When it comes to design applications, you really can't get much better than "Sketch". One of the most popular solutions on the market, this app designed by Bohemian coding has evolved over the years to become an essential part of any designer toolkit. The unique third-party developer community that belongs to Sketch has made the solution a fantastic design toolkit for everyone involved. The result has been the rollout of dozens of companion products like Proto, Craft, Marvel, Atomic, Kite, and many more.
It's difficult to deny that Sketch has made a name for itself over the years. Three years ago, the brand exited the Mac app store and made a switch to a new licensing system to ensure that developers could always have access to their favourite tools.
The good news is that one of the commitments that makes Sketch so appealing is the fact that it's willing to constantly update and enhance it's offering to give customers a better experience. Recently, the Sketch 49 update was announced - exciting designers everywhere. So, what exactly does the new update include?
Sketch 49 Brings us "Prototyping" Features
Perhaps the most important addition to the app for most people will be the opportunity to use "prototyping". Sketch 49 makes it incredibly easy to start linking screens into your app flow with nothing but drag and drop gestures. You can pick what animation plays during the transition too.
To establish your prototype, you'll need to start by downloading the latest version of Sketch, along with placing various artboards into your document. You can then connect symbols or Layers to different artboards with hotspot layers and links.
If you're not familiar with "Hotspots" they're basically a layer type which permits you to draw a tap target or shape over one element of a design and link it to the remainder of your artboard. Importantly, these layers can exist inside symbols and override their target destination. You can also manually convert a link into a hotspot by simply clicking on the layer and selecting the "create hotspot" icon.
When everything is said and done, you can view your prototype in action by clicking on the "Preview" button in the toolbar. This will launch the prototype in a dedicated window, which allows you to interact with your app as you see fit and make changes if you want to - as though you were dealing with the real thing. Prototyping makes it incredibly easy for designers and developers to get sign-off on their projects and present their work to clients. The use of "Sketch Cloud" also means that you can send your design to other people and allow them to play around with the prototype too.
Integration with Apple iOS 11 Design
Another compelling part of the latest Sketch 49 update is the announcement that the company has partnered up with Apple to integrate official iOS 11 design templates into the feature set. The recent integration will mean that designers who enjoy playing with the Apple framework will be able to draw upon the company's existing network of iconography to create incredible mock-ups of ready-to-go apps.
All developers need to do to get started is download the Apple iOS UI library, from which point they'll be able to quickly and seamlessly add elements from the Insert menu. You can then add buttons, toolbars, and glyphs as you see fit. For more information, you can check out the Apple Sketch design resources on the Apple website. Remember, this is the first time that Apple has formally appeared within the Sketch application.
It's safe to say that this feature will be a popular addition for users in the Sketch world, and it should also help Apple to access more designers who want to make new applications for the Ios family. Importantly, Sketch has committed to sending out automatic updates when the Apple library is updated, so that existing designs can be reviewed and adjusted. You can simply head to the Libraries tab in your Sketch preferences to download the Apple services.
Sketch Cloud and Shared Libraries
Finally, the last major update to the Sketch 49 system is the Sketch Cloud, which allows users to quickly and easily upload their documents into the shared cloud environment so that clients and colleagues can check them out for themselves. With the new update, it's possible to subscribe to documents that have been uploaded to the cloud, where they'll be added straight to the Shared libraries.
When you subscribe to a Shared library, your file will link to the original Cloud document. This means that if the creator decides to upload a new version of the file, you'll be given a notification. At which point, you'll be able to decide whether you want to upload your version or keep the old one. If you want your documents to be added into shared libraries, then you'll need to select the option "Allow others to download this document" when you upload something to the cloud.
The Sketch cloud also acts as a safe place for you to share and store versions of your project over time. This is perfect for when you want to show a client the progress you've been making on an application or project.
A Growing Range of Sketch Updates
One of the main things that make Sketch so appealing as a designer and developer program is the fact that the team behind the tool always listens to their community. By keeping their fingers on the pulse, the company can ensure that they're consistently rolling out bug fixes and updates that make the app easier to use and more compelling.
For instance, in Sketch 49, the performance of the app overall has been significantly improved, particularly when it comes to working on complex documents and projects. A full list of updates that have been addressed within the latest version is available on the Sketch website. Additionally, you can also find information about how bugs and errors have been fixed.