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Gary Pronych 1 Part .NET Developer, 2 Parts Personal Developer; 100% Canadian

I was reading the Developer Evangelist Handbook which is a good guide for public facing developer evangelists created by Chris Heilmann of the Yahoo Developer Network.
Check out the online handbook here

In this handbook there is some great advice for people who complete public presentations or someone who want to expand their current speaking engagements.
In reality many developers are evangelists (or should be) at there places of employment. Developers often feel pain in their ecosystem, the only way to change it is to deal with it.
I will take a twist on this article and talk about what developers can do to promote developer evangelism at the office.

First, what do I mean by developer evangelism?
- Someone who is passionate about continuous improvement through process, technology or development strategies
- Speaks with experience or knowledge
- Trusted by developers and employers

How is developer evangelism accomplished?
- Being a proprietor for continuous improvement.
Mediate with the technical staff and determine areas for improvement.
- Introduce new practices, design patterns and technologies.
Note: What was considered 'best practice' last year may be considered harmful today.
- Find an avenue to promote your suggestions such as blogs, speaking or tutorials.

Many employers and project managers do not like change, they like to see consistent progress so they can predict release dates. They consider changes as a risk of failure which complicates the prediction process.
However change requests happen regardless, success can be found through failure.

You may have a meeting with your employer somewhere along these lines
Your Employer: 'Tell me why we should change our development environment from VB6 to Visual Studio 2008?'
Well, if you have this exact conversation, you have other issues.

Typically you may need to sell why you need to upgrade from VS 2005 to VS 2008, SQL 2005 or SQL 2008, etc.
There are times when you may need to sell installing a Service Pack (SP). For example, VS 2008 SP1 included new functionality such as Entity Framework or breaking changes in SQL 2000 sp3.

An example of what is harmful today includes using SourceSafe source control when you have many other free options that will support tagging, branching and Continuous Integration (CI).
Not having these features will cause you pain, that is where the next section comes into play.

How to remove pain from your development ecosystem.
What cause you pain in your current development practices? Is there a better way to complete a task?

Do your research, find out how introducing a practice or technology to ease your pain.
Create a demo project in a timebox (a few hours or days) and demonstrate how this functionality increases productivity.

Know your audience and their needs
Your boss does not want to spend money or delay current progress.
However, if the investment increases productivity those are well spent dollars.
Do the above, do your research and propose your changes.

What is not developer evangelism
Developer evangelism may lead to the 'ooo it's shiney' developer or a Magpie developer.
By the definition above, evangelism comes from experience. If you feel your new process is worth merit, do your diligence, follow the steps in 'How to remove pain'.
Prove this solution is viable solution that meets your project needs and corporate politics.

Providing a list of 5 things your team needs to improve on is a good to note but that introduces major change. Remember, your employer does not like change.
My experience has been to introduce new processes as needed. Select the easiest attainable improvement and work you way to completing that change. Then you can carry onto the next area for improvement.

Sometimes no change is the best change
Keeping up with industry changes can be a daunting task. But is change even necessary?
Will that new design pattern really benefit the team or will it just cause confusion?

An veteran knows that you need to pick and choose your battles; you don't need to win every battle to win the war.

Posted on Saturday, August 8, 2009 1:01 PM Musings | Back to top

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