IBM Launches Social Networking Site for Software Developers

IBM announced a new online destination to help software developers gain new IT skills, establish professional relationships, and more easily collaborate with peers around the world. The site, My developerWorks, provides a dashboard view of all social networking activities on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, plus real-time feeds from forums, blogs and wikis, activities, groups and events aggregated from IBM's developerWorks technical portal.

The challenge is that developers are forced to access a wide variety of IT resources scattered across the web while managing multiple sign-ons and social networking profiles, just to get to the technical information they are seeking, says IBM. There is no easy way to quickly access and integrate this information or connect and collaborate with peers.

With My developerWorks, users can build a customized profile page and tap into existing online relationships to build skills and grow a worldwide network of peers to drive innovation. Based on Lotus Connections, IBM's enterprise networking and collaboration technology, developerWorks members can now collaborate in a vertical network that connects people around a focused task or goal.

Stephanie Martin, director of IBM's developerWorks, tells 5 Minute Briefing that she is seeing participation from developers working with IBM's larger systems, such as System z. "We have a lot of interest and participation in our community from developers dealing with System z, COBOL, and CICS, as well as newcomers entering this space via EGL, or Enterprise Generation Language," she says. "We don't have a dedicated zone for System z on developerWorks today, but now with My developerWorks, our audience can more easily find others who are interested in large systems, form groups in which they can interact and discuss, and create activities to work on jointly. We see this as a unifying platform for the community focused on large systems development."

IBM estimates that two out of three developers would like to incorporate social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook into their daily work. The site includes tools to showcase expertise and find like-minded peers. My developerWorks makes the technical network more easily accessible using profile search or instant virtual business card recognition that helps like-minded developers identify and follow each other. In-line commenting features make it easy for users to add input, ask questions, and follow responses, while ratings and recommendations lets them highlight their favorite blog posts and articles. A "recent activity" widget allows community members to quickly assess a user's skills, projects and knowledge library.

"A developer interested in building Linux applications for System z mainframes can use My developerWorks to quickly find and connect with experts working on projects related to Linux and the System z mainframe," Martin says. "Their My developerWorks profile will show the latest materials that have been generated across the community on these topics and automatically identify peers the developer can connect with to get more information. This developer may decide to contribute an article on virtualization and link to other users on the topic, prompting developers in other locations to take notice and ultimately establish a virtual team of experts focused on delivering Linux applications for the mainframe."

While IBM already has aggressive programs with universities to develop mainframe skills, the developerWorks group sees this as another way of addressing the impending skills shortages that will be seen in this sector. "My developerWorks will be a great unifying platform to raise the awareness in the technical community about the mainframe skills shortage and the opportunity that exists worldwide, as well as bringing them together to develop their skills quickly," Martin says. "Whether that be on existing languages such as COBOL, CICS, and EGL, products like TX Series, HATS, Rational Business Developer, and topics around data mining, application maintenance, testing, and more."

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