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Developers & the shiny new tool syndrome

· 2 min read

Off late I have been having lots of conversations with developers and engineering teams. Primarily because we are building an observability platform for microservice applications and developers are the primary customer persona for this product.

What I have observed is that developers are a curious lot - and always willing to explore new tools. Now, I have been a developer in my past life and have worked closely with devs most of my professional career. So, I completely identify with this. If a new tool is useful and I introduce this to my team/colleagues first - I immediately get the swag rights.

I am sure that this is the case in other professions also. Though there are some nuances.

A marketeer who has figured out a new channel with better RoI - firsts milks it himself and then only tells other marketeers about it or writes blog posts on it. This is also because if more marketeers start using that channel, then the attractiveness of that channel and hence RoI decreases.

Among developers though, there is no such competitive mechanics. If there is a more efficient tool, the larger number of devs use that tool - the more efficient everyone becomes. I also think that the rise of open-source is a reason why devs are more ready to share what they are building. Code has high marginal utility and zero marginal costs. Distribution is almost free - and the amount of value it can add to each new user is the same for the first few users as the later ones.

This mechanics of developers sharing the cool new thing they are working on - adding to their brand and increasing everyone's productivity is very unique to this profession. And hence working on new shiny things is cool.

If a salesperson discovers a new way to find emails of people, I think he will first milk it before letting others know. But if a dev finds a new tool that increases his productivity, he will immediately write a new blog post to share how he uses it to improve his output.

The Shiny new tool syndrome is actually a boon to the ecosystem. Of course, it needs everybody to be updated - as the tooling changes every 2-3 years. But if we are able to do more things, by learning from others and teaching others - why not?