What exactly is the job of a "Developer Advocate"?

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I can understand the role of a developer or coder or even a DevOps or DBA, but what the heck is a Developer Advocate😄

This job title is doing the rounds of the interwebs lately and seems to be a very new kind of position. Those who know about it, care to throw some light?

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Developer Advocates (also Developer Evangelists, Dev Relations and Dev 🥑) typically work with the marketing team and are externally facing. This includes things like writing blog posts, speaking at conferences, demonstrating the company's products, especially if they are software. They can also encourage internal software to be rewritten as open-source software.

In my humble opinion, traits of a good Developer Advocate include empathy, good communication skills including technical documentation, social media and public speaking. They value culture and developer happiness just as much as they value the product they're promoting

According to the Developer Evangelist Handbook, "a developer evangelist is a spokesperson, mediator and translator between a company and both its technical staff and outside developers." source

Some companies and their programs:

See this Quora for some additional answers

 
 

It's a great question!

There are some good resources on DEV that take a look at it. Have you seen the state of DevRel report that came out recently?

And this Q&A series with Mary Thengvall is super helpful in getting a sense of DevRel:

I wrote a small piece detailing some of my day to day in DevRel and you can find it here:

 

This is my take on the topic: fred.dev/developeradvocate/

Also, I wrote a couple more articles on the topic (most are a bit old, but still relevant) to help understand if it's a role for you: fred.dev/isdevrelforme/

 

Developer Advocate is not a new position actually.
Early it was more popular under the name of Developer Evangelist/IT Evangelist/Technical Evangelist.

The first so-identified technology evangelist was Mike Boich (Apple) — who promoted the Macintosh computer and convinced people to move from old technology to new.
Steve Jobs is actually one of the known technology evangelists.

One of possible explanations:
"A technology evangelist is a person who builds a critical mass of support for a given technology, and then establishes it as a technical standard in a market that is subject to network effects. The word evangelism is borrowed from the context of religious evangelism due to the similarity of sharing information about a particular concept with the intention of having others adopt that concept. This is typically accomplished by showcasing the potential uses and benefits of a technology to help others understand how they can use it for themselves."

The same with the term "developer advocate" - the developer who advocates some technology, product.

But, you are right that this profession is still evolving.
I work as Developer Evangelist at Aspose and I open new horizons in this role evey day. :)

 

I've never heard or seen a position like it, but now that I've heard of it, it sounds like they do all the stuff I don't want to do and that's amazing.

 

Great Timing! I was listening to a podcast this morning where the host had two developer advocates from Microsoft on.

dotnetcore.show/episode-29-develop...

 

Okay this is my impression from what I see of them doing rather than any formal understanding. Happy to be corrected in this discussion. Traditional companies have customer relationship managers who are supposed to have deep customer domain knowledge to represent those stakeholders in decision making. More and more businesses depends upon 3rd party developers who are key stakeholders. So having a similar role representing 3rd party developers makes a lot of sense. The job title “developer relationship manager” is probably not a title that a technologist would like to have. They wont want to “manage” things nor get into “relationships”. The title “developer advocate” is lot more attractive and implies more of a roaming and independent role. In the past the title ”technology evangelist” was fashionable at big tech companies. The more sober title of ”developer advocate” seems to have replaced it and given it more focus in terms of where their focus should lie.

 

I see it as twofold-- one is the externally-facing role of creating and presenting content that shows users how technologies related to the product you're pitching (because yes you are selling something, gotta keep the lights on) work, so that potential users see why your product helps them. There's also the task of bringing the feedback from the users (or people who hesitate/refuse to use your product) back to the marketing and product teams so that they know what people are saying.

That being said that's really vague on details for good reason-- the ways you interface with users and potential users is changing constantly, as are the ways we build teams and products. Being a Developer Advocate means learning and adapting as fast as you can to keep up; you end up as a sam-of-all-trades type, though you usually strive to be something of an expert on at least one topic related to your product.

It's a nebulous role with different expectations from each company. But it's becoming more defined over time, even though that definition will probably remain vague for the reasons mentioned above.

 

We have associate developers at work, it means junior but not derogatory. Perhaps this is the same thing?

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