I’m Allen Smith, and I’m excited to introduce myself as your developer advocate for WooCommerce. I have only been here a few weeks, but it’s already clear to me that WooCommerce has an incredible developer community brimming with experience, talent, and great ideas. I’d love to share a bit about myself and what we have been thinking and talking about for developer advocacy at WooCommerce, but let’s look at the state of things first and set the stage for our path forward.
The State of the Developer Community
When I say that the WooCommerce developer community is bustling with growth and activity, it’s no exaggeration. There are currently over 450 extensions in the WooCommerce Marketplace, and that number has grown by 53% since this time last year. There are over 11,000 people in our WooCommerce Community on Slack building extensions, themes, and stores for merchants. The WooCommerce Core team has been shipping updates faster and faster with their new monthly release cadence. Excluding merge-commits, in the past year, there have been over 2,000 contributions to the WooCommerce core codebase from around 200 different developers, and that doesn’t even include the contributions to the numerous open-source packages our teams maintain that support it. All of those contributions played a part in a number of patches and releases over the last 12 months, including the 4.0 release that happened in March of this year.
Where do we go from here?
The short answer is: we’re still figuring it out, and we need your help. 😃
The WooCommerce platform and community have evolved a lot over the years, and our approach to developer advocacy has taken many shapes. More recently, it has become a team effort, of sorts. Developer Advocate has been one of many hats an engineer or community wrangler might wear on a given day. There are things that work well about this collective stewardship approach and—just as it is with any iterative process—plenty of things we can improve. We recognize the positive impact that our previous community engagement efforts have had on the entire WooCommerce ecosystem, and we want to make sure our future developer advocacy efforts give that engagement the prioritization it deserves. We’re still figuring out what that should look like in practice. There is still much to define and many decisions to make.
Remember when I said I needed your help? This is part of it.
At the end of this post (and right here 😉), you’ll find a link to a survey about your experience as a WooCommerce developer. Regardless of the specifics, my goal is to make sure developer advocacy helps support a WooCommerce ecosystem where our developers not only have what they need to be productive, but also where they can connect, engage, and collaborate with each other to help their best ideas take hold and flourish.
While we’re not dead set on any particulars, we do have some ideas that we believe will have an immediate impact for the community.
Unified WooCommerce Developer Portal
We want to ensure the developer experience on the WooCommerce platform is a delightful and efficient one. To that end, my first priority as our developer advocate is an effort to take our myriad of developer resources, such as documentation, guides, and tooling, and consolidate everything into a singular canonical source of truth for WooCommerce developers of all backgrounds and experience levels. We are still in the initial planning phases, but we’re aiming to launch the first iteration in late September, and we’re working to put processes in place to make sure we’re keeping all of these resources updated as our community and platform evolve over time.
Understanding Your Developer Experience
Our developer portal is a formidable undertaking, so we’re also using it as an opportunity to do important outreach work and improve the two-way communication between our external community members and our internal teams.
We’re starting by gathering and analyzing feedback from developers to help us pinpoint and understand the different goals, challenges, and needs of different groups in our community. We want to know what you are using WooCommerce to build. What types of obstacles are in your way as a developer? Most importantly, what can we do to help you be successful?
Community Engagement and Connection
One piece of feedback we have received consistently from WooCommerce developers is that they value opportunities where they can collaborate with and learn from each other. As I mentioned above, this is one of the many pieces we especially need your help figuring out. There are lots of possibilities, but the ultimate goal is creating an environment where folks can continuously build upon each other’s strengths, solutions, and expertise.
Here is that survey link one more time. If you haven’t already, please set aside just a few minutes to fill it out and tell us what it’s like for you developing for WooCommerce. We’ll use your feedback as a starting point to help us understand how we can best engage with you and advocate for you going forward.
I’m looking forward to sharing more updates during our next Community Chat on Slack, but y’all will be hearing from me much more on a regular basis. In the meantime, I’ll be reaching out to folks directly to get acquainted and learn more about their experience building atop the WooCommerce platform. If you haven’t already, you can join our developer community by signing up here.
Please feel free to drop me a note in Slack to say hi! I’m
@Allen Smith. I’d love to hear about what you’re building, what you need, and how we can help. 😃
A bit more about me
I’m a veteran tech polyglot and community organizer. I’m also a dad who loves telling stories, connecting folks, and making the world a better place. One of my passions is using the power of tech and open source to democratize industries like publishing and commerce. Before joining Automattic, I worked with GitHub to help nurture their developer community over several years.
As a committed generalist, I’m constantly looking for ways to help bridge gaps, facilitate collaboration, and improve systems. Serving our developer community as your dedicated advocate is a privilege I am honored to have. I’m looking forward to working with everyone in the community as we learn and grow together.