duncan.dev
🧑‍💻

How Netlify does developer advocacy

4 February 2021 • 10:30

The definition of a developer advocate and what they do depends a lot on the company, its needs, and its leadership values. An excellent template, in my opinion, is how Netlify has approached developer advocacy:

Developer Experience Engineering is a hybrid role that is an intersection between more traditional advocacy of engaging in communities, writing posts, and doing open source work with engineering work.

I think it’s vital that they’ve made regular product engineering rotations, including changing an engineer’s reporting structure during the process, a fundamental practice. This is so essential for keeping close to what developers both inside and outside the organization are doing. It also combats the tendency to think of developer advocates as “not real developers.”

Sarah Drasner, who leads the team at Netlify, elaborates:

I want to mention that Developer Advocacy getting a bad rap in our industry is a bit of a code smell to me: after all, who better than a developer to understand the needs of a developer? A dichotomy between “you can communicate, you must not be an engineer” or “you are an engineer, you must not be able to communicate” is a toxic one.

If you need a model of how to structure a developer relations organization, Netlify’s would be an excellent start.