Part 1 of this series on developer relations elaborates on why, for your products or technologies to gain traction and succeed, you must win over the endorsement and support from the techies—software engineers, developers, and designers—at existing or prospective customers. Subsequently, everyone benefits and the world is a happy place. Before doing that, it helps to understand the ins and outs of the so-called developer ecosystem, that is, the mantra for developers, their learning paradigm, and their opportunities and challenges.
Developers’ success is directly related to their ability to learn, to dig deep, and to embrace innovation. They must be always on the lookout for richness: a richer user experience (UX), additional features, more advanced capabilities. Alas, such a pursuit sometimes generates complexities in workflow, system integration, dependencies, and the user interface, let alone the need for more human and infrastructure resources.
Concurrently, developers are naturally geared toward steering in the other direction: simplicity—streamlined architecture, elegant design, and the production of defect-free software—while leveraging effective tools to minimize consumption of resources. Striking a balance between richness and simplicity is essential for creating primary innovations that advance the software industry, which, in turn, handsomely rewards the creators. A case in point is the ultrapopular Linux OS Kernel and the Git distributed version-control system, both created by Linus Torvalds. For its part, Linux blossomed into “one of the most prominent examples of free and open-source software collaboration,” as stated in Wikipedia.
Developers, who ooze with potential to learn, place high value on people who can teach. And everyone in the developer community is naturally equipped to teach. Reality is, most developers learn and teach at the same time. They burn the midnight oil writing tutorials and technical articles or recording instructional videos and podcasts, which they publish online for free. Additionally, developers make considerable contributions to intellectual properties, creating ample free-for-use software, as evident from the numerous tools, frameworks, and extensions that are open source.
What do those developers gain, you ask? A lot. They engender admiration and accolades, which routinely translate into employment or freelance opportunities, sponsorships, and speaking engagements. Many a career advancement originates from a pro bono paper, project, and such. The more developers contribute, the more they learn, the more equity they acquire, and the more value they produce. In short, knowledge drives everything, including wealth.
Plus, software is never perfect when initially released. Invariably, developers learn from interacting with their community members, whose feedback, suggestions, contributions, and fixes are invaluable.
On the other hand, developers as a whole enjoy contributing to their community because networking, sharing, and recognition are gratifying. Given that software development is an artistic hobby, accredited profession, and competitive sport, developers are there for the team, in which novice and expert players abound. But then they are never cast in concrete: novice developers can advance quickly by learning best practices and by acquiring expertise from their more-skilled peers.
A developer’s life is a never-ending cycle, attributed to the fact that software never stagnates as new frameworks and architectures continuously emerge. Take a website, initially built on a proven software stack, only to be rebuilt through a new development cycle that ends up using another stack that’s more capable and productive—elegant on one hand and richer on the other. Then comes the rush to enrich and extend the architecture with plug-ins, tools, and packaged applications, which necessitates constant learning.
What does all that mean? Just as you conclude that giant enterprises like Microsoft and Google have mastered their domain and that no one can ever dethrone them, you’re in for a surprise. Innovations are always in the offing, Cloudinary in the rich-media sector being one such example. Those incumbent companies will likely stay on, but competitors will continue to emerge in and around the niches.
So, developers who are watching for opportunities usually end up unearthing new ideas and fly with them. Technologies not only foster innovation but also keep the ecosystem alive.
Ultimately, three things hold true for software development:
- Software development is an eternal strife for excellence. As software developers continue to refine or build products with more power, improved capabilities, and reduced complexity, they also strive for enhancements in the products’ efficiency, effectiveness, and intuitiveness.
Excellence brings great rewards and job satisfaction. Brilliant products attract customers whose purchases bring wealth to the vendors. In this context, wealth means much more than financial rewards; it also refers to expertise and productivity.
Furthermore, working for winners is a shot of adrenaline, inspiring one to charge forward energetically day after day and strive to perform better. With a sense of accomplishment being the mainstay of job satisfaction, companies that are populated by happy and motivated employees are often champions in their field.
Learning is the key cornerstone of developers’ success. A developer’s life is a relentless, never-ending, inevitably taxing, learning cycle; and the key to success is a passion for learning coupled with diligence and perseverance. After all, a better way always exists, waiting just around the corner, and everything under the sun can be improved.
Given all that, software vendors must not only build dynamite products, but also cater to the pertinent needs and wants of the developer audience that’s essential for successful adoption and dissemination of their product. Just bear in mind that you must do much more than caring for developers for the sake of your product being given a thumbs-up as a prerequisite to making a sale. Developers deserve first-rate attention and empathy—for their professional advancement, for their unrelenting pursuit of excellence, and for their uncanny dedication to innovation and resolution of tough problems.
And, by being there for developers, you score victories yourself.
In the next post, I’ll suggest ways of winning developers’ approval and championship with a focus on the tenets of advocating for them. Watch this space please.
- Part 1: The Rise of Developers and Their Paramount Role in Software Adoption
- Part 2: Developers Succeed Through Learning
- Part 3: Avoiding Pitfalls While Strategizing Promotion of Technology Adoption From the Outside In
- Part 4: Questing for Technology Adoption and Advocacy by External Developers: Their Trend Is Your Friend