Dec 21, 2021
DevX Digest 05 - How DevX has evolved
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.
In this edition, we’re looking back on an awesome conversation we had for DevXPod with Jamon Holmgreen, the Co-founder and CTO of Infinite Red. We encourage you to listen to the full episode, however, if you prefer reading our key takeaways from the episode, here they are! We also have a full transcript available here.
DevX Pod is avaliable wherever you get your podcasts or over on our Buzzsprout page!
💬 If you’re building anything in the tech space, you will always have developer experience. The question is whether it’s going to be good, bad or indifferent. Developer experience has exploded recently, but it’s always been around. When Jamon first got started in tech, he recalls his initial developer experience with the “online” help tool on QBasic which was essentially a help page that popped up after hitting F1.
🙏🏼 Developer experience has improved over the years, as we have become more mindful of when we create tools, libraries, APIs for others! We discussed how nicer it is to for instance develop a headless CMS in comparison to the days of updating WordPress PHP theme files via FTP. Throwback, right?
💡 “If you are contributing in some way to developer experience, you’re sort of like giving a gift to the user who is going to be using or the next developer, which might be you.” Often when we talk about developer experience, we think about other developers, but Jamon points out that it might also be your future self trying to figure out the same thing. Therefore, improving DevX is crucial and takes intentionality.
🚫 Mental fatigue and low team morale are all signs of bad DevX. If developers are constantly feeling frustrated by your onboarding experience or documentation that isn’t clear, it could do more harm than good. Constantly hitting issues is never a good experience.“Coding is hard enough.” Jamon described, “let’s not add more to it.”
💻 React-native-popover-view is a library that Jamon recommends as one of the best DevX that he has recently found. It’s a simple, highly customisable Popover component for React-native and has a great API with plenty of examples in the README. It was also another great example of progressive disclosure, a concept we mentioned in another Digest.
♻️ Jamon wrote React Native Colo Loco library with developer experience in mind, he spent more time intentionally making sure that documentation was clear, written in plain English and not overwhelming for new folks. It took a lot more time but is worth it long-term. This brought to our attention how we speak a lot about developer experience being mainly about the product, but we sometimes forget the other pieces including community, docs, error messages…i.e. The Developer Experience Ecosystem.
🚀 From painfully onboarding ourselves to interesting open-source environments to sandboxed developer environments like Gitpod; interactive documentation instead of docs that leave you with more questions; or more meaningful error messages (a good example is Elm) and less searching the ends of the internet for answers dated back to 10 years ago… DevX has changed so much over the years. The approach towards “the Developer Experience Ecosystem” as a whole is definitely something we all discussed as something we hope to see evolving in the future.
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