Seven years ago I had the chance to visit China, and I had a great time exploring the cultural heritage, large cities and gastronomy. So when my talk got accepted for the first DevRelCon in Asia, I was excited to see China again — this time from a professional point of view. My plane landed in a dust storm so Beijing hid its face while I went to the hotel and took a nap to help with my jet lag. I woke up in the early afternoon in a different place: the storm cleared and left a sunny sky behind.
We had the opportunity to meet the speakers and the main organizers, and to check out the event venue in MeePark before the conference which actually took place in the well known 798 Arts District of the city. This place is an innovation area for artists and tech people in former factory buildings, so it provided a perfect space for sharing and discussing trending IT topics.
Three main topics stood out for me in the presentations, the first about developer relations in general, the second about the importance of open source projects and the third about the significance of trust building.
Dev Rel trends in the East and in the West
The essence of developer relationship building in areas like communication, outreach, dev characteristics and talent acquisition was an important topic throughout the day.
The lineup started with the inspiring ideas of Matthew Revell – the founder of DevRelCon – about effective developer outreach strategy. He introduced a way to segment the developer audience so that we can specifically target each group. The next talk by He Lishi was a nice addition with practical dev evangelism tips for sales and marketing purposes. Atsushi Nakatsugawa focused on problems that a company should solve before starting to do devrel. These talks provided a great basis to the panel discussion about trends all over the world.
Other speakers focused on community building and engagement. Yin Ming introduced his community and explained how you can identify what developers like and how to find the best communication formats for them. Jiang Tao on the other hand, spoke about the importance of developer community and talent acquisition and why this matters when building AIs. It was also nice to see how GitHub’s student program provides opportunities for students so they can learn faster how the dev world works via Joe Nash.
Why open source projects are important
Although it was surprising to see so much attention was dedicated to open source, it was interesting to see how the conference devoted time to introduce different viewpoints on this topic, and on its role in strengthening the local dev community. Quincy Larson, the founder of freeCodeCamp, joined the event remotely and shared his insights about how building open source communities is helping society at large. From the Chinese point of view Li Jiansheng spoke about the current status of open source communities, and why those are important in a developer’s life. Fang Qunjie then explained how devrel can help build better open platforms for communities. Ding Qi’s presentation was a great live example which introduced the open source strategy of Alibaba and how it helped the platform succeed.
How to build trust
Building trust emerged as the third large topic, and was introduced through two different models: Phil Leggetter talked about the AAARRRP model, an upgraded version of the startup community’s Pirate Metrics. He begins his model with Awareness and ends it with Product.
I gave a talk about the importance of trust in developer portals and explained how you can build trust and successfully strengthen your relationship with developers. Typically developer portals have two conflicting objectives. On the one hand, every developer portal aims to delight developers with a great product experience and to convince them to register as early as possible. On the other hand, companies want only trustworthy people to use their products, they want to avoid misuse. To create a balance between these two objectives it is important to understand the structure of trust and how to apply it to products.
Huge community outreach
Besides the 200 participants, the event was livestreamed to developers at venues in five different cities around China, making this a huge conference. The organizers Hoopy and the Chinese partner DevEco did an amazing job, reaching out to so many people at the same time. The whole event was well-organised and highly professional. In the end, we all got a nice plaque — a great memory keepsake.