Developers are users too!

Good Developer Experience (DevX) is about more than slick development tools.

A good DevX maintains the developer’s “flow” by eliminating needless friction in their creative process. Developers are freed from repetitive tasks, and can maximize their productivity and creativity. Innovative and practical solutions that incorporate a keen attention to UX all contribute to the developer experience.

This might sound like a detail. But it’s not!

Small UX details have huge impacts on the developer’s state of mind and outcome (the work they produce). Anything that enhances both these experiences is an immensely important contributor toward the developer’s success, even if the individual elements are minor.

  • State of mind — Poor DevX stresses developers. And when so much attention and focus is required, just to get something to “work”, not much energy is left to put into important things — like being innovative or creative, or ambitious about what to build, and how to build it. Humans can’t really multi-task and falling out of flow to manage pesky details magnifies the cognitive cost of the work. It’s bad!
  • Outcomes — With sub-optimal tools, developers become mired in endless details that don’t contribute to their end goal. More often than not, they end up reinventing the wheel. Sapped of time and energy, developers can’t focus on what makes an app great.

User Experience for developer tools has a massive impact on the quality of products that developers can build, and the value those products provide to end-users. It is a systemic problem, and needs a much closer look from both the developer and product management communities.

However, there are a few notable exceptions. JetBrains, for example, started the company with a clear focus on DevX. Though the market was awash with open source IDEs, JetBrain was able to charge for IDEA because of the “great Java development experience” it provided. Their vision was so compelling that earlier this year, Google switched from Eclipse to Android Studio, the open source version based on IDEA community edition! Other developers have made the switch, as well, and there are innumerable plugins for Android development (this one is ours!) that improve the experience even further.

If you’re passionate about DevX and live in Silicon Valley, let’s start a conversation about it. This week, we started the first mobile developers DevX meetup — Join us!