Collaboration processes came up in our initial research interviews with tool team members. Without prior experience of collaboration between design and development, OSS tool teams found it difficult to understand what good collaboration means and looks like.

For our fourth resource and community event with the OSS community we wanted to facilitate (and participate in) an honest and clear conversation between designers and developers with various experience in OSS. This conversation was held on the Sustaining Open Source Design podcast (SOS Design). This podcast is a sibling podcast to the Sustain OSS podcast where hosts and guests discuss what it means to keep OSS thriving and sustainable.

For the conversation about how designers and developers collaborate on OSS tools, we invited Sadie and Lucie of I2P (Invisible Internet Project), and Saptak, a Human Rights Concerned Web Developer, working as a contractor with Freedom of the Press Foundation. We discussed questions like:

  1. Where does the designer-developer handoff (or better yet, collaboration) begin in your opinion?
  2. We’ve used the word ‘hand-off’ but does that narrative need to change? Should hand-off be more like a ‘hands together’?
  3. Do you have an example of when designer-developer collaboration has worked really well? What does the easiest design spec you’ve worked from look like? Which collaboration method with designers do you prefer as you work through implementation?

We also have a transcript of the podcast episode here in an open github repository and the repository readme also has a detailed list of questions on the topic of developer and designer collaboration in OSS (some of which we covered and some we didn’t).

If you would like to join us for a future part of the conversation on designer and developer collaboration in OSS you can contact the SOS Design podcast here

You can listen to the SOS Design podcast episode ‘Collaboration Between Designers and Developers’ here on the podcast’s website.