What gives a startup dev cred? Developer evangelist Phil Leggetter told me that you need a product which solves a hard problem for coders and shows that you understand how they want to use software, must be represented by credible developers who build relationships with the community, and provide interesting content and solid documentation.
When you ask coders which startups they rate, certain names recur. Twilio received the most dev love in my informal Twitter poll, while some companies like GitHub are now so entrenched in the development world that coders barely remember to mention them. Payment startups were particularly popular, with Braintree and Stripe making the list while the U.K’s GoCardless gets an honorable mention. To steal Braintree’s tagline, devs seem to think that “It’s time to get paid.” The companies are listed in alphabetical order.
Chicago-based Braintree lets developers accept payments in their app or website and its customers include other coder favorites like GitHub and Twilio. The company already processes more than $10 billion in payments in 130 currencies, with 20% of that flowing through mobile, and covers Canada, Europe, and Australia as well as the U.S. On the server side, Braintree supports Ruby, Python, PHP, Java, Microsoft .Net, Perl, and Node.js. and there are mobile SDKs for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Twitter comments said that Braintree is “easy to build with in multiple languages” and mentioned its “great documentation."
Several Amsterdam-based developers mentioned local heroes ElasticSearch, the company behind an open source distributed real-time search and analytics engine for the cloud. ElasticSearch enables data exploration by allowing developers to pose free-text or more structured queries to large volumes of data via a RESTful API. It’s built on top of the Lucerne Apache project, a Java-based text search engine. A free text search on Twitter data might be something like “Find all the tweets about the president” while “Find all the tweets about the president when tweeted from Idaho in the past month” adds more structure in the form of place and time. ElasticSearch also allows some data, like today’s log filess, to be designated as more important than others and this is reflected in results. Hackers and Founders Amsterdam organizer James Bryan Graves said that “ElasticSearch solves a significant pain point for most companies with a familiar and simple developer interface.”
Firebase is BaaS (backend as a service), a cloud database which enables real-time applications like collaboration tools, multiplayer games, and chat clients to implement all application code on the client-side. Firebase replaces all the usual server-side infrastructure with highly scalable and secure data storage. When one client updates the data repository, where data is stored via an API as JSON, the changes are synchronized by notifying all other clients. Developers pointed out that Firebase creates high value for little effort and is used in some great open source projects.
GitHub may have only only existed for five years but it is now part of most developers’ lives and resumes. GitHub is a hosted Git repository, Git being a version control system which originally formed part of the Linux kernel. By putting public Git repositories in one place, GitHub allows coders to easily collaborate on millions of open source projects, although it’s not the first site to do so, Sourceforge being an older open source hub. One developer has pointed out that most of the projects hosted on GitHub are for use by developers themselves whereas SourceForge has more projects for other users. See our guide to 11 trending projects on GitHub.
Heroku, now owned by Salesforce, was one of the first Platform as a Service (PaaS) companies and it supports Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, and Scala. PaaS services let developers concentrate on writing code rather than operating infrastructure by managing servers, deployment, and scaling for them. Over 4 million apps are deployed on Heroku. Rails developer Jamie Lawrence said Heroku “made (Rails) devs lives easier. Employees I met were happy and dedicated. The service itself has fallen out of favor a little recently as other deployment options have caught up but the company is still good.” Heroku has a lot more competition than it used to and recently appointed a new CEO as part of its attempt at a comeback.
Czech company JetBrains has been making developer tools like IDEs (Integrated Development Environments), including the widely used Java IDE IntelliJ, as well as continuous integration and project management tools for over 10 years. Developer Josh Butts says “JetBrains makes the best development IDEs out there, specifically for PHP and Ruby, but others as well.” JetBrains is now creating a new statically typed language for the JVM called Kotlin.
London-based Pusher is a hosted service for adding real-time features like notifications, chats, and data feeds to web and mobile applications. Essentially, it lets developers offload a lot of the work of real-time synchronization to Pusher’s RESTful API. New information is sent to the API and Pusher uses a websocket connection to push new updates to the browser instead of pulling them from the server. Phil Leggetter, who used to work for Pusher, says the company “caught the wave of a popular and cutting-edge HTML5 trend, WebSockets.”
SendGrid hails from Boulder, Colorado, and has helped developers to deliver millions of transactional and marketing emails like purchase confirmations, without having to run their own email servers. To send email through SendGrid a developer just needs to change his email configuration to point to SendGrid’s servers. CakePHP, CodeIgniter, Django, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, and Symfony are supported. Pinterest, Foursquare, and Airbnb are among the company’s customers and it recently launched its own email marketing service competing with MailChimp and Constant Contact.
Last but definitely not least popular with coders is Twilio, the original developer marketing pioneers. Twilio made it into Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list last year by letting developers add voice, SMS, and VoIP functionality into web, desktop, or mobile software. You can even build an entire call center system with Twilio's cloud API including call queuing, routing, and call recording. Another RESTful API, making a call or sending an SMS only takes a line of code. Bryce Keane, cofounder of 3beards, said “Twilio has an amazing team of developer evangelists who you'll often find at hackathons and other tech events, not just mentoring but hacking as well. They really get their developer audience because their team comes from that world.”
[Image: Flickr user Bruno Cordioli]