So I’ve decided to take a more aggressive approach to the interface and interaction design of Flock. It’s risky, a bit unorthodox and is something that will take some practice, but since it worked fairly well while I was working on Spread Firefox, it seems only logical that I pursue a more transparent, collaborative and inclusive design process.
So what does this means? Well, basically a whole lotta Flickr!
I’ve already posted a couple screenshots of what the Flock Photo Uploader should look like (compared with how it’s been looking in recent builds). This accomplishes a bunch of things, beyond getting the design process out in the open.
For one thing, it allows me to communicate the intended appearance of features to many developers at once (instead of having my designs vanish on one of the nine levels of Bugzilla hell). I can add notes, a description and all that other good stuff that your typical Flickr photos have, but I can also link them to actual bugs in our system with tagging. For example, flockbug1655. This means that if other people have uploaded mockups to Flickr as well about the same bug, we can all see and compare each other’s work and, going one step further, if anyone has blogged about that bug, we’ll be able to discover that content with Technorati. Truly distributed bug squashing!
Now, obviously we’ve already got groups on Flickr for Flockbugs and Flock Experience Design. Those are the two obvious places to go to see discussions on these topics. The problem becomes very quickly, however, that all this information is in Flickr and not shared in our developers’ native environs. So I’ll be working with Daryl to add a feature in Drupal that will aggregate this information (primarily based on tags). We’ll obviously be able to show full mockups as well using the Flickr API and then hook in data directly from the bugzilla bug (that’s the hope anyway).
Finally, I’ll be working with Gandalf on a Flockzilla Contributor Dashboard — designed from the ground up to make it easy to keep tabs not only on what’s going on in Flock development, but also on your own task list. This will again aggregate information from all kinds of disparate sources and will support your involvement based on custom community roles (designer, bug killer, developer, interested blogger and so on). This tool will of course feature into the planning for CivicForge but for now it makes sense to address our internal use cases. But at least we’re starting somewhere and trying to find new ways of opening up open source design to a wider pool of eyes!