A COMMON LANGUAGE TO EXCHANGE IDEAS
André Knörig, Jonathan Cohen, Reto Wettach
Fritzing is an open source project with the aim of supporting designers, artists and hobbyists (i.e. ‘non-engineers’) to work creatively with interactive electronics. As computer processing power moves away from the desktop and ‘into the cloud’, it becomes useful and important to ensure that this resource is made accessible to tinkerers all over the world.
Originally a research project, Fritzing is now actively used by more than 10,000 people to document their electronic prototypes, share them with others, teach electronics in the classroom, and create PCB layouts for professional manufacturing.
Fritzing’s most important contribution to design is that it gives its practitioners a common, familiar ‘language’ in which to document and exchange their ideas. COMMUNITY At Fritzing, we call this the ‘breadboard view’; it is simply an abstract, but clearly recognizable software version of the way many of our practitioners work in the real world: with a breadboard, chips, and wires. Because these images are easier to interpret than photographs, Fritzing sketches are now used on sites like Arduino.cc or Instructables.com – and in the project gallery at Fritzing.org. SHARE
Beyond facilitating the sharing of knowledge, a major goal of Fritzing is to enable production. In the case of electronics, this means designing and manufacturing printed circuit boards, a skill that has so far been reserved for professionals. Fritzing lets a beginner AMATEURISSIMO seamlessly translate a breadboard sketch into a PCB design (and schematic design, if needed), ready to be sent to a production house or made at home. Additionally, we are setting up our own fabrication service that will eventually make it possible for users to order designs created by other users.
Fritzing is almost as open as it gets, in every respect. The software itself is open source, uses open standards and file formats (SVG, XML), can be used within an ecology of other open tools (such as Arduino, Wiring and Inkscape), and offers open access through online learning materials (under CC licences). OPEN EVERYTHING
Building on this foundation, Fritzing encourages open sharing of knowledge, from basic electronics to complete documentation for completed projects. Openness is hardwired into the structure of Fritzing: there is a ‘sharing’ button in the software, and Fritzing include rich export options and an online project gallery. We are committing to bringing about a culture in which sharing is self-evident, simply because it is easy and useful for everybody.
In another context, we think of Fritzing as a tool for democratizing production. By putting the tools of the industry into the hands of the people, we hope to open up the discussion of our technological future. People should not take the outcomes of the industrial process for granted. Rather, they should participate critically in shaping our culture, by creating their own objects as alternatives.