Open source software

Discussion articles

  • Fundamental issues with open source software development
    Despite the growing success of the open source movement, most of the general public continues to feel that open source software is inaccessible to them. This paper discusses five fundamental problems with the current open source software development trend, explores why these issues are holding the movement back, and offers solutions that might help overcome these problems. The lack of focus on user interface design causes users to prefer proprietary software’s more intuitive interface. Open source software tends to lack the complete and accessible documentation that retains users. Developers focus on features in their software, rather than ensuring that they have a solid core. Open source programmers also tend to program with themselves as an intended audience, rather than the general public. Lastly, there is a widely known stubbornness by Open source programmers in refusing to learn from what lessons proprietary software has to offer. If Open source software wishes to become widely used and embraced by the general public, all five of these issues will have to be overcome.

  • Making a better open source CMS
    Open source content management software sucks. It sucks really badly. The only things worse is every commercial CMS I've used. But it really doesn't have to be that way. I did some research recently at OpenSourceCMS.com--a fantastic site that lets you play with dozens of CMS installations--and left pretty depressed. What I experienced was obtuse and complex software that was packed with gratuitous features at the expense of usability and user experience. It was software written by geeks, for geeks. This whole category of software desperately needs to be redesigned with writers, editors, designers, and site owners in mind.

  • Open source usability: the birth of a movement
    "The last few months have been an exciting time for open source usability. Here is a first hand story of what has been happening, some photographs and reflections. This article is divided into three parts. Part 1: Some recent developments, Part 2: The issues around open source usability, Part 3: Why you should care, and how to get involved."
    (Rashmi Sinha)

  • Shall we dance?
    Ten lessons learned from Netscape's flirtation with open source user interface development.

  • The usability of open source software
    Open source communities have successfully developed a great deal of software although most computer users only use proprietary applications. The usability of open source software is often regarded as one reason for this limited distribution. In this paper we review the existing evidence of the usability of open source software and discuss how the characteristics of open source development influence usability. We describe how existing human-computer interaction techniques can be used to leverage distributed networked communities, of developers and users, to address issues of usability.

  • Usability and open-source software development
    Open-source is becoming an increasingly popular software development method. This paper reports a usability study of the open-source Greenstone Digital Library collection-building software. The problems highlighted by the study are analysed to identify their likely source within the social context of Greenstone's development environment. We discuss how characteristics of open-source software development influence the usability of resulting software products.

  • Usable GUI design: a quick guide for F/OSS developers
    The Open Source software world is full of excellent software. High-quality F/OSS software is available for virtually any task a computer user could want to do, from word-processing to web-serving. There is one small problem with much of this huge array of software: it is often far more difficult to use than it could be.
    (Benjamin Roe)

  • Why free software usability tends to suck
    In theory I think it is possible, but in practice the vast majority of open-source projects are also volunteer projects. And it seems that the use of volunteers to drive development inevitably leads the interface design to suck. The reasons are many and varied: here’s a summary.