We received a nice writeup in the API Evangelist blog the other day. (If you don’t follow Kin’s writing, you should. He’s on top of his game when it comes to API technologies and API-driven business models.) The post talks about everyone in API-driven companies being a developer evangelist.
That’s certainly true for us given Iron.io’s business. Our reason for being is to provide developers with dead simple access to hosted processing, messaging, caching, and scheduling services via APIs and client libraries.
We’re taking a page from Twilio, 10gen, SendGrid, and others who focus on community development and support. A key part of this for us is to have our engineers connect with customers via our public HipChat channel. This tool has been invaluable for letting us know what issues developers are running into. But what’s surprising is not just the knowledge we gain about sticking points, problems with the docs (doh!) or features users want, but the kind words and praise we hear. It does hurt to get called out on things (it’s not easy running a service that executes other people’s code) but more often than not the conversations lead to the amazing things people are doing with our services. This more than makes up for the pain – plus it makes for great motivation to fix, add, and make things even better.
On this note, we’ve recently brought on developer experience engineer in the form of Paddy Foran. He’s been working with us as an engineering intern for several months and has been a prime force behind our Dev Center. Look for more great things to come with the dev center, GitHub examples, and getting started (heck, he’s even put it in writing). This addition doesn’t mean others on the team are spared from connecting with customers. In fact, talking with customers has become such a benefit that it’d likely be hard to take it away from anyone on the team.