Happy 6th birthday, PatternFly

Abigael Donahue
May 19, 2020 · 8 min read
Multiple colorful balloons dangling from the ceiling
Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

On May 16, 2014, we welcomed PatternFly into the world. Since then, UX has never been the same.

Maybe you use PatternFly for your design and development. Or maybe you only read PatternFly’s Medium publication. Or maybe, you’re a contributor who has made PatternFly into the open source design system it is today.

No matter how you use PatternFly, we welcome you to join us in celebrating its sixth birthday. Let’s take a journey back in time and honor some of PatternFly’s milestones throughout the years.

Ready? Let’s go!

Becoming PatternFly

What’s in a name?

  • Honeycomb
  • Fulcrum
  • Whipcord
  • Pinstripe
  • Cuniform
  • Scaffold
  • Herringbone
  • Bowline
  • Bedrock
  • Stanchion
  • openCUE

At the end of 2014, PatternFly became “PatternFly,” officially registered at patternfly.org. The website was originally hosted on WordPress, and none of the patterns had any code on the site — mostly just documentation. Everything was based on Bootstrap, and we built patterns on what Bootstrap offered.

A website of our own

  • Improved information architecture and navigation
  • New pattern page design
  • More content for an improved “getting started” experience
  • Visual enhancements

In 2019, we ended up improving the website again with PatternFly 4. PatternFly became our own design system — no foundation of Bootstrap

We also consolidated on one JS framework, React. This was a big deal for our community because it meant we didn’t have to manage and maintain multiple frameworks and could instead focus on the growth and stability of the design system.

Today, we continue working on PatternFly so that it truly is a place where UX design and development can thrive. In 2019, we introduced the PatternFly Design Kit library — a Sketch library that represents components as reusable symbols to help designers create high-fidelity mockups. We also conduct regular website enhancements, content improvements, accessibility audits, and more.

And let’s not forget the amazing contributions of our community members. This year’s OSPO audit identified strong growth in community involvement and engagement.

Brand and community

Getting the name out there

Then in 2016, PatternFly was recognized among Red Hat communities at Summit. Here we are on the big screen:

PatternFly name and logo on the Red Hat Summit presentation screen behind Paul Cormier
PatternFly name and logo on the Red Hat Summit presentation screen behind Paul Cormier

Today, we continue to participate in Summit, including this year’s virtual Summit experience.

But Summit isn’t the only place where PatternFly became “famous.” Red Hat’s Madrid office has a conference room named PatternFly !

PatternFly imprinted on Red Hat Madrid conference room
PatternFly imprinted on Red Hat Madrid conference room

Logo design

When looking at logo concepts, I liked the idea of designing a mark which I thought mirrored the angular nature of the patterns we were creating. I also liked the idea of taking a flying insect like a bee or a butterfly and reimagining its shape as a simplified angular pattern.

— Kyle Baker, Senior Interaction Designer at Red Hat

When breaking the insect shapes down into an angular form, they appeared quite similar to an aircraft. And as you know, we still use plenty of flying plane puns today.

After combining these two shapes, the PatternFly logo was born. Here are some of the iterations:

PatternFly logo designs with photos of a bee, paper airplane, and aircraft
PatternFly logo designs with photos of a bee, paper airplane, and aircraft
PatternFly logo iterations
PatternFly logo iterations
PatternFly logo iterations with blue, white, and black colors
PatternFly logo iterations with blue, white, and black colors

T-shirt design

PatternFly was in its formative stages and we wanted to generate some buzz for it at Summit 2014, so we put together a tee using the new logo Kyle designed. The biggest challenge was getting the subtle gradient to print properly, but we were pleased with the results and the warm reception it received!

— Brian Dellascio, Principal Visual Designer at Red Hat

This was the design comprehensive:

PatternFly comprehensive for 2014 t-shirt
PatternFly comprehensive for 2014 t-shirt

Then our t-shirts continued through the years:

4 PatternFly t-shirt designs through the years
4 PatternFly t-shirt designs through the years

We wear our t-shirts with PatternFly pride to this day. We hope you sport one of your own too.

Blogs and social media

Our WordPress blog also launched in 2015. In late 2019, our blog relaunched as a Medium publication. Anyone is free to contribute articles, and we continue to see steady growth in engagement.

Connecting with Flyers

In 2016, we organized a PatternFly meet-up and a subsequent UXD-dev meet-up, which resulted in the delivery of the PatternFly roadmap. Check out this year’s roadmap and learn what we have going on in 2020.

(Speaking of meet-ups: At our PatternFly conference in June 2017, Michael Tiemann, VP of open source affairs, was our keynote speaker.)

Slack is another way we all stay connected. In 2016, we started our PatternFly Slack workspace with 64 members. We now have over 700 members (and counting!).

And the PatternFly Design Kit mentioned earlier isn’t just part of our website experience improvements. That design kit and designated GitHub repo provides Flyers with up-to-date patterns and information on the newest releases.

PatternFly usage

Usage has skyrocketed over the past 6 years. Since 2014, the number of PatternFly CSS package downloads per year keep climbing:

  • 2014: 0 downloads
  • 2015: 3,527 downloads
  • 2016: 34,604 downloads
  • 2017: 127,272 downloads
  • 2018: 519,660 downloads
  • 2019: 829,073 downloads

We’re not even halfway through 2020 yet, and we’re already at 510,968 downloads. Here’s a chart so that you can see this growth in action through April 2020:

Chart showing yearly growth in PatternFly downloads
Chart showing yearly growth in PatternFly downloads

That’s a lot of growth spurts for a six-year-old! So many folks are flying high with PatternFly, and we can’t wait to see what the end of 2020 will look like.

Birthday wishes from Flyers

“I first started working with the PatternFly team when I came into Red Hat 5 years ago. We had CloudForms and Satellite already utilizing it, and our newer products, Insights and Ansible Tower, were not. It was great to work with the team on not only getting the benefit of a consistent look and feel, but also being able to take advantage of the community to allow the UI team to focus on innovation and less on the underlying implementation. As we innovated, new patterns and capability was needed, and it was great to contribute those back to the PatternFly community.”

— Tim Cramer, VP Engineering at Red Hat

PatternFly makes bad UXD designers like me look amazing! And it taught me UXD basics that I can use throughout my work.

— James Falkner, Product Marketing Director at Red Hat

“I’m a huge believer in the power of great UI, and a critical factor in what makes great UI across a family of products is consistency. PatternFly has enabled dramatic improvement in the UI for Red Hat Middleware (now Application Services) technologies over the last several years, not only with highly usable and aesthetically pleasing widgets but also in bringing much-needed consistency and coherence to the look-and-feel across the product line.”

— Mike Piech, VP & GM, Cloud Storage & Data Services at Red Hat

“I joined Red Hat 8 1/2 years ago and I’ve lived the pre-PatternFly times: a world of colour and rainbows in which every product looked and felt different to each other. PatternFly didn’t just improve the look…and help a lot in the sales area — reducing the perceived risk, improving the confidence, and probably increasing the number of screenshots in slides — it also improved the feel by making things be where you would search for them, making the users more comfortable with our products. The evolution has been impressive up to the point that, when hearing an engineer explain about a new product we were developing (Migration Analytics), he said, ‘The frontend is built using PatternFly, so it *feels* like Red Hat.’ I think this is a great milestone. PatternFly has become the face of Red Hat products and the old-timers, like me, are really happy about it.”

— Miguel Pérez Colino, Principal Product Manager at Red Hat

It’s great to know that PatternFly has made such a difference among our community.

Time to celebrate

In lieu of gifts, we ask that you simply think back on how PatternFly has helped YOU. How have you used PatternFly to improve your own UX creations? Then, no matter where you are in the world, wish PatternFly a happy birthday. There are many more to come.

Have a UX story of your own? Send your ideas our way. More writers and fresh perspectives can only make PatternFly’s Medium publication stronger.


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