Ahmad Awais

NAVIGATE


SHARE


πŸ™ RapidAPI DevRel 2021 Year in Review: 20M Developers, Learn Platform, Teaching & Helping Developers!

Ahmad AwaisAhmad Awais

It’s 8 am on a fine Saturday morning. I’m sitting here in the park at Union Square, San Francisco β€” prepping for the company 2022 kick-off next week. The work new year has just begun. Yep, today it’s December 74, 2021 (πŸ˜… not a typo).

I can’t help but look back at 2021, a year well spent. In this blog post today, I want to pen down my recollection of mostly what went well, how I led the Developer Relations team at RapidAPI, some failures, i.e., things that didn’t pan out, and everything code, content, and community.

Developer Relations#

Some find it hard to understand what is developer relations. Let’s start there.

Developer Relations β€” as we like to call it DevRel β€” is a field of engineering where developers help other developers improve. DevRel does this by building communities, creating content, coding projects to enrich Developer Experience, and assisting product-led businesses to get community-led growth. Software is no longer sold; it’s adopted. Developers helping developers succeed; is DevRel.

Why did I join RapidAPI?#

Well, here’s the shortest personal story in the history of my blog. Last year, I had job offers from Amazon and Apple, plus I was actively interviewing with Google, Netflix, and the likes β€” you know how it goes. Yet, I decided to join RapidAPI as their new Head of Developer Relations.

You see, I’ve always been a Web Purist β€” and RapidAPI is all about APIs (the foundation of our Web Platform). So it’s an opportunity I couldn’t say no to.

You may be wondering what’s RapidAPI? For that, check out the post I wrote with a one-line description of each RapidAPI product and why we’re investing in DevRel.

Come work with me at RapidAPI (10+ DevRel roles) β†—

You know how Google has the Play Store for Android?

… and how Apple own the App Store for iOS/iPhone/iPad?

What about the web? You guessed it, didn’t you?

RapidAPI is the world’s largest API Hub with three million developers and 35,000 APIs. Developers use RapidAPI to find, test, buy, and even sell APIs β€” making tens of thousands of dollars every month. Can I call it the Web App Store?

Dozens of Fortune 500 Companies use RapidAPI Enterprise Hub to enable digital transformation with APIs. In addition, RapidAPI has raised over M from Microsoft Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Stripes, and more incredible investors. RapidAPI’s HQ is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and we have offices in Tallinn, Tel Aviv, Berlin.

Quick overview of RapidAPI Products#

Read more about RapidAPI and the team β†’

Why are we investing in DevRel now?#

RapidAPI is investing heavily in developer education. We want to make the world amazing for developers of all backgrounds. Developer Relations is a department that reports directly to the CEO, Iddo Gino β€” who’s an excellent developer himself β€” you can still find him coding almost every day. Moreover, he’s part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and a 2017 Thiel Fellow.

Iddo Gino β€” RapidAPI Founder And CEOIddo Gino β€” RapidAPI Founder And CEO

We also work cross-functionally with product, marketing, or engineering teams, which signifies the buy-in from the leadership team. It’s an excellent opportunity to build multiple DevRel programs from absolute scratch.

Hey, you! Yes you β€” I’m hiring:
As part of the executive leadership team and the Head of Developer Relations at RapidAPI; I’m hiring eleven new members in my DevRel team. Remote US/EU. Exciting times, eh?! Come work with me at RapidAPI β†—

2021 in Review: RapidAPI DevRel#

In less than one year, the content created by my DevRel team has reached over 20 million developers. We’re on a mission to make this world amazing for developers of all backgrounds. We spread awareness about API development and make it our job to improve even the tiniest bit of Developer Experience (DX) for modern web and API development.

tl;dr version ↓

Thanks for the outstanding work of Pratham, Nirmalya, Saad, Bilal (17 contractors), and all the RapidAPI Experts that made all of this possible. Super proud of my team.


In less than a year, @Rapid_API Twitter account went from a mere 1,800 to over 42,512 followers. 16,474,979 developers read our tweets, and 500,281 developers enjoyed our content so much that they chose to engage with likes, retweets, and replies.

Pretty amazing! Do you know what’s more impressive?

Reading tweets from happy developers.

RapidAPI Developer Community

I’m so proud of our work on this. We have built the biggest, most engaged API Developers community out there. No plans to stop. I’m hiring a Community Advocate.

Building RapidAPI Developers Expert Program#

While I had a lot of buy-in and ambitious goals for hiring a bigger team, I knew it’s not always easy to hire, especially during COVID. The ROI on in-person or online events has decreased a lot. Unlike many other DevRel teams that spend most of their budget traveling and attending events, I decided not to do that.

I remember a conference that had almost half a million dollars in sponsorships, so many excellent speakers and talks β€” but when they put out the entire playlist of talks on YouTube, there were less than 900 views (collectively on all the talks). Something’s truly wrong with that.

Instead of spending my budget on developer events, I decided to sponsor excellent developers in the community to create fun and super helpful video courses. My goal was to create videos to help over 250K developers. I asked Developers on YouTube to teach anything, build anything, and add a lot of value for API Developers.

They understood my intentions were pure. I wasn’t building a blog post team; I wasn’t running a marketing campaign on steroids β€” I wanted them to create outstanding developer education completely free for developers (as I’d sponsor the time they’d spend on this). I was trying to help developers. They appreciated this a lot, and we started working together.

I saw over 20 developers publish video courses about API Development using RapidAPI on YouTube after another. 3,705,981 million developers viewed our content and spent over 130K hours watching the courses.

And then something extraordinary happened. Over 106,029 developers liked and commented on all the free video courses for developers.

RapidAPI Experts

And there are so many more. Developers love it. I feel proud of what we have accomplished here. I want to thank amazing YouTubers like codeSTACKr, JavaScript Mastery, Ania KubΓ³w, Siraj Raval, and many more who created amazing videos with me. Y’all are true RapidAPI Developers Experts.

Helping Developers on StackOverflow#

Developers are everywhere. When I joined RapidAPI, I remember looking at hundreds of questions about RapidAPI without any answers on StackOverflow. That didn’t fit well with me. I wanted to address this one way or the other.

DevRel answered 700+ questions on StackOverflow about RapidAPI. Not a single remains unanswered. Many of these were not related to RapidAPI, so we helped StackOverflow categorize them better. Win. Win. Right?

StateOfAPIs.com β€” Probably the best survey site#

The marketing team at RapidAPI had done an API survey in 2020, which I found super interesting. It had a lot of insights that many developers would find useful.

In 2021, DevRel partnered with the marketing team to build out the survey site to make developers more interested in checking out the survey. Now I know what you’re thinking here.

You must be thinking β€” “but Ahmad, surveys are boring,” and I get it. That’s why I partnered up with the amazing Amelia Wattenberger for her out-of-this-world data visualization skills.

The result was remarkable.

StateofAPIs.com is probably one of the best API Developers survey sites out there. It received outstanding reviews and got featured throughout the developer and design community. If I were you, I’d check it out.

Thank you, Suzanne and Kelsey, from our marketing team, especially Amelia, for working her magic of data visualization and making the site whimsical. ✨

Building Developer Relations Stack: Learn Platform#

Finally, let’s talk about the DevRel Stack. A project near and dear to my heart.

I’m a big believer that DevRel is an engineering team first and anything else later. I wanted to build a platform for teaching developers how to build with APIs. This platform was a mix of everything {written content, videos, interactive components, courses, roadmaps, learning paths}.

I didn’t want it to be another blog or a video courses platform. I endeavored to teach APIs in the best possible way β€” better than everything out there. It’s not documentation. It’s built with interactive components where you learn by doing.

So, in my DevRel team, we started this project called DevRel Stack. I hired Nirmalya, and together we began to build how this stack would work. Excitement got the better of us, and we ended up making and beta-launching this stack, the new learning platform, in less than a quarter.

DevRel Stack is built around a fun analogy. Imagine you’re a master chief, and in your kitchen, you’re teaching a bunch of children how to cook a dish. Now they don’t care about the dish. All they care about is to go home and share “Look Ma! I cooked something”.

What you teach the child to cook isn’t really important. What’s important is that the child finds it enjoyable, gains confidence, and wants to do it again.

Through the things the child does, it will learn important things about cooking. It will learn what it is like to be in the kitchen, use the utensils, and handle the food.

This is because using software, like cooking, is a matter of craft. It’s knowledge – but it is practical knowledge, not theoretical knowledge.

When we learn a new craft or skill, we always begin learning it by doing.

That’s what I wanted to pull off with the DevRel Stack. It’s exciting to work on unique projects like these that are changing the lives of so many developers. ✨

I talked more about this at the Next.js Conf last year.

There you have it. We built a new API Developers Learn Platform. ✨

We published over 208 Developer Guides and open-sourced 47 full-stack apps based on different APIs from RapidAPI Hub.

Ever want to learn how APIs work?
β†’ Check out RapidAPI.com/learn/rest

Done with REST? New to GraphQL?
β†’ We got you covered RapidAPI.com/learn/graphql

That’s not all we do …#

I believe this is enough writing for one day; I’ve been sitting here for hours. I’m glad my new Macbook Pro 16″ M1 Max battery lasts long.

Here at RapidAPI, we do a lot of fun stuff in DevRel.

RapidAPI is working on at least two major projects that are a direct outcome of these activities. We gathered high-value and actionable feedback from the community. Our upcoming product launches will blow developers’ minds. 🀯

If you made it this far, reading my random ramblings of all things DevRel, then you may be a good fit for a position I’m hiring for. Consider applying. When in doubt, apply for a role anyway.

Hey, you! Yes, you β€” I’m hiring:
As part of the executive leadership team and the Head of Developer Relations at RapidAPI, I’m hiring eleven new members in my DevRel team. Remote US/EU. Exciting times, eh?! Come work with me at RapidAPI β†—

That’s about it for today. Use your code for good.

Peace!

Helping businesses build developer-led adoption for 10+ yrs.
VP of Developer Relations (DevRel, DX Eng., Dev Content Docs) at RapidAPI. I'm Hiring!

πŸ“Ÿ Edutainer at Node.js CLI Automation course (100 videos Β· 22 Projects) & VSCode.pro course (over 26K devs). 🎩 Award-winning Open Source Engineer & Dev Advocate 🦊 Google Developers Expert Web DevRel πŸš€ Mars Ingenuity Helicopter code contributor πŸ† 8th GitHub Stars Award recipient 🌳 Node.js foundation Community Committee Outreach Lead, Member Linux Foundation, OpenAPI Business Governing Board, and DigitalOcean Navigator.

✌️ Author of various open-source dev-tools and software libraries used by millions of developers worldwide ⓦ WordPress Core Developer πŸ“£ TEDx Speaker with 100+ international talks.

πŸ”₯ Satya Nadella Β· CEO of Microsoft, said β€” Awais is an awesome example for developers.
πŸ™Œ Leading developers and publishing technical content for over a decade πŸ’œ Loves his wife (Maedah) ❯ Read more about Ahmad Awais.

πŸ‘‹β€¦ Awais is mostly active on Twitter @MrAhmadAwais

πŸ“¨

Developers Takeaway

Takeaway my professional opinion on open-source, developer relations, growing your business with family, and everything in between! Delivered to your inbox a couple of times every year. I'm even funny at times. I hate spam β€” pinky-promise!

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» 168,174 Developers Already Subscribed
Comments 0
There are currently no comments.