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Design in FLOSS Projects

This project is dedicated to improving, educating and creating discussion for the benefit of everyone interested in Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS). What does it take to create user experiences that rival proprietary software with huge budgets and design teams? Let’s figure it out as a community, through discussion and cooperation!

Why this project?

Design work in FLOSS is a unique problem. Design activities take a lot of time and require unique skills. This becomes a problem when most of the people in FLOSS are developers who don’t always have the necessary education, interest or resources to support design activities. The need to support FLOSS communities with these decisions has existed since the inception of FLOSS and in some ways even before that. Since then the notion that FLOSS software is hard to use and developed only for power users has existed and still thrive to this day. This seems to hint at the fact that this issue is harder to tackle than one might assume, and that it requires a lot of discussion and recontextualisation of mindsets of people who participate in FLOSS projects. This project differs from existing research by:

  1. Creating documentation and inspiring discussions surrounding high level concepts. Rather than discussing UI specifics (think padding, border margins).
  2. Equipping projects with a user centered mindset that not only will allow projects to understand their own goals, biasses and motivations better but ultimately also their end users.
  3. And finally, moving academic findings onto a platform (GitHub) that is more easily read and improved upon than that of the traditional academic paper, while also being more familiar to the developers who contribute to and create awesome new projects every day.

The Specifics of the Study

This format and the content on this page is built on a study of two FLOSS projects that while vastly different in terms of size and goals have interesting similarities and serve as a great way to kick start discussions on the subject. Additionally, some of the findings from previous studies are also distilled into easily accessible considerations to avoid the barrier that is reading and understanding academic texts that while full of knowledge, might be locked behind paywalls and require copious amounts of time to read.

The Projects

The Projects

  1. Taskcafe is a self hosted project management tool. It uses the Kanban framework as its inspiration and allows the user to do task sorting and filtering, add colors and labels, due dates, assign members and manage checklists in a convenient setting.
  2. The Jellyfin project is a centralized media server solution that is available completely free as a volunteer-built media solution.

So.. How does it work?

This page is intended as the ‘frontend’ of the projects corresponding GitHub page. The process is designed to work loosely as follows.

  1. Anyone can create a discussion, pull request or issue suggesting a new addition to these pages. This can be commenting on what’s already there, possible solutions, experiences from your own project or something else that the FLOSS practitioner in question finds relevant.
  2. The results or notions from the discussion are formulated into a pull request, proposing the change needed to the existing files or new files being created from the discussion.
  3. The pull request is merged and the change is reflected on the content of the site. The intention is that this pattern repeats itself which will make this site a living, changing and fully free/libre documentation for everyone wanting to enrich their user experiences in their respective projects.

Get started now View it on GitHub