In Interview: Niklas Dzösch, Developer Evangelist at Shopware

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Glimpse into the double-life of Niklas Dzösch - both Core Developer and Developer Evangelist at Shopware – as he shares his “big picture” for his future as Developer Evangelist, a role which he took over earlier this year from Benjamin Cremer.

In this interview, Niklas – a self-proclaimed "nerd with excellent social skills“ – talks about the tasks and challenges he faces as the new Developer Evangelist, as well as his plans for the future.

Hi Niklas – Linux, Mac or Windows?

Asking about my religion right off the bat, that‘s bold. :-) Linux if I can, Windows if I have to, Mac if there‘s no alternative.

Jokes aside, you recently took over from your predecessor Benjamin Cremer. Is it a difficult legacy, or no big deal?

It‘s a challenge. But the challenge for me isn‘t in replacing Benjamin, it‘s in performing the role in my own way. We have different personalities, and that‘s also reflected in how we approach development. The conversations that Shopware enthusiasts have with me at conferences are different to those they had with Benjamin.

What is your everyday routine like as a Developer Evangelist?

At the moment, it‘s more varied than I was expecting. There isn‘t really a set routine. But I assume things will settle down eventually.

Developers generally have the reputation of being nerds. Is that how you would describe yourself? Your Twitch channel certainly suggests as much...

Nerd [nɜːd] (originally meaning „misfit, weirdo“, now commonly used to mean „computer enthusiast“) refers to a person who is talented, obsessed with specialist interests and lacking in social skills. I‘d be the wrong person for the Evangelist job if that last point was true. But the rest is pretty accurate.

You‘ve already gathered a good amount of experience as a developer. What makes working for Shopware different from working for other companies?

Shopware feels like home, without foisting that feeling on you. From an emotional point of view, everything is possible but nothing is mandatory.

Shopware is known for its brand values "open, authentic, visionary“. How do you make these a reality during development?

Of course, Shopware itself is open source. But the people in the company themselves are open too. I think that colleagues‘ relationships with each other, and our external communication, are both very open. And the authenticity is directly linked with that – we are who we are. We don‘t wear suits and ties, but that doesn‘t make us any less genuine. Visionary... Visions are what drive us forward. From labs and hackathons to the individual employees themselves, Shopware always looks to the future with dedication and a sense of fun.

In your opinion, what is the key to success when building up a community and holding it together?

The Shopware community is indeed a cornerstone of the project. The key to success in my view is, on the one hand, offering the right product, and on the other hand, involving the community and taking it seriously. Of course, we can‘t address everything and everyone. But it‘s important to see the community as a part of Shopware, and not just as a group of strangers somewhere out there. And that‘s what makes our community special – it‘s an important part of the whole, and I think people are aware of that.

A question that I‘m sure people have strong feelings about – disruptions versus stability. How do you deal with that?

By disruptions, I guess you mean new Shopware features, which ultimately mean that theme and plugin developers need to update their products in order for them to be compatible with the latest version.

Well, without going into too much detail, in an ideal world both would be possible – exciting new things without any disruptions. But as that‘s sadly not possible, I think you should always think about who will ultimately benefit from a change. A change that would just make the code cleaner, but would break everything, should probably be left for a big version change. Or forgotten about entirely, depending on the situation.

Something I really like about Shopware is that we have a community that is very “update friendly”, especially for the eCommerce field. This also entails a certain responsibility, and we try to live up to what the community expects from us. But still, it‘s important to read upgrade notes, make backups, use staging... Major version changes will cause disruptions in any software.

And finally, a quick look to the future. What are your plans?

Of course, that‘s the kind of question where you‘ll look at your answer a year down the line and think "yeah, right“. So I won‘t give you a roadmap. :-)

My goal is to improve Shopware, and myself, working with the community and the people I meet. I believe that if you look at the big picture, software is more than just the code that goes into it. What I want to do is to get people excited about Shopware, turn this excitement into feedback, and at the end of the day, make something a little bit better for everybody.

Of course, wishes and reality will never quite match up here. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day, and most of us only have two hands. But as my dear colleague and scrum master Philipp Schuch would say: Spirit, guys, it‘s spirit that counts! With that in mind, here‘s my plan: Seize opportunities, gather knowledge, share our insight and make Shopware even better than it already is.

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