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OSCON 2007: Open Design, Not by Committee

By Matthew Eernisse



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Ted Leung is a Senior Engineer at OSAF, and blogs at Ted Leung On The Air

Mimi Yin is a UI Designer at OSAF

(Disclaimer: I work at OSAF on the Web UI for Chandler Server.) This talk centered on the open design process used by OSAF in developing both the Chandler Desktop client, and the Chandler Server Web UI, and how open design differs from open development.

Open design is participatory, but mediated — i.e., decisions are made within the context of community discussion and participation, but with a specific responsible party for decisions to avoid devolving into design-by-committee.

Specific topics included:

  • The thought processes of developers versus designers — developers think in terms of features and specs, designers think more holistically.
  • How to do design in a distributed, participatory environment — use of tools such as wiki and mailing list.
  • How to judge the relative merits of design proposals based on specific goals, requirements — i.e, use cases.
  • Defining the ‘target user.’
  • How to build a community of contributors to the design process — what is the equivalent of a ‘commiter’ in the open design process?

The talk concluded by going over next steps for cultivating an open-design community — by making objectives clear, getting people to use the apps and provide feedback, and providing ways for people to experiment with new designs.

Slides are available online here.

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