Anyone who has ever built a developer tool or worked on an open source project knows that its success depends on the contributions and support of a solid developer community. We want to build things that people want to use, and we rely on feedback to help get us there.
While having a developer community is mission-critical, “building community” can seem like a pretty vague task, especially when you first get started. What does it mean to grow a developer community? Where do you begin?
Our goal is to build cool stuff that people want to use. Our conversations with other developers should then revolve around showing them what we’ve created, sharing knowledge about how the project works, and taking feedback to make sure we’re addressing the right problems and building APIs in the most usable way.
Getting people excited about your project depends on communicating with them authentically— a jargon-y way of saying you should just speak like you would to any other friend or person whose thoughts you respect and are interested in listening to. Assume their feedback is useful. Respond to it politely. If you disagree, explain why. Avoid belittling anyone who asks questions you think are obvious or says things you think are wrong. Chances are, they’re not as obvious as you think, and they may not be wrong. Maybe most importantly, try not to make promises you can’t keep. The collective memory of the internet is long.
These conversations can happen online, in forums, Hacker News comment threads, Facebook and Twitter, but it’s also important to reach out to people in person. Providing a physical space where people can talk about technology that interests them helps make your project more accessible. Many people learn better from interacting with others and having their questions answered face to face. Plus, hanging out with other enthusiastic people helps this otherwise-vague “community” feel much more real.
Developer events like meetups and hackathons are helpful for these reasons, but organizing them is a substantial amount of work. It can be intimidating the first (or second, or thirtieth) time. Some inside knowledge of how to do it goes a long way.
That’s why today, we’re releasing some materials to help out people who are trying to run developer events for the first time—or have been doing it for a while.
For potential organizers, we’ve put together a set of high-level guidelines for running a great event, from content to venue to getting people to actually show up. There’s also an organizer timeline for meetups and for hackathons to help keep you on track as the date approaches.
If you’re interested in running a Parse meetup specifically, we want to go further to help you out. We’ve also opened up some content that you can present out-of-the-box to get conversations going at your first meetup. You can start off with an Introduction to Parse or dive deeper with a code example in the Parse Demo deck. We’ve provided lots of notes in the presentations to make them easy to follow and give. Let us know that you’re having the meetup and we’re happy to give you a shoutout from @ParseIt, and chat with you more about how we can help.
Do you already have a bunch of independent meetups running, and thousands of watchers on your project? Awesome. In the spirit of community, we believe these materials should be collaboratively written and edited. If you have tips, tricks, and other helpful information to add to the guides, please go to our repo on GitHub and submit a pull request for your edits. We’d love to hear from you!