What is a Developer Advocate anyway?
bootstrap, Angular, Symphony, Java, Python, PHP7, Drupal9, VUE, ReactJS, GatsbyJS,…. have you noticed that our world is getting more and more complex?
In the old days you wanted to build something. You simply had to chose a language, maybe a framework on top of that language, and that’s it, you were in business. Those days are gone, for good or for bad.
The amount of technologies and solutions that appear everyday is staggering, but is not necessarily a bad (or good) thing. Is just a mirror of what is happening out there.
Software is eating the world, and more and more Software Engineers are needed. And on top of that, a lot of clever people re-imagine the way we, Software Developers, Engineers or however you want to call them, work every day.
See the missing piece? Every other industry have powerful ways of sending those tools out there for the common knowledge. They have tools and mechanisms to talk in the same language that professionals talk in those industries. It’s mainly under the umbrella called Marketing.
However in our beloved software development discipline there is no easy way to achieve that (And no, sales departments are not the best way to approach this problem).
On top of that, Marketing and Advertising (as well as sales) is not normally a world that is well received in the software circles. The most common approaches that we get to see as software developers are from recruiters, which are not always best behaved or even well informed about “the product” they are trying to commercialise (yes, note that “the product” is ourselves, sigh).
That’s where developer relations comes into play. Known as well as devrels, developer evangelist or developer advocates, they are normally software engineers or software developers that hoard interests beyond those of just software, like marketing, but of course they have gained experience in the software industry across the years, and can show a passion for what said industry. They are keen to master and discover tools and languages, and they love to talk and write about those exciting discoveries. As a colleague of mine told me recently, they need to be a “peoples person”.
As I started the article, the Software Industry is growing incredibly fast, and more and more tools appear every day. My prediction for the software advocate role is that this is just the beginning of something that will get to grow in both, numbers and importance, as companies need to find a way to make their tools known in a growing sea of solutions.
If you are interested on this follow my twitter. I talk about this and other many things, like Open Source, Drupal, PHP, Software Development, etc…