As a technical writer, I can relate to DevRel.
When writing for end-users of software, as a tech writer, you’re a user advocate. When your readers are developers, doesn’t it naturally then follow that you are a developer advocate?
Understanding the reader
Being a tech writer in software means I’ve always worked alongside developers. Sometimes in a team of writers seated next to the dev team; other times as a lone writer embedded with devs in a cross-functional team.
Over the years I have developed an affinity for software engineers. I have an understanding of the challenges they face, what frustrates them and what motivates them. (Of course, I’m generalizing!)
Without developers, I wouldn’t have a job—there’s no tech writing without something technical to describe. I’m good at writing and communication, so it makes sense that I use my powers for good. I look at how I can use my skills to remove barriers for devs and empower them to do their job. That comes in the form of communication, editing and writing good docs.
Using my powers for good
As part of my day, I spend time in several open-source communities, checking chats and looking at what’s topical and what’s going on: upcoming events, security updates, new releases, a new thing that a special interest group has built. I look for opportunities for making connections between teams, and how I can help people succeed.
Naturally I’m involved in creating a lot of content. I also do a lot of technical editing - making sure that content my fellow writers or developer colleagues have written is the best it can be.
If speaking and listening are the fundamentals of developer advocacy, then as a tech writer, you’re listening when you elicit info from your subject matter experts (who happen to be developers). And you’re speaking when you create accurate and compelling content for developers to consume.
DevRel and Tech Comms - closer than we think?
Granted, not every tech writer presents code deep-dives at conferences, nor are they involved in community building (but they might be if they work closely with support teams who maintain a forum or user-group around the product). But most tech writers are deeply aware of their audience, understand their challenges, and want to remove barriers by creating great content—be that UI copy or UX writing, procedures and official docs, release notes, blog posts, and more.
So as a technical communicator, then, I am DevRel adjacent. This explains why I feel like so much of the DevRel content out there is speaking directly to me, even though I am not a developer.
Image credits: Pencils photo by Tamanna Rumee: https://www.pexels.com/photo/colored-pencils-on-the-colored-paper-7986298/