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Sketch app. It’s all about U & I (Revisited)

My thoughts on Sketch and my original article, 18 months later

Back in September of 2015 I began writing about a certain design application (You can read the original article here), any guesses what that might be? I’m giving nothing away in the title. Not a jot.

From that first article to the present day, I’ve now written countless articles, released 2 very popular guides, and even started a repository for premium video courses (the next course is currently being put into place). Phew! What a busy chap I’ve been over that period of around 12 months or so. And that’s because I’m still a massive fan of the design tool with the little yellow diamond.

With this article I wanted to revisit that first post and take a look at what has changed between then and now. How the design tool landscape looks at this present day, and what to expect over the coming year.

One of the first key points I touched on with the original article was the mention of this lumbering, long-in-the-tooth application called Photoshop (ask your grandparents about it). Sketch had gone all ninja style and snuck into the temple of Photoshop, under the cover of darkness and caught that aforementioned tool off guard, in a big way.

This made the Adobe Shaolin Monks sit up and take note. Big time! Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator (to a point) had some competition bearing down on them and had to rise to that challenge, and that’s what they’ve done in the past few months with XD (Experience Designer).

It just shows how much a fly (nay, albatross) in the ointment Sketch had become to them. For a company as large as Adobe it is, admittedly, not easy to pivot with an existing tool. For example, with something like Photoshop, you cannot on a whim say “Hey tweak this, change that. I want it looking, and working like Sketch. by the end of the month”, for countless reasons that’s not possible. Surprise here but folks who edit photos do actually use Photoshop, and it’s built on such legacy frameworks that to dismantle, rebuild whatever just isn’t easily done.

I tip my hat to the team behind XD, they’ve built a damn fine tool.

So they started from year zero and built XD. Copied the UI of Sketch pretty much wholesale, along with the features. But this happens all the time when something is at the top of the pile and kicking up a storm, other folks will come along and steal those ideas. I’m surprised Samsung haven’t just jumped in and started putting the Apple logo on their devices.

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This must be a massive vote of confidence to Bohemian Coding (the small team behind Sketch) to see that they had come so far that one of the biggest software companies on the planet had had to pivot and build something that resembled Sketch to still stay relevant to the modern day UI designer. I’d know I had arrived, and would be rather honoured with the accolade of sorts. I’m sure the team at BC have done a virtual high-five to one another throughout their remote team.

From speaking to a couple of folks at BC they’ve got some Aces to play in 2017, and will ruffle a few more feathers as they proceed. As if opening up the API which is what they’re in the process of doing doesn’t make you go “Hot damn!!”.

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As well as Adobe XD making an imprint on the design tool landscape, we also have Figma, which alongside XD seems to be growing a reasonably strong following inside of the design community.

Have they made Sketch wobble at all? Nah. The tool with the yellow diamond still stands tall to take on all newcomers, and is pushing forward with some awesome new features that are going to be revealed in 2017. Competition is healthy, always has been, and keeps the creators of our favourite design tools on their toes, which is always beneficial to us as the end-user.

Sketch continues to go from strength, to strength, and shows no sign of letting up yet. Far from it.

Still the cries of “When will they make it run on Windows” permeate throughout the usual channels, and that shows no signs of abating in 2017.

My thoughts on this, are along the lines of something I read recently on Twitter, that if designers started to give up on Macs then the advantage would turn in the oppositions favour.

My thoughts on Sketch from when I first started using it a Version 2 to now remain the same. It got me back to enjoy designing again, I can’t quite put my finger on it, was it it’s simple, light UI, there was something there that just made my role as a designer enjoyable again after so many years of just going through the motions.

I’ve sampled Figma but it’s just not done it for me. I still have this strange affliction to cloud-based design tools, that’s just me.

Sketch still floats my design boat, I don’t know what it is exactly , but it just does shit without any hassles, it takes a back seat and just gets out of the way whilst I create stuff, I really can’t put it into plainer terms than that.

I’m sure the founders of Sketch have had certain companies come by waving a lottery-sized cheque under their noses, and they have turned them down. I respect that massively.

Give me your thoughts on Sketch. Your likes and dislikes, and what you hope for from this design tool in 2017.

Thanks for reading the article,


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Written by

Designer. Tutor. Created Cabana Design System for Sketch & Figma

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