There are 48 million software developers registered with just one Chinese software developer community, CSDN. That’s a big potential audience for any developer relations team.
For those of us outside China, it can seem a daunting country in which to operate. Not only are there language and cultural differences, compared to Europe and North America, but China is so big that it could seem hard to know where to begin.
At DevRelCon Beijing 2017, developer relations professionals from around the world joined the local Chinese dev rel community to share knowledge, make new friendships and understand how better to work together.
DevRelCon Beijing 2017 took place at MeePark, a venue in Beijing’s Universal Creative Park. This part of town is known as the 798 Arts District and it’s where artists and technologists occupy former factory buildings to create something new. So, it was the ideal location for a conference that brought together software engineers, marketers, community leaders, executives and, of course, developer relations professionals.
There were also livestream audiences at venues in five cities around China, making this perhaps the largest DevRelCon yet.
The main theme of the day was to introduce the fundamentals of developer relations and how to apply them in China. There were talks on developer relations strategy (both my own talk and Phil Leggetter‘s), Yin Ming of Xitu spoke on the right ways to approach developers, He Lishi of cloud provider Qiniu spoke about how developer evangelism fits within the broader company and GitHub’s Joe Nash spoke about the specifics of developer relations with student developers.
However, another theme became apparent, too: how and why to work on open source projects. The idea of working on software without directly being paid for your time is still somewhat unusual in parts of the Chinese developer community. Many talks looked to convince the audience that they could benefit, both professionally and financially, from contributing to open source projects and that it was good for China’s role in the world.
Ding Qi, of Alibaba, spoke of their AliSQL fork of MySQL and his company’s other open source projects. Lia Jiangsheng, of UMCloud, made the case for open source as the right way of developing software. FreeCodeCamp’s Quincy Larson joined via Skype from San Francisco and advocated for open source’s role in improving society.
Overall, DevRelCon Beijing showed those of us from outside China that there is a huge and innovative developer community just waiting for companies who have the right tools and the right plan. Local Chinese companies are beginning their developer relations work. Importantly for those of us outside China, if we don’t have a plan for developer relations in China then we stand to miss out on potentially enormous opportunities.
DevRelCon Beijing was organised by Hoopy, my developer relations consultancy, and our Chinese partner DevEco. The team at DevEco did an amazing job in organising the event. Together we’ll be helping western companies to understand the Chinese developer community and offering support for their developer relations activities in China. We’re also planning at least one DevRelCon in China in 2018. You should join us there if you want to get to know the Chinese developer community.
Videos from DevRelCon Beijing will be published here soon. You can also join us at DevXCon San Francisco, on May 22, or DevRelCon Tokyo in July if you want to learn and share more about the developer relations craft.
Ana Bahr shares the history and strategy of Target’s engineer community building program in this talk from DevRelCon San Francisco 2019.
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