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BekahHW for OpenSauced

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Devrel and Open Source: A Powerful Combination

The first time I mixed open source and Developer Relations was October of 2020, when a tech community I started did a Hacktoberfest event. We livestreamed, podcasted, workshopped, and wrote about it. It's one of my all-time favorite memories of being in tech. I think it was that experience that stuck in the back of my mind that led me to where I am now at OpenSauced. It just makes sense to me that DevRel goes with Open Source, and through this series, I'm going to talk about why.

Developer Relations (DevRel) is a discipline in tech that focuses on supporting and building relationships with developers through education, awareness, and community building. At its core, it's about building relationships with developers.

Open Source Software (OSS) is a method of developing software that allows for distribution, modification, and sharing of source code. As part of this, collaboration and community-driven innovation can become very important.

Both DevRel and Open Source can be a powerful way to encourage collaboration and innovation. When DevRel teams and open source projects come together, developers can benefit, communities can grow, and diversity can be nurtured under the right conditions.

Overlapping Principles

Collaboration and Innovation through Shared Knowledge

Both DevRel and Open Source thrive with collaboration and knowledge-sharing. By sharing information, ideas, and best practices, developers are able to innovate together and create better solutions. There's a synergy created here that leads to new possibilities and promotes a growth-mindset.

Empowering Developers with Open Resources and Support

DevRel and Open Source both empower developers by providing them with the necessary resources, tools, and support, including good documentation, tutorials, and guidance, in addition to new or improved libraries, frameworks, and platforms. This allows developers to explore, experiment, and push boundaries.

Fostering Developer Communities

When communities thrive, so do open source projects and products. In thriving communities, members are more likely to share, take risks, and be open to listening. All of these things are necessary for
continued innovation, growing with new perspectives, and strengthening the impact of developers.

How DevRel Teams Can Leverage Open Source

  1. Contribute to Open Source Projects. If DevRel teams actively contribute to open source projects by fixing bugs, adding new features, and improving documentation, they show their commitment to the broader tech community, appreciation for developers' contributions, and their desire to learn and grow together with others outside their teams.

  2. Host Open Source Events. Organizing meetups, conferences, workshops, or hackathons can help DevRel teams interact with other developers, learn more about open source and how developers think about open source, and allow them to actively share their technical knowledge.

  3. Create Open Source Content. DevRel teams can create content to support open source projects, including blog posts, tutorials, demos, videos, talks, and more. This content creation can help developers to understand how to use a product, best practices, and gain a better understanding of open source.

How Open Source Projects Can Tap into Devrel Strategies

  1. Engage with Developers. One of the most important parts of DevRel is listening to what developers want and need. By engaging with developers, OSS can help support contributors and gain insight into the needs and prioritization of the community.

  2. Create Content to Support Contributors. To develop a robust community, you have to be able to support that community. Depending on the size of your team, this can be really difficult and time-consuming. But if you create good content, including blog posts, tutorial, and documentation, you'll be able to support and empower your contributors on a much bigger scale.

  3. Build relationships with other open source projects. Teams can collaborate on projects, attend the same events, or share resources. By building relationships with other open source projects, you'll gain access to a wider range of resources and expertise.

The Impact of Devrel and Open Source Collaboration on the Developer Community

Enhanced Learning Opportunities

When DevRel and Open Source collaborate, we all benefit through increased learning opportunities. By leveraging open source projects and resources, DevRel teams can provide developers with access to real-world codebases, documentation, and tutorials, empowering them to learn by example and gain practical skills. This collaboration expands the learning landscape and equips developers with the knowledge and tools they need to excel in their craft.

Increased Developer Productivity

Open source projects often provide pre-built libraries, frameworks, and tools that help developers accelerate their development process. DevRel teams, on the other hand, help contributors to understand how to utilize these tools, enabling them to streamline their workflows, save time, and deliver results efficiently.

Amplified Innovation and Problem Solving

Open source projects encourage contributors to share their ideas, expertise, and code. DevRel teams facilitate engagement and provide a platform for developers to collaborate, exchange ideas, and find innovative solutions to common challenges. This collaboration fosters a culture of creativity.

The collaboration between these two parts of tech encourages growth, community, and innovation if we take the time to do it right. At the heart of it all is community, and that only happens when people feel safe, supported, and develop trust with community leaders. So in these things, taking a person-centered approach is key. Understanding that each contributor, each developer you talk to, has a life outside of theirs work, has wants and needs, and you're willing to offer understanding is an essential part of being successful.

Have you experienced the benefits of DevRel and Open Source collaboration in your own developer journey? We'd love to hear about your success stories in the comments.

Top comments (6)

grahamthedev profile image

Great intro into how the two areas can overlap and compliment each other so well! 🚀💗

bekahhw profile image

Thanks! I have another two posts in the series coming out, but I'd love to dive deeper eventually.

adriens profile image

From my own experience in devrel, I strongly adopt the defition :

Developer Relations (DevRel) is a discipline in tech that focuses on supporting and building relationships with developers through education, awareness, and community building. At its core, it's about building relationships with developers.

... I may also add that our goal is to help create realtionshipts between developer by creating communities... to make culture raise.

Also, on a daily basis, it really helps a lot on building new skills and team efficience.

Thanks a lot for the great post, I really enjoyed it... and will probably use it to explain around me what devrel is.

bekahhw profile image

Awww. Thanks, I appreciate the kind words.

mfts profile image
Marc Seitz

Great post, Bekah! I‘m on the open source side and always felt that DevRel is very similar. You sum’d it well.

bekahhw profile image

Thanks, Marc!