Open Usability

“Open usability” is a project that was established in 2004 specifically for the usability of open source software. The project helps developers of open source applications improve the user-friendliness and user interaction when developing the software. One common application that is supported through the open usability project is the free image processing software GIMP.


The ‘OpenUsability’ Project resulted from an idea that was suggested in 2003 at a developers conference for the UNIX open source desktop environment (KDE). At the conference, participants compared the then version of KDE with Windows XP. They came to the conclusion that the usability of open source projects and open source software had to be improved in general and that a contact point was also necessary. This led to the establishment of the open usability project. In 2004, it was made possible for developers to register for the project with their open source applications.

Today, open source projects are generally viewed as computer programs for nerds that have special programming skills. One of the reasons for the establishment of the project may have been to make open source more accessible to the general user community through better usability. Projects such as Mozilla Firefox can be used as an example to show that open source software can become very popular since it is very easy to use even for beginners.


Some of the most common applications that have emerged because of the open usability project include GIMP, the open source image processing software, and the KDE UNIX environment. Moreover, the ‘OpenPrinting’ Project was developed to improve the print quality of Linux desktop PCs. The user interface for these applications was, among others, developed by members of the OpenUsability Project.

The project manifesto[edit]

Members of the OpenUsability Project have adopted a manifesto that is based on the desire to make software more user-friendly and practical. The manifesto focuses on the following:

  • experts should work together on software projects from around the world to improve the user experience, usability, and interaction,
  • projects should only be implemented after previous planning and interaction with experts,
  • the adopted changes should help make the cooperation successful.[1]


  1. Visited on 06/22/2014

Web Links[edit]