What Is Developer Experience?

Developer Experience (DX) is the experience of a developer in the application development process.

Defining DX

Developer experience refers to the experience developers have in an environment where software development occurs and the level of complexity that allows them to turn ideas into usable and useful applications.

It incorporates the feelings that a developer derives from working within an organization. It accounts for principles employed by team managers, department heads, and organizations and is highly subjective based on the developer’s viewpoint. Additionally, developer experience encompasses the use of and impressions of every part of a technology or product stack, such as tools, libraries, SDKs, platforms, APIs, services, and code.

Why Is Developer Experience Important?

In the simplest terms, a good developer experience matters because it helps developers create and release better software faster.

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Developers want to do their best work; organizations want them to be empowered to do so; and software development product companies want developers to adopt their tools to work with. And that’s where a good developer experience fits: it’s about enhancing the developer’s productivity and multiplying their impact.

A good developer experience allows developers to focus on what matters--delivering value to the business and positively impacting the users and the company, rather than on the technology underneath. Technology is critical, for sure, but it should be a means to achieve an end, in this case, the end being a digital experience.

A bad developer experience, on the other hand, increases the difficulty of accomplishing the tasks at hand and can lead to low job satisfaction. As it becomes more difficult for developers to design, test, and release software, their sense of organizational trust erodes. And as their performance decreases, so does their job satisfaction.

A poor developer experience also forces developers to waste time on solving technical issues and challenges rather than investing it in delivering value to the business.

Developer Experience and Developer Productivity

Although developer experience and productivity are intimately related, they are two different concepts.

Developer productivity is about delivering high-quality software at a high pace.

Developer experience, on the other hand, is a means towards productivity. Engineering teams that have good developer experiences are more productive and efficient.

What does it mean to be productive? According to DevOps Research & Assessment (DORA) program, a development team’s performance is measured based on four key metrics:

  • Deployment Frequency (DF),
  • Lead Time to Changes (LTTC),
  • Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR), and
  • Change Failure Rate (CFR).

A good developer experience should support dev teams to improve these metrics.

What a Good Developer Experience Looks Like

A product that provides a good developer experience should encompass things like:

  • Smooth learning curve: it should be easy for a developer to quickly learn how to use the product to start delivering value quickly. This is good for the company and motivates developers as they see they can have an impact very fast. Particularly, if we’re talking about junior developers, they can quickly integrate a team and start delivering.
  • Frictionless experience: meaning the technology should be designed to be intuitive to use.
  • Productivity: technology should help developers focus on what matters-- producing differentiation and uniqueness-- instead of spending time on lower-value and sometimes tedious tasks. Here, a few things are key: automation of the most boring development tasks, like dependency management or repetitive tasks; zero latency, so that when developers change software, both developer and end users can see the impact immediately; and reusability, meaning the use of pre-built components to further accelerate future products/projects, rather than starting from scratch.
  • Quality by default: a good developer experience should ensure that developers deliver high-quality digital solutions that are built for the future. With business requirements constantly changing, a good developer experience should also empower developers to easily and quickly evolve and change their applications as the market demands.
  • Collaboration: finally, today development is a collaborative team effort. In addition to regular and clear communication within developer teams across the organization to manage dependencies and merge code, a good developer experience also promotes collaboration between dev teams and other stakeholders and personas, from quality assurance engineers to business stakeholders and end-users. Technology should provide a means for developers to quickly gather business feedback to ensure the end product meets the business requirements instead of wasting time back and forth with the stakeholders. This way, they can launch new products to market much faster.

OutSystems: Built with the Developer Experience in Mind

As the development process gets more complex, every aspect of the OutSystems high-performance low-code platform is designed to make developers' work more efficient by removing the complexities that they typically face when creating an app or system.

Every single decision that is made on our product's features follows a set of general rules when it comes to the enhancement of developer productivity and experience:

If we can [automate, abstract, accelerate] something, then we will. Our ultimate goal is to make developers 100x more productive and help organizations innovate.

To learn more about our platform, take a look at our platform page or watch our webinar Remove Wasted Development Time with a Modern Cloud Dev Platform.