Adopt a deisgner

Last week I was in Rio de Janeiro talking about Bootstrap and PatternFly at QConRio.

QConRio is an international software development conference: “A practitioner-driven conference, QCon is designed for technical team leads, architects, engineering directors, and project managers who influence innovation in their teams.”

In other words I’ve spent a week among developers, and every time I am with developers I am amazed at how open and collaborative they are as a community.

That’s mostly because they are used to working on open source projects. They are a living proof that the most effective way to move forward is to be open and learn form each other.

But there is a mindset missing on open source communities: the designers. During my talk I’ve asked if anyone knew any designer working on an open source community and not one of the 110 developers in the room raised their hands.

Una Kravets is right when she blames the “fuck you, pay me” way of thinking of designers. It’s a shame, because when developers and designers work together the results are amazing, and that’s exactly what can take open source from what it is, to what it could be.

The language barrier

I was walking at Copacabana with Aaron Stannard last Friday. He told me that earlier that day he needed directions and the only english speaker person he could find was someone trying to sell him drugs.

Of course, English is the language of business.

It all comes down to communication: If someone wants to became a member of any group, they need to speak their language. And the language of the open source realm is Git.

We speak Git

Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.

And GitHub is the place to find most of the open source projects, it hosts millions of them.

For a developer git is obvious, it’s just the way they collaborate with each other.

On the other hand, for a designer, specially the ones that don’t code, git can be pretty tricky. We are visual creatures and we understand visual tools, that’s why the GitHub desktop app helps a lot. But even then, the concepts of pulling, pushing and branching repositories are hard to get around.

Find the middle gorund

We should always push collaboration and innovation. There are places we will never get if we don’t include designers to our projects.

If you are a designer a great way to get involved in open source is to contribute to the existing projects you’re using. There are projects for every skill and great guides to get started (also this one).

Once you’ve decide which project you want to work on, ask for help. Open source communities are full of very patient and helpful people willing to hold your hand and teach you how to do it. Trust that practice makes the master and always remember that it doesn’t matter how bad you mess things up, it will never break: that’s the beauty of git. Plus they will learn a few things from you on the way.

If you are a developer: Adopt a designer.

Show us the way and let us walk it. Hopefully we will take your project to places you would never imagine, plus we will probably make it look good.

I’ve been adopted by the AeroGear community. Bruno, Daniel, Lukas and the other members of the team should give themselves a pat on the back. You’ve been patient enough to teach one designer git and show him how to become part of your world.