Product Update

Audience: Course teams (partner and OE), system administrators, developers

Owner: Product team


The documentation team started creating the product update in August 2015 at Wendy's request. This update summarizes the changes that have taken place in the platform over the month, and frequently includes a "Coming Soon" section with information about upcoming features. It is in some ways an abridgment of the release notes, with a  conversational and much less formal tone than other documentation.

The product update is published on or near the first of every month.

Product update URLs are formatted as follows.<month>-<year>-product-update<month>-<year>-open-edx-product-update

For examples of product updates, see the following links.

Creating the Product Update

Creating the monthly product update involves finding content for both partners and Open edX, creating and revising a draft, separating the partner and Open edX versions, and publishing both versions.

  1. To find content for the product update, review the release notes that have been published since the last product update was published. Work with the product team to determine if any recently released or upcoming features should be highlighted.
  2. On the partner portal, create a draft that covers (and usually condenses) the stories from the release notes.
    • Clone the most recent product update, and change the name from "Clone of <previous month year> Product Update" to "<coming month year> Product Update".
    • Under Announcement Type, make sure Product News is selected. 
    • Delete all existing content except for the Tech Support section. (You may want to leave the headings.)
    • Divide the update content into the following sections. Make sure to use H2 headings for these section titles.
      • Improvements for Learners
      • Improvements for Course Authors
      • Improvements for Researchers
      • Improvements for System Administrators and Developers (this will be in the Open edX version only)
      • Accessibility Improvements
      • Coming Soon
      • Tech Support (this will be in the partner version only)
    • Add images that illustrate changes or features. 
      • Be sure to add alt text.
      • Make sure the images are right-aligned. In the HSpace field, enter 10. Under Alignment, select Right. (The image will not be aligned correctly in draft view. To see how the image will be aligned, save the draft. Do not use line feeds or other methods to change the location of the image, as these cause the image to render incorrectly in the email notification and in some browsers.)
    • Add links to more information, where possible.
  3. Save a draft, selecting the following options.
    • In the Domain access optionssection, under Publish to, select edX Partner Portal. (Do not select Open edX Portal.)
    • In the Publishing Options section, select Draft.
  4. Send a link to the draft for review via email message. A sample email message is below.
    • The subject line uses the format "Please review by EOB Thursday, September 29: October 2016 Product Update"
    • The draft goes to the following recipients.
      • Product Org
      • Open Source Community Managers (and to individual members of this team: Ned, Joel, Shauna, George)
      • Erin Brown
      • Ildi Morris
      • Iain Kennedy
  5. Review any suggestions and edit the draft accordingly.
  6. On the day the product update will be published, make final changes, then save the update.
  7. Divide the product update into partner and Open edX versions.
    1. Go to the product update draft, and then click Edit to open the draft for editing.
    2. In the title, insert "Open edX" before "Product Update".
    3. In the Domain access options section, under Publish to, clear edX Partner Portal. Then select Open edX Portal.
    4. Click Save.
  8. Open each version and delete any content that doesn't pertain to that version.
  9. Publish both versions.
    1. In the Audience section and the edX Product Area section, select any applicable options.
    2. In the Author information section, change the Authored on date if necessary to the current date.
    3. In the Publishing optionssection, clear the Draft option, and select the following options.
      • Published
      • Promoted to Front Page
      • Send subscriptions notifications
    4. Click Save.

If you are subscribed to announcements from the partner or Open edX portal, you will receive an email message with the product update shortly after you click Save.

Sample Email Message

Subject: Please review by *noon* Monday, October 31: November 2016 Product Update
Hi all,
A draft of the November 2016 product update is ready for review. To review the draft:
  1. Go to and sign in.
  2. Return to this e-mail and click the following link:
  3. Send your feedback via e-mail.
I'm planning to send out the update on Tuesday, November 1, so I'd appreciate feedback by noon on Monday, October 31. Please let me know if I left anything out, if you'd like me to remove anything, or if anything just looks or reads funny to you. I'm open to suggestions!
  • This one is long! Let me know if you think I should shorten it.
  • Spacing can sometimes vary in the draft stage; any issues will be fixed before the product update is released.
  • This draft will be split into a partner version and an Open edX version—audience-specific content is noted with (Partner only) or (Open edX only).
If you're new to product updates and want to see some past examples, check these out: