With the plethora of online resources that exist today - courses, videos, and developer forums - it’s never been a better time to move into a career in software development and - for current software engineers - to grow their skillsets. The pandemic has only accelerated the trend towards online learning, self-led training in software development, and peer knowledge sharing.
Online developer communities in particular continue to play an important role in connecting people and facilitating “free” knowledge exchange. For software companies, they also provide an opportunity to establish thought leadership and trust with professional developers working on a particular kind of application or dealing with certain technical challenges.
“You think of any developer-led business, or developer-first business, they're all trying to engage developers on their buying cycle from discovery, to evaluation, to ultimately production role success,” said Robin Purohit of Peritus.ai, in a recent InfoQ podcast. “And, we know developers go to a myriad of communities to get experts from people that they view they can trust to get unblocked on that journey.”
Some of the most popular online developer communities today include GitHub, Stack Overflow, and HackerNews, just to name a few. You can also find many curated lists of developer communities such as Bolaji Ayodeji’s list of 20 best developer communities, which includes sites like Women Who Code, Hashnode, and Freecodecamp.
For software companies, engaging in these communities through code, content, and communication can help build the necessary on-ramps for users to eventually look upstream to their commercial offerings.
Overtly promoting and touting commercial products are well-known anti-patterns in developer marketing. Before evening mentioning a product, software vendors today are expected to demonstrate their domain expertise in a specific technology area and to show users how to tackle their technical challenges in a ‘product-agnostic’ way: with new architectural approaches, patterns, and best practices.
In other words, in order to establish developer trust, companies need to provide users with value up front.
This is why it’s critical to have a “developer relations” function that is aimed at engaging the community through technical thought leadership work like content creation (writing blogs, eBooks, and technical guides), presenting at developer conferences and user groups, and leading or participating in open source projects.
InfoQ: A Peer-Sharing Community for Software Practitioners
In addition to being a technical publication, InfoQ also serves as a curated, peer-sharing platform for professional developers and architects looking to stay abreast of bleeding edge technologies. Each of its over 60 editors are full-time software practitioners working at other companies that are passionate about learning, writing, connecting, and sharing knowledge with the broader community.
“If you have ever benefited from the knowledge, best practices or failures shared by a peer then you already know how powerful that information is. Here, at InfoQ we strongly believe that peer sharing is how our industry makes progress. If you are an experienced senior engineer or software team lead with ideas you want to share then we would love to hear from you.” - from the InfoQ Contribute Page
Any professional developer can contribute content for potential publication on InfoQ. For software companies and their developer relations teams, publishing on InfoQ provides the perfect vehicle to ‘give back’ to the community, while establishing trust and credibility amongst influential software leaders.
While the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards online learning, training, and knowledge sharing, it has also increased the propensity of technical leaders to explore, research, recommend, and purchase new software based entirely on what they learn from trusted, online sources. For software companies, capitalizing on these trends will require them engage with developers on their home turf: online developer communities.