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Usability in Open Source Software Development

This research is being developed by researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain) and the University of Atacama (Copiapó, Chile). It is titled Formalized Procedure for Adopting Usability Techniques in the Open Source Software Development Process (OSS).

The aim of the research is to check whether it is possible to adapt usability techniques to OSS projects. It should also serve to determine which OSS aspects accommodate or are an obstacle to the process of adoption and decide how to improve such issues. In particular, we would like to have the usability techniques adopted in the OpenOffice Writer Project (OO-W). We have the approval and support of Dennis E. Hamilton, Member of The Apache Software Foundation.

We set out to improve the OSS user experience by adopting usability techniques. Usability refers to the ease with which users can use a tool (in this case, OO-W). Consequently, users play a leading role. For this reason, the success of our research depends primarily on management support and OSS project users participation.

The main aim of this project is to study the usability level of some OSS applications and the feasibility of adopting certain usability techniques in the OSS development process. The success of our research depends fundamentally on the support of both OSS project managers and users. Users are especially important because it is they who ultimately decide whether or not an application is usable

The researchers working on this project are Lucrecia Llerena, John W. Castro, Silvia T. Acuña and Natalia Juristo.