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The Three Essentials of Developer Programs

February 4, 2016

Back in the ancient days of the nineteen nineties, only a very few companies had any types of program to support the developers on their platforms or tools. Of course, back then very few companies had platforms or tools. Wow, has that changed!

In today’s interconnected world virtually all companies need to publish APIs in order to grow or stay competitive. From shoes to thermostats to cars to tractors or payment cards or factories – companies everywhere now have a “platform”. But a platform is nothing without developers, and thus the need for programs to recruit developers and to support and assist them once they’re onboard has blossomed.

Evans Data has been studying developer programs for over 17 years, and has vast knowledge and insight into what makes a developer program successful. Here’s a few of the essentials of programs that you can take as guidelines to help make your program a success.

1) Technical information is key. Developers join your program for assistance in working with your technology. Be it an API, some SDKs, a new device, or a full-on platform, the main thing developers want is information about how your technology works and how they can interact with it. The first things you need to provide are tutorials, documentation, tips and tricks, sample code and use cases – the more the better.

2) Development tools are expected. In a survey last month we asked about what developers expect vendors to provide for them in a program, and development tools was at the top of the list. The tools may be SDKs specific to your technology, they may be Cloud-based or distributed for on-premise use, they may be very specific or more general, but they must be provided.

3) Tech Support is required. Once you’ve got developers adopting your platform you’ve got to support them – it’s to everyone’s advantage. That means you have to provide answers to their questions and help with their issues. Happily, the days of hiring engineers to man the phones has largely been replaced by forums that let you crowd-source your tech support to other developers. That’s a good start, but you also need to supply online chat, email support, and some phone support. The important thing is – don’t dumb it down. Developers expect support from other developers.

These are the three key elements of any developer program, but there’s a lot more to forming and running a good program than this, and we’ve done something about that.

We’re proud to announce Devrelate.com, the only online academy for developer relations professionals. Devrelate’s developer relations classes will take you step by step through setting up, enhancing and maintaining a world class program. And once you’ve completed the courses you’ll receive full certification.

It’s all online and all at your own speed.

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