Community (n): A group of people who share space, and/or who have interests in common.
Community is present in nearly every aspect of our lives. Without it, large companies would not exist. DevCentral is F5’s online technical user community, made up of thousands of netizens participating from all over the globe, all of whom have F5 in common.
F5 is proud to announce that our community space has evolved again, undergone a remodel, and moved to a new address: https://community.f5.com/
The community was created nearly 20 years ago on a server in a cubicle, when one F5er saw a need to more broadly gather, consolidate, and share technical institutional knowledge. From those humble origins, DevCentral evolved into a public-facing online user community. Today, it hosts an active Q&A forum and offers curated articles written by engineers for engineers to help customers, partners, and distributors better evaluate, implement, and utilize F5 solutions. The community has always prided itself in being the “How of F5,” working closely with F5 Support, AskF5, F5 Labs, and the F5 SIRT to provide valuable technical knowledge to our users in the aim of getting the most out of F5 technology. Gradually, the community team expanded capabilities to offer more video content beyond the original on-demand Lightboard Lessons, leading to multiple livestream shows featured on YouTube every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Pacific.
Over the past several years, our user community has guided us toward how they would like to access information and interact. That feedback allowed DevCentral to be uniquely positioned in helping members navigate the seismic shift to remote working in 2020, and has now directly resulted in the recent site remodel and launch of DevCentral. The new purpose-built community platform facilitates convenient and thorough engagement for all types of F5 customers, from those just getting started to seasoned BIG-IP pros.
The first changes users will see are to the site design, now more mobile-friendly with an emphasis on clean navigation, quick findability, and content resonance (as well as less annoying white space). Visit the site for the full experience, with a side-by-side, screen-grabbed comparison below:
Specifically, there are four discussion styles at the heart of our community resources: Forums, Articles, Events, and Suggestions. In turn, each of these styles strongly influenced the additional changes made with this update.
Forums: Users can post technical questions and answers in the Technical Forum, and share non-technical comments and observations in the new Water Cooler forum. Outstanding user posts or compelling topics from the Technical Forum can also be elevated as CrowdSRC Articles.
Articles: F5-curated article content will continue to be created and shared as Technical Articles, and the previous CodeShare has grown into CrowdSRC, where community-created code (with a new code syntax highlight feature) and articles can now be shared by individual members. For broader topics, members can visit DevCentral News to catch up on announcements and non-technical articles from the F5 team.
Events: DevCentral can now host small virtual events on the platform. Looking forward, there are plans for the community to extend interactive capabilities for special webinars, SME office hours, trivia games, and other efforts designed to encourage further collaboration.
Suggestions: The new site features a public-facing community suggestions page to gather candid, transparent feedback around opportunities for improvement, constructive ideas, and open dialogue.
The final new feature currently being piloted is the Groups hub. An exclusive pilot group has been created for some of the site’s top contributors, the DevCentral MVPs, and discussions are in progress aimed at extending this feature to connect interested users around additional attributes, such as geographic area or common language.
Preparing for this launch, each site design and architecture decision has been made with the goal of better serving our community with usability, maintainability, and scalability. The new experience has been built with the idea of laying a solid foundation without rigidly installing footpaths that impede our ability to adapt. DevCentral is intended to grow and evolve with the changing needs of community members, and the new site allows for better flexibility.
In balancing the speed of modern innovation, dynamic and changing workplaces, a diverse and global membership, and industry-related disruptions, F5's DevCentral team remains dedicated to our vision of what the community can deliver for members: a supportive and organic environment for people who are learning, exchanging ideas, and solving technical problems—together. In the pursuit of this vision, the team is looking forward to better facilitating the year-round continuation of technical conversations begun at this week’s Agility conference, as well as through our forums, articles, and special events.
Leslie Hubertus is a program manager on the DevCentral team, focused on community engagement