Developer Advocate. It has been on my business cards since I arrived at MontaVista last fall, but I don’t know if it has ever been defined in print. My MontaVista blog‘s name is a play on the term “playing devil’s advocate”, but what does it actually mean to be one? What is the role of a Developer Advocate in the world of open-source?
The short answer is that I am an ambassador for Linux developers, currently acting within this corporate structure. Obviously, since they are my employers, I have a vested interest in helping MontaVista succeed. What the term means to me, though, is that a major component of that interest is to help embedded Linux developers succeed in general, mostly because they help to advance the cause and penetration of the current best embedded operating system.
As a community admin, technical writer, and developer, I have several avenues by which I advocate.
One is that I help to administer an open community called Meld. Meld is sponsored by MontaVista, but it is truly open, meaning that anyone can join and discuss any embedded Linux topic, including the merger of Wind River with Intel, the recent webinar about fault-tolerant memory management, or even the thrill of rolling your own kernel, none of which directly involve MontaVista. In company meetings about Meld and at conferences, I try to represent the needs of developers at large and help to keep Meld open and non-corporate. (I’m swimming with the flow in that case—MontaVista as a corporation and the entire Meld team are as dedicated as I am to that level of openness.)
Another way I advocate for developers is as a technical writer, by helping to document important tools, like MontaVista Linux 6. It is fascinating to be a part of building such a complex tool and useful tool and to try to find the best ways to explain it.
A third method is to find ways we as a company can give back to the communities that support us. This is more than just the kernel community, of course: CELF and elinux.org, the Linux Foundation, OpenEmbedded and BitBake, and Moblin are all organizations and projects that share a common goal in helping embedded Linux succeed.
Actually, to boil it down, I figure it is my job to help embedded Linux developers succeed. I think that sums it up nicely.
If you are an embedded Linux developer, don’t be shy about letting me know how I can help YOU succeed, by email or in the comments below. Bear in mind that I have been working in this direction since 1992, long before MontaVista or any other Linux company existed.