Any API that courts developers typically has a whole team of people working to create a great developer experience. In fact, this should be an important factor in choosing an API. If there are no humans behind an API, who will you go to if something goes wrong?
There are many groups that are part of supporting developers, but a Developer Relations team is often on the front lines, with a balance of developer marketing, support, product, and engineering duties. These developer evangelists or developer advocates attend events, write code, talk to developers, and share sample applications or use cases. It takes a rare person to succeed in the role, and it’s highly sought.
Recently, Payment API Braintree decided to rethink developer outreach:
— braintree_dev (@braintree_dev) March 9, 2016
The BattleHack had been a much-promoted, world-wide event for PayPal (Braintree’s parent company). According to TheNextWeb, along with shuttering the series of events, Braintree laid off some or all of its developer advocates. The Twitter account meant for communicating directly with developers now points to the main company account.
“Developer advocacy… is at the core of everything that we do,” PayPal said in a statement to TheNextWeb. That would be an exciting proclamation if true, but it smacks of spin. Removing the most visible humans behind an API is not the way to gain trust of developers.
Braintree moves a notch down in the DX Index, based on elements of the rating tied to direct support, at least until it shows it really is serious about developer advocacy.