The Developers Relations Conference has speakers from Evans Data (which collects data on developers) as well as many of the most well-known companies with APIs and SDKs.
Janel Garvin of Evans Data gave an overview of what’s going on for developers, based on the data that Evans Data has accumulated. These are the big trends:
- Big Data
- The Internet of Things
- Real Time Events
- Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing
Here’s a list (in order of importance) of things that developers consider important in developer programs:
- Sample Code
- Pre-release software
Interestingly, hackathons were very low on this list.
Some other facts: there are 4 million developers in North America, 7 million in Europe, 7 million in Asia, and 2 million in Latin America. They expect significant growth in Asia.
The number of female developers is up to 22% — the highest ever.
Globally, the average age is 37. The average age is getting lower, especially in Asia. A lot of older developers are leaving the workforce.
Windows 7 is the most popular OS. For mobile devices, Android is the most popular, followed by iOS, and then Windows phone.
Some facts about the Internet of Things (IoT):
- Asia has really high interest in IoT
- A lot of developers are working on back-end services for IoT
- 39% of IoT developers are interested in connected cars
51% of all develoeprs belong to at least one paid developer program. IoT and Cloud developers are more likely to belong than other developers. They join for technical information, support, and tools. If you ask them what should be free vs. paid, they say:
- Free to anyone: Searchable documentation and tutorials
- Free, but registered: SDKs and contests
- Paid: Certification, tech support, conferences
Starting a New Developer Program
A panel with Marc Naddel, Bruce Jones, Scott Regan, Anna Schaller, and Chris Traganos discussed their experiences in starting a new developer program.
- Get executive support and set expectations for them
- Figure out where it is going to create the most value
- Set appropriate focus and goals
- Involve infrastructure like your legal department
- Develop trust with your developers
Mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t make assumptions about your developers
- Understand how to market to developers. Avoid making marketing too broad.
- Don’t underestimate the time it takes to build apps on an API
- Hackathons can be a waste of time
- Don’t just work with one group in an organization; make sure everyone is behind it
- Establish trust with developers when changing the API
- Developers want to belong
- Provide recognition to developers
- Target different types of developers. Focus on top 1% to get good use cases.
- Leverage internal employees
Internet of Things
Thomas Grassl of SAP gave an interesting talk on developers and IoT. IoT has two distinct markets: consumer (healthcare, home, etc.) and business (vehicles, retail, remote maintenance, etc.). He focused on the business side, which is sometimes referred to as “Industry 4.0”. Examples are: (1) connecting container ships to trains, trucks and roads, and (2) a connected restroom that can ensure that it never runs out of anything.
IoT involves disciplines like hardware, software, UX, networking, and data. Different types of developers specialize in each. Hardware engineers have limited software knowledge, and software engineers tend to be specialized. Hardware makes adoption a challenge: for example, you may need to provide hardware to developers (for example, at Hackathon events).
Kevin Toms gave a fascinating talk about Philips Hue, which is a product that consists of smart, connected LED light bulbs. The bulbs color and intensity is controlled by open HTTP calls between the bulbs and a router, but Philips did not want to make the API public. Fans hacked into the calls and created their own documentation, which was about 95% correct. Philips has a history of protecting IP, so it was hard for them to realize that they were wrong to try to control access.
There are some pretty cool applications of Philips Hue. Here are two:
- Apps that listen to music and create appropriate “disco” lighting.
- Lights that are synchronized to a movie so that the room’s ambience is in synch with whatever is going on in the movie. (This is called a “lighttrack”, like a soundtrack.)
Of course, there were many more talks, but this should give you a sense of what was happening. I hope to see you there next year.