Open Source Design Manifesto

Not speaking for core but for myself:

It would be great to be more explicit about what “ethics” refers to.

That indeed would be helpful. We might write more on that or we should refer e.g. to the Archimedean Oath

Is user freedom part of this?

Depends of what “freedom” and “user” in general and what “user freedom” in particular is. I experienced that “user freedom” is sometimes invoked to fight what UX designers would refer to as focus and I would not suggest to write unspecified “user freedom” in the manifesto.

In how far is “Open Source Design” about “Designing with Open Source”?
I miss an explicit reference to encourage and support use of free software among designers.
Supposing that is a goal of course.

Given the current practice here, I guess it is very much part of it. We could make this more explicit. I personally think that using open source tools is great, but people have my sympathy if they say they use what they are familiar with (I think, proprietary/unspecified/unusual data formats are a larger problem for collaboration inclusivity)

When talking about free software this roughly means: “… the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software…” [Free Software definition].

I’d bet the majority here loves seeing growth of free software throughout all design fields. The pressing question is just about an official stance: Does OSD understand itself to be part of a bigger effort to actively push for a world were more designers use more free software?
If it does, I’m pointing out that the manifesto probably misses a principle.

Is this the wrong place to expect feedback on that matter?

Feel free to propose an additional principle. I would not see it in the ethics section itself.

Does OSD understand itself to be part of a bigger effort to actively push for a world were more designers use more free software?

For me this could be part of the first principle "connecting open source workflows and open source software with human centered design.” – which ideally leads to a world in which more designers use more open source tools.

What would not be helpful imho is to make the use of open source tools themselves in any way essential (but possibly preferred?) – some tools do not match the needs of many designers and it is understandable to me if they use something else.


I just want to know if OSD cares about designers using Free Software to a degree that clarifies it publicly. That does not seem to be the case. Which in my eyes is a pitty that comes with a certain irony.

As with any open source project, feel free to make suggestions. I outlined mine above and also gave my reasons for it.

You may be surprised but I already did! I once added a change to some Manifesto/Document that literally missed to mention Free Software and only talked about “Open Source”. It got added, but I can’t find it anymore. Where would be places to look for that?

Looking at the OSDs goals now, I can find countless appearances of “…open…” but not a single mention of “…free…”. I do like openness but I love freedom. That said – it is not up to me to contribute again, but about OSD to take position.

Having “Open Source” in its name makes it particularly hard to connect with “Free Software”. But almost explicitly not addressing or including freedom as a shared value is more than problematic in my eyes. I hope more people at OSD see a benefit in uniting “Open Source” & “Free Software” to FLOSS/FLO/FOSS, and publicly endorse Free Software and freedom as a value, despite its biased name.

Hello folks watching this thread! I’m for sure, not a historical member i.e. I was not around when this was first beautifully conceived but it is very important!

@mray For the sake of my dyslexic brain, would you mind copying the two manifesto statements with your additions in? so I can have a read (and others too) I suspect there’s not a huge issue with the additions/changes and more of a 'we’re all doing stuff here in our spare time as volunteer type humans that are sometimes forgetful or miss stuff! I can’t imagine any harm/purposeful ignoring was meant!

In general, the Manifesto principles (once @mray’s additions/amends have been made) look great and I’d love to see them up on the main site but with a clear way to do feedback/discourse however…heres me sticking something in quite late but I don’t see details or mention of our communities limitations like 'We’re all volunteers and do this work largely outside of a main ‘job’ as a labour of love and interest.
I may be poorly educated in what makes up a manifesto but I do think that key to embodying these principles the OSD group (and humans therein) is that we are fallible in many ways. It could also help limit expectations of perfection.

Personal opinion/experience time!

Ethics is hard. Language is imperfect and we can’t climb inside each other’s brains to really ‘get each other’ on this topic. Also, designers and technologists, will all have there own flavour of ethical. Some people like gambling, some people smoke, some people think plastic is bad. I think what most humans can commit to is respectful discussion and compassionate debate on ethics and probably not consensus. Perhaps our ethical statement can recognise this challenge and at the very least, when ethical debates arise within the open-source community at large, we as OSD (and separately as individuals) support and strive to feed into that conversation from a design perspective.

Now onto my super un-popular opinion on free design software.
I would love free and open-source design tools that do all the things that I expect as a designer coming from the non-open source world (I’m an open-source baby in general terms, been around for about…3 or 4 years?) but it doesn’t yet. If and when my time allows, will I contribute to the FOSS design tools? you bet I will! Will I also continue contributing to FOSS and OSS with non-OS design tools? yup I sure will. When I meet with new baby designers that are interested in OSS will I tell them about the FOSS design tools? yes, 100% will I tell them it’s the only thing they can use to contribute to OSS absolutely not, we’re not there are a larger design community yet, one day we will be, but it’s not now.
If we wanted to put into some kind of words a collective agreement on ‘How much, when and why we should talk about free and open design tools’ I would love that but chances are, I’m gonna break a hard and fast rule about it and…errr deep breaths I have had super negative experiences trying to get into the OSS community around gatekeeping which came down to ‘oh you don’t know what free really means?’ ouch. not inclusive and not supportive.

IMO I want OSD to be more inclusive than anything else, because with more people comes more capacity, ideas, tools and general good stuff (and probably some bad) but I mostly don’t want it to seem, to the non-OSS design crowd, to be ‘out of reach’. I don’t want to coddle the design industry either, but it’s a tricky balance.

ugh. some much text. sorry!

Thanks for sharing this!

I guess manifestos inform about core values – so if we think that “respecting that all work in OSD is done out of labour of love” is an important core value, we could include it.

We also could just say that outside of the manifesto.

Can’t say anything certain about the (un) popularity of it, but I think, too, that contributing with non-free tools is not bad (In general, I worry more about using (de-facto) standards which sometimes, but not always favors open source applications)

This is great. As someone coming in late to this discussion maybe I have limited exposure to the issues, but here’s my two cents based on the latest revision of the manifesto.

Manifesto about the collective vs Manifesto about goals

I'd opine manifestos be addressing issues as a general thing instead of an action item. eg:

“We believe in inclusivity and humility, and support constructive criticism and discourses.”

…instead of…

Reason I say that is believe we ought to be promoting these ideas at large instead of just within the collective.

Belief in ideas vs actions foreseen

This might sound similar to last one but is slightly nuanced. Would say we express our preferences/ideas/ethos instead of stating actions we take/plan to take. eg:

“We believe in sharing knowledge and open pedagogy without inhibiting access to knowledge in any way. Our belief is such processes lead to a conducive environment for beginners and improve the quality of products overall.”

…instead of…

Reason I say this that it makes me believe these are the ideas that will drive the actions of collective through changes in people, time, technology, methods etc. The action items also make it sound a little like a company’s mission statement.


I strongly believe an accrediting work to original creators and we need to have an environment where that is respected. A lot of the cogs and wheels in OS work fall in disarray if that is not respected and as a collective we ought to encourage where that is not taken seriously and promote sincere accrediting.

To make it as a point:

8. Open Source is respectful.

We encourage creators respecting others and their own work. We believe respectful citations and references are cornerstone for any kind of collaborative work.

(I thought of editing the draft but didn’t wanna update it in case the point doesn’t receive popular support.)

Of course these might be things that I’m getting wrong (in which case please share your opinion :slight_smile:).

1 Like

Digging the part about accreditation!

On a side note, we’re using/including some complex language/words in these manifesto statements and I’m very pro

we also use a lot of words in our discussions where sometimes people (including myself) need to ‘google’ these words. Just flagging for those of us with a different vocabulary set.

1 Like

I don’t know what to copy here either. I’m confused about what the official “manifesto” actually is currently. I only know about this thread and the goals mentioned on the homepage.

I also remember me creating a merge request to some document in some repository back in the day when github wasn’t part of Microsoft and I had an account there. I also remember me explicitly including “free software”, nothing else.

I think we are very much on the same page here. The commitment I’m missing from OSD is NOT about shunning proprietary software (as I totally understand the problematic limitations of only designing with free software). It is about a clear endorsement for what OSD would like to see, and a loud support for what fights the sad status quo: Free software not being a real choice in many cases :frowning: for desigers.

An analogy highlighting my point:
Being feminist does not mean to be against men but being FOR women.

OSD guidelinbes/manifesto/goals just lack something along the lines of:

“We like free software and support design being done with free software.”

Please note how this is not saying we don’t accept people or their contributions when they are done with proprietary software. It would just show our ethics when design meets open source.

1 Like

When i get a free evening/weekend (I’m overwhelmed with volunteer work at the moment) I’ll try to location the ‘final version’ though I think it’s in a recent pull request:

Phew! glad to hear that my ‘unpopular opinion’ isn’t so much unpopular as it is a symptom of the design world being dominated by commercials/proprietary stuff. I’m definitely on board with “We like free software and support design being done with free software.” and would love for us in general to produce more thoughts and support in how people/designers can do that