Open Source Design + Adobe + Designit

Hi everyone, Eriol from Ushahidi here.

I’ve spoken to a few of you in the monthly call last year and at MozFest 2018 about how Ushahidi Design team is tackling the ideas around open design contributions.

It’s definitely time I updated you all on the project updates :slight_smile:

So Ushahidi, Designit and Adobe XD partnered last year in July and this year in February to run two ‘design jams’ a kidn of hackathon for designers but to focus on Ushahidi’s tech for good tool TenFour.
You can read/watch a video about those here and here

After these events the 3 orgs (Ushahidi, Adobe and Designit) started talking about how difficult it is for designers collaborating on OSS for lots of reasons. No versioning in tooling, Tech/Github proficiency barriers, complex design needs that require more than a few hours of contribution etc.

So we put together a proposal to Adobe’s fund for design to tackle these problems.

We received a 4 month project grant to tackle these needs through methodology of design collaboration, publishing/writing, events and an ‘abstraction layer’ concept to feed into Adobe XD. As well as using TenFour (Ushahidi’s crisis communication tool) to test whether the OSS tech needs to be non-profit/tech for good to gain substantial support from designers to contribute design to the OSS.

You can track the workload in our repo here:

I’d very much like to have the folks here at Open Source Design involved in how this is project progresses.

Please reach out to me for a synchronous chat on my calendly link here if you want to talk about this :smile:…


This appears to be heavily connected to Adobe and Adobe XD. What is the FOSS angle here?

Ushahidi, a tech, non-profit NGO(who are running the project) make FOSS. Adobe is funding Ushahidi to investigate this process for 4 months.

No Adobe don’t make FOSS but Ushahidi does and they are supporting us. Adobe are actively interested in how they can start working with FOSS projects

Would it be wrong to assume Adobe is just pushing adoption of their product in an otherwise FOSS minded surrounding? I’d be surprised to find out that Adobe supports the creation of any free software. Especially in design related software.

I cannot officially speak for Adobe so I’ll escalate your comments to them.

From my dealings with them they appear to want to balance and leverage their for profit market/audience to serve up more visibility for FOSS projects. As well as using their funds to discover how they can work better in the space not by pressuring FOSS product un-adoption.

A personal stance of mine is that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism so I’ll happily work with Adobe to work on making certain aspects of design FOSS better :slight_smile:

Thanks for the lively discourse. Happy to use our faces and voices (if you are able) to discuss further.

Hi Eriol,

Is there a place where one could get more details about the specific problems that you are attempting to solve and how you plan to structure this project?

Hi Felipe,

our website for the project is located here:

We’ll be making our methodology and workshop framework available in the next month.

our repo is open source so you can see the kinds of things we’re working on here:

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Thanks for that link. Reading that entire project website resonated a lot with my problems and experiences as a designer in open source. I’m really looking forward to see how this project evolves!

I’m into free software for quite selfish reasons: I do want to see free software to advance everywhere, but especially where I use it most. To illustrate my point: If you really plan to use Adobe XD to make an impact – I could not join even if I wanted. I don’t have an account with them and I’m running an “open source” operating system that is not supported by Adobe. Seems like you are excluding designers that take “open source” very serious.

So the lack of explicit mentioning of free software design tooling and standards itself (do you encourage or support using Inkscape, Blender, Krita, Gimp, Scribus, …?), and the financial connection to Adobe give it a bitter sweet taste of inviting environmental activists to an interesting meeting that can only be joined by circling the earth three times in a private jet. :stuck_out_tongue:

That said I’m curious how far you can generate the desired impact. A more involved community of designers is certainly needed in most free software projects. I wish you the best!

Umm without starting a potential fight I think it’s not very nice to suggest if you use non-OSS software that your not ‘serious’. I am very serious about OSS. I also don’t want to exclude designers newly discovering this world of OSS and wanting entry points. I personally think you can be true to OSS while still using what you feel comfortable using. Everyone has a transition period that is determinable by them and not the community.

I’m sure there would be a way to include your contributions. Maybe it’s having a call, you talking through the design work, providing a ‘flat’ file or a file that is translated. It requires work from my side as the ‘owner’ of the OSS project/product but that’s something I’m aware of.

As someone learning how free software design tooling I wouldn’t do it justice at this point to talk about it. I personally don’t feel like I could facilitate that well (again, as the owner of the OSS software design function) but as I said above, there’s always a way to work together.

We want to have remote participation and grassroots local action which is why we (Ushahidi) work in small, rural communities in ‘developing’ countries.

One of the main aims is yes, to bring in more designers that have no awareness of OSS and how they can contribute. We’re appealing to this place as we have access to them via Adobe. We’re also hopeful about what Adobe can do within certain communities.

I appreciate your comments and I’m very concerned about how to be inclusive to the breadth of design voices globally around this and in it’s simplest form, I just want to see Designers (of all abilities, interests and competency) contributing to OSS in some way. :slight_smile:

I’m sorry that there was a misunderstanding then. I did in no way suggest that you are not serious in any way. I wasn’t saying the only way to be serious about OSS is to only use OSS.

I’m only noting that some people taking OSS serious to a degree where the even consider using it despite certain drawbacks (people like me) are considerably handicapped when it comes to participation through the recommended and established Adobe tools in your project.

I agree with you that any kind of design contribution should be possible. Adobe just does not. Consider the ability to open files for example. It is made hard to open and edit Adobe project files in non-Adobe software, despite free software is trying hard to do it. Adobe on the other side avoids offering good support for formats that could easily be supported. This of course is no surprise, I think it is obvious that Adobe has no interest in design software being “open”. To me this flies in the face of what I value about OSS.

It is a bit like Exxon supporting environmental causes – as long as lots of fuel gets burned on the way. Interests are just not aligned it seems.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t question your intentions. From what I could take away I share most of your goals. I just feel uneasy about having a big corporate “CLOSED SOURCE” partner in trying to advance “OPEN SOURCE”.

The complete absence of official endorsement or even mentioning (let alone use!) of free design tools does not help that uneasy feeling. I still would appreciate anything good that comes from it. :slight_smile: