Exploring DevRel (Developer Relations)

tl;dr I get a lot of questions about “What is developer relations” and how to make a career in this domain, so thought of sharing whatever I know based on 3+ years as a Program Manager in the DevRel org @ Google.

What is Developer Relations?

  1. Programs to increase adoption like certification, communities, ecosystems (Roles: Program Managers)
  2. Technical documentation and support to improve adoption and retention (Roles: Developer Platform Engineers, Technical Writers, Developer Advocates)

Developer Advocates:

  • Love for speaking and interacting with developers — This takes anywhere close to 20–50% of the time for any DA. And this activity becomes the sole point of refining your craft as a speaker/subject matter expert and gives opportunity to convince people of use cases and abilities.
  • Part PM, part Sales — Usually the role softly toggles between getting feedback about the product from power users at the same time convincing/advocating about use cases and functionalities people haven’t explored. It shouldn’t be called sales — but developers usually have less time to explore new stuff, so DAs try different methods to make sure knowledge about new functionalities are known.

Developer Program Engineers:

These folks are responsible for writing sample codes and create libraries and engage with external developers through places like Github, Stack overflow etc. In many B2B or partner facing teams, they will also probably work with partners on their integration and with customers on their adoption.

Technical Writers:

Everything that you see in documentation of your favourite product or service is thanks to these amazing set of folks. They make documentation simple, readable and effective.

Program Managers:

  • Establish processes to receive feedback and influence product and engineering stakeholders partnering with PA. This can also include understanding the requirements internally and validating those from outer ecosystems.
  • Establish/nurture ecosystems for longer term impact. While engineers, PMs, DAs might move on to the next feature and the next api, program managers continue to make sure that the ecosystem’s interests/needs for the base products are met.

Marketing Managers:

Marketing in the DevRel world usually gets established when the organisation is looking for “developer experience” not only from documentation, quality of platform and technical perspective, but also from how the product is perceived at scale and whether experience can play a role in bringing favorable cricumstances how people can know more about the products.

  • Execute marketing campaigns — marketing campaigns to make sure people come to the documentation pages, and end up at places with clear action item to try the product or request for a quote or buy.
  • Maintain the “soul” of the product — Over time, each product builds its identity, and it becomes paramount to make sure the brand’s recall remains strong amongst the users, So marketing managers nurture and improves the brand identity and recall.

Community Managers:

Every DevRel org has a community element, the platforms might differ, but end up in a healthy mix of online and offline platforms. Online ones include facebook groups, stackoverflow and offline ones are meetups, conferences etc. At the end of the day, developers opt to be at both places — you will see them at meetups and conferneces and also consuming content/participating discussions in facebook/telegram/whatsapp groups.

  1. Be the voice of the communities internally: Communities are the place where the first adoption of the tech/platforms occur, they are the early adopters and they play a significant role in whether the product will be appealing to the mass developers or not, so making their voices heard for product feedback is critical
  2. Keep the communities alive when no one is looking: Every group goes through hyper active phase followed by relative stagnation. Community managers attempt to make sure communities don’t die even when their leaders transition or the discussions become too infrequent.
  1. Video Producers/Crew — Every platform needs videos on “how-to” explaining the tech, and good video crew makes a lot of difference in making sure the content is easily comprehended by the developers.
  2. Developer Engineers — This title is very rare, but they are the folks who end up writing sample code, sample app etc to aid the documentation.
  3. Customer Engineers — Mostly they are in sales org, but they might be in DevRel if the product is fairly new, their job is to make sure that the customers are successful using the products in their business.
  4. Strategy Org — They are the ones who look at a long term view of the overall devrel strategy, keep an eye for competition and also make sure the overall organisation is running well.

Just another guy