Monthly Open Source Design call

My story was about offering to consult a developer 1:1 on how to create a UI for a specific problem. The advantage was that by taking the time with me, I knew they were interested (in contrast to: “Sure you can design, drop it here and see who picks it up”) and they could also directly give me feebback if my ideas were not technologically feasible or if they just did not like them (If the dev hates it, it does not get implemented, so no need to waste time, here). Balsamiq is a nice tool for such sessions, though any digital whiteboarding software will be useful.

Just a bit of feedback on discoverability of this call series. I had looked into it a few times but could never find out when these calls happens, wasn’t actually sure if they still do. Today I saw this transcript and decided to look a bit further. Ended up clicking on the small “Aug 2017” text in the sidebar timeline, which took me to the first post, where I saw a link to the monthly event calendar (which I am now subscribed to). I think this calendar, and a note about monthly calls, could easily be added to the home page under “Events”. Could also post an announcement in this thread 1 week and/or day before the call (looks like you post on Twitter the day of, which I did not see beforehand, and seems a bit late to make time for it in their schedules). Would give this series more visibility. Hope that feedback is helpful, might just have been my experience, and I unfortunately won’t be able to join the next call because I already have something else scheduled at that time. Hopefully I can make the one after.


I opened a pull request to mention the calendar on the home page. Feedback & review appreciated.

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Hey everyone - it’s highly likely won’t make the community call this week on Wednesday: 2022-05-04T17:00:00Z2022-05-04T18:00:00Z

We have a lot that we mean’t to cover and a lot of AP’s I didn’t get to during April. Would be great if someone else could make sure the meeting is hosted :slight_smile:

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My addition to today’s agenda

  • Update on ‘potential grant for UX in scientific open-source’

    • Which factor most affects the experience of UX contributors in scientific open-source software?
    • Usability is an important aspect of Open Source Software (OSS).
    • Scientific software especially benefits from usability.
    • While there exists literature for how to improve the UX in open-source software and UX in scientific software, there is a gap in the experiences of current and potential UX contributors in scientific OSS.
    • These UX contributors face many unique barriers in contributing to scientific OSS that differs from non-scientific OSS.
    • Taking from existing literature from Human-Computer Interactions (HCI), this grant aims to confirm if HCI findings still apply or how they have changed in this context.
  • Would like to talk about ‘The user in the cultures of UX design and open source’- bazaar vs cathedral, CLI in scientific open-source

    • Juhan: UX = a commodity. So what part of Design is particularly strategic, that one can “Sell” to open source projects…
    • Can get to a good baseline- but how to get to Design. Capital D Design, get developer team invested and pay for design.
    • How do we sell to the right people? and impact in investment?
  • There already exists so much knowledge here but not ‘upstream’ back to scientific open source yet

  • Adding on to the ‘design internships’ topic- my experience as co-host of a design internship for JupyterLab

  • Jan: ‘Communities of Practice’

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Meeting is happening


  • FOSS internship: No news from Jan
  • @saponasan @Gionni interested in stories about design in open source; want to write a guide to help people to work in Open Soruce (see …how to improve the collaboration)
  • @MarsBarLee is interested in the user experience in scientific FOSS; a lot of academic software is a “byproduct” of academic work.
    • Juhan: UX = a commodity. So what part of Design is particularly strategic, that one can “Sell” to open source projects…
    • Can get to a good baseline- but how to get to Design. Capital D Design, get developer team invested and pay for design.
    • How do we sell to the right people? and impact in investment? vs academic vs commercial software
    • “You might have to approach the problem of ‘generating interest and gaining buy in for design’ at different strategic levels”
      • Design can make things pretty < design can erase friction for the user in the existing experience < design can provide directional data on how the experience could be enhanced or augmented to become more valuable < design can influence the vision and nature of product as part of a larger industry or ecosystem of tools
    • Scientific OSS are one ‘community of practice’ that starts, put credence to academic publishing, validation of design in scientific OSS
    • Matthew Pereira: What is the distance between user-developer vs general/consuming users? And how could design help to close that gap?
    • Matthew: In other industries there are concepts of high-code and low-code users and no-code experiences - is the terminal + code experience in academic tools adequately suited to the general/consuming users or could a different approach be beneficial?
    • Matthew: What is the power user experience vs paved path to success, what guard rails would be beneficial to put in place?
    • What are motivations and behaviors of NumPy users, what are their obstacles, and how can design can facilitate an experiment to move things forward.
    • Experiment- alternative user experience, alternative

I added my experience as a mentor for design internship for an OSS project here, in the thread about the OSD’s internship. I saw the past agenda discussion about internships, so added my bit there.

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June 1st 2022 Call



Anybody have topics they want to discuss?

  • FOSS Design internships and maybe setting a date/days to co work
  • Some updates from the Sustain Design & UX group the summit + how they want to support OSD

I can add to the agenda:

Comics are one way designers could contribute to OSS. It’s a little unusual, but reception had been great! People said they’re were very engaging. A lot of developers are into comics so geek culture has been a great way to connect.

Preview page:

Full version: Alt_Text_Comic_for_OSS.pdf

More information at cross-post from Sustain Design & UX working group


To the agenda:
Comics as peripheral design: not part of software itself

  • Less headbutting, of ‘don’t touch my code/work’
  • Still need to collaborate, ask questions with developers to understand what the problem is, how they would like to depicted, etc
  • Some people may be resistant to adding a narrative, characters, etc. May be seen as flippant.

RichardLitt: It would be excellent for projects to include asks in their files for graphic comic artists for hard topics that their community struggles with.

Example of how a designer (in this case, technical illustrator) can help with OSS


In yesterday’s community call there were 3 of us and we did our general intros, explanation of OSD calls and community generally.

We then spoke about:

  1. How the US govt. (and other govts.) is funding OSS tools going forward and some conversations about that
  2. New community member asked about the speed, pace and processes involved in contributing design to FOSS given some contributions they’re working on at a project where the ‘users’ of the FOSS are very eager for certain features and ‘speed’ feels ‘quick’. We gave some advice and some of our experiences. Communication of where a contribution is at is more important than ‘being fast’ generally and especially if you’re pure voluntary.

Juhan shared their recently launched org’s project:

August 3rd community call (rough) agenda



Anybody have topics they want to discuss?

  • Juhan wants to talk about their org’s project ‘Rosie’ Rosie | The open-source, free digital health assistant
  • Mars Lee would like to speak about comics as one way designers could contribute to OSS and more generally about how comics can better(?) OSS?
  • Some updates from the Sustain Design & UX group the summit + how they want to support OSD
  • FOSS Design internships and maybe setting a date/days to co work

@MarsBarLee That sounds like a great proposal! A lot of All software use and development happens in a social context and I think comics are great to give people an insight in something “is like” (e.g. discussing how to go about a new feature, reviewing a design, dealing with a difficult community member). There are just some ideas, obviously comics could also do other things. Do you have some examples of what you suggest? (or did in the past already?)


Hi there!
I’m new here and am interested in learning more about human centred design and contributing to FOSS’s UX. I found and subscribed to the monthly call calendar. There is something that makes me wonder: while there is an appointment for the first Wednesday each month, the calendar holds a second recurring event every 2nd Wednesday. Yet I could not find more information about that 2nd event. Is this by purpose and if yes, what is it for?
Thank you in advance,


Hi there Sven, lovely to meet you and have you here.

The second calendar hold was an IST timezone friendly event. For our friends in UTC+ 4-10 timezones our regular time was past midnight for them and we wanted to reflect a time that could be friendlier.

My own personal intention was to always make both of the monthly meetings to hold space but the IST friendly call tends to be in the middle of my work day so I haven’t been able to make more than 1.

I’ll be at today’s OSD call to show the comics!

Specifically, I would like to talk about the comics distributed at last month at SciPy! (a conference about “Scientific Python”: the programming language Python, specifically open source projects in science, math and research)

Here’s a link to a digital, flip-able version of the comic!

We distributed 300 print copies to 500 in-person conference attendees and a digital version as well!

I can also share a 3 minute slide deck of my experience!

  • Tabled and handed out the comics for 3 days
  • Gave a 5 minute Lightning Talk focused on the power of design, story and comics. That these technical problems always have a human core
  • Joined the conference Sprint events by hosting our own sprint: Add alt text to Scientific Python projects!

The comics and sprints were hosted on Github, the preferred medium for these developers and researchers.

I can also talk about my process

  • proposing design work in a tech company
  • translating technical ideas into visual metaphors
  • representing disability and accessibility
  • inviting and explaining the design process to developers, Marketing and Management

If anyone would like to see the early sketches and script, here’s a Google Doc about it.

If there’s time, there’s some broader ideas I’ve been chewing on and would like to hear from others

  • Sustaining this design work outside one company, to broader open source
    • Grants from foundations interested in funding open source science, such as NUMFocus, CZI or Sloan?)
  • Other contexts, beyond accessibility. A Comic Guide to NumPy? Manga Guide to Open Source Contribution?
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Notes from August 3rd 2022

Intro rounds and background of OSD & call format

Eriol then shared a proposal they are putting forward to SustainOSS for a summit like day for open source designers Sustain Design & UX : Sustain OSS summit 2022 - Google Docs

Some notes from the chat thread:

Re. comics in FLOSS
so the trick now is to measure the effectiveness between RTFM + comics… and an easier one is which do humans (normal ones, less engineer ones) gravitate toward …

I am curious to know if you did user testing with disabled users using screen readers

Just found this for a comic builder, seems to be open source, not sure how good it is though:

there is plenty of academic evidence for using symbols/graphics vs words… that people understand graphics much better + faster. Duh, that’s built into our bio. Will post paper.

The only interesting/tricky thing about graphical information is again putting alt text for those graphical information itself.

ultimate goal: comics with nostarch press

Re. Open health design
Question sort of off-topic – did you use any specific tool (except inkscape :smile:) to make that graph under “Open Source Health Design Projects”? Seems to work nicely and responsive :smiley:

Re. sustainOSS onf
Can I add some more specific communities?
I will add some from a11y space

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September 7th community call (rough) agenda



Anybody have topics they want to discuss?

For the September call, I’d like to talk the thread I made:
Open Source Comics: Resources, Collaboration, and Funding for making Comics for Open Source Projects! It’s a follow-up from the August OSD call. It captures the discussion, resources shared and how we can get more people to make comics about open source.


It’s that time again! monthly community call is today! at 6pm CET, 5pm BST and 1pm EDT!

Bring topics, have a chat and enjoy yourselves!