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Side notes, howtos and random bits of information related to Julien Deswaef's projects

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Design with Git

Fostering collaboration and encouraging openness between visual designers by providing a tool to visualize differences, explore a project's creation process and build from the inputs of others.

Git is a distributed version control system wildly used in the free / libre open source world to keep track of source code. Since designers today use more and more code to create their work, they naturally turn to git to keep track of their work in progress.

With the project “Design with git”, the goal is to see how Git can be integrated more into a designers workflow and work on tools that would give a visual feedback of design changes and collaborations.


Programmers have seen their world, tools and workflows change drastically with the rise of the Internets. With version control systems, and especially distributed ones like Git, coders are encouraged to collaborate remotely, to stand on the shoulder of giants, for all corners of the earth. And this has not gone unnoticed from others area of creation.

Designers, architects, typographers, illustrators,… want to jump in the collaborative train and leverage from these practices to explore new territories. Projects such as OpenDesk, Wikihouse, Nounproject, and the overall movement of open font design show how things change in how we perceive the creation process. But we lack tools in the designer's stack. Or we need to adapt existing ones for the visual tinkerers.

Some designers have already embraced Git, but the power of this kind of tool not only resides in creating a history of changes but in allowing merges between projects and visualizing differences between creative steps. And designers need to have visual representation of these possibilities.

For this we need to build a visual language that the visual mind can read and interpret to harness these concepts of merge and difference. What is obvious with code is not so obvious with images or schematics. It requires a different grammar to manipulate visual concepts.

So far, versioning tools for designers are using the very limited pixel paradigm. This is a very narrow way of interpreting what is a design work. Pixels work for photographs, but for everything else, the data model is different and, in most cases, based on vectors or similar. These data models offer more flexibility in terms of interpretation and manipulation.

This project is about designing a multi-platform tool, build on top of Git and web technologies, but adapted to a designer's workflow using a vector based data model. So that designers of any kind can experiment remote collaboration on larger visual project and be giants themselves.

Some examples of designers using Git

This is not an exhaustive list. It is showing different kind of projects that designers have built using Git in their workflow.

  • Animating a git repository The successive commits during a 24 pages comic creation using Inkscape has been animated into a 2 min movie
  • Terminal Grotesque is an open source font by Raphaël Bastide available on Github. Many design works by Raphaël are available on github which encourages collaborations and forking.
  • Open Source Publishing, a graphic design studio using open source tools, has a git repository for all their projects. OSP has a crowdfunding campaign to improve and develop their inhouse collaboration tool called Visual Culture.

History of development

Medialab Prado

This idea has been has been submitted and selected for the Tools for a read-write world at Interactivos?'13 at Medialab Prado.

projects/design_with_git.txt · Last modified: 2016/11/04 03:04 by Julien Deswaef