Top 5 Ways to Get Developer Focused!

— WTF is “Developer Focused” anyway?

I always hear a lot about companies being developer focused. Maybe it’s a bit of cynicism but I never expect much from this goal. Few companies have been effectively developer focused, they just dream of it. I asked myself recently, and would love others’ feedback. What exactly does it even mean to be developer focused?

What I Think of “Developer Focused”

When I think of developer focused organizations, the first organizations I think which actually have some type of grasp and effectively work toward this are open source software projects. Not particularly foundations or companies related to the projects, but the projects and the people involved with the core project themselves. These come to mind for several specific reasons.

  • Open Source Projects are easily identified as being developer focused since it is usually a group of developers building a project for others, usually developers, to use to build software for others, usually not developers, to use.
  • Open Source Projects have a self-determination among the group of developers writing the source code for it to be in a readable, usable state for other developers. This definitely fits into something I’d think of as developer focused.
  • When these projects get big enough they’re usually documented, written about on blogs and in articles from tech media, and talked about in many forums. By association of this process, this again first into my idea of what developer focused is.
  • At a certain time the developers and developer users of said projects often become advocates — sometimes staunch advocates — for their respective projects. This combined with the availability of source code truly makes a project developer focused.

The idea years ago that developers are the king makers of the industry has held true, and in large part this I’m confident is in correlation and partial causation of why open source software has become a prominent defacto approach to building solutions, for individuals and organizations.

With that said it makes logical sense that developers have gained this power, and that open source has become this defacto way to approach building solutions. However there are exceptions, let’s expand on this a bit and then refocus on this particular core association and get to a focal definition of what developer focused really means.

Expanding on the Idea of “Developer Focused”

From what I’ve ascertained so far developer focused I largely associate with effective open source projects. But this isn’t the only type of organization that can create solutions, projects, and related efforts that I think of as developer focused.

Let’s take Microsoft as an example. Love em’ or hate em’ as an entitiy, over the years they’ve focused heavily on various types of developers. For a time they almost killed off Apple entirely (if you don’t recall, Apple exists today because Microsoft saved them from going bankrupt!) by bing more dev focused and getting more apps built by devs for Windows. At least, that’s one aspect of the whole situation.

Microsoft has had, and continues today to focus on documentation and products that center around developers building applications; in yesteryear more around Windows OS and today mostly around building web applications like every other entitiy on the planet! Their focus includes things like IDE’s, helper libraries, entire frameworks, SDK’s, tons of documentation, and teams working continuously to refine and determine what would help developers the most in creating tomorrows applications and maintaining and improving todays applications.

Other companies, to various degrees have done this too. For a small company size example, check out HashiCorp. The company started at its origin from various open source projects and has expanded to make solutions for developers and systems operators easier to use. These include things like Terraform, Consul, Packer, and a number of others.

Developer Focused Definition

Thinking back on all these things, here’s what I’ve put together to define the ideal characteristics of a developer focused organization.

A developer focused organization has a priority to focus content, tooling, and related materials around the work developers to build, maintain, and operate software solutions. Key features of a developer focused organization.

I’m currently, and continuing to define what should be in this list. I’d greatly appreciate your input; opinions, hot takes, or whatever you’ve got I’d like to know! So leave a comment, tweet at me @Adron, chat at me via Twitch @adronhall message me on LinkedIn, or whatever way you’d like I’m open for input!

Software dev, data, heavy metal, transit, economics, freethought, atheism, cycling, livability, beautiful things & adrenaline junkie.

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