Developer Communities: All You Need to Know

robusta_Blog Posts-12

What are Developer Communities?

Developer communities are places where we can

  • Share and brag about our work
  • Ask questions and find help
  • Follow for news
  • Make new connections and meet new people in the development field

They’re all about “finding solutions” and building up new experience, closer aligned with a community of practice than a community of any other type.

Communities you have to be following

In our field, there are A LOT of online communities that focus solely on development like

We also have other channels that are superiorly active like

  • Facebook tech groups/pages
  • Reddit tech subreddits
  • Google developer groups
  • Twitter

Huge companies and enterprises building products for the developers to use started to realize the importance of actively participating in the community through seeking the developers themselves. A new role has emerged called “Developer Evangelism,” where a developer evangelist is someone participating in the community in a way that makes him advertise for a product while making it sound exciting to others and without being intrusive.

You can find developer evangelists all around you. They are the people you follow on Twitter for news, who write tutorials on their blogs telling you how to do something. Think of them as social and brand influencers of all things technical development. Examples are countless and include

In Egypt, most of the tech communities are driven by individuals and not by companies or organizations. The role of developer evangelism hasn’t really matured enough yet. Instead, big companies who build ready-to-use “solutions” (like Oracle and Microsoft) advocate these solutions to other companies; not to developers

We have a big chance of taking the lead in the tech communities through focusing on the “Individuals.”

Why you should actively participate in developer communities

Developers in general show interest in participating in tech communities because it’s a way to create new connections. Connections are important because they mean

  • New technical knowledge
  • New job opportunities

How you can start contributing to the community TODAY

 Before you start contributing, there’s a set of skills you need to know that you have to work on along the way

  •  Be extremely eager to learn
  •  Be an excellent communicator through verbal and written communication
  •  Enrich your technical competence in your areas of interest
  •  Be an excellent listener and have the capacity to discuss anything

There are mainly 2 channels you should be focusing on…

 1. Online communities

   These will massively help you grow your technical knowledge and will show you how others discuss things and communicate with each other. Most importantly, they will highlight your weaknesses and allow you to work on them at your leisure.

 2. Offline/Local communities

  These are where you start having impact on others, sharing as well as always learning along the way. You start to advocate and give advice.Take care that you should be open to all opinions even those that trigger you and those you think are worthless though.

Benefits of having a leading role in local communities

  •  Your technical knowledge will grow significantly.
  •  You become more confident in the work you do and start enjoying it more and more.
  •  People start to idolize you as an expert (careful about that).
  •  You build relationships with other developers, entrepreneurs, and companies. Your connections grow beyond what you ever thought they could.
  •  You dedicate sometime everyday to reject the job offers you are getting via LinkedIn and emails 🙂

Benefits that the organization you belong to gains

  • With the growth of your technical knowledge, your organization is directly affected by the quality of the work that you perform.
  • Customers will have more confidence in your organization’s work.
  • Your organization starts attracting more customers.
  • Your organization starts attracting candidates who are eager to learn because they want to work with “YOU”.

Where you should start first

 1. Online

  • Participate in online discussions like Stackoverflow, Reddit, Github
  • Build something that you know will benefit other developers.
  • Write down articles on your personal blog, organization blog, Medium, WordPress giving your personal insights and ideas on a particular problem
  • Check local communities like Facebook tech groups and help others whenever you can through comments and answering questions whenever possible.

 2. Offline

  • Check for student activities and offer your services as a mentor/speaker at universities.
  • Offer to help those who are trying to give back to the community either through organization or through metorship/speaking (RailsGirls Cairo)
  • Find and attend local meetups and show your will to participate in organization and speaking. If none is available, start building your own community with the help of your friends and colleagues.

Bro tips

  • A good advocate is someone who is technically superior. Keep reading and learning and trying. Question your work and methods. Seek excellence.
  • Be kind to others around you. Their age, color, gender, religion or technical capabilities should never matter. As long as they are not toxic, you should stand at the same distance from all.
  • Listen carefully and don’t underestimate anyone. You would be surprised by the ideas and the work of the people you frankly think they aren’t as good as you.
  • Always be humble.
  • Give without waiting for a return. Good deeds pay off in ways you cannot imagine.
  • It’s a long-term investment that takes time. Be PATIENT and always enjoy the ride.

To Infinity and Beyond

 

Arguably, one of the movies’ most famous catchwords, and despite the fact that my number 1 early-morning activity with my 3-year-old has recently been watching and reciting Toy Story at 7am on a weekend with one eye open and the other half-asleep, this post plays to a more serious note about an organization’s own journey of self-exploration…

2015 was a particularly interesting year for robusta particularly because, for a change, we rethought our strategy, structure and, believe it or not, our robustivity vision, too!

Lots of concerns have triggered such exercise. It was mostly about the pursuit of profitability, sustainability, scalability and where we see robusta in 5 years from now. It was quite regular of a discussion between the managing partners to question the scalability of robusta and if it’s ever a candidate for exceptional growth that fulfills ours and the team’s aspirations for humongous growth. Don’t get me wrong! robusta was doing quite well already but we’ve always seen robusta not as a boutique agency but rather a flagship empire and been questioning a lot the way to get there.

Inspired by Gallup’s Strengths Finder and our IGNITE Development Program designed and implemented by our good friends at Mirqah ( more on this in upcoming episodes), we decided to start our pursuit by identifying and playing to our organizational strengths.

Cutting a long story of several client meetings (more of disguised interviews), internal workshops and self-reflections, it was becoming clearer that our top 3 strengths were our solid development skills and portfolio, a strong and influential culture fueled by an exceptionally competent team and robusta’s brand equity, reputation and reach within diverse verticals. Our weaknesses have always been lack of clarity to what we aspire to become that translated into stretching ourselves too thin across several streams which eventually lead to subpar profitability.

Building on this understanding, we made some bold decisions of exiting some of our service offerings and accounts. We’ve completely abandoned Branding, Social Media, Microsoft-based technologies, and trivial/low potential tickets. The reasons why we stopped each are quite interesting and each deserves a blog post on its own. We naturally decided to focus on our leading services which are E-Commerce, Mobile, Websites and Web Apps.

We also turned around our perspective looking at our team and decided to get rid of the illusion of growth that comes with growing our headcount after figuring out this is, in most cases, nothing but a sign of lack of efficiency. Comes next naturally is an overpowering need to look after productivity and a sharply pruned work force that makes it easier to invest in our culture & human capital development.

Ironically, we’ve also figured out that there’s such a HUGE local market that we need to dominate first before crawling beyond borders. Last but not least, we’ve done what turned out to be a pretty good job standardizing and innovating our retainer-based project development/support packages.

The said resolutions automatically put us on track with total clarity on how to go about restructuring the organization to achieve what became our solid vision.

“To serve as a flagship of national economy and become one of the top listed EGX companies by 2030”

This also fits perfectly with our designated 4-fold mission towards our clients, our people, shareholders and the community.

Finally, what we’ve mostly learned the hard way is that although focus seems to be an obvious strategic recommendation for any organization, it takes a lot of wisdom and learning about your customers, competitors, team and, of course, yourself to really be able to tell what focus means and how it applies to your organization.