Episode 46

Penpot Fest with Alonso Torres, Máirín Duffy & Martin Owens


July 18th, 2023

36 mins 18 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guests

About this Episode


Alonso Torres | Máirín Duffy | Martin Owens


Pia Mancini | Eriol Fox | Victory Brown | Perrie Ojemeh

Show Notes

Welcome to Sustain Open Source Design! In this episode, we are live from Penpot Fest in Barcelona, Spain. Pia, Eriol, Victory, and Perrie are hosting, and they’ll be interviewing three guests. Our guests joining us today are Alonso Torres, a Front-end Developer at Penpot, Máirín Duffy, a Senior Principal Interaction Designer at Red Hat, and Martin Owens, an Independent Free Software Developer at Inkscape. We’ll start with Alonso where we explore the origin of Penpot as a personal innovation project within Kaleidos, and the importance of workflows, community involvement, and Penpot as an alternative to proprietary tools like Figma are highlighted. Then we shift focus to Máirín, where she explains the concept of designing upstream in open source, she shares the benefits of open source tooling, she talks about her current project Podman Desktop, and the evolution of the community design team and how they collaborate with different open source projects. The episode concludes with Martin, who fills us in on being an Independent Developer at Inkscape, he shares his experiment of funding open source development, dives into the influence of companies on open source projects and discusses measuring impact, and the significance of relationships within the open source community. Hit download now!

[00:01:04] Pia interviews our first guest, Alonso Torres, who shares his role and responsibilities at Penpot and what attracted him to Penpot, and highlights Kaleidos.

[00:02:38] Alonso emphasizes that workflows are crucial for Penpot’s team, especially when considering how the tool will be used by distributed teams.

[00:04:17] Alonso clarifies that Penpot is not a direct competitor to Figma but rather an open source alternative, and they prioritize features based on community feedback and needs.

[00:05:22] The majority of core contributors at Penpot are employed by Kaleidos, and they follow agile methodologies, work collaboratively, and have regular meetings to discuss design handoffs and prioritize features.

[00:07:21] Alonso acknowledges that collaboration between designers and developers can be challenging, especially in open source projects. He suggests using tools for effective communication and mentions the need for improvement in this area.

[00:08:37] Alonso expresses his excitement about being at the festival and highlights the impressive organization and diverse communities present.

[00:10:25] Eriol interviews our next guest, Máirín Duffy, who discusses her role at Red Hat and the concept of designing upstream in open source.

[00:13:10] Máirín explains the concepts of upstream and patching in open source, using analogies and examples to make them more accessible to designers unfamiliar with the terminology.

[00:16:22] We hear about the evolution of the community design team and how they expanded their services to collaborate with different open source projects, fostering user-centered design and bridging gaps between projects that might be competitors in a company context.

[00:18:51] Máirín shares an example of collaboration between Podman and Podman Desktop teams at Red Hat, highlighting the value of bringing end-user use cases and perspectives to the development process and how it benefits both teams.

[00:21:48] Máirín advises designers not to worry about dogma and encourages them to be open to the practical reasons for adopting open source tools.

[00:24:06] What’s been the highlight of Penpot for Máirín? She mentions Martin Owen’s talk on the SVG standard and the proposal for a separate editable SVG standard.


[00:26:02] Victory and Perrie interview our third guest, Martin Owen, an Independent Inkscape Developer, and a free software advocate. He shares his interest in finding practical solutions that enable freedom in software development without compromising the path to achieving it and explains an experiment he’s been running.

[00:26:50] He explains his experiment of not taking private proprietary software contracts but instead seeking direct funding from designers and users of Inkscape. Martin discusses how companies that pay for open source software development have a significant influence on feature choices and decisions.

[00:29:23] Martin explains his three main groups of clients.

[00:30:43] Martin addresses the challenge of prioritizing user requests.

[00:32:26] Victory asks Martin to highlight any lesser known Inkscape features, and he mentions exploring the extensions and python-based functionalities and watching video tutorials on YouTube.

[00:33:34] Martin mentions that tracking metrics is not a priority for the Inkscape project, but he gauges impact through millions of downloads, positive feedback, and seeing the artwork created by users.

[00:34:26] If you’re interested in looking at Martin’s work you can go to his YouTube account for videos and you can help fund his work on Patreon.

[00:34:53] Martin emphasizes the importance of relationships within the open source community and suggests that developers form connections with non-programmers to better understand their needs and the impact of their work.