What the heck is DevRel?

Some time ago, I started officially delving into DevRel. You might be asking, “What the heck is DevRel?”. DevRel stands for Developer Relations, and I see a lot of people confused about what it actually means. In this article, I would like to introduce you to this interesting world.

Let’s first start by explaining what DevRel is not about. A friend of mine thought that Developer Relations was about helping developers find love. As a developer myself, I found that amusing. Luckily for us, if you are a developer looking for a soulmate, I would like to bring your attention to vsinder by Ben Awad, which is an amazing Visual Studio Code extension that serves as a dating app for programmers. Similar to Tinder, it allows you to swipe left or right to show an interest in another person based on their code snippets. 🙂

To put it simply, DevRel people are the ones who help educate developers on a specific product or technology, and they do so by building communities, creating content, and improving the overall developer experience of a particular product. When I usually explain this to my friends, they usually come to the quick conclusion that “DevRel people” are the same as “marketing people” (spoiler alert: We are not).

In order to become a good DevRel, I’d say that a person has to fullfil what I call the 3C requirements. These being code, communities and content. DevRel people should be able to code. Being able to code make them emphatic with developers as they share the same experience. Most of the DevRel people I know are in fact developers themselves. The ability to build communities and create meaningful connections is important as well. Being an easy going, friendly, genuinely helpful and overall nice person is crucial. And last but not least, DevRel people are usually responsible for educating others using various means (talks, videos, tweets, blog posts, documentation, communication threads).

Being a longtime World of Warcraft player, I am used to the concept of having talent trees in which a person can further specialize. Within the DevRel class, there are three paths, and you can walk down one or more of them based on your interests.

The way of community

If you like meeting people, this one might be the best for you, as it revolves around growing and managing a community of developers. Community-focused DevRels usually help answer questions and create events and activities for the members to attend. These can be livestreams, meetups, or conferences.

The way of content

If sharing knowledge and teaching others about a certain product is your jam, this might be the right path for you. Content-focused DevRel usually writes blog posts, makes videos, teaches workshops, records podcasts, tweets about new features, and overall spreads awareness.

The way of product

If you care deeply about the product and want to make sure that the developers have a blast while using it, then you might consider walking down this path. Product-focused DevRel frequently speaks to the users, improves the documents, and works on product examples, templates, and integrations.

Usually, you don’t have to walk down only one of these paths, and in fact, most of the DevRels have dual talent builds, meaning they usually combine multiple areas of interest. I personally do all three of them, with most of the focus on content and community.

By the way, if you want to know how to get into DevRel and some of the recommendations you can apply to become one, check out the interview me and my buddy Nathan did with Aldin Kiselica from Cerbos ( link here).

If you have read so far, you might want to follow me here on Hashnode. Feel free to connect with me over at LinkedIn or Mastodon.