One year as a Developer Advocate

Introduction

Exactly one year ago today, I started working as a Developer Advocate for the Hibernate team at Red Hat. Prior to joining Red Hat, I used to work as a software architect, and I didn’t have any clue what I would have to do as a Developer Advocate. So, I learned on the way.

This post is a summary of what this role is about, and what I’ve managed to accomplish.

What is a Developer Advocate?

First of all, a Developer Advocate is a software engineer who not only enjoys coding with the framework they are advocating, but he or she enjoys talking or writing about it. Social interaction is fundamental to being a Developer Advocate.

Just like any other job, you need to have a goal. In my case, the goal was to mind the gap between the Hibernate developers and the community. Each Developer Advocate job has its own unique goal since each project or framework has different needs.

Revamping documentation

For an open-source project, documentation is of paramount importance, as illustrated by the following survey:

The Hibernate ORM project documentation was outdated and people were complaining about it.

Therefore, my number one priority was to rewrite it from scratch. Nowadays, the Hibernate ORM documentation looks like this. I’ve restructured both the UI and the User Guide content. Even if I worked around months on this massive task, there are still many improvements to come, so stay tuned!

Ressurecting the forum

When I joined the Hibernate team, the Hibernate ORM forum channel had not been active for a long time. There were spam messages, and many Hibernate ORM questions did not have any reply at all. Although we have many communication channels: mailing list, IRC, HipChat, StackOverflow, Quora, the forum is where most people go to address a question to the Hibernate team.

For instance, the PgJDBC team has reached us about a change that could potentially break Hibernate (and many other frameworks that build on top of JDBC) on our forum.

So, if you have any question about Hibernate, you should give our forum a try. It’s like free-of-charge consultancy.

Going to conferences

I’ve talked about High-Performance JDBC and High-Performance Hibernate at Voxxed Bucharest, Devoxx France, Java Zone and ITDays. Check out these presentations for more details.

Hibernate has a great market share, so my goal is to teach people how to use it properly. That’s why I wrote the High-Performance Java Persistence book.

Measuring impact

There are some metrics you can follow to know if you are doing any impact, like Alexa rating for hibernate.org

alexa_hibernate_dec_2016

As you can see, we’ve got a significant improvement that kept on going for months now.

The GitHub stars graph shows a 50% increase from last year:

github_stars_hibernate_dec_2016

This is how the Hibernate Twitter stats page from November 2015:

twitter_hibernate_nov_2015

And this is how it looks like now:

twitter_hibernate_nov_2016

Overall, we got a 33% followers increase from around 4500 to almost 6000 followers today.

Thanks for following us!

If you enjoyed this article, I bet you are going to love my book as well.

Conclusion

All in all, this year of working as a Developer Advocate was a great journey, and I’m looking forward to the next year to come. Stay tuned for more great content about your favorite Java data access framework and JPA provider.

If you liked this article, you might want to subscribe to my newsletter too.

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11 thoughts on “One year as a Developer Advocate

  1. The value you bring to the open source community in explaining the thoughts and usages of complex frameworks might be hard to measure, but they are essential in my realm to achieve fast progress.
    Keep up the good work, your book is on my shelf :).

  2. That’s brilliant Vlad, I’ve been following you since middle 2015 and I congratulate you for the always amazing work you put into Hibernate community. Thanks for everything and keep doing your awesome work.

    Cheers from Brazil! 😉

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