Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 20, 2013 from 3:45 – 4:30pm in B301


Open source software engineering and user interface design got off on the wrong foot. Sadly it’s holding our projects back from reaching their full potential. Let’s talk about how we can bring these seemingly incompatible disciplines together in perfect harmony by simply learning each other’s craft, and how to get started doing so. Whether you are an engineer or a designer you will learn where to get started and how to have fun doing it.


What would the world be like if engineers and designers learned each other’s craft? The tense and unproductive relationship between them, especially in the open source community, has surely taken it’s toll on the quality of our projects. The trouble is that we simply know far too little about each other. By learning each other’s craft, we can gain appreciation for each other’s roles, increase our shared vocabulary to improve communication and improve the quality of our software by considering use cases and technical challenges simultaneously.

When someone chooses to use open source, they should be given our respect and appreciation. Sadly we often fall short because our projects are simply not user friendly. We must first gain respect and appreciation for what it takes to meet their needs, and for the people who can help us achieve this. As we work together between disciplines, communication is critical and shared vocabulary is a bottleneck. But by increasing our understanding of each other’s roles we can collaborate with greater ease and achieve superior results. Even if you are working alone, having a broader view of the problem will inform the decisions you make.

It’s time we dispensed with stereotypes and self-imposed limitations. It’s time we put to rest years of bad advice about how engineers and designers should deal with each other. Let’s create common ground, and put our projects on sure footing.

In this session we will talk about this how we got here, what we can do about it, and how to get started learning a new craft today using open source tools and libraries, and how to have fun in the process.

Speaking experience

I spoke last year at OSB and would love to continue contributing to this excellent conference. I've also spoken at Xerox PARC, OSCON, Linux.conf Australia, SemTech, Wikimania and Wikimedia developers conferences.

A complete list of my presentations including links to slides and videos where available is available at