On Wednesday 6 December I attended the annual DevRelCon London — a conference for people working in developer relations, developer experience, and related fields.
I met lots of people, gained tons of insight, and over all had a great day. I also won a prize! 🍾
This was a DevRelCon. It is organised by Hoopy, a Developer Relations consultancy. The idea of the conference is to bring people working in DevRel together in a dedicated conference in order to share all of the knowledge. People came from across the globe, from the US, Canada, UK, Europe, all the way to Japan.
The event took place in the Barbican Centre — with one large area designated as the community area, and 2 rooms for 2 tracks — named after the sponsors Github and Nexmo.
The pre-event meetup was in Electricity Showroom 3 minutes away from our office, and the after party was in Runway East, 3 minutes in the other direction. I’d say Pusher’s Shoreditch office is optimally positioned for DevRelCon 💪.
Swag-wise, we got an Auth0 branded luggage scale — which I think was brilliant, especially considering how much time most DevRels spend in the air and hauling luggage around. Super thoughtful. My computer was also adorned by 9 brand new stickers, and I brought a ton back to the office.
There was also a for-sale T-Shirt that I absolutely had to get. Oh, and they used a Square terminal to make the sale. First time I used one in Europe, and although there was some tech difficulties setting it up — so it’s great we had Tristan Sokol from Square who could lend a helping hand 😅.
I mentioned there were 2 parallel tracks at the conference, with keynotes and lightning talks shared in the same room. The tracks also changed from morning to the afternoon, so there was really 4 different themes going on in one day, which was quite impressive.
The morning tracks were Developer Marketing and Developer Experience, and in the afternoon there were the DevRel Strategy and Developer Documentation, but there was enough time to change before each long presentation (there were 2 formats, lightning and full-length talks).
I attended the Developer Marketing and DevRel Strategy tracks, as I felt they’d be most valuable to me just starting out.
I will walk you through the talks and insights I found most valuable or interesting.
- You can start a talk at 9.30 with the word “Epistemology” and survive, as Erin McKean from IBM and Wordnik explained. She also went on and explained that as we deal with dispersing knowledge we are just applied epistemologists.
Her talk was about adding more value to the content we produce by making implicit things explicit — for example, showing the nitty gritty bits of authentication instead of hiding it away, as that will be a real-life scenario everyone will have to deal with.
- Next up was Ade Oshineye from Google, taking us through his journey on to become a Developer Relations lead and managing a team of people. As with any other type of work, it’s good to be a human.
- In the Developer Marketing track I loved the presentation by Martin “Gonto” Gontovikas from Auth0. He was talking about their experiments with different approaches to content, with the goal to increase their sign-up numbers. Some of which was super similar to what we’re doing with our Guest Writer Program at Pusher. I loved the focus on actual numbers and the trial and error approach. You can read a recap of his talk on devrel.net blog.
- Another talk in Developer Marketing track was Melinda Seckigton from FutureLearn talking about the Art of Slide Design. Some great insights here, and has all the content in a series of blogposts explaining everything she went through on her website. Read it here.
- After the break we reconvened in the main auditorium where Caroline Lewko from WIPFactory presented preliminary results from the 5th annual DevRel Survey. Some interesting insights they will doubtlessly be made public in a few weeks’ time.
For the time being it’s still running and you can participate here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WIPDevRel17
- In the DevRel Strategy track Matt Bernier from Sendgrid talked about how Developer Relations and Product people can coexist, collaborate, and thrive together.
Each side has unique advantages that the other lacks, and vice versa. DevRel people have easier access to developers “in the wild” (otherwise known as the customers), while product managers know the product roadmaps far more in-depth.
- Github’s Joe Nash talked about how GitHub scales their community efforts around the globe by running a Campus Experts programme.
GitHub supports interested students worldwide with training, swag, as well as financially when they organise hackathons in their local communities and universities. As a result, there are several people willing (and capable) of giving a talk on meetups and conferences on the behalf of GitHub.
- Jessica West from Algolia talked about being proactive in our DevRel efforts, how to optimise for impact, and most importantly with invaluable lessons from history — namely that Napoleon would have killed it in DevRel.
- The headliner of the conference was Anil Dash, CEO of Fog Creek, the authors of Glitch 🎏.
Glitch and a few other things you might have heard of. Anil talked about a Developer Relations Bill of Rights, a topic he first introduced a few months ago. Read the original points in detail here: https://medium.com/glitch/a-developer-relations-bill-of-rights-21381920e273.
Tracks I missed
Due to constraints with quantum entanglement technology of our time I could not be at 2 tracks at once. I observed the developer marketing and DevRel strategy tracks which meant I missed the tracks about documentation and developer experience.
I’m looking forward to watching these talks when their recordings are posted online:
- Christiano Betta (Work Betta & Hoopy) — Live API Teardown
- Jenny Wagner (SpotHero) — The UX of DX: User Testing in the Invisible World of APIs and SDKs
- Adam Butler (Nexmo) — Steering towards better documentation
The cool things
I won a book! 📘
There was a raffle going on that you could enter if you visited all three sponsors and got their stamps on your “passport”.
- GitHub also sent attendees vouchers for a free T-shirt. Pretty neat.
- Spotify has Developer Advocates for their SDKs and APIs. That’s pretty neat too.
- And the stickers. I already mentioned them, but here we go again.
Looking forward to the next years edition! 🚀