[Owncloud] Design and future

Jan-Christoph Borchardt jan at unhosted.org
Fri Oct 14 15:48:45 UTC 2011

As I said before, I don’t have that much time anymore to coordinate
ownCloud’s design because of my full-time volunteering for Unhosted
(http://unhosted.org – ownCloud already implements the open remoteStorage

Here is a set of guidelines for contribution and design:

Obviously not every design decision is documented and frankly it’s a pain
to discuss them in the chat room with new contributors or on here. The
guidelines should offer a quick intro for everyone to be able to Do The
Right Thing. For further reference, see my thesis about quick usability
testing methods:
http://jancborchardt.wordpress.com/usability-in-free-software/ – and feel
free to read the blog posts referenced in it.

It's always great to see people work on interface design as long as it
does not copy existing broken designs or is based on personal preference.
Marvin (h3ir) already did some interface improvements and I’d love for
more people to do that.
And Michael, thank you for the mail. It means a lot to me. :)

So before you implement a new feature, please think about how to properly
integrate it. Sketch it, check back on the mailing list, look if there’s
already existing solutions you can build on. I created a repository to
submit mockups and sketches to at
I also uploaded the designs I in August to illustrate some of the tasks
better. They are very rough sketches but I hope they get the idea out.

I look forward to ownCloud apps becoming more Javascript (client-side, in
the browser) than PHP (server-side) in the future. For several reasons:
* Scalability: it’s easier to host, less load on the server
* Usability: it’s quicker to use, faster feedback and no full-page reload
* Freedom: with hosted software you have to trust the provider to not use
malicious code. Even if it is AGPL licensed, you can not be sure they
serve that unaltered code. Pure Jav.ascript apps can be fully inspected,
packaged, hashed, verified and distributed independently from the original

Interoperability and collaboration has always been a main interest of
mine, especially between the great free software apps that are developed
now, namely ownCloud, Diaspora, MediaGoblin, StatusNet, PageKite and all
the other awesome things. We need to build more resilient networks and
leverage the power we have as open projects, in working together and
looking over the edge of our own activities.

That’s what prompted me to do http://libreprojects.net in the first place.
And this is why I want to focus my efforts on Unhosted now as I see it as
a revolution of the web’s infrastructure: separating web applications from
storage providers. Giving people freedom _with_ the ease of open web

That said, I will still stick around a bit to give advice here and there.
But my goal is to get free software people in general more informed about
good software design and user centered design. Not only in one project
because I see the need in many. And not in many because designers don’t
multiply. Everyone can easily start out with doing usability tests –
assessing how people actually use the software is one of the most
important things.

Jan-Christoph Borchardt

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