Elements Blog

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Adobe MAX 2019 was awesome and we were very excited about the keynotes presenting all the work they’ve done on their products. We were unfortunately not present, but watching the live stream instead. The keynotes were very impressive and our creative hearts started skipping beats with every new, cool feature that got introduced. We have been testing Adobe Xd to see if we can optimise our workflow by replacing Sketch and InVision (and maybe even Principle and Framer) with Adobe Xd.

For a while, our team is used to a workflow around Sketch + Craft, InVision and Principle. We mostly use InVision for basic, linear prototyping. It’s also what we use to communicate our design to stakeholders and to make sure the development team has access to all the necessary assets using InVision Inspect. It’s our source of truth. For Hi-Fi prototyping we tend to use Principle a lot. Even though it’s mostly handy for micro-interactions, we sometimes use it for bigger prototypes as well. The software is easy and intuitive to use and gets us great, smooth results quickly. Transitions and animations run smoother and that’s really valuable if you want to get a real Hi-Fi taste of the experience.

We have tested Adobe Xd in the past and felt that it couldn’t compare to Sketch at the time. It lacked too many of the features we needed, so it just wasn’t a good fit for our workflow. Recently I feel Sketch is slacking and the software is getting slower and files are becoming larger while the likes of Figma and Adobe Xd are starting to play catch up. This is the perfect time to test out something else to possibly optimise our workflow at Elements. Because we are still big fans of Adobe, we decided to give Adobe Xd another try.

The awesome bits that almost won us over

  • At first glance, the software looks very intuitive (much like sketch etc.).
  • It’s awesome to be able to use the shortcuts that we’re all used to again (p for pen tool, v for selection tool etc.)
  • We love the fact that we can do most things (design, prototype, share) in one integrated software package. Also the connection with other Adobe software is awesome and way more efficient.
  • Repeat grid is a nice tool to help use create lists faster.
  • It’s nice to see that Xd shows only the current art board layers in the layer panel. Helps us focus better with a less cluttered UI. It’s all about relevancy, good job.
  • Having a design system with interactive components that I can just easily drag into my own design/prototype makes things much faster and more intuitive. Though, we had issues copying/pasting pre-made components into a library while keeping the interactivity. We see a lot of potential here.
  • Automatic versioning (and everything in the cloud) is awesome, really helps.
  • The sharing bit in Xd works like a charm. It’s super easy to share something with stakeholders, even password protected.
  • Plugins are great, but need more awesome additions.
  • The mobile Xd app connection with the desktop is top, no lag/delay. It’s definitely real time.
  • Invite designers to work on the same design file at the same time is awesome, although we’d expected this collaboration to be more realtime (live design), just how Figma or Google Drive does it.

What we think Xd needs now

  • The prototyping (auto-animate and states are great) in Adobe Xd is easy and a good addition to the software, but it lacks the fine-tuned timeline control that Principle or InVision Studio offers us. Also, creating a card slider or vertical scrolling section should work more intuitive. You guys should really try to get the quality and ease-of-use of let’s say, Principle inside Xd.
  • [new] Being able to have different ‘Pages’ with artboards would help us to stay more organised in our files.
  • The slide transitions feel a bit clunky and non-native. Principle and Framer do this way better.
  • Creating a path with a stroke is easy, but I can’t convert my path to a shape. We use this feature a lot when designing UI’s.
  • A gradient color on the stroke/border should be possible.
  • There’s no option to add an arrow, circle etc. on start and end of a stroked path. We use it regularly.
  • It would be nice to enable us to add a shadow to a group of objects.
  • Multiple shadows to an object/group
  • Multiple strokes on an object
  • A scale/transform feature. The transform now only includes flipping.
  • States are great, but we need a visual cue to see in what state we are currently working. When editing a state of a component, you don’t see what state you are in right now.
  • We couldn’t find an easy way to use a shape as a mask for all layers above it while keeping control over the individual objects. Although there is a basic masking tool available, it’s hidden and limited.
  • Merging shapes into a single, easy to edit object is missing. You can add two vectors together, but you cannot edit the points as if it were one object.
  • We need to be able to add movies (mp4 etc.) to a prototype.
  • Xd needs to work on how they handle type. It lacks fine-tuned control. It would also be nice to see a preview of the fonts and your last used fonts instead of a list with just font names

Some ideas for Adobe Xd

  • Direct integration with After Effects and Lottie. Would be awesome to see our AE movie update directly in the prototype.
  • Support for patterns
  • Quickly color correct an image within Xd
  • For developer handoff it would be nice if there’s an option for people to download all the assets at once.
  • Zeplin has a nice way of creating style guides with minimal effort. Would be nice to see Xd integrate this.
  • The paging and scrolling feature of Principle would really help prototyping in Xd.

To conclude, we firmly believe that Adobe Xd has the momentum right now with some cool features and nice promises, but it’s not there yet. They should keep this pace and start refining some functionalities and improve the software quickly if they want to get people switching. We were close to making the switch, but after trying the new Xd during a project, we conclude that we will wait for Adobe Xd to implement some features that we need and got used to over the years (see lists above).

As a design team that is used to a workflow with Sketch, InVision, After Effects and Principle, we continue to follow Adobe Xd’s developments with great interest. Also, we would love to contribute to the design community and help improve Adobe Xd by sharing our insights and experiences.

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This blog was written by

Remco Bakker

on

Nov 11, 2019

Design
UI
UX
Adobe
Adobe Xd