Open Design

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

Guido Rosso
Dec 4, 2018 · 6 min read

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

Min Ming Lo wrote a great manifesto on Open Design.

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

Garth Braithwaite has a website dedicated to Open Design.


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