Re: Role of IxD in Open Source

9 Mar 2004 - 1:47pm
12 years ago
5 replies
1233 reads
Pete Gordon - U...

Here is a quote from last months SourceForge project of the month:
(Compiere ERP/CRM)
"In today's environment, the actual code development is just a minor
part for business applications like Compiere. The major task is
functional analysis so that the application fulfills the requirements
of many industries and legislations. The driving force in Compiere are
not young hackers but gray-haired ERP veterans. We are looking for
people with at least five years of ERP analysis and development

Seems to me that Open Source projects (the developers) are becoming
more sophisticated in terms of knowing that the user value and
experience is really what they should be focused on. I think it is
true we are moving (I haven't determined if it is slowly or quickly)
away from developers developing for themselves, to Open Source being a
viable model for meeting business needs.

That said; though, isn't it true thought that Open Source is going to
always start out of an individuals or groups own need?

I have a theory about the future of open source, and potentially doing
more collaborative user based requirements to sponsor open source
financially, but I haven't really seen it come about yet. It would be
interesting to see Open Source provide a workable financial model.
Compiere is probably the closest example I have seen, with their open
source database port.

Interesting discussion.

Pete Gordon

Users First
Tools to Capture and Communicate the User Experience
pete at

Pete Gordon
SPS Commerce
Manager of Fourthchannel Services
1275 Kinnear Road 
Columbus, OH 43212
Work: 614-340-1447
Fax: 614-340-1449
Email: pgordon at

Customer Support: 866-205-1440

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9 Mar 2004 - 2:55pm
Dave Malouf

An example of an open source project that is user driven (possibly). It is
run by Mitch Kapor of Lotus Notes fame. He was a speaker at last year's DUX

-- Dave
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9 Mar 2004 - 5:37pm
Donna Maurer

At OZ-CHI last year, we had a brief birds of a feather discussion about the
usability of open-source projects and how the usability/CHI/IxD/whatever
community could contribute.

It was an interesting discussion from a number of perspectives, and
naturally reached no conclusion. Something that I found interesting was
that there were a couple of academics who suggested that 'we' industry
people should be getting on board on some of the open source projects (the
implication here was that the academics were far too busy researching...but
I'll leave that one alone)

My rough conclusion was that it could be possible for us to get involved in
some projects but:

1. some of 'us' are involved already in various things (someone else has
summarised these)
2. there aren't enough of 'us' to get involved in every project
3. most of us are already stretched to the limit with work, mentoring and
other community activites & really don't have any further room to put in
the commitment that would be needed to really pull off a usable open source
product. (I nearly fell off my chair when one particular academic implied
that I should be contributing further to the community!!!)

I am interested in the discussion about whether we would be accepted into
an open-source project because we don't code. I'd imagine that the issues
are exactly parallel to bringing user-centred design (or equivalent) into
an organisational or commercial project.


PS. apologies in advance to academics - in this example, a couple of people
seriously annoyed me with the implication that I contribute nothing as a
practitioner ;)

At 01:06 AM 3/10/2004, Todd wrote:

>What are your thoughts on why IxD hasn't taken up a space in OS yet?
>On Mar 9, 2004, at 7:33 AM, David Heller wrote:
>>That's an interestig subject ... The role of IxD in open source

Donna Maurer
Usability Specialist
Step Two Designs Pty Ltd

Knowledge Management / Content Management / Intranets
donna at

9 Mar 2004 - 5:37pm
Andrew Otwell

> Open Source (I get really confused when you used OS b/c that means operating
> system to me) is a mystery to me.
> I mean how do we as IxD just go out and create a design on top of an open
> source project? How do we do that w/o also having connection to the kernal
> of the application we want to effect? How do our processes for research and
> analysis fit into the process of an always moving target of many if not all
> of the open source movement?

Interested designers should check Eric Raymond's latest rant "THe Luxury
of Ignorance" at and
part two at

Raymond complains eloquently and accurately, and is basically trying to
shame open-source software designers into taking design more seriously,
although he doesn't really have any suggestions for how non-participants
in the open-source scene might get involved.


9 Mar 2004 - 5:37pm
Alain D. M. G. ...

--- David Heller <dave at> wrote: > An example
of an open source project that is user driven (possibly).
> It is
> run by Mitch Kapor of Lotus Notes fame. He was a speaker at last
> year's DUX
> Conference.

Yes, they want it to be user driven, but as Jess McMullin noted in a
previous message (along with other fine comments which gave a
remarkable summary of user centered efforts in Open source activities)
it does not seem that Kapor "gets the role of UX practioners in
developing requirements." In fact, I hung around the user experience
related Chandler-OSA lists for several months and my clear impression
was that there was a lot of good will towards the user but that nobody
in there had any experience or understanding of human computer
interaction in any systematic way.

I wish them luck in stumbling towards an Outlook replacement, but don't
expect it to be very original, and be aware that these are the kinds of
persons who are blissfully ignorant of any form of organized user
observation, wether it be the humble card sort, the ethnographic
interview or the intensive think-aloud. Not to mention informal
methods such as finding every possible excuse to get into other
people's offices to observe their work habits "in vivo", and then
rushing out to take notes.

So, they are building up their concept of "the user" on their own
highly "tech" experience of things, with unconscious rationalizations
thrown in. Despite all the good will involved this can lead to
disasters for aunt Tillie, as Eric Raymond would say.

I also hung around, before that, on the Eazel start-up lists that dealt
with the user experience aspect of the open source Nautilus file
manager they were developing. Eazel folded and the Nautilus code went
on to become the official file manager for the GNOME desktop. But
underneath it all there is the same lack of knowledge and/or experience
in getting good user experience requirements out, and even less in
testing these things and starting again on another user-driven

I gave up on trying to contribute directly to open source projects
which were germane to my domain of research and decided to do it
indirectly: I put things in Wikipedia, and I put them in in the same
way and method as the open source coders:

When I feel an itch, I sort of scratch it by creating an article or
adding to an existing one, related to user experience, HCI, the history
of GUIs, direct manipulation, the office of the future etc. Much of it
is quite tangled, but most of it is "wikified" with links between the
major parts, contributed to by others or started by others. When I
feel another itch maybe I will put some more order in there, or
somebody else will. Or maybe I will add another article related to
Usability, or not.

By the way, Jennifer Tidwell, in yet another message, also had some
remarkable comments which summarized (better than I would have) my
experience with normal and also genius-level software developers. On
the whole the ones I meet are a bit more polite about these things but
the message is the same. There is no room in their gang for people who
cannot code.

Alain V.

Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?

11 Mar 2004 - 6:09pm

At 9:17 Uhr -0500 09.03.2004, David Heller wrote:
>I'd be interested in hearing about anyone on this list who has worked in one of the open source projects.

Hi Dave,

here is a short paper on IxD at GNOME,, and NetBeans.


User-Centered Software Design

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