Episode 15

Jin Guo and Jinghui Cheng on UX and design in scientific OSS projects


December 10th, 2021

40 mins 50 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guests

About this Episode


Jin Guo | Jinghui Cheng


Richard Littauer | Eriol Fox | Memo Esparza

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain Open Source Design! The podcast where we talk about sustaining open source with design. Learn how we, as designers, interface with open source in a sustainable way, how we integrate into different communities, and how we as coders, work with other designers. Today, we have two amazing guests, Jin Guo and Jinghui Cheng from Montréal. Jin is an Assistant Professor at McGill University in the School of Computer Science, and she received her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. She is particularly interested in the intersection between Software Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction, and Artificial Intelligence. Jinghui is an Assistant Professor at Polytechnique Montréal, where he directs the Human Centered Design Lab. His research combines the field of Human-Computer Interaction with Software Engineering. Today, we hear about Jin’s grant she received from the Sloan Foundation, which is supporting the open source usability for scientific software. Jin and Jinghui go in depth about things scientific researchers use, some common problems around usability, the different research methods they are using in their studies, and how they incorporate the community aspect to their research. Also, they share advice on how to get involved with research happening on open source. Go ahead and download this episode now to learn more!

[00:03:45] Jin explains more about the grant they were given from the Sloan Foundation.

[00:05:49] Find out what kinds of open source code scientific researchers use and some common problems around usability.

[00:09:04] Jin and Jinghui tell us about the different research methods they are doing.

[00:12:41] Richard wonders what Jin and Jinghui are particularly interested in learning from their study that will help their future research and what are they trying to learn on an academic sense.

[00:17:47] Eriol wonders if Jin and Jinghui had similar challenges when researching open source projects.

[00:22:15] Jin and Jinghui share their thoughts on incorporating the community aspect to their research.

[00:25:32] Richard wonders if Jin and Jinghui can share any ideas to designers, communities which have design focus, or open source in general, on how they can get involved with research happening on open source, besides reading papers, doing a PhD, or going to their workshops.

[00:28:11] Eriol asks how Jinghui views end users as a kind of designer and what that might mean for how he’s doing his work, and if these workshops are a way of doing that.

[00:30:25] Jin expands more on her interest in AI and how that’s going to work, and how she’s going to get AI to play with designers and open source communities.

[00:34:10] Find out where you can follow Jin and Jinghui on the internet.


[00:05:16] “We’re hoping to use this grant to help advance scientific software usability, but also use the end result from our projects to benefit open source usability as a whole.”

[00:15:40] “For open source usability, I think the tooling is one aspect, but the ultimate goal for our improvement on the tooling is the mindset improvement.”

[00:18:38] “As a researcher, ideally we would need to make more frequent and iterative collaborations with open source projects by either interviewing them or having scientific project ideas. Balancing with them and to see what is the relevance of our research with their real concerns.”

[00:19:22] “One of the things we are currently planning on is to conduct some of the workshops that are going to invite the end users and the designers to be in the same place, to work together to observe their dynamics of communicating.”

[00:23:47] “What we hope is to learn the boundary of communication between those more stereotyped communities, but to make them feel welcomed to communicate with each other regardless of their title or role.”

[00:27:46] “Design conferences, they need to welcome more people rather than just really fashi fashionable flashy designers doing, well I don’t know, stuff for evil clients.” (Eriol)


  • [00:35:36] Memo’s spotlight is Jamstack.
  • [00:35:57] Eriol’s spotlights are FOSS Backstage and one of their favorite academia papers called, “Non-response, Social Exclusion, and False Acceptance: Gatekeeping Tactics and Usability Work in Free-Libre Open Source Software Development,” by Mikko Rajanen, Netta Iivari, and Arto Lanamäki
  • [00:37:17] Richard’s spotlight is JS Montreal.
  • [00:37:41] Jinghui’s spotlights are projects that influenced him and his research which are Atom, Jupyter notebook, and PyTorch.
  • [00:38:44] Jin’s spotlights are two projects that influenced her previous work and current work which are scikit-learn and Zotero.