a new feature or whatever. so I agree with the article, and hope developers use the "what's new in this version" like they should.

I think it was, "Developers, you stupid lazy lot, you know who doesn't use changelogs? Jerks, that's who. Stop being jerks. Use changelogs. Dear and Please." Or something like that, but probably not since I just made that up.

Excellent suggestion to developers. It's really annoying when changlogs aren't posted. We need to sit and look around ourselves for whats new or fixed. I really appreciate app developers who post change logs.

Change log
Exactly - Version 1.1
- removed the "e"
- capitalized the "X"
- Bug fixes to enable a period in the next update.

Change logs FTW!

I can't find a single app using changelogs on WP8.1... There are no changelogs displayed for me apparently, or I just can't find an app with them.

Is it possible that there are even less apps with changelogs than before? Did they get ereased or what?

For example go to pocket file manager in store and swipe to go to details and you can see changelogs under "the New in this version".

Is not as simple as that.

For localized apps is actually a big burden filling the changelog, consider getting all your changelog small or big translated to every language that the app supports. Right now english in all languages seams to pass certification but this can change when WP 8.1 comes to everybody.

I understand that, but correct me if I'm wrong, iOS has this as mandatory, no? Seems like there's precedence and I'm sure just 'English only' is better than nothing, if that's all a developer can do.

Regardless, this is one place to rant about it. Microsoft reads these, they can make changes if they see enough of a reaction ;)

I don't think they will do that. Maybe they will offer a translator service, but I really dont see them doing that.

First of all: Windows Phone does the range and variety of apps required to do such a thing (200 000 + apps in fact are more than enough, but most are not official or low quality). 

A lot, if not most of the developers develop in their free time. If Microsoft requires them to translate the changelog, these thousands of developers will just get mad and quit developing for WP, harming the environment.

For me a changelog in the English language is more than enough. I recognize in future, when the OS and app-environment is more advanced and robust, it could be smart to make this a requirement. Localized changelogs would make the Store-Quality and also the OS quality better.

For the first step, a mandatory changelog in whatever language (most will be english) would be a nice step.

Using Bing translate could be a viable option though (maybe not the best in some languages, but it is still an option).

Indeed. It is better than just english. English-only is also better than nothing. Was just trying to say that I dont see them making localized changelogs mandatory.

I have seen quite a few change logs which where clearly translated by an automatic translator with some phrases not making much sense but even that (or English) is better than nothing at all.

I don't know about a translator service built-in by Microsoft. Maybe there is one, or they just translated it from an external source. Or what also could be very realistic is that the developer can't write on the respective language ;)

Regardless of translating changelogs, at least put them in English. Actually, the only people who care enough to read the changelog CAN read English so I don't even see how that's such a problem.

then suggest to Microsoft adding a feature to translate changelog to different languages automatically... maybe the translation won't be perfect but it would make some people know more or less what it is about. you know, bing has a translator, I'm sure Microsoft could do it... or put it in English, I'm sure most people will understand it or can use translator if interested.

I came to the app store to get me new app, I thought somebody was writing a changelog or sumthin. I said good lord Jesus, it must be a requirement. I got the bronchitis. Ain't nobody got time for that.

I noticed a lot of apps started requesting more info. Did MS open up access to addition things? "Flashlight" for example, asks for half a dozen things now

What's wrong with the old log? Is it soiled? Gonna need those logs to last longer before we have to change them, we're not rich!!!

We also need updates (like apple), not redownload, reinstall, move app storage and remove old files. It's bad for our capacity. iOS users get 50MB update for ex. Asphalt but we get 880mb ReDoCycle

Yes, I'm all for change logs, though with this new automatic updates I'm missing a lot of what the changes to the updated app really are.

I have notifications on but a couple of days ago I had 22 updates in a row. Ain't nobody got time to go through every single one of them to check out what changed. I also would like a chance to set updates only for when the phone is not being heavily used (like playing a game). I was playing a game and it just froze because of all that updating. I still like that auto updates function though.

That was the first thing I did. I like to know what I'm getting in an update.

I uninstalled Google Maps (3rd party obv) because of the constant updates without one inkling about what has changed. I'm all about gMaps now (mostly use HERE though).

Yeah, I'd like an option to bypass updating an app forever. I've had a couple of apps that were free that I used for a year or so. After a year an update comes through simply to add advertising and nothing else. I consider this a bait-and-switch tactic and refuse to support the dev who does this. I usually uninstall the app, but it would be better to stay on the ad-free version and skip all future updates. At the moment I have 3 updates pending for over 6 months, for that very reason.

I like this new feature in the store, was always kinda ugly to write the what's new stuff into the description field.

Love this feature. I always found it a bit horrible to look at an apps description and find out a large change log (im just as guilty as most developers)

At least on WP you know when the app is updated, there isn't even a date for changes in the Windows store. Good article and I hope this comes to fruition. I also hope this is made 'mandatory' for the Windows store.

Mostly off topic, but what's the view - will universal apps eventually solve the Windows RT app problem as well? Or would the additional work required from the developer not make it worth it for them, and they would instead just do the full Windows 8 and the WP versions of the app.

I am here assuming that Universal Apps don't just work on all 3 platforms without any effort from the developer on each.

Change logs are part of the development process. it keeps the information flowing from one build to the next, referenceing what may be the issue on the next build.

Don't develope if you can't complete the other half of process. Every job / career / hobby has a stage we hate, dislike or avoid. Such as life.

This should not only be mandatory, but a given.

I'm all for changelogs as log as they don't look like the captioned picture above.

 

1.1 - Bug fixes

1.2 - More bug fixes

I mean, I get what you're saying. But sometimes if it's minutia that only other devs would understand, there's no benefit in telling the public. I guess if they can translate it into a few words so that we can understand the ramifications, sure. Otherwise, I'm fine with 'bug fixes and performance improvements', so long as it doesn't become a go-to copy/paste crutch ;)

That's very true.. Its something that a user like me would love to know, what's changed and what's actually different to the previous app..

What, because I have it capitalized? I treated it like a proper noun, since it's the name of the subsection and not merely a description.

It wasn't meant to correct you, was meant to think you are so clever and cool as you used a phrase "paying attention to detail" (often related to spies, good detectives) in a non related sentence. See it?

MS should also show review ratings for the most recent revision separate from the all-time average in case the dev made a major improvement recently. It's fairer to the dev and more informative to new app buyers.

Have always included them from day 1, but in 16 languages it is quite some work. Agree, if your app is en-US only, there's really no excuse.

I think the issue there is you pass on the problem from doing it to 'Is it quality?' By that I mean we may start getting a lot of "Changelog: Stuff is new and better. Done can I publish now?" kind of entries. So you may force the dev to write in the changelog, but not necessarily a quality description ;)

Yes!!! Thank you, this is EXACTLY how I feel!!! Some developers are still putting change logs in the description, and not the new official section. I understand not everyone is on the Preview, so feel free to maintain the traditional change log for those who haven't enrolled.

But please, for the love of Cortana: USE THE NEW CHANGE LOG FEATURE!!! Just for the sake of us who are on the Preview, and don't like having to swipe two panes over to view the change log.

Couldn't agree with this article more.

+925, Really like knowing what has changed and have uninstalled apps in the past for not mentioning anything yet constant updating.

I am generalizing, but think that most of the people that care about change logs have already updated to the Preview.

Indeed. I know most people don't care about change logs, but for those of us who do: It really makes a big difference.

Because the worst thing a developer can do is put this in his change log

 

*fixed app crashing on X or Y.

 

If your app crashes it's probably not good to begin with.

Yes! This is a good update for the store. Will use this in future too.

I provide an in-app changelog in all my apps, at least after the first update.

My apps also have a contact form and since some time ago i started to add a about menu item called "App Transparency", which explains the user the used capabilities.

But its pretty annoying when users doesn´t read anything :/

I'm really gonna use this when I release the next version of #WPD, and my current project called TrashMap.

NO! This is not changelog. This is "What's new in this version". This is changelog. It's all changes since you published your app. For changelog, in "What's new" section of your app's description, other than What's New, have some text at the top like "[For detail go to http://www.zzz.com/changelog.htm]. You could simply have a list of all the changes to your app on a page on your app's website or anywhere else.

I hope developers use the new space for change logs. It really bugs the shit out of me when app updates don't say what's changing. I check every app update, every time.

Only a few nerds actually find changelogs useful. As a developer I don't list them because they are pointless. What user need to know is what the app does and the feature it supports.