Open Design

As of today, you can use 2Dimensions for free.

When we first announced 2Dimensions back in 2016, our goal was to offer a fully functional free tier of our services. However, during development, we felt that we were innovating on so many aspects of the product that our disposition to experiment with the pricing model went down (in case you’re new to 2Dimensions, our tools run entirely in the browser). As we got closer to launching v1 of Nima, we made the decision to stick to a tried-and-tested Free Trial model. But we were left with the feeling that we were betraying our original vision.

So during this last year, we did some serious brainstorming and soul-searching on the issue. One of the things that always resonated with us is the Open Source model and how Github really enabled engineers around the world, often complete strangers, to work together and build upon one another’s ideas. We realized that this is a core principle of all human achievement.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.
Isaac Newton

So we asked ourselves: can we take this principle of human achievement, which has worked so well for engineers, and apply it to design, which has traditionally been a very secretive craft?

The answer is Open Design.

We believe that great design should be open.

The design industry has a lot to benefit from designers sharing their entire process rather than just a final polished screenshot or video. An ex-Googler, Min Ming Lo, wrote a great Open Design manifesto.

Great design results from a process of constant iteration and relentless refinement. Design is fundamentally collaborative. We believe that the best ideas grow and expand with the input of others.
Min Ming Lo

Designers who choose to participate in the Open Design movement will be able to use Flare and Nima for free. They will be sharing their public files with the 2Dimensions community. This means that other designers can open the source directly in the browser, compare revisions, give feedback, and learn from one another’s techniques.

On every public file preview page on the 2Dimensions website, you’ll find a timeline with all the edits made to the file. Other users’ feedback appears on the timeline, next to the revision they commented on. Each of these iterations (missteps, redesigns, and refinements) represent a learning opportunity for other designers.

Browse some of the public files users are already working on.

Your intellectual property is protected. Public files are view-only unless you allow forking.

Public files are view-only by default, so nobody can copy or edit your work. They can open your file and play around with it in Nima and Flare, but none of their changes will be saved. They also can’t copy anything out of it. Files in this state have no license: nobody else can copy, distribute, or modify your work without being at risk of take-downs, shake-downs, or litigation.

Enabling “Allow Fork” gives artists the ability to riff, remix, and build upon each other’s work. We’ll ask you to select a license from the Creative Commons before this can be enabled, so your work is always protected.

Not ready to share your work with the world?

There are plenty of good reasons not to share your work; whether it be personal preference or client and company confidentiality. Either way, we’ve got you covered. Our paid plan gives you the ability to create unlimited private files.

We truly believe in Open Design… and we’re not alone.

We’re not the first ones to think of Open Design. Plenty of great minds have discussed this initiative, made it a core part of their design philosophy, and built companies around the concept. Here are a few of our favorite quotes that relate to the vision of Open Design:

Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, mentions a lot of the principles behind Open Design in this talk he gave at Stanford in 2007.

In the process of making the film [Toy Story], we reviewed the material every day. Now this is counter-intuitive for a lot of people. Most people — imagine this: you can’t draw very well, but even if you can draw very well, suppose you come in and you’ve got to put together animation or drawings and show it to a world-class, famous animator. Well, you don’t want to show something that is weak, or poor, so you want to hold off until you get it right. And the trick is to actually stop that behavior. We show it every day, when it’s incomplete. If everybody does it, every day, then you get over the embarrassment. And when you get over the embarrassment, you’re more creative.
As I say, that’s not obvious to people, but starting down that path helped everything we did. Show it in its incomplete form. There’s another advantage and that is, when you’re done, you’re done. That might seem silly, except a lot of people work on something and they want to hold it and want to show it, say two weeks later, to get done. Only it’s never right. So they’re not done. So you need to go through this iterative process, and the trick was to do it more frequently to change the dynamics.
Ed Catmull, Pixar: Keep Your Crises Small

Min Ming Lo wrote a great manifesto on Open Design.

Great design results from a process of constant iteration and relentless refinement. Design is fundamentally collaborative. We believe that the best ideas grow and expand with the input of others.
Open Design is not about sharing a cropped final static image. It is about sharing your process; the hours of missteps and false starts you tore through, the frustration and anguish you pushed beyond, before you arrived at that final iteration. Each of those false starts is a learning experience, a teachable moment to invite others to understand not just what you designed; but how you did so.
Designing in the open can be frightening. Exposing your work to critique requires bold effort. But with the collective, collaborative genius, together we can push the boundaries and create better work.
Be open. Design Better. Together.
Min Ming Lo, Pixelapse: Ex-Googler Builds a Github for Designers (article by Mark Wilson, Fast Company)

Ryan Singer talks about the advantages of designing in the open in Basecamp’s blog, Signal vs. Noise.

By working hand in hand, reviewing small changes as they are made, designers gain confidence and learn to expose their process. And this technique is no training wheel. The better a designer is, the more open they are to discussing small changes and getting feedback. It’s a virtuous cycle leading out of secrecy and into productive openness.
Ryan Singer, Basecamp: Designing in the Open.

Garth Braithwaite has a website dedicated to Open Design.

The best way to improve the design industry is to work in the open.
Garth Braithwaite, Adobe: Open Design