David, our CryptPad designer/researcher

04 Nov 2020 5 min read
in 5 things
  • Favorite artist: Julien Prévieux
  • Best book ever read: Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino
  • Dream destination: at the moment, anywhere more than 5km from my house
  • Quote you live by: We shall overcome
  • At the office or remote? Remote

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 38, a designer on the CryptPad team, and celebrating my first year at XWiki today.

The journey to XWiki

What were you doing before XWiki? Did you change careers when joining our team?

I spent 5 years doing a PhD in design before joining, and before that, I worked on research projects at the Royal College of Art and at Microsoft Research in the UK. Joining the team can be seen as a change of careers, from academia to a more applied role. I also use the same skills as before in terms of designing things and following similar interests, so I would say it is a continuation.

What is it like to be working in the CryptPad team at XWiki?

We are a team of 3 distributed across France, India, and the UK. We communicate through Riot and a few Jitsi calls a week. We do everything from developing new features to answering support tickets and seeking funding from research projects. Being a small team means there is a lot of work, but also that decisions can be made quickly. Overall I would say we make a great team with complementary skills.

Open Source impressions

Was Open Source something you had an interest in prior to XWiki?

Yes, it was always more or less on my radar but during my PhD I took a more active interest in open source. I switched to Linux a couple of years ago, which is not always easy for designers. But I am never looking back and I am delighted to be working on an Open Source project.

What's the Open Source value you identify with most?

In the case of CryptPad I would say "public money, public code". A lot of our funding comes from EU taxpayer's money so it seems logical that the product is given back to the public. Overall I think really owning the products you use is important, more and more digital products are locked up and we see the detrimental effects of this on everything from democracy to the environment.

Being an XWikier

What has kept you at XWiki so far?

Working on a great product with talented people!


If you ever wished for a job change, what made you decide to stay?

In a year I did not have time to consider a job change.

What were the most drastic ways in which XWiki changed during the year you've been around?

Well, 2020 has been quite the year. The company went full remote, and my trips to Paris to work at the office every other week stopped in February.

Lessons learned

What would you say is the most valuable lesson you learned during your time at XWiki?

I have learned a lot this year. I would say one of the main lessons has been the importance of communicating about your product and making it accessible. Everything from the text in the interface itself, to documentation, to social media, is key to making yourself understood. You can have a great product technically but if you don't do these things well it might as well not exist.

The XWiki experience

If you could describe your XWiki experience in one word, what would it be?

For my first year: "welcoming".

Favorite memory of the years as XWiki?

Shipping improvements to the CryptPad Kanban and toolbar were two times where I saw my work on design really change the platform. I felt great to see my contributions to the product being so visible. There are even bigger improvements in progress though! 

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