FLOSS Usability Sprint

October 30, 2006

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Last weekend, Google hosted the third FLOSS Usability Sprint, an event designed to bring together User Experience professionals and open source developers to collaborate and improve OS projects.  The two facilitators, Allen "Gunner" Gunn and Eugene Eric Kim, quickly made all the participants feel welcomed and engaged.  Allen and Eugene then paired developers with the UX practitioners in attendance and we were off and running, pausing only for reports back to the group on our progress and, of course, lunch!

The team from SocialtextOpen found that their new, simplified interface left their more advanced users feeling information withdrawl.  They spent their weekend concentrating on building a user interface for their immersive wiki users while simultaneously putting the finishing touches on their next product release.  Another team worked on enhancing the usability of HyperScope, a project laying the groundwork for Douglas Engelbart's vision of an Open Hyperdocument System.  The Social Source Commons group focused on removing extraneous elements from their website to make the site more navigable and useful for those doing IT support for non-profits.  The Sustainable Civil Society project, a wiki-like project to create a map of organizations devoted to sustainability, wowed us with an excercise in creating affinity diagrams and left the sprint under a new moniker, Wiser Earth. 

I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend with four developers from the Drupal project, reviewing the results of their user survey and creating the framework for a report on improving usability in Drupal.  The report will be published to the entire Drupal community, and in the interim Kieran Lal of CivicSpace has posted a write up of our activities this weekend.  Thanks to Kieran, Neil Drumm, Matt Cheney and Zack Rosen for the deeper introduction to the wonderful world of Drupal.

Eugene has posted a Sprint write up and you can also check out a group photo of all the particpants wearing our best scary Hallowe'en faces.

Last but not least, the open source world needs UX experts!  If you're interested in helping, you can find more information on the FLOSS Usability project's site.