IBM Gives Developer Site a Social Network Feel

For a decade, IBM’s developerWorks site has been a gathering place for developers that use IBM tools to perform research and get answers to their programming questions. Beginning today, the old site is going to get a little more social.

As it turns out, users wanted the change. IBM (NYSE: IBM) recently surveyed hundreds of software development professionals around the world and found nearly three quarters said they use forums, blogs, wikis, and online newsletters to gain skills and communicate with each other.

Nearly 65 percent said they want to start using social networking capabilities like those found on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace as a primary way to build new skills and collaborate with peers on one easy-to-use destination. So IBM responded.

The revamped site will be known as My developerWorks, but don’t worry, IBM isn’t turning developerWorks into MySpace. Instead, the company is adding social networking features that borrow mostly from the professional networking site LinkedIn, which allow developers to let their resume and reputation do the talking.

Tracking your favorites

Thus, developers can seek out professionals who are experts in Rational or C++ or Java development and see their actual work history. When you find a person that has the credentials you are seeking, you can either engage them directly or follow their activities throughout My developerWorks, such as viewing their comments, reading their blog, following the blogs they like and tracking their favorite bookmarks.

“It’s all about people connecting and collaborating. In places like LinkedIn, you have to look for people and start developing a relationship. Through interaction on the site, not only will you know who you are talking to, you will know all of their attributes because everyone has a virtual business card,” Stephanie Martin, director of My developerWorks, told

developerWorks has a library of 30,000 resources and eight million users, but it’s not always easy to navigate. IBM will add comments and tags and recommendations to documents and other content, as well as a bookmarking capability to the content, so people can quickly return to documents they previously read.

However, Martin said the site will not have the job hunting/position posting section that makes LinkdIn so popular. Professionals can promote themselves and state their availability in their profile but there won’t be job postings.

The new page will feature a personalized home page that serves as a dashboard for the developer, where they can build a customized page of widgets with newsfeeds, for everything from outside news sources to discussions taking place within My developerWorks.

Developers can form groups with activities, and as people find each other around some commonality, they can form groups. It will even have some of the project management elements of SourceForge and other online developer sites. Developers can communicate, set assignments, establish a project plan, set milestones, assign todos, and send e-mail reminders.

My developerWorks is live effective today.

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