This looks cool, but it also reminds me of the work being done at Atomic, Proto.io and other "dynamic prototype tools" that haven't hit the market yet.
The problem for me, they all sell the tool by showing relatively simple phone apps. This may be fine for some, but I am part of a huge body of designers that do not design for these kind of things.
In the enterprise sector it's rare to design an iOS app with fun transitions. What is common is huge web-apps or desktop software, tons of data and many different dynamically changing states.
What I need in my day to day work is a tool that is designed to deal with these scenarios. My current Invision prototype, built in Sketch, has over 700 artboards with 230 pages, because I can't do things like error messages, hover effects and dynamic content without them.
I think I'm answering my own question, 700+ screen prototypes are a bad idea. What I should be doing is creating a component library and a strong set of guidelines to build new modules and screens. Get it all built in code and it's just drag and drog to build, in theory. But, that's not how this company works, so this is how I'm building it. There's way too much custom stuff to build, and the code prototype becomes a burden. I'm guessing there's many in the same shoes as I am.
Rant over. Good luck with the project, it looks really great and I'm glad your opening up the space even further.
700+ invision screens... that sounds like my nightmares
It's pretty hellish. Especially when syncing a new screen and it gets put in a random section, in seemingly random orders. And how you can't search inside the "Screen as overlay" dropdown, and how... ;)
Drives me nuts how Craft Manager just randomizes the screens when exporting to InVision. At least just go left to right! Or be aware of the naming conventions.
IIRC Craft uploads bases on artboard order in the layer panel. I switched to Figma a while ago so I don't remember the name - but I used to use a Sketch plugin that would reorder my artboards bases on their x,y position. So my upper left artboard would become first in the stack, meaning it's shown first in Invision when uploaded through Craft.
Obviously Invision should handle this better, but untill then this workaround works.
Couldn't agree more with this assessment. I am happy with the design tool I am currently using, but this is the direction I want to see design tools move towards (more than animation).
We have recently encountered the aggressive sales team of a certain new product, and it is so focused on everything BUT this sort of workflow, that its really annoying. Transitions and slick screen animations are probably the last priority for us building large scale enterprise applications.
Joe, thanks for sharing that! It's true that none of the existing tools has properly addressed the needs of large enterprise design teams.
I can assure you that at Phase we take it really seriously. We spent a great deal of time and effort making sure that we build a digital design product fit for both simple mobile apps - and large enterprise products. Libraries with deep and dynamic composition, responsive screen layouts, digital elements, real data pulled from your own DB, and powerful interaction model (coming in Phase v1) are all going to make your life much easier.
Actually, we'd love to hear more in detail about your needs and requirements with your product. Welcome to email me at vlad at phase.com ;)
It's interesting that so many new products want to do it all (Framer, Studio, Figma, etc.) as though needing to use apps is a drawback. I would love a shared file format that allows for the transport of designs between specialized apps, rather than one app trying to own the entire design process.
The problem is that we end up using 10 different tools. Switching between them in inefficient, and time consuming. Having a common format, that would include interactions, is virtually impossible - unless we just design and share images (which we still do).
That's exactly the problem that we're solving. In Phase you'd be able to design fully working interactive products, not just PNGs.
I disagree that switching between apps is inefficient, at least in my workflow. I don't think it's reasonable to expect that one app, company, or team, can develop the perfect solution for all designers & workflows. For me, I design in primarily in Illustrator, and Sketch, and then prototype in code, using Principle, Framer, or Flinto, and often build user flow walkthroughs for clients/devs in Keynote. They all have qualities that make them appropriate for each task, and I personally like to be able to mix and match as needed.
My approach isn't for everyone, and I think it's awesome that you're working to solve the use case for other kinds of workflows. I'm always excited for anything that helps people experiment and express their creative ideas.
Out of curiosity, when you say fully working interactive products, do you mean production ready, or prototype?
Matt, totally understand your stance. Design community has been fed for many years with the false promises of "one tool for everything". The real reason why all of these companies failed is because they've been pushing print design software just a bit closer towards digital design requirements. We still end up drawing images, duplicating pages, and then creating limiting interactions between of them.
We're not promising to solve all of the problems at once. Phase v1 will be focused on interactions - and will let you create advanced interactive prototypes visually. Next we will shift our focus to building editing tools, dynamic layouts, collaboration - and eventually export to code API.
The short answer is: Phase v1 is all about interactive prototypes, versions v2+ will fill in the other gaps in digital design workflow, eventually letting you export production ready code.
I look forward to giving it a try!
Yeah I agree — I enjoy the assorted apps we have now. Pick and choose, and these apps only need to support and be good at a few key things. They all import Sketch files, too.
Would be interesting to hear more about the product
A series for artices digging deep into Phase v1 is coming soon!
Such an awesome team! :D