What is Developer Relations?

found on Jos's dad's computer, dated May 18, 1999

A WebTV Developer Relations team would field questions directly from developers, work with developers to fix problem sites, and document their work on a public Web site. The team would include a Manager, an Evangelist, a Writer, two Web Geeks, and possibly a Junior Engineer familiar with the WebTV Service.

Why Do We Need Developer Relations?

  1. Every developer problem represents dozens or possibly, thousands of bad customer experiences. Non-functional sites cost WebTV dearly, whether counted monetarily by calls to Customer Care or counted statistically by dissatisfied customers. WebTV can choose to either suffer the frustrations of 15,000 customers unable to use their banking site, or employ a team to work with the site directly, and possibly fix the problem.

  2. Only developers can tell you what they need - everything else is guesswork. If the WebTV client and service came with a full spec, we could simply document everything, post it on developer.webtv, and call it a day. Unfortunately, there is no such spec; everything we publish is an ad hoc attempt to anticipate developers' needs. Without constant communication from actual developers, we have no idea what those needs are, and the content of developer.webtv.net may become irrelevant.

  3. Somebody needs to compensate for Service shortcomings. Bugs in the WebTV clients or service can take up to a year or more to fix. Frequently, a small code tweak by the site can patch things in the meantime. These patches are individual and site specific - developers rarely find it worthwhile to write these themselves. Through evangelism and ingenuity, a team conversant in HTML and JavaScript could compensate for many bugs in the WebTV Service.

How does Developer.webtv.net fit in?

A Developer Relations team is hampered if their work is not publicly documented and developer.webtv is hampered without developer input. While there's no reason for a DR team to take over the administration of developer.webtv, the DR team should be the generator of content. Copy editing, site design, and administrative responsibilities should remain with the Publications Web Team, thereby allowing each group to focus on its strengths.

return to the Life of Jos