Developers are the lifeblood of Mapbox. We provide the building blocks, but it’s you, the developer community, that works tirelessly to bring beautiful and functional digital maps and location experiences into the world, applying our technology in virtually every sector of industry. Our success is based on your success, and we’re committed to providing a best-in-class developer experience so you can build better and faster with Mapbox.
For the past 5 months we have been hard at work researching best practices, taking stock of our existing assets, trying out a few initiatives, and building a strategy for Developer Relations at Mapbox. I’m delighted to share what we’ve been working on lately along with what’s coming in 2023 and beyond.
I have used Mapbox libraries, APIs, and data in my spatial apps and mapping projects for close to a decade. I speak from my own experience when I say that Mapbox already has a top-notch developer experience, which is a clear by-product of the builder culture that has been pervasive at the company since its inception. Rich documentation, code examples, API playgrounds, how-to videos, tutorials, and a thriving online community means that everything developers need to be successful is within arm’s reach. All of this, combined with a generous free tier, creates a low barrier to entry for developers who want to get started building location-based apps with Mapbox on any platform.
Now more than ever, with the company growing and diversifying our product offerings, DevRel plays an important role in maintaining our high standards and making sure the content and resources developers need remain current in a rapidly changing environment. Likewise, DevRel also plays an important role in community-building: keeping developers apprised of the latest news and changes, fostering communication, celebrating successes, helping with challenges, providing support wherever we can.
Our approach to Developer Relations focuses on three main categories of work: Developer Content, Developer Community, and Developer Tooling:
When it comes to content, we’ve got plenty of resources at your fingertips. You can check out our library of short how-to videos, peruse the tutorials and examples in the documentation, or browse our developer blog.
We’ve launched a Developer Spotlight video series, where Mapbox Devs can demo what they’ve built along with some technical Q & A. We recently re-launched developer webinars and are running a series of getting started sessions for various Mapbox products.
I’ve also been curating a few Awesome lists, as my travels around various online spaces yield a constant barrage of examples, demos, and useful resources. These Github markdown lists are an easy, open, and collaborative way to document things before they get lost in the ether. For your consideration: Awesome Mapbox External Developer Resources, Awesome Mapbox Web Maps, and Awesome Mapbox Demos. Pull requests are happily accepted! We would love your help curating new additions to these lists.
On the blog, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a few posts: Creating Cinematic Route Animations with MapboxGL, Hundreds of Earths to Explore, and Updating Geojson.io.
Here’s your call to action on content: Let us know what you want to see! If you built something amazing or know someone who did, let’s do a Developer Spotlight! If you’d like to be a guest blogger and show off some new technique, we’d love to have you. If there’s a how-to video that’s missing or a webinar topic you would love, get in touch and let’s make it happen.
Mapbox has over 800 repositories on Github that are either source available or open source, and are a frequent destination for developers reporting bugs, requesting features, and sharing other issues they may encounter along the way. There are a handful of questions on StackOverflow each day tagged ‘mapbox’ (along with a few other mapbox-related tags). It’s inevitable that you’ll land on one of these sites when searching for Mapbox technical concepts, and we encourage our community to chime in when they see an opportunity to help their fellow developers. We are committed to engagement on both of these channels, and will do our part to help steward responses or amplify the signal where we can.
We’re excited to announce the launch of the MapboxDevs public Discord server, a place where you can meet other spatial developers, mingle with Mapbox employees, share what you’re working on, find help, and more! Drop in and say hello! We're also establishing @MapboxDevs on Twitter, where we'll share developer-focused content and resources.
We love setting students up for success with our platform. If you’re affiliated with a code bootcamp or higher education institution, we’ll happily stop by your class for a demo to help your students get started with Mapbox.
In addition to our quarterly Build with Mapbox events, we’re planning in-person developer meetups across the U.S in 2023. Rumor has it that a virtual Mapbox hackathon may also be in the works!
I’m especially excited to make developer tooling a priority. There are plenty of examples of useful developer tools and simple utility projects that provide value, but are all too often neglected, unmaintained, and stale. The Developer Relations team can play a role in stewarding these projects, improving them on their own or activating a community of contributors to make things better together.
Geojson.io, the popular but historically not–well-maintained spatial data editor provides an example case, as we’ve spent the last few months upgrading its core dependencies, improving its development environment, adding some simple features, and addressing bugs (some of which go back years!).
Another key set of developer tools we support is our API playgrounds, interactive mini-apps that help you craft calls to our various web APIs and understand what to expect in the response. We recently upgraded the Directions API Playground to incorporate autocomplete search (instead of bringing your own coordinates) so you can try more realistic and meaningful routing scenarios. We also just shipped Electric Vehicle routing. While the backend service is currently in private preview with select customers, anyone can try out EV directions in North America and Europe, and compare journeys across different vehicle types and charging scenarios.
We’ve put together an interactive Developer Cheat Sheet as a way to help devs get more familiar with the full suite of Mapbox tools and services. We are also working on a similar interactive listing of our public code repositories. Take a look, you may discover something you never knew existed!
For 2023 we have a few ideas for developer tools in mind that you may find exciting:
- Mapbox Expressions Builder - Quickly build and test expressions
- Mapbox Style Snippets - Browse and share layer style snippets
If you’ve got an idea for a feature or tool that would help you out as a Mapbox Developer, we would love to hear about it and collaborate on bringing it to life.
To Inspire and Equip
Our task is to help you dream bigger about what’s possible when Mapbox maps, data, and location services are at work in your projects. For beginners, we’ll help flatten hurdles and reduce time-to-value. For more experienced devs, we’ll help you find peers, share what you’ve learned, and amplify your voice.
Whatever you’re building, we would love to hear from you. Drop into our Discord server and say hello, or tag us on Twitter @MapboxDevs. Let us know how we can make your experience a better one.
Welcome to the Mapbox Developer Community!