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Building a Developer Ecosystem

Note: If you were present at this session and these are some of your comments and ideas, please feel free to claim attribution as a contributor of this session by posting a comment. Each discussion point was a comment made by one of the session attendees during a round table discussion. Attendees included community representatives of Microsoft, Mozilla, Oracle, Adobe, and more.

Building a Developer Ecosystem - CLS14-A5
11:00am room 151 - Day 1
Session leader: Michael Hunger @mesirii

What experience do you have in keeping a developer ecosystem happy, focused, and engaged?


* People work in silos, don’t gain contributors to their projects, they eventually move on to some other focus.
          * How do you keep contributors in your developer ecosystem engaged?
   * How do we engage with our developers worldwide on an ongoing basis?
   * How do you create an environment that fosters super users like open source projects, blogs, and other content?
   * How do you design marketing automation to help engage users and increase contributions?

Discussion points:

* Scenario: You have an open source core product and you want to provide the infrastructure to give your community a place to contribute.
       * There are older communities that already have this infrastructure, like PERL.
       * If you can build your community on your own platform, to get them to come and invest in your open source project, that is a good indicator of the health of your ecosystem.
       * People don’t want to know your APIs in particular, they just want to focus on the APIs and syntax of their programming language when authoring drivers.
       * It’s less about which forum, it is more about the governance, conflict resolution, and rewarding contributors to the developer ecosystem.
       * You should design a model for your community contribution process and goals. It is good to develop a rewards and recognition structure. Create a set of expectations and try to validate that with your community.
       * Identify the mediums that have real value to the ecosystem and reward those users appropriately based on those identified mediums, i.e. Stackoverflow, Twitter, Mailing lists, Google groups, Open source development, Ecosystem projects
       * Understand how the company and its community intersect.
       * Set the exact expectations with your community that explicitly state how users can contribute and what they’ll get for it in return. – But be careful to deliver on these expectations.
       * You can have governance documents that say we’re the most open source project in the world, but in practice when a user tries to contribute and they aren’t able to make and affect changes in an open source project, word will get around.
       * Try to keep the open source community and product aligned. But it’s important to remember that you can’t make it 100% aligned.
       * If you have to curate and manage all the open source contributions from the ecosystem to the product then that is a very expensive and time consuming process.
       * If you have a really well built contribution pathway, everyone is empowered. Ahead of time, figure out what the incentives are, what the coding standards are, these are the things we need done (road map).
       * What is going to build a great ecosystem is if you have a great product that fosters the ecosystem.
       * There is more to a community than pull requests and code contributions. You can have a low barrier for contributing to the community, but there are many different ways to contribute, for instance documentation, blog posts, learning resources.
       * Give your community contributors explicit roles so that they can grow and be identified as outstanding volunteers that are thoughtful leaders in the various contribution pathways for a product.
How do you give your community users a voice to promote their contributions?

* Forums
   * Stackoverflow
   * Google groups
   * Jabber
   * Community blogs
   * Channel 9
   * Company blogs for different projects
   * Twitter
   * Facebook groups
   * LinkedIn groups
   * Quarterly recognition of contributions

Related sessions:
    How to Build a Developer Community - 3:00pm at table 9

I’ve been thinking about these issues for a long time now. I tried to encapsulate it as best I could in the following blog post and presentation on patterns and practices for open source software community success. I tried to define a framework for thinking about the things that need to be done, and an order for the tasks.

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Also Kohsuke Kawaguchi gave a fabulous talk on the subject of building developer communities at Monkgras a couple of years ago, that’s captured here.

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