A Developer Relations Bill of Rights

Developer Relations is one of the most strategically important roles for any company that wants to build a successful technology platform. Yet most companies shortchange their Dev Rel teams, and jeopardize their investment in this critical work.

Seventeen years ago, Joel Spolsky wrote the Joel Test, a broad framework advocating for empowering developers and investing in their work. Even as these ideas have evolved or specific rules became a bit dated, the underlying principles have aged pretty well, and helped the tech industry become massively more productive. The Joel Test stands as one of the most effective efforts in advocating on behalf of people who make software.

In that same spirit, we present another starting point for discussing how to support a newer, less acknowledged, but no less critical, community: developer relations. Whether it’s called “developer evangelism”, “developer experience”, Dev Rel, or any other names, this field encompasses a related set of strategically critical roles. The community includes people with actual “developer relations” titles, as well as titles like developer advocate, platform or product evangelist, or developer support.

Regardless of how we describe ourselves, the work of Dev Rel is absolutely essential for any company that offers a technology platform to its ecosystem.

Yet, despite Dev Rel being so important as we said in “It’s time to get serious about Developer Relations”, most companies fundamentally do not show Dev Rel the respect it deserves. We’ve seen valuable efforts from people in the community like Ashley McNamara starting to codify principles that should underpin effective developer relations. And of course, for our own part, we’ve built communities like Glitch with the specific goal of being a valuable tool for Dev Rel.

Building on that work, and in hopes of starting to change the reality that most companies don’t support Dev Rel enough, here is the first draft of a Dev Rel Bill of Rights. We’re eager to hear your suggestions for changes and improvements.

A Dev Rel Bill of Rights

Every person who does the work of Developer Relations deserves to be supported by an environment which follows these 10 principles:

  1. A clear set of business goals
  2. A well-defined place in the organization
  3. A structured way to impact product or platform
  4. Open lines of communication to marketing
  5. The right tools specifically designed for the job
  6. Explicit ethical and social guidelines
  7. Support for building inclusive communities
  8. Clear distinction from sales engineering
  9. Ongoing resources for professional development
  10. Connection to a community of peers

We’ll be going into depth on a vision for each of these key concepts that empower Dev Rel to succeed, but we want to hear from everyone in the community who cares about the future of developer relations. We’re sure everyone in Dev Rel can think of an area we missed, or a particular pain point that you’ve encountered in your career.

Together, we’re confident we can fight for Dev Rel to get the investment, resources, support and strategic focus that it will take to move the industry forward.