Is It true that Open Source can’t be beautiful? (Redesigning Planio’s Redmine)

Added by Jan from Planio over 7 years ago

This message is about Redmine hosted at Planio. All Planio developers are also active contributors here on and we thought you'd find this article interesting. Our intention is not to blatantly advertise Planio. If you take issue with this post or think it does not belong here, please contact me directly at jan (at)

I've heard this over and over again by different people: "Redmine is ugly.", "It is outdated." and being both a Redmine hoster, and a big fan of Redmine, those comments always hurt a little.

And I think they're wrong. My point would in fact be: Redmine's UI is very beautiful as it is. Because it does have one main property of good design: Consistency. If you look at different areas within Redmine, you will find that the forms, buttons, links, and UI elements follow the same principles and look consistent – which I think is awesome.

Design styles like rounded corners, big buttons, skeuomorphism or flat design come and go. And there is a reason why they exist and they all have their time. But I think it's wrong to say "Redmine is ugly" just because its style isn't like the current state-of-the-art. It's an almost 10 year old project now, and still mainly a non profit effort by only a handful of contributors.

So when we set out to redesign our hosted Redmine for our Planio customers, our premise was to do it without rewriting the views, without starting from scratch and without overturning existing concepts. In fact, we built on the UI foundations that are core to Redmine and only build a Redmine theme merely – with few exceptions. One that also remains fully upstream compatible with new changes coming in Redmine.

Without further ado, here's an account by our designer Nadine Roßa on how this went down:

*The challenge of redesigning Redmine – the story behind the new Planio UI*

I hope you'll like it and we all at Planio are very interested to hear your comments.

Replies (2)

RE: Is It true that Open Source can’t be beautiful? (Redesigning Planio’s Redmine) - Added by Christian Schnabl over 6 years ago

Hi there,

looks like this entry is from a while back, but i just wanted to say that this is really nice.

To be honest, i still wonder why we do not see UI Improvements (no offense intended ! :-) ) in a more 2017 Layout for

Really, we all know its a lot of work, but i just wanted to mention the current "visual" state of

Not only in means of usability but also in promoting redmine as a really state of the art open source software.

We are working with redmine for about 7 years now and we do not see a single reason to switch to any other system here at the company.

Through the years we recognized and developed quite some UI Improvements for our Theme (sorry to say it's not as finished as it should be ;-) )

If i missed any discussion about the Visual Topic, i am happy get a hint on that.

@Planio:v Excellent work ! :-)


RE: Is It true that Open Source can’t be beautiful? (Redesigning Planio’s Redmine) - Added by Guillermo ML over 6 years ago

We recently switched from Redmine 1.0.1 to 3.1.1, and no one complained about outdated design, it's a tool and we are comfortable having the same interface, maybe because of the consistency you said.
Now we are thinking to apply the PurpleMine2 theme, mainly because of the sidebar and how it divides the issues between notes and changes in tabs, making more clear the issues' evolution.