University of Oulu

Introducing usability activities into open source software development : impacts of contributed usability evaluations to the community and existence of HCI and OSS philosophies: case Concrete5

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Author: Balac, Juho-Mikko1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:oulu-201605221865
Language: English
Published: Oulu : J.-M. Balac, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-05-25
Physical Description: 64 p.
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Rajanen, Mikko
Reviewer: Rajanen, Mikko
Iivari, Netta
Description:

Abstract

Usability is one of the software quality attributes and plays an important role in information systems success, technology acceptance and adoption models. Usability is a product of user interaction design and can be evaluated using usability testing and inspection methods. The usability of open source software (OSS) systems has had a poor reputation. The reasons for poor usability are cultural and software engineers have designed software for their own needs and for tech-savvy users, and thus, usability is not the primary objective. Also, usability experts do not participate much to OSS development. Sometimes they are not welcome or it is difficult to show their merits without contributing code. However, usability of OSS product is getting better as user- centred movement has been closing the gap between users and programmers.

The aim of this thesis is to examine the impacts usability evaluations to an open source software community and to find out the existence of core human-computer interaction and open source software philosophies during the project. The research method used in this study is longitudinal interpretive case study and the research material consists of usability evaluation project material, email correspondence with the community and publicly available information provided by the community and its members.

The attitudes of the target open source software community towards usability and usability activities were mainly positive. After the first contribution, a project leader asked for more activities and after contributing three sets of activities for different versions of the software, the project leader rated them as beneficial. Furthermore, most of the core human computer interaction (HCI) and OSS philosophies existed. The characteristics of HCI philosophy found during the usability project were that usability specialists were user representatives in informative and consultative roles, knowing the user, speaking for the user in the development and sticking with the user focus. The following characteristics of OSS philosophy were found: the selection of the target community was based on one usability specialist scratching his own itch, the software was seen as a communal resource, collaboration was voluntary, interaction with the community was loose, usability specialists acted as bug reporters and designers gaining merit and reputation through contributing to the community.

This thesis contributes to the existing literature of introducing usability activities into open source software development by examining a new case study. Compared to the prior research, a new instantiation of OSS philosophy characteristic, “scratching your own itch” was found.

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Copyright information: © Juho-Mikko Balac, 2016. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.