What is DevCentral?
DevCentral is F5’s online user community. It is a collection of technical individuals all looking to learn about, share information about, use and/or explore F5 technology in some fashion or another. DevCentral, as the name implies, specializes in the more development centered technologies, often referred to as F5’s “extension technologies”. This includes things such as iRules, iControl, iApps and TMSH. But don’t let the name fool you, there is a lot more than coding going on on DevCentral. From a vast array of advanced design and configuration information to customized monitor information and more; chances are, if you’re looking for some advanced technical information regarding F5 Technology, DevCentral has it.
DevCentral is a home for a massive amount of content surrounding all of these technologies. From short form articles known as “Tech Tips” that are designed to give you an actionable piece of information in a short amount of time, to industry relevant blogs, to even video content to guide you through a particular technology or scenario, DevCentral is a collection of information in many forms. It is also the home of the official F5 documentation for iRules and iControl in the Wikis/APIs section. If you’re looking for the syntax of a specific command, method or event, DevCentral is the place to look. That’s not even mentioning the CodeShare, with over 300 examples of code in many forms from iControl to iRules to iApps that will either solve a problem or get you a solid start.
It’s a lot more than just the content and documentation, however. DevCentral, at its core, is really about community. It’s about the 100,000+ members (at the time of this writing) that come together to learn, discuss and share about F5 technology. Truly that is a unique and powerful thing when discussing any technology, or really any product or service out there. By mixing and coalescing the experience, interests and knowledge of so many, it truly makes it possible to find the answer to nearly any question, examples from any vertical you can imagine, and a constant influx of information, discussion, knowledge and those hungry to learn more. It’s a potent mix, and something we’re quite proud of, if you couldn’t already tell.
Who uses DevCentral?
DevCentral is used first and foremost by highly technical, motivated individuals. I say this because, while DevCentral is powerful and valuable as a resource, it takes someone interested to learn more to join and dig in. Registration is free and can be as anonymous as you want it to be, or you can choose to dive into the community and make a name for yourself. Perhaps you even want to give the illustrious hoolio a run for his money. Regardless if you’re a lurker or a contributor, DevCentral is for anyone that has an interest in advanced F5 technologies. We even allow some management types to hang around to see what’s going on. Sometimes.
What do they use it for?
Generally speaking, the most common use for DevCentral is research. Maybe there’s a problem you’re trying to solve and you’re looking for ideas on how to go about it. Perhaps you’re writing an iRule and need to reference the documentation for the commands you’ll be using to be sure you’re getting the syntax correct. Or there’s a definite chance that you found one of our Tech Tips that caught your eye, and you’re reading up on some new trick, technology or feature that’s got your attention. Research is, without question, the biggest use for the community. Beyond that there is a vast array of utility in the site. Discussion in the forums, code samples in the codeshare, discussion and community involvement in the many groups or user groups, media to watch and more are all available on DevCentral, depending on your current needs.
How is the content different than production documentation?
The content on DevCentral is very much focused on technology, as is much of the product documentation. We tend to pick up where they leave off with technologies such as iRules, iControl, iApps, etc. Things that aren’t as simple as a drop down or a check box or a text field. Things that require some coding or advanced configuration, or a little “out of the box” type thinking are quite at home on DevCentral. In addition to the topic differences, our content is built more with a community feel about it. We are a little more conversational and less formal. There is nothing wrong with formal, and frankly I’m very glad that our official product docs have the tone they do. DevCentral, however, is a very “for the geek, by the geek” type mentality. We write like we talk, and like we like to be talked to. Hopefully that appeals to most.
What types of content does DevCentral offer?
There are several, so I’ll run down the list and give a brief description of each:
Tech Tips - Tech Tips are our short article format. Not everyone has, or wants to take, the time to sit down and read a 10 page white paper during an average day. A tech tip tends to be short (1-2000 words or so), consumable, and easy to read and digest in 20 minutes or less. They also, generally speaking, will offer some form of action that you can take away. Whether it’s a block of code you can copy and past, configuration tweaks you can make, or a new monitor you can put in place; Tech Tips are written with the objective in mind of getting something accomplished right now, as well as educating for the future.
Blogs - Several different highly knowledgeable members of the F5 team, ranging from developers to network engineers to generalists and more, write the blogs on DevCentral. The topics vary from the newest F5 release to cloud computing solutions and discussions to security to…just about anything else you can think of. They’re a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry, not just the community.
Wikis - The Wiki section on DevCentral contains all of the official documentation for iRules and iControl, as well as a host of information on other products such as iApps and TMSH. The idea is to store the syntax information along with some “how to” style documents and the CodeShare for each technology in the Wikis. These are user editable, which means we tend to have users helping us keep up to date on examples, user experience notes and more, which has proved to be a valuable thing. Whether you’re trying to remember where to put the operator in the class command, or which method you’d use to sort your virtuals by name, the Wikis are the place to get it.
CodeShare - The CodeShare is a sub-section of the Wikis. Each technology has a CodeShare, which is a place for the community to contribute, browse and re-use code. If you’ve written an iRule that is useful to you there’s a solid chance that it will be useful to someone else, as well. By sharing the examples you can you make the community even more powerful and useful for the next hundred thousand members. Everyone gives a little, we all get a lot, and the technology keeps on getting better. This also helps us know exactly what you’re doing with the various technologies, which is quite helpful in driving future versions.
Forums - The forums are the discussion nerve center for DevCentral. This is where you’re able to ask questions, seek answers or talk about any F5 technology, or frankly just about anything else. With tens of thousands of posts there is a massive amount of information to be had by digging through even older forum posts when looking for answers. With hundreds of posts per week, however, you likely won’t have to wait long if you do post a question. The community tends to be quite responsive.
Media - Media on DevCentral has been an evolving thing, and at this point you’ll find mostly video streams and recordings. These vary from recaps of trips on the road talking to users to the weekly DC Podcast to recap events and postings of the week, to the weekly Post of the Week wherein we discuss a favorite forum post of the week, answer what we can, and extrapolate even further because, well, we’re like that.
Where does the content come from?
Most of the formalized (I.E. non forums) content comes from within F5. The DevCentral team along with the outstanding extended team from other parts of F5 post most of the Tech Tips and Blogs, as well as all of the official information in the Wikis. There is, however, strong community involvement. Community members can contribute Tech Tips, Wiki entries, even media, if you so desire. There is always much to be learned by listening to what other members of the community have to say. The forums, however, are almost entirely community driven at this point. There is no way our small team could keep up with the hundreds of posts per day flowing into the forums, and we’re ever grateful for the amazing community for lending a hand.
How do I contribute?
You can contribute in the Tech Tips section by simply clicking “Create Article”, or the wiki by adding or modifying any page, where appropriate to enhance current information. For other contributions, such as media or a blog, you’ll want to get a hold of the DevCentral team via the feedback form linked on the bottom of every page.
Is DevCentral Official Support?
No. This is a great question, however, as it comes up semi-often. The reality is that DevCentral is a community site run by a small team and largely supported by the community. This is a fantastic thing! It means the information is timely, relevant, often times contributed or polished by other people using these awesome technologies for a living, not just in theory, and many other equally awesome things. It does mean, however, that we don’t have any SLAs on response times, guaranteed email respond rates, that every line of every piece of code on the site has been tested, etc. If you’re looking for break-fix solutions, F5’s official support is far and away the best solution. If you’re looking to explore some cool F5 technology, then you’ve found the right place.