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So You Want Developers to Love Your API


0_oMgLrMmFmtgc1Ntw.gifIn November, I gave a talk at the API Strategy and Practice Conference in Austin. It was my first time attending and speaking at the conference. I can’t say enough great things about it. I called the talk, “Building Community with Developer Love,” which was perfect for the conference because it was extremely welcoming and had a great community feel to it.

Some of the first things developer facing companies focus on is great documentation, code samples and sample projects, education through tutorials, how-to’s, and blog posts. If, as an API company, you aren’t, you might want to reconsider some of your decisions. These are all great things and very much needed, but sometimes there’s one thing missing from their focus… developer love! Developer love can help you grow your community, and in-turn, your platform.

The Sweet Spot

There’s a sweet spot that documentation, code, and education along with developer love creates. The more you develop the developer love circle, the easier it is to find the sweet spot.

A lot of times developer facing companies think, “I’m a developer, so I know how to relate to other developers to help grow a community.” While this is partially true, developer communities are made up of people from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences.

The great thing about developer love is that it can be universally applied within a community.

Two Way Street


People ask themselves two things when they join a community: Are they like me? Will they like me? To help answer these two questions, you have to be clear about what you stand for as a platform and as a community and make people feel welcome.

This is where developer love comes in. Developer love is both loving developers and developers loving your platform. It is a two way street: To get love, you must give love. 💕

Being able to engage, build relationships, effectively articulate, and be an active participant in developer communities is great. It’s important to remember, however, that it isn’t all about you. Don’t expect everyone to go crazy over your latest blog post just because it’s good content. Unless your community is already loving your blog and platform, they won’t be sharing it with their friends like you had hoped.

What Are Examples of Developer Love?

I find that it breaks down into four categories: Sharing, Face to Face, Snail Mail and Email, and Support.

See the video from the talk to see some great examples of all of these:

See the slides here.

Also, make sure to check out the rest of the videos from the Developer Experience session of the conference. There’s some extremely helpful and awesome ideas in the session.

Ask Why

Lastly, it’s important to always ask why. Developer Relations, Advocacy, Evangelism, and Community work should always be full of conscious decisions. Should you write a blog post highlighting a cool feature or send out an email to pair program with new users?* Always ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

*Hint: It is a good idea to share knowledge, not features.

Now, go spread some developer love!