DevXCon San Francisco 2018
Brian Douglas at DevRelCon China 2018

Brian Douglas at DevRelCon China 2018

The city of Suzhou is, perhaps, not as famous in the west as its neighbour Shanghai. In China, though, it is known as the land of fish and rice; a paradise on Earth. Famed for its ornamental gardens and canals, Suzhou is home to ten million people and, on April 21st, was the location of DevRelCon China 2018.

People from across China, and beyond, gathered at the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University to learn and share about developer relations and developer experience, at this second edition of DevRelCon in the country.

The themes of the day would have been familiar to anyone who’d attended a DevRelCon in the past: how to reach new developers, how to build developer communities and how to design products that developers love to use. However, there was one theme that’s unlikely to be as prominent at other editions of DevRelCon: blockchain. More on that in a moment.

Developer relations in China

Jess West at DevRelCon China 2018

Jess West at DevRelCon China 2018

While larger companies, such as Alibaba, Huawei, Microsoft and IBM, have dedicated dev rel teams, it’s still early days for developer relations in China. But there’s enormous interest. Partly, it goes hand-in-hand with the emergence of open source in China but also it’s tied to the maturity of developer-targeted products coming out of Chinese companies.

The speakers at DevRelCon China 2018, particularly those from China itself, reflected this emergence of developer relations as more mainstream in the country. Huawei’s Biaowei Zhuang looked at how to mould dev rel to modern Chinese culture and Getui’s Yuzhen Zhang shared the results of her research into the lifestyles, motivations and preferences of China-based developers. Huawei’s Richard Lin used his experience as a member of Kaiyuanshe, the OSI’s affiliate in China, to describe how developer culture and open source community differ across China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Other speakers covered the practicalities of reaching developer audiences, such as IBM’s Daisy Guo who shared her experience of using online classes to train developer communities. Algolia’s Jessica West, GitHub’s Brian Douglas and Zapier’s Adam DuVander each looked at how to use developer relations and developer marketing to build awareness and engagement.

Many of the talks from Chinese presenters attempted to understand developer relations in the context of blockchain. Blockchain development is huge in China. Individual software engineers are excited by the chance to work on blockchain. Qu Cheng of the Neo blockchain community described not only how they’re building a community of blockchain developers but also how blockchain technology can be used in the running of developer communities.

Each of the speakers brought a wealth of experience and knowledge and, just as at any DevRelCon, the audience brought just as much, making the event an opportunity for everyone to learn.

You should have a plan for China

Atsushi Nakatsugawa at DevRelCon China

Atsushi Nakatsugawa at DevRelCon China

If you’re based outside the country, you should start thinking now about your developer community plan for China. It’s easy for those of us in the west to think of China as being far away and, perhaps, too difficult to engage with. However, that would be to dismiss millions of developers who are keen to use your API, tool, platform or whatever other developer-targeted product.

Next year’s DevRelCon China is going to be the biggest yet and it’ll offer a great opportunity for anyone looking to dip their toes into the Chinese developer community for the first time. Along with our partner in China DevEco, we at Hoopy can also help you to think about your China plans. We’ll announce the date and CFP for DevRelCon China 2019 later this year and we hope to see you there.

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