Communities of Practice (CoPs) have attracted the interest of professionals and researchers as successful environments for enhancing, developing and improving practices through collaboration between their members. More and more, CoPs are choosing virtual environments and services to support their activities. However, recent research has underlined the lack of adequate scaffolding in terms of technical support and appropriate use of technology for communication and collaboration.

The paper argues in favour of a collaborative design methodology for the development of services based on new technologies, open-source or "open-source minded". Producing interoperable, evolutionary, flexible and truly collaborative services appears of major interest to sustain activities of distributed CoPs. The paper uses as a case study the description of collaboratively designed services addressing the needs of distributed CoPs within the European Project PALETTE. The example of PALETTE shows that in complex project situations, collaborative design sustained by Actor-Network Theory is a helpful framework to reach the goals of the project.