What is Developer Advocacy?

Since joining Microsoft I’ve gotten a lot of questions about Developer Advocacy so I’d like to take a moment to explain what it is and why it’s important.

Developer Advocacy in a nutshell

Developer Advocacy has many names. You may have heard it referred to as Developer Relations or Evangelism, and while these roles vary company to company, we all essentially do the same thing — We represent software developers. I like to say that it’s my job to ask dumb questions so you don’t have to, but the real goal of a Developer Advocate is to become the voice of the user. We gather feedback in a way developers can’t (since they know the codebase too well), then use that feedback to shape the product to become what it needs to be.

We’re perpetual learners

Developer Advocates can spend anywhere from 20–50% of their time learning new things. Not only is it our job to learn at the conferences we attend, but we take experimentation seriously: from the obscure to the popular. We’re not only leveraging our network for answers, but we’re also learning right alongside you.

We love documentation

Developer Advocates not only love the docs, we also help write them.

We’re not afraid of public speaking

“A Developer Advocate is just a professional conference goer.”

The above statement isn’t completely incorrect, it’s just kind of rude. As a Developer Advocate, public speaking is something you have to be comfortable with. There’s an art to explaining highly technical concepts in a way that anyone can understand and you need to be able to articulate why your product and its ecosystem are the best place for them to invest their time and energy. Personally, I like giving workshops because the best way to demonstrate a product’s ability is by getting your hands dirty and writing code, but they also enable me to squash bugs in real time.

We care deeply about community

Developer Advocates are always on — we engage with developer communities outside of conferences and do so by writing blog posts, leaving comments, videos, podcasts, participating in slack channels, google groups, or tweets. Then, of course, there are updates to GitHub, LinkedIn, and StackOverflow. However you choose to broadcast information, you need to have a reliable feedback loop. We need to be able to get feedback from developers on a consistent basis.

We help developers

Of course, making a product easy to use comes with challenges. There are going to be times when you don’t get it right the first time. One of the first indications of a problem will be users asking for help about some aspect of your product. You need to be subscribed to the right issue trackers, forums, and Q&A sites like StackOverflow to catch these questions. You don’t necessarily need to answer the question right away, give the community some space to help itself, but be sure to listen because questions often point to underlying issues.

Software & Stuff @Microsoft @Azure ❤️ @Google GDE Working with Go, Linux, & Web Things 👩‍💻 Previously @Pivotal & @Rackspace Always carpin’ all them diems 💅🌈

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