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Sketching and Drawing in the Design of Open Source Software

TitleSketching and Drawing in the Design of Open Source Software
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsChung, E., C. Jensen, K. Yatani, V. Kuechler, and K. N. Truong
Conference NameIEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC)
Pagination195 - 202
Date Published09/2010
Conference LocationLeganes, Madrid, Spain
ISBN Number978-1-4244-7621-3

In co-located software development, diagramming practices, such as sketching ideas out with a pen and paper, support the creative process and allow designers to shape, analyze, and communicate their ideas. This study focuses on the diagramming practices used in the design of Open Source Software (OSS), where the norm is highly distributed group work. In OSS, text-based communication (e.g., mailing lists) dominates, and sketching and drawing diagrams collaboratively remains difficult due to the barriers imposed by distance and technology. Previous studies have examined these practices and barriers in the context of individual projects. To understand how contributors across OSS projects use diagrams in design-related activities, we conducted a survey of 230 contributors from 40 different OSS projects, and interviewed eight participants. Our results show that although contributors understand the advantages of using diagrams for design-related activities, diagrams are infrequently used in OSS. This motivated us to examine how and why diagramming occurs, and the factors that prevent widespread use in OSS. Finally, we propose new ideas for supporting design activities in OSS projects.