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Sketch is great for screen designers, and Adobe's products will always have a big audience

over 5 years ago from , Freelance JS & iOS Developer

I'd like to share something that I've been thinking about a few times over the last few weeks when observing the occasional argument about Sketch and it's relationship to Adobe's products. Please take this as opinion and observation, not preaching. I'd love to hear reactions.

I think a few people need reminding that Sketch is not a replacement for software like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign etc. Sketch solves a more specific problem than all of those.

Sketch a vector design tool created by and for a group of people who want to design interactive screen-based elements, not flat, print-based elements. Yes, you can use it for print design, but the print designer is not the target market (at least, for now).

Photoshop and Illustrator started as tools for a group of people who wanted to design primarily for print. I ask you - is Photoshop even supposed to be a web design tool? Just read the name: Photoshop. It just happens to be suitable for designing websites, but I don't think that's what it was designed for.

It's no wonder that Bohemian Coding can waltz onto the scene, throw together an app in a couple of years and massively improve productivity of many screen designers. They had the benefit of years of watching people turn Adobe's products into web design tools when that wasn't their original aim. They could see what works and what doesn't work, and apply it to their own product.

Adobe took their products into web design territory and yes, people have done very well and will continue to do well with them, but do not forget that there are a lot of designers out there who are not interested in web and UI design who still use Photoshop and Illustrator, and will never use Sketch. These products are mature, have many features and include powerful tooling suitable for a wide range of tasks. They likely aren't going anywhere soon.

I guess my point is this: it's great if you're enjoying using Sketch - I am too - but Adobe is not going down, and I don't think they deserve to, either. Bohemian and Adobe can exist side-by-side and complement each other. Perhaps if Illustrator and InDesign are standard tools for print designers and Photoshop is a standard tool for Photographers, Sketch can be a standard tool for screen designers and we can all dip in and out of each others' toolkits when the need arises.

Play nice!

29 comments

  • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    One product doesn’t have to fail for another to succeed. Some markets don’t have an industry standard with a majority market share — just take a look at 3D software or messaging apps.

    Use whatever gets the job done in a way you like. You can even use more than one tool if you want. :)

    17 points
  • Clark WimberlyClark Wimberly, over 5 years ago

    Not sure anyone thought it was anything but a tool for screen designers?

    Maybe I'm missing something, but I've never seen anyone talk about using it for print or for editing photos. In fact, almost every thread specifically mentions those things as examples of what Sketch can't do.

    I see most folks comparing it to Fireworks and Illustrator, which is apt. Those were the previous tools people used to design for screen.

    6 points
    • Dan Hough, over 5 years ago

      I think perhaps I should've emphasised less on the idea of using Sketch for print and more on the idea of using Adobe's tools for screen.

      Yeah, the comparison is apt with Illustrator and Fireworks, but at least Illustrator still wasn't necessarily designed for screen design.

      0 points
  • Luca Candela, over 5 years ago

    I don't think there's a single person in the world that was confused about that. The diatribe is if Sketch is a good tool for the purpose it was built for or not. I argue it's just mediocre, but it's my opinion.

    3 points
  • Caleb WintersCaleb Winters, over 5 years ago

    Agree. I mean, I like Sketch because it solves a very specific problem. No longer do I have to tame a behemoth like Photoshop to fit into my workflow.

    There are some Adobe products I love—Edge Inspect is a tool I use all the time. I think that the Creative Suite apps are great at what they were originally intended for, and I don't think they'll be going away anytime soon.

    2 points
  • Corin EdwardsCorin Edwards, over 5 years ago

    A small competitor may not completely depose an entrenched monopoly?

    What a brave and controversial statement.

    2 points
  • Paul NevinPaul Nevin, over 5 years ago

    Agreed!

    I'd actually love to see Adobe come out with their own UI / screen design tool just to see what they can come up with when focusing on that niche market. Also, some competition on those specific can only benefit us, the users. Their clients.

    ;)

    1 point
    • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, over 5 years ago

      cough Fireworks cough

      0 points
      • Paul NevinPaul Nevin, over 5 years ago

        Wasn't Fireworks discontinued over a year ago? An application that is no longer maintained by the software vendor is not a viable solution to me.

        0 points
        • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, 5 years ago

          That's actually my point -- Adobe already has a screen / UI design tool. No clue why they EOL'd it -- maybe to put more resources behind Edge? -- but it all seems a little silly to me.

          0 points
  • Charlie McCullochCharlie McCulloch, over 5 years ago

    I'd be surprised if Adobe didn't try to buy Bohemian Coding anyway. They did buy Macromedia (who made Flash originally) way back when,

    1 point
  • Thibault MaekelberghThibault Maekelbergh, over 5 years ago

    I absolutely agree.

    0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    It's simply plain wasteful to discuss 1 product vs 300, Sketch vs Adobe's product line. There never will be 1 product that replace all. Yes, Sketch is best, at its domain: UI composition. It's a Fireworks killer, imho. Pixelmator is a good photo manipulation and bitmap editor, yes, Pixelmator can be a good replacement of Photoshop.

    But Adobe has more products than anyone and those products usually cover many disciplines.

    0 points
  • Vincenzo Petito, over 5 years ago

    I've never heard anyone talk about Sketch as a print design tools... Btw i think every designer has to use the software/tools that can help him and speed up the layout/wireframing process.

    Sketch has many amazing tool for ui design but design is also working on photos sometimes...infact in the 3 version of Sketch, Bohemian's team as introduce a minimal photo editing tool.

    Sure Adobe's products are the most used in design company (i'm one of that :) ), but i've try sketch and it has many good tools and it simplify the UI design process...we can just wait the evolution of the tools and first the evolution of the Design that can change the designe process itself!

    0 points
  • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Well said, and I think this is a general consensus. It would be just sad to see Sketch being acquired by Adobe.

    0 points
  • Arma GetronArma Getron, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    This is why sources are important. You can literally say anything about anything without them.

    0 points
    • Dan Hough, over 5 years ago

      Care to share what it was you think I need to cite?

      0 points
      • Arma GetronArma Getron, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

        Where are the people saying Sketch will replace the total need for photoshop and illustrator?

        0 points
        • Kyle ConradKyle Conrad, over 5 years ago

          Well, there's certainly folks saying that in any comment thread right here on DN when a Sketch article gets posted.

          1 point
          • Arma GetronArma Getron, over 5 years ago

            Source?

            0 points
          • c kizerc kizer, over 5 years ago

            For many people who design apps and websites sketch has replaced Photoshop. Adobe treats Mac uses like second class citizens. It refuses to build native interfaces or take advantage of Mac like features and things that would have improved the app. They've taken way to long to give us the things we demanded a long time ago.

            Sketch has replace 99% of my workflow. I opened photoshop a total of 2 hours in the last 3 weeks and it was to modify a photo and paste it into sketch.

            It's not everything, but I love working with something that's FAST. If adobe products had better vector tools in Photoshop and were about 200x faster I'd use it over sketch.

            0 points
  • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, over 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. Few notes:

    I think a few people need reminding that Sketch is not a replacement for software like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign etc.

    It is entirely a replacement for Illustrator, if one used it for vector graphics and digital illustration. Certainly not a replacement for Photoshop -- can't use a vector drawing tool to replace a bitmap one: one still needs a bitmap editing / painting tool. For that, we have Pixelmator, which can entirely replace Photoshop in almost all cases.

    Workflow looks like this:

    1. Generate raw assets: copy (Ulysses), bitmap graphics & photos (Pixelmator), video (Final Cut / After Effects), illustrations (Sketch).
    2. Assemble raw assets into an interface using a screen compositing tool (Sketch). Export finished assets.
    3. Code for publication (Sublime Text).

    Same process for everyone; your mileage may very. Pick the tool that works best for you and remember that not all tools are the same and just because it works for you, doesn't mean it's a superior tool. That shit is actually objective.

    Sketch a [sic] vector design tool created by and for a group of people who want to design interactive screen-based elements, not flat, print-based elements. Yes, you can use it for print design, but the print designer is not the target market (at least, for now).

    You can't use it for print design: it doesn't permit graphics with resolutions above 72dpi. 300 dots per inch is the minimum for print work.

    Just read the name: Photoshop. It just happens to be suitable for designing websites, but I don't think that's what it was designed for.

    No need to "think" -- it was explicitly not designed for that.

    It's no wonder that Bohemian Coding can waltz onto the scene, throw together an app in a couple of years and massively improve productivity of many screen designers. They had the benefit of years of watching people turn Adobe's products into web design tools when that wasn't their original aim.

    Actually, Adobe's existing efforts had only marginally to do with it -- they utilized system level OS X APIs available to all Mac apps like Core Text, Core Animation, Core Draw, etc. It's a big reason why Sketch is Mac only (Pixelmator too) and can "waltz in" and match Adobe feature for feature; the BC team isn't saddled with maintaing a giant legacy mess of spaghetti cross-platform code.

    Apart from that, I'm not sure how much learning they had from Adobe -- just look at how radical a departure Sketch's UI and workflow is.

    You're right: Adobe isn't going anywhere, and that was never the idea. I suspect nobody wants Adobe to go anywhere: the more tools we as makers have, the better. But Sketch & Pixelmator most definitely are having a competitive impact and that benefits everybody. No way in a million years Adobe makes this web site if not for Sketch's popularity:

    http://www.photoshopfordesign.com

    0 points
    • Dan Hough, over 5 years ago

      Thanks for the notes and corrections. I'm glad you agree, in general.

      Specifically, I didn't know you couldn't go above 72dpi in Sketch. You can still make some seriously huge images though which will print nicely.

      It is entirely a replacement for Illustrator, if one used it for vector graphics and digital illustration.

      In the sense that it isn't really useful for print design I think it is not a replacement for Illustrator, since Illustrator can easily be used for print.

      Apart from that, I'm not sure how much learning they had from Adobe -- just look at how radical a departure Sketch's UI and workflow is.

      I think it's possible they learned how not to do it from Adobe.

      Also,

      No need to "think" -- it was explicitly not designed for that.

      I was covering myself in case anybody found something somewhere quoting someone from Adobe saying that it was designed for that :P

      0 points
  • Francesco BelvedereFrancesco Belvedere, over 5 years ago

    Just some thoughts.

    I think Sketch is a great tool specifically for screen design and UI design. I have started to learn it and it is fun to use, light-weight and intuitive.

    That being said, I would never stop using Photoshop for a few reasons:

    • in my current situation I never know who is going to be receiving my files to code up — most devs we hand-off files to dont use Sketch and that would be a big problem — if you work in a small shop and everything is done in-house and everyone is using Sketch (or Photoshop) as part of the process then it is a necessity to all be using similar tools and files so that everyone can open them up and work with them

    • Photoshop is such a large application and can do lots of things really well and will probably keep getting better — i think it would be a mistake for any up-and-coming designer to only learn Sketch and never use Photoshop — it is so much a core skill for any designer (and dev) — and the more you know in Photoshop the stronger your skill set

    • I intend to keep learning and getting better at Photoshop (and Illustrator) and ALSO get really good at Sketch

    I am excited about the future of both of these tools.

    FB //

    0 points