Open Source Design Language

Every day of your life, you encounter something that's open source. Viewing this site via Firefox or Chrome? Those are open source. Have an Android phone? That's based on open source. PHP, MySQL, Linux...these are all huge open source projects which underpin most of the modern world, online and offline.

Facebook was always a huge consumer of open source software, but in the last few years it's been trying to increase the amount that it gives back to the world. This isn't just some abstract concept that ultimately amounts to a few incomprehensible extensions for a language, the vast majority of the internal software stack that Facebook engineers use is now available for the wide world (some of my favourites are Flow, XHP, and React).

In the middle of 2014, I was looking for a new role when I bumped into my former boss who was now leading Open Source advocacy efforts at Facebook. I jumped at the chance to be a part of this incredible endeavour, which spans backend database technologies, through animation libraries for iOS and Android, to actual physical hardware schematics. Facebook is now one of the biggest contributors of open source software in the tech world, and it was such a rewarding and impactive team to be a part of. During my time in the team, I assisted every single open source project launched, by providing them with design assistance.

Among other things I was tasked with creating a logo for each project. Pretty quickly it became clear that Facebook could stand to have a coherent brand identity that spread across families of different Open Source projects - this would work beyond a visual link, but also provide a subtle indicator to developers that if they're using one of these projects, they should probably take a look at the others too.

To develop this, I created a simple design language to tie together all Android and iOS projects. This new design language allowed me to create new project logos in hours rather than days, and meant that even the smallest project could get its own logo. This design language continued to serve Facebook well after I left the company, as projects have continued to adopt it since.

Open Source Design Language logos Some logos created within the Open Source design language