5 steps for building a thriving developer community

Every API or platform that has been successful long term owes a large part of their success to a thriving developer community — including Slack. As the lead of our Developer Relations team and a senior marketing manager, we oversee the Slack Platform Community. The community has grown quickly, so we’re both often asked how to successfully build a similar group.

At Slack, our app ecosystem has expanded alongside the product. The Slack App Directory contains 2,200 apps and over 600,000 custom apps (apps people build just for their teams) are used every week. No technology company creates its ecosystem alone. The growth in ours is part of a wider trend, as the total number of APIs has increased by 30% over the last few years. We’re also currently experiencing a surge in app submissions as more workforces operate entirely at home, and companies need tools to support remote operations. In early April, we saw a 100% increase in app submissions week-over-week.

As more developers try a platform, community support is critical to everyone — the platform company, new developers and those who have been developing for years. If your platform doesn’t have a developer community yet, creating one takes a few purposeful steps. Here are some of the best practices we’ve learned over nearly three decades’ worth of combined work in developer communities.

Start (and continue) listening

You can’t build a community without participating in one first. If you already have people developing on your platform, and they’re open to receiving contact from you, reach out! Get to know the people behind the integrations you’re seeing built.