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Sprints and Releases seem to have many of the same features/functions: Start and end date, labeling, adding/removing tickets, Releasing/Closing. So how are these supposed to be used differently? All in all, it feels a lot like doubling the same work. Are these traditionally used together, separately or one or the other? Thanks!
That is a very good question, one I've been confused on for a long time. The short answer is that a Sprint is a feature or set of features within an product release while a Release is the complete feature set for that particular version of the product. Both are considered "shippable" and able to be consumed by the end user, but generally speaking the output of a Sprint is just the short term part of the end product and cannot stand alone while the output of a Release is the long term, strategic product itself.
I like to think of it as building an addition to a house. The project is to go from House v1.0 to House v2.0 by adding on another room. The Release is the room itself, and the Sprint are the parts of the room. So, the sprints could shape up like this:
Sprint 1: Pour the concrete.
Sprint 2: Build the frame
Sprint 3: Wire the room for electricity
Sprint 4: Hang the drywall
Release 1: Turn over to the Decorators
Sprint 5: Lay the carpeting
Sprint 6: Paint
Sprint 7: Add furniture
Release 2: Deliver House 2.0 to the Home Owner.
Each sprint is complete and verifiable in and of itself, but without the other sprints it is not a complete project.
Each Release can be an endpoint to the project (like House 1.1), if that fits into the strategic goals of the owner, or it can be combined with other releases and delivered as a version update.
Does that make sense?
Sprint is a short period of tasks, while the release is a consolidation of features targeted to release to the customer(or whoever). In Jira, releases are also known as a version. So, in order to release any product version, there might be one or more sprints.
Versions/Releases can be also used to quickly identify bugs and fixes using Affects version and Fixed Version fields. So for big version/release, more than one sprints might be involved.
Here are the few documents that can help you,