Developer Advocacy

Dogfooding developer products: gathering insights from internal hackathons

Josh Brown shares Spotify’s experience of using internal hackathons to learn about the APIs they’ve developed, in this talk from DevRelCon London 2019.
Video

Summary:

  • Stay out of the way during hack week.

    • Hackers are eager to dive into products!

  • Learn as much as possible from the developer experience of hack teams that were building on our API and SDK products during Hack Week, of which there were many.

  • ‌Studying DX from employed developers can be tough.

  • Avoid collecting feedback on your entire platform.

  • Be super aware of which resources your internal developers use when they build their hacks.

  • Take some time at the end of your internal hackathon to interview developers.

Scribbles:

  • One was to stay out of the way during hack week.

  • Learn as much as possible from the developer experience of hack teams that were building on our API and SDK products during Hack Week, of which there were many.

‌Studying DX from employed developers can be tough.

  • They are very different from external developers who use your SDK or API and

  • They often bring background knowledge about a product that an external developer would not have access to.

Tips to make it easier to get useful DX insights from a hack event.

  • Avoid collecting feedback on your entire platform.

    • Pick really specific topics that I wanted to study and do a deep dive on those.

    • Focusing on a small area can make it actionable for the product team.

  • Be super aware of which resources your internal developers use when they build their hacks.

    • Employees at a company tend to have extra access to resources like log files, source code, and other developers who may have worked on the developer tools that they’re going to use.

    • When hack teams’ internal hack teams stray away from using your public documentation, that decision can be really insightful and could indicate a gap or problem with what’s publicly available on your website for developers.

  • Take some time at the end of your internal hackathon to interview developers.

    • One-on-one about their experience with your chosen process or product area.

      • It helps to bring pre-planned questions and to be really specific in these interviews.

    • As part of the interview, it’s also really important to take time to understand their day job, the team that they worked with on their hack,

    • The project goals of the hack

      • This context really helps place the feedback, makes it actionable and gives you context that can help turn that into something you could bring back to your product team.