February 22, 2006

Winners chosen in phase one of Tor GUI contest

Author: Nathan Willis

Two entries made the cut in the first phase of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) Tor GUI competition. The user interface designed by the CMU Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory took the "Best Overall" award, and the entry from April3rd scored the "Most Aesthetically Pleasing" award.

Tor is the anonymizing communication tool developed by the EFF. It functions somewhat like a proxy for Internet applications, but encrypts data and routes it through an untraceable, decentralized network of volunteer-run servers.

As it is available now, Tor is a non-interactive, manually configured application that may be difficult to set up for some users. To remedy that, the EFF launched a competition in September to design graphical user interfaces for Tor. The contest rules stipulate that all entries be licensed under open source or other equally free terms.

The EFF received six qualifying entries for the first phase of the competition. All of the entries are public, and linked to from the Tor Contest Web page. Each entry consists of a design mock-up and a descriptive document.

Michael Kropat, Matt Edman, and the teams from CMU and April3rd submitted Windows-based designs, while Corinna Habets chose Mac OS X and Otto Wyss elected to use wxWindows. In addition to naming the winners, the panel of "celebrity judges" posted detailed feedback on each entry and the score they gave it based on the contest's criteria.

The contest now proceeds to phase two, producing a working software implementation. Entrants are not limited to using designs or concepts from the winners of phase one. Technical notes and specifications are available from the Tor Web site, and as with phase one all entries must be licensed under open source definition compatible terms. The deadline for phase two entries is April 20, 2006.


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