“I think a lot of times as engineers we can build something that’s super complicated and never understand if people can actually use it. So my job as a developer advocate is making sure that I can use it and then make sure that beginners, intermediate and advanced people can also use it,” Douglas said.
“Lately, I’ve been reading several really good books about building communities and thought I’d share them with you.”
Original source: Online Community building books
“Developer Advocacy has many names. You may have heard it referred to as Developer Relations or Evangelism, and while these roles vary company to company, we all essentially do the same thing — We represent software developers. I like to say that it’s my job to ask dumb questions so you don’t have to, but the real goal of a Developer Advocate is to become the voice of the user. We gather feedback in a way that most developers don’t, then use that feedback to shape the product to become what it needs to be.”
Original source: What is Developer Advocacy?
Some tactical advice, with some small survey figures:
It was a small survey of 79 people, which isn’t particularly surprising since there aren’t that many developer relations roles. Some of the top skills needed to be successful in developer relations include communication, technical, and empathy. They also travel to a lot of events, 50 percent attend more than 15 events per year and 55 percent of them plan to attend even more next year.
Events, direct one-to-one communications, content marketing, and social media are seen as the most effective channels for developer outreach. Developer relations is a fairly new field. Almost 50 percent of developer relations programs where these people work are 2-4 years old and just over 25 percent were less than a year old, which is similar to the experience of developer relations professionals with just under 45 percent of them in the field for 2-4 years. There are also a lot of lone wolves with 30 percent of people surveyed being the only person in their company doing developer relations, and just over 30 percent have teams of 2-5 people.
“The world isn’t about to end, however. Yes, Forrester reveals in its “Understanding Shifting Technology Acquisition Patterns” research note that lines of business are taking on a greater role in technology purchasing, removing IT from the purchasing process in 6.3% of new technology purchases in 2013, rising to 7.2% in 2015, while IT-only purchases will fall from 23.7% (2013) to 21.6% (2015).”
At container-oriented conferences, whenever a vendor or an open source contributor demonstrates the ease with which developers deploy containers to production, usually there are cheers. But in large enterprises, especially those that maintain strict compliance guidelines, it’s IT that makes the decisions about what gets moved from development to production, and how it is done.
This is what you might call the anti-RedMonk stance. In reality, nothing is as cut and dry as developers XOR operators being king. I’ve been in many strategy discussions over the past 5 years where the people involved would love for just one of them to be rulers of the roost. It’s make setting strategy so much easier than catering to both.
In my experience, it’s more like this: developers have a tremendous amount of influence and devilish-steering over long-term IT department purchases, while IT people control the gates and money.
- Developers can also just subvert IT and totally ignore them. You get speed and flexiblity, but the trade-off is inefficiencies in the long-term: everyone is doing something slightly different so there’s no economies of scale with respect to knowledge, culture, or costs. (There’s a loop-hole where you all decide, for example, to run on AWS and “bottoms-up” decide to start collaborating and “work together” and all that – I’m not sure that pans out in donkey-land without a lot of centralized change management, though see below on DevOps.)
- Operators can set orginization wide standards but have to “force” developers to follow their dictates. So, if you want orginization-wide standardization and “someone else” to pay the bill and help run it, you have to go through IT. Here, you have ultimate control and “governance”, but you sacrifice flexiblity and speed. (There’s a loop-hole here where IT establishes a centralized “cloud platform” [to use my work’s parlance] and lets the developers do whatever they want in the confines/contract on that box/platform.)
Of course, many of us have been trying to reuinite this “house divided” for several years, cf. DevOps. Hopefully that’ll pan out because what we really need are both those functions working together to not build boxes or subvert corporate best practices, but to focus on building good products and IT services. Good luck!
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Below check out a sample of the content at 451’s upcoming cloud conference, HCTS: a draft of my slides on developer relations and marketing. If you’re interested, the conference is Oct 6th to 8th in Las Vegas. Use the code
MC200to get $200 off when registering.
Come hear me yammer on about DevOps: I’ll be in Chicago (Sep 23rd) and Toronto (Nov 18th) giving my DevOps and cloud talk with TechTarget
I’ll be speaking at an IEEE DevOps symposium in Austin on Nov 12th. The topic will be “What does ‘enterprise grade’ mean, really?” Come on out! You can register for free.
- One of you replied the taking my toys homes thought in yesterday’s newsletter, saying they think of it as “learned helplessness,” which sound even more right. As they added: “I think I can identify when I enter the learned helplessness phase but I will be damn if I know how to get out of it. You either quit or get fired.”
Tech & Work World
- I’m sure you can get your own Apple event coverage.
- Chef muscles up with Microsoft, Amazon
- How To Code Like A Startup – interesting metrics on what startups use and pointers to developer market sizing for the US via jobs stats.
- In putting together developer relations presentation below, I finally got a chance to use thestocks.im – it’s pretty good, actually.
Finally, I’ll be getting a new phone
Obviously, there was a big Apple event today. I’m overdue getting a new phone (I’ve got an iPhone 4s!), so I’ll be shelling some cash out once it’s available; I’ll see what kind of AT&T discount I get. I finally waited until I was due a new phone, so hopefully not that much.
Like most people I saw, I was impressed by the Apple Watch more than I thought. I like how Apple just kept piling on functionality to it. Pretty Amazing.
It was also fun to see Kevin Lynch in action. I used to work with him in tiny ways, mostly over lunches, when he was at Adobe. He always seemed like a very genuine, very smart guy who actually had a passion for computers. I think that came through in his talk today. He had a nice sense of humor too which popped up a tad. Last we saw, he was blending iPhones, but you know, because the cause.
The other thing I find fascinating is the weird world that Apple’s personas all exist in. It’s somewhere between stock photos at Target and the mall, and high-end PowerPoint clip-art. I like to think of it as Applefornia: that cool, ocean-filled place where people seem to constantly be on vacation and covering them selves with patinaware. That Umberto Eco should write an essay on it.
Developer relations and marketing
At our upcoming HCTS cloud conference (look above for more info and discount code if you want to register), I’ll be doing a short talk on developer relations and marketing, followed by a panel on the topic.
I put together a first, incomplete draft of the slides. Take a gander and tell me if you have any feedback:
I’m not sure where I came up with that title, but it looks like something I’d type…
Fun & IRL
No fun today, just work.