While the topic is growing in popularity now, developer experience was not on many people's radars even just a few years ago. One of the simplest, yet most important reasons for the rise of developer experience is that there are just so many more developers in the world. In 2019 alone the number of software developers in the world grew to 23.9 million up from 23 million in 2018 and it's predicted to reach 28.7 million by 2024. Between those with a traditional education, developers who got their knowledge from bootcamps or even self taught, the world has more developers but of those developers, now many have influence in purchasing and strategic decision-making that they didn't before.
In fact, in 2022 it was reported that 66% of professional developers have at least some influence over their organizations purchases of new technologies. When the same question was asked in a survey from 2020, only 56% of developers had that same power. So as much as developers have evolved in the last decade, it has grown even more in the last two years. As such we are seeing that developer experience is becoming strategically important at the executive level. And as developer experience continues to garner attention for businesses, here are four ways developer experience will improve in 2023.
It's hard to hire technical talent and developers are often one of the most precious resources at a company. Because of that, companies don't have the time to effectively onboard and there is too much time and money wasted in getting new developers up to speed to be productive. So how do we solve the onboarding process?
In the developer community we often hear the phrase "time to first hello world," meaning the first time you run a new program or code, you've built a new language. But something worth considering is switching that terminology to something more like, "time to hello value." Often many organizations will give developers a terminal in a dashboard and then with that they can make an API call, but there is a world in which organizations can ask developers what their stack and use case is and from there give them a code snippet rather than having to start something completely from scratch.
In the next few years, developer experience will get better at onboarding simply because it's one of the only real ways to save the most time and money from the start.
Once we've made it past the onboarding phase, the building process has also had many obstacles. Development often requires bouncing between numerous windows, which is time consuming and takes developers off task. Meaning, if you are looking to code something but you don't remember the exact terminology you should be using in a specific context, you often have to physically click out of what you are looking at and building in order to find the right term. An opportunity where building will continue to get better is when there are more features baked deep into the development environment. Meaning, we are going to see more auto-completes to help within the building process. It's controversial though because auto-completes are often coming from places that people don't know of.
However, regardless of how these platforms are getting auto-completes, the more interesting part is that the solutions aren't trying to move developers to some other context or window. Instead, it's where they are doing the work and the interface is just the keyboard already at their disposal.
Beyond onboarding and building, now comes one of the most important steps: deploying. Deploying code to production at one point required the need to run your own servers. Something that was very specific and also complex. Now, and in the years to come, there are many more services that make it much easier to get up and running.
For a long time, if you wanted to get something up on the web you had to be an IT admin. Instead, now companies can allow users to drag and drop, and are thus creating a space for more people to jump and get things on the web in a way that just wasn't possible before. So beyond decreasing time and additional resources, this kind of deployment is democratizing the entire experience. By building out these custom automated routines there are checks in place that enable a developers team.
Lastly, once you have onboarded, built and deployed, there needs to be an opportunity to maintain as to not defeat the entire previous process. Previously and even still, many teams are smaller or made up of individual developers. Whether or not you are a developer part of a larger team or an individual hacker, you may have dependency management problems. Meaning, no one has been there to say if a developer's dependencies are still good.
Developer experience has come a long way, but it also still has so many major opportunities for improvement. In the next year, I expect to see an improvement across onboarding, building, deploying and maintaining. Further improving the lives of developers and the companies they work for.