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Organising Devrel/Asia 2020
Krunch recently participated in organising the Devrel Asia 2020. Exciting learnings followed.

https://devrel.dev/asia-2020/assets/images/logo/logo.png

The five petals have the following meaning – 

  • DevRel 
  • Developer Marketing
  • Developer Community
  • Developer Experience
  • API/Document
  • Designed by Taiji-san

Introduction 

Devrel Asia was the biggest Devrel conference in Asia for 2020 and spectacular as far as virtual events go! Participants from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and the whole of East Asia are participating, it was a truly pan-Asia Devrel event. India opted out of the event, owing to the festival of Diwali fall on the day of the conference. 

With Krunch being situated in Asia, it was only natural for us to put our best foot forward and do all we can to help organize the event. So we sent out trusted lieutenant Jordan & Paul to do some of the heavy liftings under the stewardship of Atsushi.

The aim of the conference was to target the audience in Asia pacific region and share their experiences of developer relations, developer experiences, developer marketing, and developer communities. This was a brainchild of Atsushi, who had previously organized Devrel/Japan 2019 & DevrelConf Earth 2020. In light of the challenges posed by Covid-19, physical conferences led to a large number of offline conferences being called off. The intended goal is to increase Devrel presence of similarities, differences, and awareness in the Asian countries as technology becomes the cornerstone of the economic development of each country. 

Our Way In? 

When the decision was made to organise Devrel/Asia 2020, the organisers sent out a call for ‘organisers’ for volunteers to step in and organise Devrel/Asia. The number of individuals active in the Developer Relationships community responded positively. This led to a community coming together to create Devrel/Asia 2020. 

We In! What’s next? 

As the next steps to set up the conference, there were a number of items that we needed to take care of, not to mention cross-collaboration between different countries, time zones, and languages.  The major items on the list of things to put in place a base for the conference: 

Once the website was published and the Twitter account set up by Atsushi, the next step was to get different teams together in different countries, discuss the conference structure with them and start the process of CFPs. In parallel, we had to also discuss a way to raise funds for the conference and the best way to deploy these funds. The organisers decided to take a democratic approach to spend the money being raised via sponsorships. More on this later! 

Additionally, for those particularly interested in the setup of the Website for Devrel/Asia 2020, here is just the thing for you: How the Devrel/Asia 2020 website works – the blog gives practical insights on leveraging multiple platforms to streamline the operations of the conference. 

As each track started its process for CFPs and potentially get sponsors for the conference, of course, the biggest challenge was to ensure the correct communication tools were used in each region to reach the intended audience. This was by far the biggest challenge. The diversity in regional developer communities was striking. As each region has built its own developer ecosystem, from streaming to community management to meet up platforms, we realised there was a considerable difference in regional platforms used for organising events.  For example:  

  1. Japan 🇯🇵 Flag: Japan Emoji on Twitter Twemoji 2.0  
    1. Used connpass.com to hold almost 80% of their events. 
    2. The developer community used Slack groups for discussions
    3. For organising Devrel Meetup, the majority of the communication happened on Facebook 
    4. Finally, the majority of the development community in Japan also do love Twitter
  2. China /var/folders/m9/xl0d4ncj3nq46j_81zp730q00000gn/T/com.microsoft.Word/Content.MSO/4FFEC51A.tmp 
    1. China relied heavily on Wechat groups 
    2. See Development communities there prefer to use StackOverflow and segmentfault for tech questions and discussions
    3. Additionally, to organise meetups, regional platforms are used – https://www.huodongxing.com/ , https://www.bagevent.com/cn/
    4. Using Microsoft Forms instead of Google Forms
    5. Instead of Youtube used Bili Bili
    6. Instead of Facebook Stream, we use Sifos Stream
  3. The Taiwan, Indonesia, Korea & Thailand track used their own language and Facebook and Discord as the platforms for communication. 

The learning curve here for us was, it is best for each track to continue using their regional set of tools to organise Devrel/Asia 2020 in their respective regions, and then we could bring it all together in a single central database and thereon have a standardised format that could be used to execute the event on the day. 

Apart from these, there were a few other road blocks that came up: 

  1. Timezones was a difficult one, particularly for speakers coming in from Europe and US. 
  2. Unfortunately, India track has to drop off due to the festival of Diwali /var/folders/m9/xl0d4ncj3nq46j_81zp730q00000gn/T/com.microsoft.Word/Content.MSO/D1CEDC38.tmp falling on the day of the conference. Diwali being one of the biggest festivals in India, it was next to impossible for the organisers/speakers/audience to participate in the conference. However, India organisers are now working on organising a similar event for India. 
  3. All the material for organising the conference was created in English and then translated for everyone’s reference in their local language. 

Once the organisation of the conference and the organising committee was finalised, we set out putting out Call For Papers (CFPs). The form for submitting CFPs was set up via the Devrel/Asia 2020 website. All speakers wanting to participate had to submit their talk. 

Technically Speaking By Atsushi: 

Excerpt from: https://devrel.dev/asia-2020/2020/08/12/how-to-make-devrel-asia-website-en.html

CFP

I will write later on how to support multiple languages. When someone submit a CFP form, the data is sent to Nifcloud mobile backend. There are several reasons for this.

  • If the person call Google Apps Script, they can’t send from mainland China (Google’s service will be blocked).
  • Turning Google Apps Script into a REST API with POST is a bit of a hassle (I dealt with it later…)

Nifcloud mobile backend allows person to restrict ACLs (Access Control Law) at the time of data registration. So it’s easy to register CFPs, but not to view or delete them. And the data registered in Nifcloud mobile backend will be reflected in Google Spreadsheet by Google Apps Script time-based triggers.

https://devrel.dev/asia-2020/assets/articles/devrel-asia-website-4.png

When the data is reflected, we send an email to CFP contributors, telling them to confirm their CFP registration. We use Customers Mail Cloud for sending email. We also notify the organizer channel in Slack that the CFP has been received. 

Next step was Voting for the CFP

One of the weak points of using PaperCall is that the free version only allows up to 5 people to participate in voting. Of course, we could have gone with a paid version. But in this case, we solved that problem by using our own form, which we created using Google Apps Script to develop our own voting form. Now all the organizers (there are over 30 organizers at DevRel/Asia 2020) can participate in the voting.

https://devrel.dev/asia-2020/assets/articles/devrel-asia-website-5.png

The voting form is built on Google Apps Script, so it’s easy to read the data and implement the voting results. Voting results are, of course, stored in a Google Sheet/

Excerpt from: https://devrel.dev/asia-2020/2020/08/12/how-to-make-devrel-asia-website-en.html

The organising committee had voted for CFPs, a final list of speakers was generated and speakers were informed via email. Atsushi then conducted a preview interview with each speaker that covered a little background about the speaker and a little more on the task they were going to give. This helped us create a great catalog of previews that were incorporated with the speaker schedule on the Devrel/Asia 2020 website. And this set the speakers in stone with their schedule for the big day! 

Sponsorships

Devrel/Asia 2020 was graciously sponsored by a number of sponsors that helped us pay for – 

  1. Travel 
  2. Face shields and masks 
  3. Audio equipment 
  4. Subscription to online tools 
  5. Merchandise 
  6. Delivery Cost

A number of really great supports stepped forward to help sponsor the conference, this included – 

The funds collected given by these companies primarily got divided into these categories – 

  1. Revenue 
  2. Donation 
  3. Organisational Expenses

Executing the Big Day

With the groundwork in place for the conference, with CFPs and speakers closed and sponsorships lined up, we were ready to execute the big day. Being a virtual conference, it was essential to seamlessly replicate an offline conference and create an engaging experience for the speakers and the audience. 

There were three primary tools used to execute the day of the conference. Firstly, the Devrel/Asia 2020 website has the speaker schedule listed out very clearly and precisely. The next step was to set up a virtual venue for the speakers to join the conference via and finally have an outlet for streaming the content for the audience to consume. 

Two primary tools were finalised. 

oVice - Enhance Remote Communication Made Simple
Getting started | StreamYard
  1. Ovice is a great tool for any virtual conference. It allowed for all the speakers to come together in a virtual environment and share some chinwag with each other before and after their talks. 
  2. Streamyard acted as our virtual broadcasting studio. It allowed us to stream the event directly to Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Periscope, Twitch and, RTMP server. This allowed for very easy distribution of each time content for all our audiences across all these platforms. 

Here’s Jordan acting as MC on the conference day: 

And it was all smiles at the end of a hard working campaign for all our great organisers! 

So What Did We Learn? 

  1. Devrel communities are spread far and wide but hidden from the naked eye. They grow and develop in their own regions, using the trades of their ecosystem and unless you’re part of it, you won’t hear of it. 
  2. It is essential for devrels to build bridges with developer communities in a variety of countries and only then one would truly understand their pain points and solve them. 
  3. Such conferences are absolutely necessary for devrels from multi-international backgrounds and developer communities to get face time and understand each other better. 
  4. One small or good understanding of a regional problem can be like a big opening for a devrel in a new region and open up a whole set of possibilities. 

Conclusion 

Reflecting back on the experience of organising Devrel/Asia 2020, apart from the new connections we made with fellow organisers and developers, it went a long way to realise that there is a big gap between developers and the advocates eagerly wishing to listen to their feedback and pain points. This gap is unintentional but does exist. We need to find more ways such as Devrel/Asia 2020 to help the two sets of participants better connect with each other. 

We need to raise awareness around technologies that help bridge this gap and provide real-time insights into various developer communities to Devrels. Technology needs to cover various geographies and be able to comprehend various languages to streamline the flow of data between the two players. We will continue tracking and do our bit to help organise more such events and look forward to welcoming you all onto such platforms. 

Finally, a big thank you to Atsushi once again and the speakers, sponsors, organisers, tools, and audience for participating in this event and making it a thrilling success! 

Bonus

We’ve gone ahead and created a small list of talks that perhaps you can enjoy from the comfort of your couch from Devlre/Asia 2020! 

First, Understand the Company Goals by Mary Thengvall

“What is the main goal of a DevRel team?” is a question I’ve heard for years, and every time, the answer starts with “well… it depends!” What if I told you that the main goal of DevRel — no matter what company you’re at — is to support the company’s empowerment of the developer community? From this understanding comes awareness (speaking at conferences or writing up best practices), enablement (getting started guides and tutorials), and engagement (making community members feel welcome and included). From this singular goal, you can more easily see where you fit into the broader tapestry of your company’s goals and objectives for the weeks, months, and years ahead. The end result? A stable Developer Relations team that can easily point to the value they’re bringing to the community as well as the company.

Scaling your Developer Relations Program by Jess West 

This talk reviews what metrics to enable to see the impact of your Developer relations teams, and how to best work with other departments on describing those efforts.

That elusive bridge between developer advocacy and sales by Annie Mathew

Evangelism has reinvented itself multiple times over in the past decade. One thing is clear. For a company to invest more into developer engagement, it has to be self sustaining. Self sustaining from its role to influence revenue in some way or form. Self sustaining to the developer audience by ensuring it does not become another sales program. How do we do this? Its art and science both and its elusive because the current generation of organization management incentivizes shorter term goals and developer advocacy is considered longer term.

I’ll explore the key factors underpinning this profession and thematic ideas that could be used to build on your developer engagement program.

One of the key assumptions I’ll counter is the fact that its longer term in results. Done right its as short term as any other marketing program. What it requires though is a broader vision of the customer itself and craft the relationship in such a way that short term results emerge.

Building a 1st Year DevRel Program by Alex Lakatos 

Why do you start a DevRel Program? Where do you even begin? And how to do it all, especially in times of Corona?

All these and more, I’ll tell you all you need to know if you want to start a DevRel Program from the ground up. We’ll go through a checklist of things you can possibly do and I’ll share my framework for prioritizing that for a community and product.

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