Skip to main content

Open Usability

Open usability is a project that was established in 2004 specifically for the usability of open source software. The project helps open source app developers improve ease of use and user interaction when developing software. A common application that is supported through the open usability project is the free GIMP image processing software.


The project OpenUsability it was the result of an idea that was suggested in 2003 at a developer conference for the UNIX open source desktop environment (KDE). At the conference, participants compared the current version of KDE with Windows XP. They concluded that the usability of open source projects and open source software needed to be improved overall and that a point of contact was also necessary. This led to the establishment of the open usability project. In 2004, it became feasible for developers to sign up for the project with their open source apps.

Currently, open source projects are generally viewed as programs for nerds with 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 a better usability. Projects like 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 more common apps that have emerged from the open usability project include GIMP, open source image processing software, and the KDE UNIX environment. At the same time, the "OpenPrinting" project was developed to boost the print quality of Linux desktop PCs. The user interface for these apps was developed, among others, by members of the OpenUsability Project.

The project manifesto

The members of the OpenUsability Project have adopted a manifesto that is based on the desire to make the software easier to use and more practical. The manifesto focuses on the following:

  • experts must work together on software projects everywhere to drive user experience, usability and engagement,
  • projects should only be executed after planning and interaction with experts,
  • the changes adopted should contribute to the success of the cooperation[1]

Web Links