What does it take to attract developers to your organization and to create an environment internally where they feel empowered to do their best work. One of the most successful strategies is to employ a great developer evangelist, which we’ll shorten to DevEv for brevity’s sake. In an era of remote work, DevEvs might be…
What does it take to attract developers to your organization and to create an environment internally where they feel empowered to do their best work. One of the most successful strategies is to employ a great developer evangelist, which we’ll shorten to DevEv for brevity’s sake. In an era of remote work, DevEvs might be needed more than ever — advocating for the needs of programmers, ensuring collaboration across business units, liaising with external partners, and creating a positive environment.
Attracting great developer talent is difficult, as demand continues to outpace supply in many areas. And while individual companies compete for talent, it takes the work of many companies to create the products and services people love and need in today’s world. Cross-company awareness and collaboration becomes increasingly important in our connected world.
In the piece below, we’ll dive into more detail on what developer evangelism means and how people working in DevEv do their jobs. Then we’ll explore the criteria a company should consider before investing in a DevEv program and how to know when your organization is ready to benefit from this practice.
So what does that look like on a day to day? Christian Heilmann’s free resource seems like a good starting point: ”A developer evangelist is a spokesperson, mediator, and translator between a company and its technical staff.”
The role is all about improving communication, internally and externally, to support the creation of good work. As Jon Chan, an engineering manager, who has been with Stack since 2013 and has done a lot of developer evangelism for the company put it: “A developer evangelist is someone who promotes and futhers the company agenda in the public eye of the community.”
On a tactical level, this may involve a wide range of duties from improving the internal developer experience (advocating for new tools or processes, supporting internal and external meetups, protecting developers’ time for and facilitating their open source contributions), a lot of content marketing starting with blogging and speaking engagement for developers or sometimes even joining the conversation online, but extends to managing educational materials around the company’s products or APIs.
Let’s look at some practical examples and then discuss if it’s the right time for your organization to invest in developer evangelism.
How can engineering teams connect with a company’s user base and surrounding global tech community? Take a look at how developer evangelists like Nathaniel Okenwa at Twilio often host webinars to share valuable insights for professional development and growth.
Join @Twilio Developer Evangelist, Nathaniel Okenwa @chatterboxCoder and Staff, Software Engineer, Elmer Thomas @thinkingserious on the next episode of Twilio Insiders, Wednesday, Oct 7th at 12:30pm EDT / 5:30pm BST streaming live on https://t.co/amdRMwjWIL pic.twitter.com/XYsTN0woRy— Twilio Developers (@TwilioDevs) October 7, 2020
Even a simple tweet, like the following GIFY tutorial from Ashley Alicea, senior developer advocate for games at Unity3D, can communicate a message about your team’s engineering culture. In this case, a tweet makes a simple statement about the benefits for developers. But it also opens the door to deeper, longer lasting interactions by offering a gamified tutorial where curious coders can level up.
Specific tactics, like webinars and interacting with developers using your product, are only part of a successful DevEv experience. As Chloe Condon, senior cloud advocate at Microsoft explains, the ability to create impact in a DevEv role begins with the right mindset.
“Every day is different,” says Condon. “Pre-COVID, you could catch me flying around the globe giving talks about Azure, hosting events at the Microsoft Reactor, writing blog posts, hosting office hours, and attending meetups (sometimes while singing). I spent a lot of time writing talks, hosting webinars, tweeting, and recording podcasts. Pre-2020, I hosted a monthly, camp-themed meet-up. I miss these events a lot.
The shift to new styles of working during a pandemic has been dramatic. “These days it still varies. I work on our academic team targeting students. That means a lot of live streaming, video content brainstorming sessions, blog writing, and live presenting at online conferences. I’m still hosting webinars and making tutorials with a big focus on video content since that’s most people’s main way of communication for now.”
While being a broadway singer is not a requirement for developer evangelists, being a great communicator is. Chloe Condon in a duet with Misty robot.
Here are some thoughts about introducing evangelism to your engineering org.
If you are a company in need of deeper connections with developers, there are at least a couple of ways to go about it. While it’s common to see developer evangelists at big, public tech companies, not every organization can afford a dedicated DevEv team. For smaller organizations, you can hire a full-time developer advocate or you can establish a culture of developer evangelism among your team. At Stack Overflow, we don’t currently have anyone with the job title advocate or evangelist, but from the start it’s been part of our culture. We spoke about this with Jon Chan and David Haney, two tenured engineers and team leads who have been with the company for a long time and see themselves as sometimes wearing a developer evangelist hat. “There are companies who benefit from developer evangelism as a position, others benefit from a culture of dev evangelism,” explains Haney.