Monthly Open Source Design call

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?