Dec 6, 2021
DevX Digest 04 - Building a Developer Experience team
Pauline Narvas Mike Nikles Lou Bichard
Welcome to DevX Digest - the place to hear all about Developer Experience, brought to you by Pauline Narvas (@paulienuh) and Mike Nikles (@mikenikles) from Gitpod. You’re reading another newsletter from us 🎉! In this edition, we talk about developer experience in cloud-based,ephemeral dev environments.
This edition is particularly exciting as we’ve launched DevX Pod which is a podcast ALL ABOUT developer experience. Inspired by the conversations from DevX Conf that we hosted earlier this year and the growing interest in DevX space recently… we were both like, 💡 “People seem interested in this and there isn’t a lot of information out there on it yet. Let’s contribute to the space and do this!” 💡
How do you build a DevX Team? 🛠
Our first episode features Cirpo, Head of Developer Experience at DAZN Engineering and Lou, Product Manager at Gitpod. In a previous life, Lou worked with Cirpo as one of the founding figures in DevX at DAZN, they even wrote a blog post all about their values, focus, team structure, learnings and more.
DevX Pod is available wherever you get your podcasts!
Unlike more “external-facing” DevX content that is seen more often in the wild, this episode focused more on “internal-facing” DevX i.e. from the POV of an internal team (also known sometimes as platform/tooling/infrastructure teams) where improving developer experience was the full-time responsibility.
There were so many gems in the episode, we encourage you to listen to it! However, if you prefer you can also read the full transcript here.
Our key take-home messages were:
Developer Experience is still a very new space, but clearly a very hot topic!
When we talk about developer experience, it falls into two areas: internal DevX (sometimes companies have a dedicated team to improving internal developer experience) or applying user experience to a developer product (e.g. Netlify)
How do we measure the success of DevX? How can we get buy-in from leadership to invest in DevX? There are no specific frameworks that can give you consistent data when it comes to tracking developer experience. This can make getting buy-in from stakeholders difficult, however, Cirpo shared that he thinks his main success in DAZN’s DevX team was the fact that they started small, showing the impact by the result of fewer complaints on using internal tooling (and the number of happy faces!) which led to gaining more trust and investment from leadership.
Although in the developer experience space there is a burning lens on tooling, it doesn’t end there. We discuss how it’s also all about people, all about community and that empathy is important more than ever in DevX!
“Tools got us into this, will tools get us out?” A great question by Lou. Technology is complicated nowadays. With the vast amount of tools we have at our disposal, it can be overwhelming trying to piece them all together so that they work seamlessly in our ecosystem. That glue itself is developer experience. How can we productively use all these tools?
The DevX that made Cirpo mind explode was the first time he customised his terminal to be colourful. The reason this was mind blowing was because “back in the day”, it was black and white. Now with the infinite customisation opportunities, developers can really feel like their toolkit works for them.
Lou shared an integration that was built at DAZN. Something that he has wanted in every single tool since and that is an integrated error map. This error map helps devs understand what is going on when they hit an issue so they can unblock themselves quicker and stay in flow. This is exactly what developer experience is all about!
Even if you don’t have the time to integrate some StackOverFlow like solution into your product, Cirpo reminds us that sometimes the most simple actions can have a big impact on DevX. For instance, writing meaningful error suggestions could make someone’s experience trying to debug issues 100x better.
The final parts of our fun conversation, we all shared our hopes and dreams of DevX. Cirpo’s answer was one that we needed to highlight. He hopes that in the future, we all move towards a more 360 degrees approach in DevX. Not just this obsession with tools, but equally with people and community.
It was also mentioned that having more content like this to help educate and bring more folks into the DevX world is so needed. Sharing is caring: we can collectively improve developer’s daily experience by just sharing our learnings with each other.
DevX Digest is community-driven 🤝
There’s clearly folks excited about DevX, so let’s continue talking ⚡️ In fact, Lou’s recent Twitter Thread is a great reinforcement of why we are doing this.
As a result, we’ve recently improved the dedicated area in our Discord server to build up on the developer experience community. If you’re interested in developer experience either from a team-building perspective or from the tooling side of things, come and join us!
That’s it for now, thanks folks! See you over on our Discord. 👋🏼
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