November 16, 2022
To be a long-term player in any industry, you must collaborate with other industry players. Collaboration opens up new opportunities, use cases, and challenges that would be hard to recreate otherwise. But how do collaborations work for developer tools? And what goes into a successful collaboration?
In this blog post we’ll look at integrating one developer tool with another to serve a bigger use case or to serve an existing use case which requires those two tools/platforms. Integrations expedite and increase productivity by helping developers have a friction free experience building with their preferred tools. If you’re a seasoned DevRel, you must be doing this regularly. And if you’re starting your DevRel journey, developer tool integrations are a must-have in your roadmap.
Let’s start with taking the example of the following integration that has been between Nhost and Hasura.
Hasura and Nhost are two different products catering to developers who build web and mobile applications. Hasura provides a strong GraphQL engine to access data from databases while Nhost provides authentication, serverless functions, and many more features and is built on top of Hasura.
While there are multiple ways to achieve Authentication with Hasura. And one of them is by using Nhost’s authentication service that is integrated with the GraphQL API and its permission system from Hasura.
If not for a guide, developers would have to go through Nhost’s and Hasura’s documentation in order to try and test the approach of how to use Nhost Auth with Hasura. By providing a tailored guide for using Nhost with Hasura, you save them from having to trawl through multiple guides.
Many more companies like Netlify, Vercel, etc. have been using integrations to make sure they are offering everything that a developer needs to build with their product.
Let’s understand what happens behind the scenes of an integration.
Having said all of this, with hundreds of products out there, integrating with every available tool isn’t something that will happen with the snap of a finger. Along with DevRel resources of your company, this will require engineering, product and marketing resources too. And also time.
You do not want to go ahead with a complicated integration with no demand in the developer circles. So how do you decide which integration to prioritize and go ahead with?
Well, this isn’t rocket science. There are many ways you can come up with a list of tools you want to start your integration journey with.
Depending on if the product is open source or not, the integration process can differ.
Open-sourcing your integrations is always a good idea to encourage community contributions for integrations.
Integrations work best when explained via an example app.
For example, in the integration between Nhost Authentication and Hasura, I created a notes app and explained how to authenticate and create different access roles required to view, update or delete other notes.
This way, you end up educating the audience on how to use the new integration using a real-life use case. Writing a straightforward integration guide without a flow or context can leave Developers uninterested in trying it out.
Nextjs has a huge examples folder, which is also open source.
With an open-source project, you can directly propose an integration and write it yourself after reading the contribution guidelines. With closed source tools, and a couple of meetings between the DevRels of both products to decide the flow, the release date of the integration should be good enough.
It is extremely important to make sure that the integration stays focused on developer education and does not have a promotional stance. The collaboration stays healthy this way.
Now that you’re done building the integrations it is time to share them with your users and community. While the dream scenario has both companies putting in equal efforts towards the evangelism of the newly built integration, it is not the case always.
Most of the time the product which has a bigger audience/community helps with evangelism and the other takes charge of building the integration.
Many companies now have guidelines for adding integrations on their platform which you can refer to before building the integration. Social media announcements, co-authored blogs, newsletters, and community events are some of the ways to spread the word.
As we all know, metrics tracking in DevRel is the trickiest. Measuring the impact of your integration can be difficult to measure and messy.
While instant impact is rare (but possible), long-term results are very well visible and trackable.
Increased traffic to the platform, projects built using the integration, blogs and tutorials written using the integration and social media mentions are good ways to track the impact of the integration.
I hope this article has helped you understand the importance of developer tool integrations and will give you a head start if you’re starting out your integrations program.