Improving developer experience is now a priority

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Internal developer portals are a welcome tool to alleviate the cognitive load of developers, and could go one step further as they start incorporating AI. But it’s not just developers who could benefit from AI soon — so could nurses, thanks to a new startup supported by the Allen Institute’s AI2 Incubator. — Anna

Improving DevEx with internal developer portals

Internal developer portals have emerged as a one-stop shop that lets developers in an organization access all the microservices and tools available to them. But they are not just service catalogs: They also enable companies to build self-serve actions that developers can perform.

For instance, developers can use these portals to access reusable services that will let them create a microservice, set up a developer environment in the cloud, or request permissions.

The wider adoption of internal developer portals is correlated to another trend: the rise of platform engineering teams, whose role is to empower other developers. Both of these concepts have become central to improving the developer experience, a priority for many organizations.

Organizations aren’t moved purely by the goodness of their hearts. After all, cognitive overload isn’t exactly new for developers, even if SaaS sprawl and the rise of microservices have arguably made it worse. But companies have also realized that improving DevEx can have a huge impact on their entire business.

According to research from Forrester, a vast majority of the 100+ DevOps executives in its survey sample believe that improving the developer experience can not only boost productivity, but also shorten time to market, accelerate revenue growth and increase customer satisfaction.

This broader impact explains why internal developer portals are rising in popularity despite the market slowdown. While hiring developers is slightly less difficult than when venture capital was plentiful, companies are keener than ever to be as efficient as possible with their existing resources.

A better developer experience can prevent developer burnout and make for better products, Roadie’s developer relations manager Jorge Lainfiesta told me. Portals like Backstage, he explained, give developers a single space to create software that’s safe and compliant without having to know all of the details of the ecosystem.

AI-enabled future

Roadie is a startup that offers scale-ups a SaaS version of Backstage, the open platform for creating developer portals that Spotify open sourced in 2020. The company’s CTO, Martina Iglesias Fernández, is a former Spotify engineer who worked on Backstage’s predecessor. But lately she’s been working on something more forward-looking: a chat-based interface.

For now, it is just an internal proof-of-concept that lets Roadie users ask who owns a specific service and get an answer via chat. “A logical next step,” Lainfiesta said, would be to train a model that could answer developer questions and surface tech insights.

TLV Partners’ co-founder Rona Segev is also bullish about internal developer portals and what AI could mean for this space.

An investor in Port, an Israeli startup that competes with Backstage, Segev thinks that AI can make internal developer portals more powerful. But she also expects the reverse to happen. With machine learning applications, for instance, internal developer portals mean that a company could “have the experts that are implementing them, and then abstracting them and serving them to the rest of the company.”


“A staggering three-fourths of software developers globally have experienced burnout in their lifetimes,” Waydev co-founder Alex Circei recently warned. For the CEO, improving DevEx involves addressing the root causes of software engineer dissatisfaction at work. In a guest column for TechCrunch+, he suggested focusing on some key metrics and variables — following the acronym SPACE (satisfaction/well-being, performance, activity, communication/collaboration, efficiency/flow) — that can truly make a difference for developer well-being.

Alarm fatigue

CalmWave is an alumnus of the AI2 Incubator, fostered by the Allen Institute for AI. Its managing director, Jacob Colker, highlighted the company as particularly promising in a recent interview with TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey.

“Alarm fatigue is when clinicians, especially nurses, become desensitized to the overabundance of alarms they are hearing and become desensitized to the point that they may miss alarms and/or have a delayed response,” CalmWave explains on its website. In a crucial profession riddled with burnout, this is no trivial issue, but the startup is hoping to change this — with AI.

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