Monday, November 05, 2007

The Fluid project

FLUID Project, a new collaborative project to improve the user experience of community source software. FLUID includes members of the Sakai, uPortal, and Moodle communities who are working together to address the precarious values of usability, accessibility, internationalization, and more within academic software projects. The project is supported by a two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information about FLUID and to get involved in this open project, please visit

Goals of the FLUID Project

Our goal is to help improve the user experience of community source web applications including Sakai, uPortal, Kuali Student and Moodle. FLUID will combine both design and technology to create a living library of sharable user interface components that can be reused across community source projects. These components will be built specifically to support flexibility and customization while maintaining a high standard of usability, accessibility, internationalization, and security. The FLUID framework will enable designers and developers to build user interfaces that can more readily accommodate the diverse personal and institutional needs found within community source. We will integrate these rich, client-side UI components and the framework to support them into existing presentation technologies used in Sakai and uPortal.

In order to encourage user-centered design within community source software, FLUID will also create a designer's toolkit that will offer useful design, accessibility, and usability strategies and documentation. This toolkit will include the results of several heuristic analyses and usability studies, a collection of design models such as user profiles and personas, and a growing library of UI design patterns. Members of the FLUID team will be available to provide usability and accessibility support within the Sakai, uPortal, Kuali Student, and Moodle communities.

Who is Involved?

FLUID is a community source project open to everyone. The project is led by University of Toronto with UC Berkeley, University of British Columbia, York University, and Cambridge University. Other partners include Michigan State University, University of Colorado, University of Michigan, Sun Microsystems, the Mozilla Foundation, and IBM. The FLUID Project is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. New participants are welcome, and we encourage you to visit our website at to learn more about the project and get involved.

How will FLUID help Sakai?

Our goal is to improve the user experience of Sakai and other community source software projects. The FLUID team is already deeply involved in the Sakai community, and will continue to ensure that our priorities and deliverables are closely aligned to the needs of the community. We will contribute all of our design and technical work to the Sakai community under the ECL and Creative Commons licenses. This will include:

* A collection of well-designed, accessible, and reusable UI components
* Integration of the FLUID framework and components into Sakai tools
* New usability and heuristic studies of Sakai
* Ongoing user research and synthesis of usability data in Sakai
* New patterns for the Sakai UI design patterns library
* A library of user research documentation including personas, profiles, scenarios, and other design models for Sakai
* Increased involvement and input from skilled designers, accessibility experts, and UI developers

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