The modern world is relying more and more on technology, and as a result, the importance of companies and people involved in providing it is growing. Technology is a constant development and constant change, so new methodologies and trends in the software delivery industry are also emerging. One such trend, which is becoming increasingly popular, is developer experience (DX). In a nutshell, it is the overall experience and satisfaction that developers have when working with a particular software or technology.
There is no need to explain how important it is for us to have skilled and happy developers. They are the ones who create and maintain software that meets the needs of users. These developers play a critical role in shaping the technology landscape, and their contributions are essential for ensuring that technology continues to enhance our lives.
To create software that is effective and user-friendly, developers must have the proper tools and resources needed to do their job efficiently. This is where developer experience (DX) comes in. So let’s explore what DX is, why it’s important, and how it can be improved to create better software.
What is Developer Experience?
The idea is to make it easier for software developers to implement code changes and push projects forward. Creating and fostering a friendly environment where developers can focus and work to the best of their abilities is something that will benefit everyone involved. It includes everything from documentation quality to software performance. From the developer tools that we use to our culture and philosophy. Positive DX can lead to increased developer productivity, shorter development cycles, and a more engaged and enthusiastic development community.
It is not difficult to imagine a situation in which our feature is implemented and tested, the work of our developers is finished and in fact, we could forget about this task, but a problem appears. The code has not yet been deployed to the production environment. So there is one last but crucial step left to do. So what is the problem? Let’s assume that the deployments in this project are done by a separate DevOps (separation of duty) team, which uses a separate project management tool and works separately from the development teams’ cycles.
Already a bad smell is starting to float here…. Probably many of us are familiar with such a situation. The effect is as follows:
- our already-developed feature has not yet been released
- we need to keep a ticket on our board, with nothing more to do
- the DevOps team must be informed about the planned release
- the customer is waiting for the new functionality
- the development team is distracted because of the need to monitor the deployment process
This approach and the resulting problems are just one example of how the development experience is probably at a poor level. It unnecessarily creates delays in the project, distracts our team, and causes frustration. As a result, we have tasks that are “somewhat finished, but not quite.” If the developer team is working in Scrum, for example, often such a task cannot be closed, so there is a risk that the sprint goal will be threatened and the planned scope will not be delivered.
Why is Developer Experience so important?
Above I described only one anti-example, but just this one situation has already shown us quite a few problems arising from just a single factor. As you can see, the importance of DX cannot be overstated, as it directly affects the productivity and efficiency of developers. And in turn, it affects our entire product or service. By providing developers with the tools and resources they need to succeed, we can create a more efficient and innovative technology landscape that benefits us all.
The final success of the entire product depends on the initial small “building blocks.” Fewer distractions, better tools, and processes lead to a more satisfied and productive development team. And that ultimately results in delivering better solutions in a shorter period of time.
Here I will use an analogy from the world of sports, specifically road cycling. Several years ago, the British team Sky introduced a strategy called “marginal gains.” It consisted precisely of the fact that the final success (e.g. victory in a 3-week race) consists of many small aspects during each successive stage, but also of what happens outside the race. The right temperature in the hotel room, the right length of sleep, the shape and material of the clothes during the race, and even certain habits in private life that avoided infections that could disrupt the training plan, etc.
The effect of this approach was visible very quickly, with the Sky group securing 7 victories in 13 editions of the Tour de France since the introduction of this strategy.
How to build a DX improvement strategy?
That’s the question. There is no one single right way here. But certainly, the “marginal gains” strategy can be adapted to the context and structure of our organization. As I mentioned, DX is not only about tools (more will be said later in the article) but also about our company’s processes, philosophy, and culture. We can look at it from the socio-technical side. To enhance the developer experience and meet the overall goals of your organization, it is essential that your team’s strategies and values are aligned.
We can isolate the following aspects of a proper DX strategy:
Tools and services
Choosing the right tools is crucial to ensure the smooth and satisfying work of our development team. It can significantly improve the speed and accuracy of the work being done, which not only saves time but also increases the quality of the final product. Also, providing developers with the tools they prefer can help increase job satisfaction and reduce the likelihood of job burnout.
Processes and policies
Designing a development flow that takes into account the needs, problems, and working style of the team is essential to ensuring the success of any project. By understanding how the team works, what challenges they face, and what tools they need to do their job effectively, you can optimize the flow of work to ensure maximum efficiency and developer productivity. This involves identifying bottlenecks, streamlining processes, and minimizing distractions to help developers stay focused and on task.
Building effective processes and policies requires trust, cooperation, and collaboration within the development team. By involving developers in the decision-making process and leveraging their expertise, you can create solutions that are practical and relevant to developers’ work, increasing efficiency and productivity. Developers are the experts in their field and therefore have the best understanding of what tools and resources they need to do their job effectively.
Tools for better Developer Experience
Automated tools are at the heart of most developer-experience tooling projects. This approach typically underpins continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) techniques, environment configuration, or any other process that helps developers focus on their core responsibilities. Note that automated tools and platforms can also simplify other aspects of the development process, such as usage monitoring and security practices, making them easier to manage.
GitProtect is a backup & disaster recovery software for DevOps tools such as GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, and Jira. The tool helps thousands of organizations meet compliance needs. With GitProtect you can easily:
- Eliminate DevOps risks and data loss
- Automate DevOps backup policy in mins
- Comply with security audits (SOC 2, ISO27K, etc.), and shared responsibility models
Are you switching to a DevSecOps operation model? Remember to secure your code with the first professional GitHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and Jira backup.
GitGuardian is a code security platform for DevOps generation. With automated secret detection and removal, the GitGuardian platform enables Dev, Sec, and Ops to progress together toward a secure software development cycle.
- Dev – Automatically scan public and private code. Get alerted when secrets are exposed.
- Sec – Reduce the risk of secrets exposure with high-fidelity alerts.
- Ops – Include GitGuardian in your CI/CD to find secrets in git repositories.
Mergify is an automation service for software engineering teams who use GitHub to collaborate. It allows engineers to improve their code merging process by defining workflows, queueing merges, and removing manual interventions. It contains 3 elements:
- Merge Queue – queue, update and merge Pull Requests
- Workflow Automation – automate and optimize the code merges through your specific rules
- CI Optimizer – use your metrics to optimize your CI costs
It’s easy to use and allows automatic approvals, and provides more control over CI pipelines.
You can also try tools like Snyk (finds and automatically fixes vulnerabilities in your code or open source dependencies), CirceCI (CI platform), or GitHub Copilot (uses Open AI for code autocomplete suggestions).
As you can see, there are many tools on the market, more or less popular, and more or less suitable for our organization. What is essential is that DX strategy is becoming more and more popular, and for good reason! Greater satisfaction of our employees, better work efficiency, and faster delivery of better quality software are all benefits of just adopting a good strategy. So ask your developers what tools will make their daily work easier and streamline your development processes. Developer Experience is the future, so let’s not get left behind.