A Framework for Developer Relations.

New and improved, thanks to community feedback.

Have you ever been asked, “What exactly is Developer Relations?” Or perhaps you are the one asking the question. It’s a difficult question given the scope of DevRel, so we challenged ourselves to come up with a succinct framework.

Back in January, we shared some of our early thinking for a Developer Relations Framework, one that attempted to describe the surface area of Developer Relations, its components, and how they intersect.

Publishing V1 stimulated a really constructive discussion in the community. We weren’t 100% happy with the framework when we shared it publicly for the first time, so the feedback was exactly what we needed to challenge and shape our thinking. Thank you!

In this post, we present V2 of the Developer Relations Framework and the one that is included in our book.

What Needed to Change

Specifically, having Developer Relations in the center of the original framework didn’t work. In V1 ‘Developer Relations’ was being used both in the context of an umbrella term encompassing all the components of the framework, but also plotted as a specific set of activities within the framework. This obviously created confusion.

From our work on The Developer Journey Framework it became obvious that the Developer Experience (DX), which encompasses both the product and Docs, should be at the framework's core. Your chances of success are going to be severely hindered if you have a poor DX that creates friction in your signup, onboarding, and product usage workflows.

The final insight from the feedback received was the growing importance of Developer Education (DevEd). We had hinted at the importance of great learning resources, but on reflection, we felt that the momentum and importance of DevEd was undeniable. This was especially so considering the impact of COVID on traditional developer field-based advocacy. It was right to recognize it as a core component of DevRel.

The new diagram reflects the changes as shown in Figure 1.

So What is DevRel?

DevRel is a professional practice focused on the engagement of developers as the primary user of a product. It’s also a program and set of activities with a company, most often called a Developer Program. The Developer Framework outlines the core components activated to interact with developers on their journey with your product and company.

Here’s a recap of the individual components of the DevRel Framework:

  1. Developer Marketing - outreach and engagement activities to create awareness and convert developers to use your product.

  2. Developer Education – product documentation and education resources to aid learning and build affinity with your product and community.

  3. Developer Experience (DX) – includes the developer portal, product, and docs, to activate the developer with the least friction.

  4. Developer Success – activities to nurture developers as they build and scale with your product, including retention.

  5. Community – like the trunk and roots of the tree, a community must be nourished to grow and stay healthy for a successful, sustainable program.

We hope you will now be able to confidently answer the question, “What is DevRel?”

We are always open to feedback. The DevRel Framework is shared here under a CC:BY:SA license, so let us know what you think and feel free to adapt it to keep improving its utility.

Developer Relations - How to Build and Grow a Successful Developer Program is now available for pre-order via Apress & Amazon.

Pre-order the book