Four Feature Sets to Look for in a Developer Experience Platform  

by Alastair Wilkes in

Intelligence, metrics, and functions that make up a true Developer Experience Platform

Developer experience is about unleashing a developer's productivity and power so they can do their absolute best work. Developer experience includes everything involving a software developer’s life at work, from environment and culture to the tools, practices, and organizational systems used throughout the software development cycle.

It’s important to note that developer experience not only improves the lives of developers it also improves the structure and workflow of an entire organization. Happy, productive developers can deliver faster releases, ultimately building a more efficient organization and pleasing customers.  An organization with excellent developer experience can help developers maximize their productivity and velocity and aids in the developer creation of high-quality, error-free code. 

Software development organizations that want their products to succeed need, no require,  happy, satisfied developers. If the developer experience is positive, developers feel secure and motivated and can operate at peak efficiency. 

Despite how mission-critical developer experience is to the success of engineering organizations and product success, there are limited tools that focus on measuring and impacting DX. That is not to say that there aren’t tools that support developer experience in specific ways. 

Traditional development platforms and metrics fall short on impacting Developer Experience. 

There are many tools and platforms that attempt to improve developer experience by tracking developer productivity. Teams often default to software development metrics and measure software product performance, quality, and productivity of software teams. This standard developer experience tracking fails to capture the metrics that matter. 

Which metrics are the most important for improving developer experience? Depending on who you ask, essential metrics could include everything from lines of code written per month to test cases that passed or failed to peer evaluations. But if you ask a developer that question, the answer is straightforward. Developers want data and tools to improve their speed and blast through bottlenecks. Unfortunately, too many platforms fail to understand or emphasize with developers and track the wrong stats.

Of the developer experience metrics, most focus on surface-level metrics that are grounded in activity-only. Think lead time and development tools like GitHub and Jira, offering minimal insight into obstacles that frustrate and slow down developers. Without accurate data, teams can’t identify inefficiencies to improve developer experience.

A true developer experience Platform focuses on more intelligent, accurate empathy-driven metrics that directly correlate to improving developers' daily lives and overall organizational health.

Four feature sets found in a Developer Experience Platform

A modern, comprehensive platform for engineering metrics and insights that directly impact Developer Experience is the key to creating a thriving Developer Experience. A DX platform should meet the following criteria:

1. Relieve development friction by intelligently identifying inefficiencies and bottlenecks.

At the heart of a true developer experience platform is the drive to improve the quality of life of the developer, which in turn fosters innovation and breeds quality—understanding what and where the largest burdens are for developers must be considered a complete developer experience platform.

Testing has been a longstanding nemesis to developer happiness within the software development lifecycle. It is a common enemy that extends wait times and often creeps into after-hour care, dampening developers' quality of life. A developer experience platform should help eliminate testing bottlenecks by intelligently tackling inefficiencies.  

A complete developer experience platform runs on ML intelligence to make identifying issues automatic. Launchable’s machine learning model uses your existing test suite data to intelligently predict what tests you should be running, cutting down the wait time of your test runs and speeding up your test cycles. 

Launchable’s Predictive Test Selection supports better developer experience by identifying and running tests with the highest probability of failing based on code and test metadata to speed up the dev feedback loop.

Developers can focus on innovation by diminishing bloated test cycles and eliminating testing inefficiencies.

2. Maintain developer experience with health metrics beyond outputs.

Identifying bottlenecks and running smarter test cycles improve developer experience, but metrics to maintain a healthy experience are critical. Measuring the health of your test suite over time is key to fixing and maintaining your developer experience. Developer experience platforms should include metrics beyond outputs. 

Yes, it’s good to know about hours worked, bugs fixed, and features shipped, but those numbers focus on deliverables, not developer happiness. A developer experience platform needs to measure health metrics within the specific pain points directly impacting developers. 

With testing bottlenecks and extended cycle times being a significant pain point, Launchable’s developer experience platform uses machine learning for deep test suite health insights. These test suite insights focus on eliminating test suite entropy which hinders developer time for innovation.

  • Flaky test insights - uncovers the top flaky tests in a test suite, so developers can prioritize fixing the proper tests first.
  • Test session duration insights - identifies increases in test session time to highlight when the developer cycle time trends up.
  • Test session frequency insights - discover which tests run less often to rout out unhealthy metrics like increased cycle time, reduced quality, or fewer changes flowing through the pipeline.
  • Test session failure ration insights - flags the tests that fail more often to see if a release is becoming unstable.

A complete developer experience platform empathizes with teams, helping you measure and improve your software development practices and launch fearlessly. Faster, smarter testing is the crux to better developer experience. 

3. Work where your developers work with an inclusive, flexible platform layer.

Where your developer experience platform plugs into your existing software development tech stack and workflows is critical. It should work with various languages, tooling, team sizes, and workflows without being a burden to incorporate and utilize. 

Launchable’s Dev Intelligence Platform is language agnostic, which means it works with any existing pipeline, including C++, .Net, Go, Java, JavaScript,  Python, and Ruby. 

Additionally, our CLI includes pre-built integrations with the following test runners/build tools: Android Debug Bridge, Ant, Bazel, Behave, CTest, cucumber, Cypress, GoogleTest, GoTest, Gradle, Jest, Maven, minitest, nose, Nunit, pytest, Robot, and Rspec.

It’s also critical for a developer experience platform to fit multiple delivery goals at any point during the software development life cycle. 

Whether you need to shift left or right across the testing pyramid, your developer experience platform needs to be flexible, adjusting the approach based on where developers see the pain the most. It’s important to support various use cases, including greenfield or brownfield applications and monoliths and microservices

In brownfield applications, it’s typical for teams to want to cut down long integration test cycle times. Typically in greenfield applications, teams want to cut down unit test cycles for faster feedback to developers. Regardless of the application, your developer experience platform should work with your specific team’s needs to improve the quality of your developers' workday.

4. Make adoption as straightforward as possible with a turnkey SaaS solution.

Building and maintaining a functional tech stack is complex, and developers often find these tasks dumped onto their already full plates. Easy onboarding is paramount to a true developer experience platform – what good is a platform if the integration into your existing tech stack is cumbersome and takes time away from the work developers want to do?

Launchable takes less than 30 minutes to set up as a turnkey platform and only requires four lines of code in your build script. Built by developers for developers, we focus on the ease of use and the value of the insights to improve developer experience with smarter, faster testing. 

It’s also important to note that Launchable is secure by design, as only meta-data is sent to Launchable, so all your code and tests remain on-premise. That’s speed, safety, and security, all in one shrink-wrapped, ML-based approach. 

Achieve Developer Nirvana. Make time for innovation while speeding up your testing cycles with Launchable’s Developer Experience Platform. Request a proof of concept today.

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