Laura Cowen

Developer Advocate


Laura Cowen

Developer Advocate, IBM

Laura is a developer advocate at IBM where she works with Java EE developers to build the WASdev community around the WAS Liberty application server.

She previously worked in UX and technical writing during her 13 years at IBM. She also presents on the Ubuntu Podcast on open source and technology, and has organised and volunteered at the OggCamp open source community conferences.

Talk overview

Building a developer community in an enterprise world

Seven years ago, we were given uncompromising feedback about what developers thought of our software, the Java application server, WebSphere. On a whiteboard at Devoxx 2008, it was called 'WebsFear' and other mean names.

So we had a long think and started to build something that was designed with developers in mind. The result was a new application server, Liberty. We knew we'd done something right when, in 2014, Liberty was described by a developer as 'Awesome'.

How did we get from 'WebsFear' to 'Awesome'?

When we created the new technology, we realised that we needed to build a developer community around it. Impressive technology alone wasn't enough. Even in the traditional, enterprise world, open source culture is influencing the way that businesses choose software.

There needs to be a strong developer community to support users and to share expertise, easy-to-obtain free downloads, lots of credible resources, and (importantly) openness.

I'll talk about our experiences over the past four years of building a developer community around (partly) proprietary software in a (mostly) open source world; the challenges we've faced (both internally and in the wider Java EE community), the successes we've had, the commitment it's needed, and the corporate processes we've broken/changed/circumvented to be able to do things we never previously imagined we could.

Twitter: @lauracowen