Discussing reliability, feedback, and the future of the Atlassian developer ecosystem with Tim Pettersen

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Our Developer AMA Series has been unfolding all summer, starting with a great chat with longtime community member Daniel Wester. On September 7, we were excited to have Head of Developer Experience Tim Pettersen join us in the Atlassian Community to answer questions about all things developer experience.

Tim has played key roles in building three generations of Atlassian's server and cloud ecosystem platforms, and worked closely with the over 1,500+ partner organizations and tens of thousands of developers that build kick-ass apps on top of them. He's at his happiest building technical products for a developer audience.

The developer experience is important to us at Atlassian, and we were excited to get Tim's perspective. Here are a few key takeaways from his AMA.

Improving platform reliability and change management

"My #1 priority in the short term is advocating for improved change management and incident management processes for partner-impacting changes […] While there are all sorts of exciting opportunities to enhance Atlassian's ecosystem developer experience, it's critical that we have a stable and reliable platform that evolves in a manner that is predictable and empathetic to our partners' technical and business requirements."

An integral part of a quality developer experience is having a platform that's reliable and predictable. In order to help app developers succeed, learn, and grow, Tim points out that the Atlassian ecosystem needs to be stable and meet our users' needs.

This is a tall, ongoing order for a complex and dynamic set of platforms. However, Tim mentioned a handful of strides Atlassian has made recently (revamping incident security levels to better reflect impact to apps and partners, and streamlining the ability to accept and escalate incident reports from partners) and was positive about the future.

Why empathy is the superskill needed to architect a good ecosystem

"Increasing empathy [through knowledge of our Marketplace Partners skills and needs] across ~11,000 people is no small task, but we're […] making in-roads by partnering with R&D on critical projects to ensure ecosystem perspectives are represented."

Atlassian is, in Tim's own words, a very large organization now, and growing quickly. This is a very exciting time to be part of the future of teamwork, and we're invested in making sure it's as equitable as possible. This means acknowledging the complexity of the Atlassian Marketplace ecosystem, and having a deep understanding of our Partners.

Making sure that all Atlassians understand the experience of our Marketplace Partners brings benefits. For instance, Tim uses the example that partnering more closely with R&D means that not only are unanticipated negative side effects on Marketplace Partners identified earlier in the pipeline, but previously-overlooked opportunities can also be fully brought to life. How Atlassian represents and surfaces awareness of different ecosystem perspectives is a large part of what keeps our community healthy.

Keeping developer interests at the forefront of Atlassian's platform future

"If you saw our COO Anu Bharadwaj's keynote at Dev Day '22, you may have heard the term "Atlassian Economy" which refers to a bold new strategy to leverage our platform and scale our ecosystem." 

Tim's longer term "north star" objective is ultimately to support Atlassian transform from a product company to a platform company. In fact, Anu Bharadwaj's strategy on this was one of the very things that motivated Tim to switch from Engineering to Developer Experience. It's the developers and ecosystem that are the heart of the company and the Economy vision – and Tim is super keen to keep those developer interests baked firmly into the R&D processes, and the DNA of every Atlassian and Atlassian team in the future.

How the developer community can help

"As to what you can do to help shape my priorities, if you're participating in CDAC (i.e. community.developer.atlassian.com), you're already shaping them!"

You know what they say – "having a conversation that reveals disagreements is a sign of success in addressing issues". One of the things Tim values most about the Atlassian developer community is the honest and frank feedback about concerns broadly impacting our Ecosystem; it means we're able to improve. 

Being part of the Ecosystem and participating in CDAC helps provide the DX team (and beyond!) with first hand knowledge of what it's like to be you, and the joys and frustrations you experience. There's no greater way to help shape our priorities – so keep up the great work by  posting, DMing, or @mentioning Tim.

Why Atlassian can't always operate in open source ways

"The security reasons are fairly reasonable as corporate security policies go, [but] there is certainly […] appetite to cut through the red tape and allow more effective contributions from and collaboration with our developer community."

While it's been a reality of scaling and security that some aspects of Atlassian have had to pivot from OSS to privately-controlled structures, Tim is certainly keen to follow up with internal teams to keep this discussion going.

How Atlassian is working to address outages

"I agree that the current outages are not acceptable. Platform, Marketplace, and API Stability and Reliability is a key theme that Developer Experience are leaning into."

One of Tim's core Developer Experience pillars is Reliability, across platform, Marketplace, and APIs. He spoke with candor about the recent performance levels, and tangible improvements to be made. Importantly, the future of reliability improvements involves multiple partners (including Marketplace Partnerships, Engineering, and Atlassian's Reliability Process Group), reduced incidents and duration, and improved communication efforts.

His favorite Marketplace app

"To maintain neutrality, I'll talk about a couple of cool ones that are now (sadly) defunct – Aerobatic app for Bitbucket Cloud and K15t's Bobbleheads from ShipIt Live 2017."

The person asking this question said that picking your favorite app is a bit like picking your favorite child, which is likely true for all of us! Tim mentioned that he loves to see apps that take advantage of Atlassian's unique extensibility patterns, and named two in particular that he loved. 

Thanks again to Tim for taking the time to thoughtfully answer these important questions from the community. We hope everyone can join us for our final Developer AMA with the AppFire team (including Gorka Puente and George Dinkov) on October 26!