Tags: labs



Open device labs

It’s been just nine months since I threw open the doors to the device lab in the Clearleft office. The response in just the first week was fantastic — people started donating their devices to the communal pool, doubling, then tripling the amount of phones and tablets.

The idea of having a communal device lab wasn’t new; Jason had been talking about setting up a lab in Portland but the paperwork involved was bogging it down. So when I set up the Brighton lab, I deliberately took an “ah, fuck it!” attitude …and that was new:

There are potential pitfalls to opening up a testing suite like this. What about the insurance? What about theft? What about breakage? But the thing about potential pitfalls is that they’re just that: potential. I’m treating all of them as YAGNI issues. I’ll address any problems if and when they occur rather than planning for worst-case scenarios.

So far, so good.

Since then I’ve been vocally encouraging others to set up communal devices labs wherever they may be—linking and tweeting whenever anybody so much as mentioned the possibility of getting a device lab up and running. Then the Lab Up! site was established to help people do just that.

Now there’s a brand new site that’s not just for people setting up device labs, but also for people looking a device lab to use: OpenDeviceLab.com.

  • Help people to locate the right Open Device Lab for the job,
  • explain and promote the Open Device Lab movement,
  • attract Contributors and Sponsors to help and donate to ODLs.

It’s an excellent resource. Head on over there and find out where your nearest device lab is located. And if you can’t find one, think about setting one up.

I really, really like the way that communal device labs have taken off. It’s like a physical manifestation of the sharing and openness that has imbued the practice of web design and development right from the start. View source, mailing lists, blog posts, Stack Overflow, and Github are made of bits; device labs are made of atoms. But they are all open for you to use and contribute to.

Open device labs

It seems like there’s been a lot of activity lately around the idea of open device labs and I’ve been doing my best to keep track of it all.

There are communal device labs springing up all over the place: Berlin, Cape Town, Helsinki, Amsterdam and soon Washington DC. Here’s a list of most of them.

If you’re running an open device lab, or hoping to set one up, be sure to register at Lab Up, a site that aims to pool resources and hopefully get some device manufacturers to distribute their wares. There’s also a mailing list for open device labs. Sign up if you have or want a communal device lab. Sharing is caring.

Finally, there’s an article on Smashing Magazine that goes into great detail on every aspect of setting up and running a communal collection of devices. If you’ve been thinking about starting an open device lab in your area, now is the time. Do it.