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What is Developer Relations?

Updated: May 28, 2023


Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash
Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash

Have you ever been asked to explain exactly what Developer Relations - or DevRel as it is commonly shortened - is?


Perhaps you are the one asking the question.


It can be a difficult question to answer succinctly, given the broad scope of Developer Relations. However, it is vital that everyone in your organisation understands the scope and the definition of Developer Relations to drive a common understanding.


Ensuring everyone is on the same page is crucial, no matter your starting point – either starting a brand-new program, launching a new product, or rebooting an existing program. A common understanding ensures that the Developer Relations team's responsibilities are clear which removes duplication, confusion, and politics. It also ensures the objectives and goals of the program are aligned with what is important for the wider organisation.


Your goal should be to demonstrate the business value of your Developer Relations effort.

Depending on the company type (Developer First or Developer Plus), the maturity of Developer Relations within the company, and the complexity of the organisation, achieving this common understanding can be fairly straightforward or incredibly difficult to achieve.


The focus on developers as a route to market is a relatively new field. As such, it’s not currently recognized or taught in universities or postsecondary schools, and there is no professional body or association. This relative immaturity means there is a lack of standard definitions, frameworks, measurements, and tooling for Developer Relations practitioners to adopt. It also accounts for the lack of awareness and understanding of Developer Relations in the broader business world.


We, with our peers, are working to fix this.

 

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In our book, we define Developer Relations as:

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Creating a framework that describes the individual components of Developer Relations and their relationships was perhaps one the most time-consuming tasks in writing our book. To increase the chance of adoption by the profession, we strove for something that could simplify a complex subject, while being memorable.


After hours of debate, prototype designs, and feedback from the DevRel Community, there was an epiphany around the idea of a stylized tree to represent Developer Relations, and that led us to create The Developer Relations Framework.


The Developer Relations Framework

Developer Experience

At the heart of the tree, or the core of any successful developer endeavour, is the Developer Experience, also referred to as DX. It is the equivalent of User Experience (UX) where the user of your product is a developer. DX includes their interactions with your product, developer hub, and documentation as they learn and begin to build. Functionally, DX sometimes sits within Product or Engineering depending on company size.


Developer Marketing

Developer Marketing is the set of outreach activities designed to create awareness as developers discover and evaluate your Developer product and Developer program. Functionally, often developer marketing sits in the marketing department but often overlaps with Product. Sales activities also interplay here.


Developer Education

Developer Education, also referred to as DevEd, is critical to the adoption of your product. You will need to provide a comprehensive set of content and learning resources in a variety of formats to aid the Developer's evaluation of your product and enable them as they build and scale. Post-COVID pandemic, investment into DevEd has never been so high, as traditional field marketing tactics like sponsoring and attending Developer events were significantly disrupted.


Developer Success

Developer Success provides support to developers as they go from trialing your product to building a full-blown commercially scaled product. As a functional role, Developer Success varies and may overlap with product, engineering, sales, support, and your community team.


Community

Critically, a tree cannot exist without its trunk and roots, analogous to a successful program being predicated on nurturing a vibrant community. The whole point of your program is to engage, serve, and nurture your community. This is what your success will be built upon. Without a healthy, sustainable community, you have little chance of success.


 

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