Less than Best Practices for Developer Marketing and Developer Relations

Next week, at the 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference (#DRC2017), I will be giving a talk titled “Assessing a Bad Developer Program and Prescribing Fixes to Rescue It”. DRC2017 takes place March 27 and 28 in Palo Alto California at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. In this session, I will take you on a tour of a bad developer outreach program. You’ll see some of the worst practices of developer marketing, developer relations, deliverables for developers, SDKs/APIs, content, social media, videos and more. I could take attendees on a tour of some of the worst examples of technology company developer programs, but I won’t. Instead, I have created a fictitious company, “Eureka Digital Works” that has a developer relations program that has some serious problems. Come to my session and see how I’ve prescribed the fixes to rescue it.

bad developer outreach

Examples of Bad Developer Outreach

Here are a few signs (in no particular order) that you might be part of a bad developer community and the outreach that should be avoided in your developer marketing, developer relations and developer community.

  • Too much sales and marketing in a technical newsletter
  • Ads in technical white papers, technical articles, uses cases, and developer blog posts
  • Developer outreach emails that contain more sales information and less technical information
  • Webinars that are advertised as “How To(s)” but contain mostly sales pitches
  • Quick Start Guides that contain too many pages and steps
  • How To articles that are more than 5 pages long
  • How To videos that are hours long
  • Developer Community site that is full of large sales and marketing ad banners
  • A Developer Conference that is more sales and marketing and less technical
  • Lack of developer tutorials on the developer community site
  • Missing or out of date documentation for APIs and SDKs
  • Unskilled, Untrained, non-engineer staff answering technical questions on a developer community forum
  • Lack of or slow response to critical bug reports
  • The developer feedback black hole – asking developers for suggestions, road map items, etc. but not accepting any of them
  • Lack of new, timely content, blog posts, events, videos, and other staples of a well run developer relations program


Developers and Developer Relations Professionals – send me your less than best practices examples

Calling all developers: if you have a list of things on your worst list for developer outreach, send me an email and I will add them to my list. Calling all developer relations professionals: if you have things you have tried that caused your developer community members to push back, send me an email and I will add them to my list.

David I Facebook Avatar

David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Blog: https://www.devrelate.com/blog/
Skype: davidi99
Twitter: @davidi99
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidi99/


DRC2017 talk – DevRel Judo: Leveraging your company’s organizational structure …

Larry McDonough, Director of Product Management for the Developer Ecosystems at VMware, is giving a cool looking talk at the upcoming 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference (March 27 & 28) in Palo Alto California. The full title of Larry’s talk is “DevRel Judo:  Leveraging your company’s organizational structure to build a stronger Developer Relations team”. Larry has given talks at several of the past conferences and is an intelligent and engaging presenter.

DevRel Judo

DevRel Judo

Developer Relations is traditionally a centralized function, but what if you don’t have a dedicated DevRel team?  Can a decentralized DevRel team succeed? This presentation will highlight the dynamic and sometimes rocky journey that VMware has traveled regarding Developer Relations and the pros and cons of a decentralized structure.  I’ll talk about identifying and understanding developer personas, sharing standard developer relations functions across business units, managing resources and clarifying responsibilities, the importance of relationships with the product teams, and of course, constructing analytics to measure shared progress and success.  The purpose is to help you strengthen your DevRel teams by exploring your own company’s structure, it’s impact on your success and how you can leverage it’s strengths to improve developer outreach.


VMware Code

VMware {code} covered in this week’s “Learn the Secret Sauce of Developer Relations Programs” DevRelate Webinar

VMware’s developer program, VMware {code} was one of five spotlight programs that I covered in this week’s DevRelate webinar, “Learn the Secret Sauce of Developer Relations Programs“. I also had the opportunity to ask Larry a few questions about VMware’s developer program and developer outreach.

Here are my questions and Larry’s answers.

Q: What are the top three benefits to your company in having a developer relations program?

Good for Us: Health of our ecosystem. Our DevRel program, launched last year, is called “VMware {code}” and it’s main mission is to make sure developers new to our platform can easily get started, learn about our SDKs and APIs, and get connected with the larger VMware community.

Good for Customers: Adds value to our solutions. As a virtualization platform company, we can’t be experts in every vertical market segment. For areas where there are gaps in our solution coverage, or that require specialized vertical segment expertise (like disaster recovery, security and anti-virus, etc.) our partners have opportunities to complete the solution story for customers.

Good for Developers: On-ramp to “Partner” status. Partner engagements at VMware are taken very seriously, and it’s a big leap from a member of a free developer program to our TAP (Technology Alliance Partner) program levels. TAP Access is $750/yr and TAP Elite is $7,500/yr. These programs provide a lot of business value to partners by enabling special integrations, technical support, and customer leads.

Q. Where does the VMware developer relations team/program live inside the company’s organization?

It’s distributed; but there’s a central organization called “ROCS” for R&D Operations and Central Services that’s responsible for hosting and managing all the centralized developer and partner infrastructure that’s used by all the other groups. This is the group where I work. We manage our developer/partner portal, developer and partner programs, partner product certifications, compatibility guide, and coming soon, a centralized marketplace micro-service. Business units are responsible for keeping their developer content up to date on the developer portal. All Developer Marketing, Events, Newsletters, blogs, Slack and social networking is handled out of Digital Marketing. And lastly, all partner go-to-market (non-technical) engagement is handled out of our Partner Alliances team.

Q. How many applications have been created using the VMware SDKs/APIs?

The number of apps is very hard to measure. We have over 100k SDKs downloaded per year and a lot of development is for on-prem purposes. Our Office of the CTO has a site they call “Flings” where a lot of really cool apps are highlighted: https://labs.vmware.com/flings/ It’s not part of VMware {code}, and it’s all built by VMware engineers. But they’re very popular and I’m exploring how to integrate these with VMware {code}

Q. I noticed that the VMware Developer Center and VMware Code are now one and the same. What were some of the reasons for combining them together?

Great question! The main driver is to centralize developer outreach infrastructure. The previous VMware {code} site was a simple WordPress site maintained by our Digital Marketing team. They are really good at community building and hosting events, but they didn’t have any core developer goodies to offer like SDKs, API explorer, Sample exchange to name a few. Developer Center had those, but no market resources to get the word out, organize events, and build community. It just made sense to merge. This has been a goal of mine for 2 years. Together, we’ve now get the strength/weight to strongly encourage the Business Units to build their developer outreach on us and not recreate their own thing. This is where all the micro-site work comes in this year.

Q. Are there any other key performance indicators statistics that you track and provide to VMware management to keep them informed and supporting how the developer program is doing?

Our big focus this year will be member registration and developer engagement. I’ll be tracking how these track to our social media efforts and actual events. Of course, we track closely SDK downloads and community engagement as well.

Q. Is there anything else that you’d like to add about the VMware program its uniqueness and where do you see developer relations and developer outreach going in the future?

We’re going to continue to invest in the DevOps area since that’s a big ecosystem surrounding our products. We’re also going to be encouraging a lot more open source engagement.


DevRel Judo

Larry McDonough Bio

Larry McDonough is the Director of Product Management for the Developer Ecosystems at VMware. He has previously presented on his work in numerous topics affecting developers including Developer Relations & DevOps, Developer Evangelism, Home Automation/IoT, Mobile App Security, and Android Development. Larry has a BS in Computer Science from University of California Riverside and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management.

Follow VMware {code} on Twitter


13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference

To see Larry’s talk, six keynotes, additional sessions and network with developer relations program managers and experts, register for the 13th Annual Evans Data Developer Relations Conference taking place in Palo Alto, March 27-28, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. You can find the full conference schedule with information about all of the keynotes, sessions, speakers and the all day Sunday DevRel Boot Camp (March 26, 2017) on the conference website at https://evansdata.com/drc/.

Register for the Conference

As a thank you for reading the DevRelate blog, use code DRCSocial17 to save $100 off your conference pass!


Security Chops for your Developer Relations Program and Team Members

We read, almost daily, about sites being hacked, intellectual property being stolen and other security exploits. Company’s executive teams now include Chief Security Officers (CSOs). Developers inside companies focus ensuring the security of the systems they build. Companies with developer relations programs also have to make sure the APIs and services practice secure computing. Developer evangelists, whether they are part of a security based company or not, have to be able to speak to the security aspects of software development. Do your developer relations team members have security chops? Do your evangelists keep track of the state of the art in secure computing? Does your developer relations site have the right security features? If your developer program is located in a public cloud, does your provider give you the security you need? Is your community site still using HTTP instead of HTTPS? These are good and timely questions to ask of your company, your developer relations program and your evangelism team members.

cyber security

Evans Data Global Development Survey and Security

In a recent press release, “North American Developers Are the Only Ones Worrying About Cyber Warfare“, Evans Data reported on recent global developer survey results related to security, cyber crime and cyber warfare. The survey, conducted in six languages across four continents showed that developers in both the emerging Latin American and Asia-Pacific regions view the largest threat as “Intellectual Property Thieves and Corporate Spies”, while those in the EMEA region cited “Cyber crime syndicates” as the threat we should be most concerned with. Only in North America was “Cyber Warfare from Nation States” cited by a significant number of developers. This concern was number one in North America. You can read about additional findings in the Evans Data press release.

Security and Developer Relations

I keep up to date on what is happening with software and security by reading the security news, reading a few security blogs and following some of the sites focused on secure computing. You should encourage your developer evangelists to spend some of their time keeping up to date as well. Here is a good starting list of top security related sites with articles, blogs and links.

  • Krebs on Security – Brian Krebs, a former Washington Post reporter, is a prolific blogger and security industry luminary who writes about security news and investigations. On his About the Author page he writes “Much of my knowledge about computers and Internet security comes from having cultivated regular and direct access to some of the smartest and most clueful geeks on the planet. The rest I think probably comes from a willingness to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.”
  • Schneier on Security – “Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist, called a “security guru” by The Economist. He has testified before Congress, is a frequent guest on television and radio, has served on several government committees, and is regularly quoted in the press.”
  • Information Week’s Dark Reading – “Long one of the most widely-read cyber security news sites on the Web, Dark Reading is now the most trusted online community for security professionals like you. Our community members include thought-leading security researchers, CISOs, and technology specialists, along with thousands of other security professionals.”
  • Kaspersky Labs’ Threadpost – “Threatpost, The Kaspersky Lab security news service, is an independent news site which is a leading source of information about IT and business security for hundreds of thousands of professionals worldwide.”
  • Wired’s Threat Level – “Wired talks privacy, crime, and security online, delving into clever hacks and workarounds and reporting on the latest security news impacting consumers and professionals in the field.”
  • US-Cert (US Department of Homeland Security) – “US-CERT strives for a safer, stronger Internet for all Americans by responding to major incidents, analyzing threats, and exchanging critical cybersecurity information with trusted partners around the world.”
  • Norse Corp Live Attacks – World map with live attacks showing attack origins, types and targets. “Norse is dedicated to delivering live, accurate and unique attack intelligence that helps our customers block attacks, uncover hidden breaches and track threats emerging around the globe.”
  • FireEye Cyber Thread Map – cool animated global map showing a live subset of real attack data. “FireEye protects both large and small organizations committed to stopping advanced cyber threats, data breaches and zero-day attacks. Organizations across various industries trust FireEye to secure their critical infrastructure and valuable assets, protect intellectual property and avoid bad press, costly fixes and downtime.” FireEye’s current threats and blog posts.

The platform and device vendors also provide articles and information for developers. Here are a few articles and sites:

Cyber Warfare Sites and Information

  • RAND Corporation Cyber Warfare – Cyber Warfare research and insights – “RAND research provides recommendations to military and civilian decision makers on methods of defending against the damaging effects of cyber warfare on a nation’s digital infrastructure.”
  • Financial Times Cyber Warfare news – reports and articles about cyber warfare, hacks and more.

Security Scanning for your Developer Relations Site

There are many tools you can use to check the security of your developer relations sites. Check out the following services.

Qualsys SSL Labs – SSL Server Test  – “SSL Labs is one of most used tools to scan SSL web server. It provides deep analysis of your https URL including expiry day, overall rating, Cipher, SSL/TLS version, Handshake simulation, Protocol details, BEAST and much more.”

WordPress Security Scan by HackerTarget.com – online security test for WordPress sites. DevRelate, the community for Developer Relations Professionals uses WordPress. I suspect that other developer relations programs also use WordPress.

Developer Relations Programs and Security – tell me your story

I am always looking for stories about security and how developer relations programs and evangelists help their members. If you run a developer relations program for a security company send me an email. If your developer evangelists focus on secure computing I’d love to hear about their work.

David I Facebook Avatar

David I.
VP, Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Twitter: @davidi99




OK, Code is King! But, where should you put your Developer Relations sample programs?

All developers require a Developer Relations Programs to follow the “3 C’s” – Community, Code and Content. To this list of C’s I also add a few of my own: Collaboration, Continuity, Cooperation, Communication, Caring, Celebration, Civility, Consideration, Clarity, Conversation and Curiosity. In surveys, during conversations, in emails and as the most commonly asked webinar question, developers tell us that Code is King! Even though we provide documentation for SDKs, APIs, libraries, frameworks, systems and applications, the ultimate documentation is the source code itself. The Computer History Museum (CHM) collects the source code for great computer software programs and systems. Do you want to download the source code for MacPaint and QuickDraw created by Bill Atkinson? You can download them both and you can read the story behind the software too! I love what CHM is doing to preserve the source code artifacts of our industry’s history. Developers tell Evans Data that source code examples, sample projects and tutorials are some of the top requirements for a successful developer relations program. So, the question is, where should you put your sample programs so that your developer relations program members can find it, download it and use it?

Developer Relations – where to put your sample programs, tutorials and source code?

There are several places that Developer Relations programs put there source code. Some programs keep their code on their own servers (ftp or http access), some put code in public repositories and others put their source on code hosting sites. There are many sites to choose from including: Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure StorageGitHubSourceForge, DropBoxCloud Forge, BoxCodePlex, Google DriveAssemblaBitBucket, ProjectLocker, and LaunchPad. Most of these sites support the leading source code version control services including Subversion, Git and Mercurial. Some of the hosting sites will also provide additional tools and services like defect tracking, deploy/install, security scanning, and license compliance audits. Several of these sites are popular places to put open source software projects allowing the developer community to collaborate and enhance the sample code. Some of the sites also provide APIs (GitHub Developer for example) for you to automate interactions, search catalogs of entries, access control, and more. Other developer programs place source code on sites to make it simple to distribute and update the code. Most integrated development environments and programmer’s editors support pulling sample code from repositories.

Sample Programs

Where do you put your Developer Relations program and products sample code?

Send me an email and tell me where you put your developer relations program code.

David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Blog: https://www.devrelate.com/blog/
Skype: davidi99
Twitter: @davidi99


Great webinar question – “What is the best way to scale a relationship-heavy developer program”

I finished the first two of this week’s “Introduction to Building a World Class Developer Relations Program” webinars. I will present the webinar two more times on Thursday, October 13 at 10am and 1pm PDT. During one of the webinars I was asked a great question by Wendy: “What is the best way to scale a relationship-heavy developer program?” I completely missed the question in the queue and sent an apology email when I reviewed the question log after the webinar ended. I spent a little time looking at the question, parsing the terms. Then I sent a quick email to Wendy apologizing for missing the question during the webinar. I did offer a few bits of advice about scaling a developer relations program.

What is the best way to scale a relationship-heavy developer program?

Here are some quick thoughts:

  • Leverage developer members of your community who are active, talented and personable. Make them MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) or whatever designation/badge you want to use. Encourage them to help with content, answers, videos, etc to add value. Give them content that they can localize in their country and region. Allow them to personalize the content so that it speaks with their voice. Many of these potential MVPs are consultants, authors, developers and are looking for gigs/jobs or just love to help. You can find MVP programs as an integral part of many developer programs including Microsoft, Embarcadero, CodeProject, Salesforce and communities where customers/members take part and add value.
  • A great article to read is by Reto Maier, Google evangelist – titled: “The Core Competencies of Developer Relations – Building a Team That Can Change the World”.
  • A recent talk by Chris Heilmann, Microsoft Evangelist – “Turning a community into evangelism helpers“. You can watch the video on YouTube. The video notes include: “One of the biggest issues of developer evangelism is scaling. In this session Chris Heilmann shows how during his time in Mozilla he started an Evangelism Reps program, shared materials with a world-wide community for re-use and localisation and how to keep upper management and marketing from interfering with your efforts. You’ll learn about ways to distribute content, train people on applying the content in a contextual manner and how to empower people to be their own voice.”
  • Rob Spectre, hacker in NY who works at Boxee, also has a YouTube video that talks about “Scaling developer evangelism“. The YouTube notes include: “If you thought the first 10,000 developers was hard – just wait. In the first public discussion of developer evangelism at Twilio in Europe, Rob Spectre shares what Twilio has learned over the past five years, serving over 700,000 developers with a mission critical evangelism program when your only product is an API.”.
  • You can leverage other systems/services that are available and have large developer followings. Use StackOverflow for developer questions to allow your program members to ask a question and receive answers and advice. StackOverflow has a large community of active developers who help answer big and little questions. You can find active users, voters, editors and moderators,  Not all answer systems have to be on your site or in your community. You can take RSS feeds from StackOverflow to bring relevant questions/answers into your developer program infrastructure for tags related to your products and services – http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3403/rss-feed-of-your-favorite-tags.


As I was writing this blog post I looked closer at the question again. “What is the best way to scale a relationship-heavy developer program?”. While my quick advice covered some aspects of scaling a developer program, I did not provide additional thoughts related to the phrase “relationship-heavy”.

Most seasoned developers just need quick answers to questions about a specific API or a problem. Other developers need additional business or partner support. The software development skills level of developer program members may also require additional content and services for beginning developers. I’ve used skill level categorization and tagging to allow searching based on the experience levels of developers: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Master, All.

Relationship-Heavy Developer Programs

There are some developer programs that have built in heavier relationship requirements by there very nature and often by regulatory and safety requirements: medical device software, financial systems applications, embedded software, security systems, etc. Some of these developer relations programs have software and human requirements including life critical testing, security screening, approval processes, update tracking, commercial agreements and more. Modern application stores provide a level of automated review and approval screening but still rely on team members to collaborate with developers to ensure that applications adhere to program and platform requirements.

I’ll have to ask for a definition of the term in the context of a specific developer relations program and think about additional advice for a relationship-heavy developer program.

Thanks, Wendy, for the great question this morning!


Ten Essential Developer Relations Program Features

At the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference 2016 Sunday bootcamp, I was asked to present my top ten list of the “Ten Essential Developer Relations Program Features” that a successful outreach program should have. During the conference I also gave a presentation about best practices for a world class developer relations program. Both of my presentation slide decks are available on the DevRelate web site. Other presenter slides are also available on the same site.

My Top Ten Essential List

  • SDKs – APIs, tools, libraries, documentation, Wiki, Best Practices, Use Cases, tutorials, example code, test data, unit tests
  • Access – membership, accounts, specialize hardware, simulators/emulators, services, sandbox
  • Content – articles, blogs, news, road maps, social posts, success stories, solutions, social posts, RSS feeds
  • Answers – StackOverflow, StackExchange, Quora, Reddit, FAQs, Knowledgebase
  • “How To” Videos – short 5-10 minute videos accompanied by additional links and resources
  • Deep Dives – tutorials, webinars, hands on workshops, hangouts, longer duration videos, livecoding.tv, Twitch developer channel
  • Developer Forums – conversations, threads, community based help, web based, NNTP based
  • Partners – your ecosystem, MVPs, technology partners, trainers/educators, consultants, resellers
  • Support – phone/email, bug reports, workarounds, feature voting
  • Events – conferences, meetups, hackathons

What’s on your Top Ten List of Essential Developer Program features?

This is just my top ten list. There are many more features that developers (especially those in specific industries and markets) require. If you have additional features on your developer program offering, send me your list and I will add it to my checklist.

Note: at DRC 2016, I was working for Embarcadero Technologies as Chief Evangelist for their developer tools and developer community. I am now working at Evans Data as Vice President of Developer Communities. In my new role, I am helping the tens of thousands of companies that need to build a developer relations program and for those companies who need to enhance their existing program. I am here to help you!

David I

Vice President of Developer Communities

davidi at evansdata.com