AMA: Christopher Downer, Designer at Sketch

over 1 year ago from , Designin’ Sketch

I’m Chris, and I am a designer on the team who brings you Sketch. Maybe you’ve heard of it? I’ve been working on Sketch for about two and a half years—I joined when the app was around version 2.2. Since then I’ve been having a blast doing what I love and cannot wait to show you what we’re working on.

Before that, I worked at Realmac Software for a number of years helping to create some cool Mac and iOS apps.

Already I’ve been fortunate enough to speak at a couple of conferences, have articles published in print, and even teach what I do. Ask Me Anything.

I’ll be answering your questions on Wednesday, October 14 from 16:00 PM BST (10:00 AM CST)

(I’ll save you from asking: Yes, I design Sketch using Sketch.)

204 comments

  • Alex MartineauAlex Martineau, 1 year ago

    Hi Christopher! Thanks for doing this.

    As someone who has switched over to Sketch almost exclusively for design and prototyping using the Marvel plugin, I'm a big fan of the product and appreciate how much you update and improve it.

    My question is how do you plan on dealing with other larger companies like Adobe and Autodesk creating similar tools now? Your market share is strong and the community seems dedicated, but their marketing power and already tapped in user base poses a threat. Project Comet specifically looks to be a clone with prototyping built in.

    Thanks for answering!

    53 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      For a small company like ours to frighten someone like Adobe who have had this monopoly for so long, is really quite funny, and was never at all expected.

      But when I see things like Comet coming from them, I find it quite humbling. It’s validation that we must be doing something right if we’ve inspired Adobe that much, which is a huge testament to our design and our work.

      In terms of how we plan on dealing with this, it’s simple. We just keep doing the good work we’ve always been doing. Our fantastic community have been vital to get us to where we are, and hopefully we can repay them by keeping on improving Sketch.

      36 points
    • Mohsin NaqiMohsin Naqi, 1 year ago

      What is the Autodesk tool you speak of?

      0 points
  • Geoff YuenGeoff Yuen, 1 year ago

    Hi Chris,

    What do you guys think of Adobe's Project Comet?

    40 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I knew someone would ask this question! I’ve kinda covered this in my reply to Alex but I’m looking forward to playing with it. It seems they have some interesting ideas.

      0 points
  • Greg ChristianGreg Christian, 1 year ago

    What's your favorite kind of pizza?

    18 points
  • Gadzhi KharkharovGadzhi Kharkharov, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Show us a screenshot of designing Sketch in Sketch!

    16 points
  • Sagi ShrieberSagi Shrieber, 1 year ago

    Hey Christopher, thanks a lot for doing this AMA and thanks for all the great work you guys are doing in Sketch.

    One of the biggest problems my team and I have with Sketch is actually using sketch as a team. Product design teams really need a way to sync .sketch files in a way to support committing and merging changes.

    i.e. If I'm working on Page 3 in the document making a red square, and the other designers is working at the same time on the same document in Page 5 making a green triangle, we really need a way to each commit and see eachother's changes that, after a full sync,we would both have a file with a red square on Page 3 and a green triangle on page 5. We tried every version control solution out there but there is no solution to differ changes in .sketch files - that only you guys (Sketch) can do.

    This problem kind of "Kills" your pages feature, and makes us work more like PSDs where you have to save multiple, separate files for every project. At least in photoshop there are "synced smart objects" so you can sync your styles and objects across documents. In Sketch you can't even sync symbols and styles within documents.

    In late 2014 I attended a meetup in Paris with the Sketch team and Pieter (CEO) said this was on the roadmap for 2015. Now that we're closing in on 2016, is there any chance this is still on your roadmap?

    Thanks for your answer, and sorry if this sounds a bit like a rant, it's just a serious pain point that my team an I encounter in working with this amazing tool.

    13 points
    • Sander Värv, 1 year ago

      Great question. A solution that lets team members work on the same file and ends version conflicts would really improve the workflow.

      3 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      We hear you! It’s a known pain point for sure.

      1 point
      • Sagi ShrieberSagi Shrieber, 1 year ago

        and... is it on your roadmap? are you guys planning something to help with a team state of mind?

        1 point
  • Philip AmourPhilip Amour, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Hello Chris, thanks for doing the DN AMA. It must be an exciting challenge to work at Bohemian Coding and build a very powerful and focus, yet simple tool for other fellow designers. I think that it goes without saying that everybody here appreciates your efforts as you guys really do make designers' lives much easier and help us focus on designing great products rather than figuring out workarounds and get frustrated over tools that are not working properly or were not designed by designers for designers with focused user experience in mind.

    I have a couple of questions to ask.

    1) What's the most challenging problem you are currently tackling? :)

    2) I am not sure if I am correct but I heard that the Bohemian Coding team is made of a distributed team that works remotely. How do you guys communicate? Have you ever experienced any issues of working remotely? If so, how did you go about solving them?

    3) What are your highlights from working at Realmac Software?

    4) Are you coming to London anytime soon?

    12 points
    • Jack ReidJack Reid, 1 year ago

      Question one is really great. I'm going to ask this of more people I admire.

      9 points
    • Andy MerskinAndy Merskin, 1 year ago

      +1 to question 2. Working remotely's always been so fascinating to me.

      1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Thanks for the kind words, Philip! Definitely is exciting, and I love what I do. As a designer, I’m aware of the pain others go through, so I totally want to alleviate some of that and make things easier for them, and of course myself.

      1) Nice try, I’m not going to reveal stuff that easily! I do want to share the features I’ve been working on though as I’m really excited about it, but let’s just say it’s uncharted territory. Something that’s not really been done, so there’s nothing really to take any references from.

      2) Correct! We’re all spread throughout Europe, and now have a member in the US with no main office. We’ve tried a lot of apps, but like HipChat, and we use GitHub for everything else (also, Waffle) I miss working in an office, but do enjoy working from home. Certainly there’s times where you just want a big whiteboard, and be able to talk to each other, than typing stuff out when you’re in a hot discussion, but I think it’s just something that just works for us. We all do try and meet up annually which is a lot of fun!

      3) It was my first real design job out of university (I dropped out) so it was an amazing place to go to where everyone was so passionate about making and shipping great software. I learned a tonne, from everyone I worked with, and the experience I got from there will last a lifetime.

      4) November 23rd at http://beyondconf.co! (I live an hour outside the Big Smoke)

      6 points
  • Tony GinesTony Gines, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    This is less of a question and more of a suggestion.

    I sympathize with all of the requests in this thread, but please don't spend any time working on a version for Windows. I love the laser focus you guys have on your software and working on versions for other OS's will only fragment that and lead to a bloated and less enjoyable product.

    Thanks, and keep kickin' ass!

    11 points
  • Giulio MichelonGiulio Michelon, 1 year ago

    I love you but PLEASE INTRODUCE THE SMALL CAPS. More than this I just want to thank you soooo much. Your product is awesome and I use it every day.

    11 points
  • Roman RusinovRoman Rusinov, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    What would it take to improve arrows?

    10 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Probably not what you want to hear, but time. There’s a lot we want to improve, and we’re a small team and fixing arrows sadly isn’t a simple one-liner fix. This is something that’s high on our roadmap however…

      1 point
  • Sky WinstonSky Winston, 1 year ago

    Hi Chris. I'm a huge fan of your work.

    Motion and interaction design are on the ascendency, which I believe is in service of making software more understandable & enjoyable to use.

    Given that Sketch aims to be the go-to tool for interface designers, how does the Sketch team think about addressing motion & interaction as integral parts of the interface design process?

    9 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Thanks Sky. Animation and prototyping has definitely entered the consciousness of the modern designer. I mean, they’ve always existed, but it’s definitely the new hotness.

      There’s certainly a load of great apps out there that tackle these things, and whenever a developer of these apps gets in touch with us about integrations via our Plugin system or SketchTool, we see how we can help them because if you can design in Sketch, and then be able to animate it without redrawing or slicing, it’s going to make designers lives easier.

      0 points
  • Corey RobillardCorey Robillard, 1 year ago

    Our agency will buy your whole team beers if you can fix the selecting text bug in Sketch. The one where you double click on the text to edit it and it unselects it self. Are there any plans to fix this issue?

    8 points
    • Gabe Boisvert, 1 year ago

      +1

      0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

      Beers you say? Let me see if I can get someone to take a look at this one...

      Edit: What would be a huge help would be if you could take a screen recording the next time you run into this. Could you email it to me please? chris[at]bohemiancoding.com. Thanks!

      4 points
      • Corey RobillardCorey Robillard, 1 year ago

        Ya i'll go do that now. thanks for replying, we use sketch everyday in the office, and this is one bug that's always bothered us. that and the one where you when duplicate an object, it moves out of alignment when moved.

        0 points
      • Corey RobillardCorey Robillard, 1 year ago

        Email doesn't seem to be playing ball today with videos, so were gonna send you a dropbox link over Twitter. One of the videos shows the bug and the other shows how the program normally works without the bug.

        0 points
  • A.A. Trabucco-CamposA.A. Trabucco-Campos, 1 year ago

    Hi Christopher, really awesome of you guys to do this — thank you.

    I use Sketch on a daily basis and love it: it's really a fantastic program.

    However, I am a designer that works a lot with typography and have found Sketch to be hugely limited on this end (it hasn't fully stopped me from using it, though). It's possible some of this limitations are not on your software's end, but I just can't find any work-arounds.

    The main issues are (1) style changes within a text box within a Text Style change the whole box's style: for example, if a Style is set to bold, and I change three words to italic. (2) very little support for glyphs — there is no panel to view and select them. This is a tiny list of major issues, but there are a few more.

    Do you have any plans in the near future to address these typographic limitations?

    Thank you for everything — keep up the amazing work! —A

    7 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Type is definitely one area we’re looking to improve, and I’ve been doing a lot of research on this.

      I’d love to talk to you a bit more in-depth about this. Email me! chris[at]bohemiancoding.com

      4 points
  • Filip RadelicFilip Radelic, 1 year ago

    When will Sketch be able to export PNG files without alpha channel? Surely you guys need this yourself when exporting images for iTunes Connect, what do you use for that?

    6 points
    • Maksim PetrivMaksim Petriv, 1 year ago

      Try this: http://alphachannelremover.blogspot.com/

      1 point
    • Tony GinesTony Gines, 1 year ago

      I think if you create a slice instead of just making the layer exportable, it will grab the background.

      0 points
      • Filip RadelicFilip Radelic, 1 year ago

        That's not what I meant. Even if the image is fully opaque, it can contain alpha channel, and it always will if exported from Sketch. It's a different kind of file and not supported by some tools (like iTunes Connect), so we have to convert RGBA images from Sketch to RGB using other tools.

        2 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Soon! (I believe this is a new requirement for iTunes Connect, right? We only need to update images for iTC when we submit a new app, or icon)

      2 points
      • Filip RadelicFilip Radelic, 1 year ago

        Not really sure if it's a new requirement or it's always been like that, only found out about it after switching to Sketch.

        0 points
  • Sander Värv, 1 year ago

    My recent favorite plugin for Sketch is the awesome Sketch Constraints (https://github.com/bouchenoiremarc/Sketch-Constraints). I understand you probably won't reveal a roadmap for us, but maybe you can tell us if you guys are working on something similar out of the box?

    5 points
    • Filip RadelicFilip Radelic, 1 year ago

      Wow, that's a nice plugin! But it would really shine if you could make plugins do something automatically in response events like artboard resizing. Any chance we might see something like that for plugin developers?

      3 points
    • Andy MerskinAndy Merskin, 1 year ago

      Page and group-level constraints would be incredible as a standard feature.

      0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Yeah, the Constraints plugin is pretty cool, and we are always amazed with what some Plugin developers can do to extend Sketch. I’m guessing you would like something like that baked into Sketch?

      4 points
  • Bruce V, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Big companies seem slow to adopt Sketch because there isn't a Windows version. Do you plan to support Windows some time in the future?

    4 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I don’t want to say no outright, but will say this: Sketch was originally built upon OS X features and frameworks, such as Quartz for example, and all-in-all is a very typical Mac app. It’s not just the case of hiring a Windows developer and porting the code. These frameworks and other things will need to be completely re-written so they can be cross platform and that’s something that would take years of work. Then there’s the user interface. It will need to have its own consistent design language so it neither favours OS X or Windows, but a middle ground that is familiar to both users. If we were to do this, the whole product would suffer as we couldn’t continue to work on the OS X version during this time.

      17 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, 1 year ago

    A quickone: biggest mistake made in Sketch.

    4 points
  • Roy van RooijenRoy van Rooijen, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Hi Chris,

    I'd love if Sketch would get the ability to work with data sources and flexible layouts like Josh Puckett described in his article. https://medium.com/bridge-collection/modern-design-tools-using-real-data-62d499e97482

    Is this something you think Sketch should implement, or should plugins handle this?

    Thanks!

    3 points
  • jiyin yiyongjiyin yiyong, 1 year ago

    How about HSL color?

    3 points
  • Sandeep SharmaSandeep Sharma, 1 year ago

    Hi Christopher, I would like to know if there will be a sketch available for windows in future?

    3 points
  • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

    Wow, that’s a lot of questions. Thank you for every single one! Bear with me, I'm going to start answering as many as I can possibly can. See you on the other side...

    3 points
  • Tony Allsopp, 1 year ago

    I'd love to see the option to have a 'Responsive Canvas', similar to the way the canvas works in Adobe Edge Reflow (which is now being ported to the new version of Muse). Obviously the responsive canvas isn't much good unless you can define breakpoints and layout/styling changes at those breakpoints, and having the ability to 'pin' items to the edges etc., so it's quite a big change. However, more and more tools are becoming available for true responsive design, and I'd like to know what plans there are for Sketch to stay in the game in this regard?

    3 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Can’t comment on future plans, but we as designers are only going to get more screen sizes to content with.

      2 points
  • Andrew FiorilloAndrew Fiorillo, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Are there any improvements planned for the layers panel?

    I'm specifically interested in some way to move layers in and out of groups with the keyboard. Currently, without using the mouse, layers are trapped in their group. Is that behavior an intentional design decision, or an improvement that just hasn't been considered/implemented yet?

    Not a massive pain point, but would be helpful. Thanks for building such an awesome tool!

    2 points
    • florian fangohrflorian fangohr, 1 year ago

      Slightly related, I'd love to be able to escape a layer when selecting items inside it. Currently tab and shift-tab cycle through the items inside layers, but breaking out of the layer always requires the mouse. What is a conscious decision to limit that behavior? And if so, could you share why you decided to do this? Thanks.

      1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      The Layer List has been completely rewritten for 3.4. Some of the wacky behaviours have been fixed, as well as the hidden hide/lock icons, but as for keyboard control, that's an interesting idea... I’ll take a look into that one.

      4 points
  • Robin Schreiner, 1 year ago
    1. I would like to know if you plan to expand the connection between design and development. Right now I'm able to copy CSS for Layers. Is anything pland for importing CSS? I would love to create Shared Style by adding an live URL or importing CSS directly (without an plugin ;)).

    2. Thank you for making Sketch such a great App

    2 points
  • Will ThomasWill Thomas, 1 year ago

    Hey Chris,

    Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is maintaining focus on the products I'm working on. The reason I switched from Photoshop to Sketch after all was because it's so much more focused.

    You must get tons of feature requests at Bohemian, how do you maintain focus and judge what is within the remit of what you want to make? Does the team have a definition for what Sketch is, and if so, is it challenging to remain within that definition?

    2 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      We get loads, and we’re thankful for everyone we get. We’ve got a roadmap in mind, but a lot of it is defined by what our community wants. If everybody is singing the same song, we’ll notice and whatever that may be, will go higher up on our roadmap.

      Of course, a lot of people want to pull Sketch in their own direction, and really want it to be the perfect tool for them, but we’ve got to keep level-headed. If we implemented every request we got, we would have one bloated tool. The very thing we don’t want. Also, it’s easier to not add features to begin with, than it is to remove them later on, which we always want to avoid.

      We don’t want Sketch to do everything, and we’re okay with that. Especially when there may already be other apps out there doing that one thing specifically, and they’re doing it really well. But if we can make the whole design process simpler, then we’re all for that.

      3 points
  • Mike BrandMike Brand, 1 year ago

    "(I’ll save you from asking: Yes, I design Sketch using Sketch.)"

    But what do you prototype in?

    2 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I rarely prototype. In the past, I’ve used origami (literally using paper and cutouts) and creating animated GIFs, but nowadays I use Keynote if I need to.

      There’s some things you can’t just prototype though, so our developers will create builds with quick hacks in them so we can test and work out where to go from there.

      6 points
  • Pierre Bertet, 1 year ago

    Hi Chris, thanks for doing this.

    Is there any plans to improve the plugins API? Things that I would really like:

    • Events
    • Add e.g. panels in the interface itself
    • A simple storage API
    • Node.js backend? :-)
    1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Plugins are awesome and we’re definitely planning on improving the API. The best person to talk to about that is would be Ale. Feel free to shoot him an email I’m sure he’ll get back to you when he can - ale[at]bohemiancoding.com

      I'm guessing his inbox is suddenly going to get a lot larger... Sorry Ale!

      2 points
  • Chris Thomas, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for doing this! Huge fan of sketch, so much so I was a huge supporter on getting it implemented into my work. Now its our main UI/UX platform for design.

    How did you begin to design a program that is being used by some of the best designers in the world? Being grown into programs like Adobe we get used to specific tools and functionalities! How did you advance some of these uses as well as embrace some of them?

    1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I wasn’t there from the start, but Pieter, our founder had wanted to create a simple vector drawing tool on the Mac, back when developing Mac apps was the thing. He had started working with a designer, Emanuel who wanted to include features, and other things, so he could use the app in his work, as an alternative to Photoshop. They started doing great work, and people noticed…

      As someone who got into design using Photoshop, there’s so much cool stuff it has to offer, but it’s not without its quirks and unique way of doing things. Its such a difficult app to learn, and there must be better and simpler ways to create ui/websites/icons, so we think about those. After all, Photoshop is an app originally meant for photographers. Sketch is a very typical Mac app, and it’s consistent with the OS, so we keep that in mind when building Sketch, along with the goal of keeping things simple, and not wanting to make it bloated.

      When we think about features, we think about what the best way of going about them would be, rather than look at existing apps with similar features, who may not have the most ideal solutions… It may not always be what people are used to, but we want to think about the best way of doing something, instead of blindly copying.

      4 points
      • Chris Thomas, 1 year ago

        Ah, such good points! Thank you again for doing this AMA. I know how time consuming these can be. I really look forward to the future of Sketch! Heres to the next 100 years! Cheers, mate!

        Chris

        1 point
    • florian fangohrflorian fangohr, 1 year ago

      The precursor to Sketch was called DrawIt, you can actually still download it from some sites, and it still runs on El Capitan. Only problem is you won't find a serial number any more. :\

      1 point
  • Jay Bowles, 1 year ago

    Any tips for getting the most out of Symbols?

    1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Two things: I like to put a / in the name of a Symbol to organise them in the Insert menu, but when I use Symbols, I usually don’t have a lot of contents in them, and store multiple Symbols in the parent group I’m using. This way I can take advantage of them better as I typically am more focused on those smaller things (and have more instances), than the larger group.

      We’ve got some pretty great things lined up for Symbols, so be on the lookout for that!

      5 points
      • Allan White, 1 year ago

        See my question above as it relates to Symbol management. Flash (I know, haters) really did have the symbols concept done well. Just being able to transform a bunch of instances (scaling, opacity, even color) without disturbing the parent was magic.

        0 points
  • Wil NicholsWil Nichols, 1 year ago

    What is the size of the team and then divisions that work on Sketch, and how does that compare to the equivalents at Realmac?

    1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Well Sketch is a product, there’s 13 of us, and we all work on that. When I was at Realmac, I think our peak was 11, and we were spread over 3 or 4 products.

      2 points
  • Olivier HeitzOlivier Heitz, 1 year ago

    Hi Christopher. What are your thoughts on Project Comet? Thanks!

    1 point
  • Thiago DuarteThiago Duarte, 1 year ago

    First of all, thank you to be available to answer the question of the community.

    One of the biggest problems I have to design using Sketch today is to use the file as a deliverable in my projects. Since Sketch is just for Mac OS X, it's hard to find a developer partner that will have/use Macs.

    How did you see that in the future? Will developers switch to OS X to accept designs using Sketch (if the share of Sketch deliveries surpass the Photoshop) or the design companies will have to deliver a full HTML + CSS production code to solve this problem?

    1 point
    • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, 1 year ago

      Honest question: why does it even matter the format source .sketch files are in? Kind of the whole point is that it's dead simple to export and share the finished assets; i.e., the sliced and compressed PNG / JPG files that developers need to build with. I don't know about your workflow but I definitely don't want someone messing with my assets! If there's something that isn't right or doesn't work, I can export and ZIP them up to send over in a jiffy. At that point, it makes no difference at all whether the recipient is working on Windows, Linux, stone tablets, etc.

      1 point
    • florian fangohrflorian fangohr, 1 year ago

      We use https://zeplin.io to translate designs to engineering with great success. It publishes Sketch files and specs via mac app or web.

      1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Whilst we’ve had people write in and tell us they bought a Mac just so they could use Sketch is fantastic, it’s an unreasonable expectation. We’ve got ideas in mind on how to solve this problem.

      2 points
  • Tom Wellington, 1 year ago

    Hey Chris! Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions!

    My question is - is there a roadmap to import color palettes in a way similar to Adobe's products? I love Sketch for almost everything I do, but I really really wish there was an easier way to load color palettes than having to write them to use system wide.

    1 point
  • Jana Grajciarova, 1 year ago

    Hi Chris,

    I am quite new in sketch. I switched from illustrator and I must admit I was a bit hesitant. But now I love it :) . For webdesign this is the tool to use.

    I would like to ask you how you deal with padding and margin on text or any component (shape, image,..)? Is there efficient way to do this?

    At the moment I am just manually using shapes to measure the spacing, but it would be nice to add the padding/margin value to the textbox or any element generally.

    Thank you Jana

    1 point
  • Ulaize Hernandez Troyas, 1 year ago

    Thank you for this AMA. I love Sketch and recommend it often. However, documentation is lacking. How can you create "icons" (like clones) but then cherry pick elements so that if I change these elements, they do not affect the other icons.

    For example, I want to create an icon out of a form I created. I duplicate it. I want all the icons to change if I change one but not the hint texts (as these are specific to each form).

    I know this is a boring question but this is making me very unproductive.

    1 point
  • Rory Smyth, 1 year ago

    Where is Sketch going?

    Checking the beta releases over the last 6months, what I've seen is that single big features seem to have given way to multiple smaller ones. What are some of the killer ideas you guys are cooking up? How is Sketch going to evolve?

    1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      That’s typically the upgrade timeline for point releases. We can add big new features, but we’d rather improve upon what’s there for those versions and bring those in later. But the huge new feature we’re going to release in the next version is…

      Sorry, you didn’t think I was going to give it away? We hope you’ll find it really cool though. :)

      2 points
      • Rory Smyth, 1 year ago

        Not sure I follow. You don't want to show users what the upcoming features are?

        0 points
        • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

          I would like to, of course, but when our competitors could potentially implement our ideas and ship faster than us, no chance.

          3 points
  • Tom WoodTom Wood, 1 year ago

    59 upvotes, 42 comments and Mr Downer won't even be here till 4pm! LOVE the AMA's on DN.

    1 point
  • Ruban KhalidRuban Khalid, 1 year ago

    Are you going to be integrating Principle with Sketch to create the 1 Ultimate tool? Cos that would be pretty awesome :)

    1 point
  • Oskar Krawczyk, 1 year ago

    Christopher, awesome you're doing the AMA!

    Have you poked around with the idea of having a dark interface for Sketch?

    I'll be honest, I like my tools and canvases to be dark when working on lighter interfaces.

    1 point
    • Allan White, 1 year ago

      At the least, a user-settable canvas luminance value would be neat.

      1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      This is a request I see every so often. It’s not such a straightforward thing to do, but possibly one day.

      0 points
  • Lucas ColussoLucas Colusso, 1 year ago

    Hi, Christopher! Dinosaur bundle of questions below: Do you participate in planning or conducting user research? How? In which stages? Have you helped creating surveys, interview protocols, AB testing for Sketch? How do you plan these activities? What tools do you use for research? Thanks!

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Nope, that’s not really something we have done. I love talking to other designers, listening to their problems and feedback, and go away and work from that. I work with a great and experienced team, and we do what we feel is right. For our customers first, and then ourselves.

      2 points
  • Vince P.Vince P., 1 year ago

    What's your take on font management? Fontcase was such a beautiful tool, I really miss it.

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Fontcase was a great app that was affected by things beyond our control (Sandboxing). I personally need to manage fonts less than I used to, but it’s something for someone else to do.

      0 points
  • Bilal MohammedBilal Mohammed, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Hi Chris,

    Sketch - single most amazing thing that has happened to me as a Product Designer. So thanks to you and your brilliant team for that.

    But, really, Sketch Mirror is pretty bad. Needs some fixing?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Sketch Mirror appears so simple on the surface, but it really is anything but. We’re aware of the problems people face and we’re going to do something about them. Sorry to hear it’s been bad for you. :(

      0 points
  • Ulaize Hernandez Troyas, 1 year ago

    Thank you for the AMA. I have used Sketch for the past year but I still have not figured out how to create a color palette that if I change, all elements with that color palette change (like mixin in SASS).

    An answer would be very much appreciated as it would make me really productive.

    0 points
    • florian fangohrflorian fangohr, 1 year ago

      I don't think that feature exists (yet?). I use a mix of text shared styles to make up for this. It's definitely more work, because you have to assign fills and strokes in different sizes and change all of them if you want to swap colors document wide, but at least you can can get there part of the way.

      0 points
      • Allan White, 1 year ago

        Barring more modular style management, being able to globally find-and-replace attributes like style and color (like Fireworks had 15 years ago, which amazes me) would be really useful.

        0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Currently, there’s no way to do this without Plugins.

      0 points
    • Matt ColemanMatt Coleman, 1 year ago

      You could create a palette with a Shared Style, and then simply change the original color. Like this: http://cl.ly/image/3y3U1B0V3d2M

      0 points
  • florian fangohrflorian fangohr, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Q: I am really itching to know why you guys decided to sort artboards in chronological order in the layer palette?

    (Thanks for everything you do!)

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      What do you mean? You can re-arrange Artboards, but the newest one you insert will be added to the top of the Layer List. As it is with any other type of layer.

      1 point
  • _ untitled01_ untitled01, 1 year ago

    What do you do if you run into a problem that you (at the moment) can't solve?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Go and take on another problem, work on something else, and then come back to it with a fresh mind. You’re not going to solve anything when you’re frustrated.

      0 points
  • Mel HoganMel Hogan, 1 year ago

    Christopher, I recently updated to El Capitan on my mac and Sketch seems to run slower now, especially when editing text. Are you aware of any compatibility issues between El Capitan and Sketch?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      The upcoming update (Sketch 3.4) hopes to solve that. Give the beta a spin and let me know how it goes or if you have any other issues.

      0 points
  • Enakshi RoyEnakshi Roy, 1 year ago

    Why is Sketch so awesome? What I mean is, how'd you guys manage to get the attention of almost the ENTIRE design community?! Dayyym! (No, seriously, how'd you guys do it? What were the initial responses to Sketch vs. Photoshop?)

    0 points
    • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, 1 year ago

      Good question! Don't want to answer for Chris, but maybe the key is something as simple as: make something great that is focused and works well, charge a fair price, and people will find out and tell other people? ;)

      1 point
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Nathan’s right. Do great work and people will notice. We’ve yet to officially advertise Sketch, our fantastic community have spread the work for us through Twitter, blog posts, or good ol’ word-of-mouth.

      Initially, people were thrown off that Sketch didn’t support PSDs, or does the X, Y and Z that Photoshop did, but we often hear that when people use Sketch, there’s no turning back.

      4 points
  • Allan White, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Greetings Christopher, thanks for taking time to talk with the Sketch community. I've been using it off and on for about a year, and our UX team has just jumped on board.

    First, let me say that building software is hard, hard work. You guys have a built an amazing tool that has made a dent in the universe. So thank you!

    One main area I've been scratching my head about is the way object & text styles and symbols are managed. In many other apps (such as Adobe's and Apple's apps like Keynote/Pages), when you change an instance of something that's styled, it doesn't automatically update all the other items with that style; there's a "redefine/update style" step that the user initiates before cascading those style changes outward.

    Our team has been quite frustrated by this behavior - resizing something by a tiny bit will cause cascading changes, and this is contrary to the way styles are handled in most other design apps. The symbols concept suffers here too, coming (in name at least) from Flash/Illustrator, but behaving differently than expected.

    My question (not just to vent! =) is about the rationale around how styles should work. Is it by design, or is it the result of limitations (like time, or Obj-C or a framework)? Are we alone in this point of view? Do you have something better planned?

    Thanks again for the time, and best wishes for the future of BC. We're rooting for Sketch!

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Symbols and Text Styles are definitely area we look to improve. It's really cool how Symbols automatically sync when you make a change to them—it makes a great demo, but in hindsight, it perhaps wasn’t the most ideal solution. We discovered this the hard way, but we will learn from this.

      1 point
      • Allan White, 1 year ago

        The hard way is the only way to true learning, right? Thanks for listening - I'm sure what you guys come up with will be amazing.

        0 points
  • Gaurav MishraGaurav Mishra, 1 year ago

    What is the most important skills for a designer, irrespective of the tools?

    0 points
  • Andy MerskinAndy Merskin, 1 year ago

    Even as a designer, do you also know or use ObjectiveC / Swift to contribute to the development of the Mac apps you've helped design?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I don’t think that knowledge would really help with the work I do. I’ve tried to learn Obj-C and Swift in the past, but it’s been for myself. I’m sure anything I may write would end up being re-written by someone else anyway. But it’s definitely worth knowing your way around Xcode though to make changes to things yourself. Also Git.

      0 points
  • Manny Larios, 1 year ago

    Not a question, but a comment. Thank you all at Sketch for making an awesome tool that makes my job easier and enjoyable. I can't wait to see what Sketch 4 brings to the table.

    Also: cough Layer comps cough

    0 points
  • Jorge EscalanteJorge Escalante, 1 year ago

    Thanks for your time Chris :) I have a question for you ?

    You have some coding skills ? Now there is the idea of the UI and UX designers need to know programming like know how to do the frontend part or maybe draw the UI in Android Studio with XML or put all the assets in the storyboards of X-Code... This happens a lot in small and mid size startups. What is your point of view of this ?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I have 0 coding skills. If people can develop and design, that’s awesome, but I don't see it as a requirement. I think however its far more important for designers to be familiar with the development process, and to have an understanding with the developers they work with.

      2 points
  • Daniel S, 1 year ago

    Any plans to be able to import full style sheets and export as well ?

    0 points
  • Pablo StanleyPablo Stanley, 1 year ago

    Hi Chris, thanks for doing this AMA. I love Sketch and everything you guys at Bohemian do. I have 3 questions but only answer what you feel comfortable ;)

    • Are there any habits, rules, or processes that make your work more efficient and enjoyable?
    • What are you reading right now or what book do you recommend to any fellow designer?
    • For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

    Thank you. Keep rocking!

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      1) Doing what I do is enjoyment enough. As for efficiency, just questioning things is enough. Take five, step away, and come back with a clear mind, and ask yourself if you think you’re doing the right things.

      2) I’ve got a bunch of books on design that I’ve never really read. I prefer to learn by being practical, but the last novel I read was Stoner by John Williams.

      3) Everything. I don’t want to take a single thing for granted.

      2 points
  • Pedro Ivo HudsonPedro Ivo Hudson, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Hey Christopher, thanks for having the time!

    • What are your thoughts about Skala from Bjango?

    • How often do you read books? What about writing?

    • Does your design team uses Adobe CC?

    • Do you know how many Brazilian users Sketch has?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      1) I’m looking forward to it. Marc knows what he’s talking about so I’m really excited to see what he’s got up his sleeve.

      2) Not as often as I would like to. I keep buying books, but often get distracted by other stuff when I start reading them. I like to write, but struggle to think up blog posts, so I think a book would be out the question.

      3) Nope.

      4) I couldn’t give you a number, but I hope it’s a good amount given how many Brazilian designers there are!

      0 points
  • Preson Mccauley, 1 year ago

    I recently worked with converting a very large corporate team to use sketch. I also use it everyday in my own workflows.

    Any plans to make it easier to work on files as teams.?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I’d love to hear your experiences with that. It’s something we get asked a lot.

      0 points
      • Allan White, 1 year ago

        It would be really interesting (though may be technically impossible, as I think sketch files are binaries) to imagine a sketch file format that was a package, with internal files that could be managed by something like Git. Even if a package format was possible, not sure if you'd get anything like object-level management. A very knotty challenge.

        0 points
        • Andrew CrockerAndrew Crocker, 1 year ago

          Funny you mention that: Sketch documents used to be package files within the last year-ish? Not sure of the reason they switched over to binaries.

          0 points
          • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

            Sketch’s file format changed from a package in 3.1 because it caused a whole manner of issues when it came to sync services like Dropbox and Google Cloud. It was unfeasible to continue with this so we needed to make the change.

            0 points
            • Allan White, 1 year ago

              I'm pretty sure the iWork apps have been following this same trend (from packages to binaries). Just the problems caused by email apps & web servers seeing a folder instead of a file have been sufficient to drive developers away from it.

              0 points
  • Vivian Urata, 1 year ago

    Love the product, especially the Mirror feature. I mentioned below that Sketch was originally build for iOS/Mac in mind, however with the rise in Android users, viewing designs on an Android device has been more and more critical. Will there be a feature similar to Mirror for Android phone? And is your company looking into building prototyping features on Sketch (ie, Flinto/Pixate)?

    0 points
  • Sohail Ehsan, 1 year ago

    Hi,

    I wanted to know whats the best way to convert graphics created as .PSD files and then vectorize to use in sketch ? Thanks

    Thans

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      You know what, I don’t actually know. I don’t have a copy of CC to check, but perhaps you can export as SVG or EPS? I’d be interested to know!

      0 points
  • Jonathan SimcoeJonathan Simcoe, 1 year ago

    Christopher, thanks for being willing to do this AMA. Also thanks for building such an amazing tool for designers.

    What is your vision for the next iteration of Sketch?

    0 points
    • Christopher DownerChristopher Downer, 1 year ago

      I want to answer this one because our vision for the next release of Sketch is something we’re all super excited about, but sadly I’ve got to keep it under wraps. You never know who might be reading this…

      1 point
  • Suhaib S, 1 year ago

    Hey Christopher!

    Thanks for responding to all the questions earnestly and congratulations to the entire team for building an excellent product.

    Having read all the questions and your responses I am curious about a few things and maybe these are bigger questions than can be answered on this forum but here goes:

    Given the success of Sketch, especially in the face of so many competitors, what do you think are the reasons behind its popularity?

    Being a designer I am biased to think that its because of the enhanced user experience and superior speed of getting things done, which leads me to the next question:

    Aside from utilizing the user centered design process (I am guessing), were there any design principles that helped your team stay focused and guided you to make the inevitable trade-offs?

    and finally

    Could you share a few lessons learned while designing a design tool?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Thanks Suhaib.

      1) Maybe people just like the underdog, but our focus is something that people admire. I think a lot of people were really excited with the idea of Sketch, and started spreading the word. After all, we are an app created by designers for designers. As I mentioned earlier, our fantastic community have played a huge factor to our popularity.

      2) I think this is a really interesting question. As I'm somewhat on the spot, my mind has gone blank, but we want to always try and do right by the user. We want to ignore trends, and focus on things that will last—we don’t want to remove things from the app later on, so we consider everything we add really carefully. For a design app, it’s almost crazy, but for us, it's usability first, visuals after, which we hope to keep completely minimal, and only show things contextually, when needed.

      3) Designing a design tool is really hard.

      0 points
  • Todd HulinTodd Hulin, 1 year ago

    Hi Chris! I'm using Sketch full-time on a recent project, and it's been a pleasure to use for UX/UI design.

    Question: in the 3.4 beta, sharing artboards with "browser preview" gives me a sense of the possibility of prototyping within Sketch. Which would be amazing. Any plans for this? That you can share publicly? :)

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    0 points
  • jan sundar, 1 year ago

    Hello! I am moving from Illustrator to Sketch.

    Firstly why do you make your learning course through treehouse? It cost everyone a lot of money. I would prefer if you had the learning tutorial for free.

    2) it is so difficult to create a table in sketch. any tips?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      1) Treehouse got in touch with us asking if we wanted to create a course for Sketch, and it was an opportunity that we couldn’t turn down. Treehouse do have a bunch of other really great courses though.

      2) The "Make Grid" tool is your friend. (Arrange > Make Grid...)

      0 points
  • Abhijeet WankhadeAbhijeet Wankhade, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    How does one become part of Team Bohemian Coding? _^

    0 points
  • Brian Lucas, 1 year ago

    Our team here just recently used Sketch to complete a full responsive redesign of Ford.com for a new global look & feel. I love the tool and pushed for it's use on this project. This created a few angry people within our IT department having to individually manage licenses.

    For the love of god, PLEASE offer an Enterprise purchasing solution!!! I fear that once Adobe comes out with their equivalent software, IT will prefer it's use over Sketch for the simple fact that it's easier to maintain licensing for large teams.

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Hey Brian, glad to hear your team made the switch! That's definitely one area we're looking to improve on. Have you been purchasing Sketch from the Mac App Store or our store? Anyway, it would be great if you could email nuno[at]bohemiancoding.com and he'll o his best to make things easier for you in the future!

      0 points
    • Emanuel SaEmanuel Sa, 1 year ago

      Hi, as Chris pointed, make sure to contact us/check our website, we already offer solutions for big teams/companies and are open to discuss different solutions that may fit your business better.

      0 points
  • Abdul JarallahAbdul Jarallah, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )

    Sketch is my main design tool and I've been using it for almost two years. I really love it.

    1- Do you guys plan to fix the weird padding around non-outlined text? Here is an example of what i mean. https://cloudup.com/cl3ULeeKNam

    2- I used to use the Mirror tool and honestly it never worked properly under my work wi-fi. IP is an ok idea, since IP will change every time you link the phone. Do you guys plan to support USB?

    3- I currently use Skala View through USB as my main tool to view Sketch files on my phone. And it works great. Have you guys thought of using their solution instead of maintaining Sketch Mirror?

    Keep the good work.

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      Thanks Abdul. I'll share your feedback with my team. Sorry to hear that using Mirror hasn't been a great experience but it's definitely something we have plans to improve.

      1 point
  • Andrew CrockerAndrew Crocker, 1 year ago

    Might be a bit late but:

    I really like Sketch. Have been using it for the last couple years, and I don't want you all to stop making great things.

    I guess my question is: To the extent that you can answer - what does the future of Bohemian Coding look like? Strong? Focused on Sketch? Exceeding adoption expectations?

    Have you considered more stable, long-term revenue models, or do you find that the semi-annual big purchase at this price point works well for the company?

    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      The future is very bright, and we’re excited for what is to come!

      So far, we’ve been able to grow as a company, and stay independent — that’s the goal. We definitely want to keep it that way so of course, it’s a subject we think about. There’s definitely an overall evolving argument in the industry over how software should be priced, and reasonings for different models, but we will do what we need to to help us continue, whilst trying to avoid making unfavourable decisions with our customers.

      0 points
  • Monica Cathlin, 1 year ago

    Hi Christopher! I used to design using Adobe (PS, AI, ID) a lot before I knew Sketch. Now, Sketch is my primary design tools since I found Sketch is more helpful. I have to share a Sketch file with my partners in the office, the problem is sometimes I design with custom fonts and I forget to copy the fonts, so we don't see the same design. (am I the only one who deal with this problem?) I want to know, is there any way I can do in Sketch to include fonts and image files when saving a Sketch file? As like "Package..." in Adobe InDesign or "Include Linked Files" in Illustrator. Thanks Chris! :)

    0 points
    • Christopher DownerChristopher Downer, 1 year ago

      It's a known problem, and it's one we need to solve, so we are considering all solutions. Right now, I'm afraid you'll just have to create a ZIP with all external assets when sharing SKETCH files.

      0 points
  • Michael Booz, 1 year ago

    Hello Sketch

    I'd like to ask if there is any preview tool windows user (Android devs) can have access to use some tools to export assets & stuff. So we can deliver in a easy way without using mac on both hands to work?. Regards Mike

    0 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, 1 year ago (edited 1 year ago )
    • What, particularly, did you work on a RealMac, and why did you leave?
    • Why did Ember die (the ole' web app (I *loved* ember (so much (!))))?
    0 points
    • Christopher Downer, 1 year ago

      1) All of the things.jpg! The team was building Courier when I started, so I got involved in that. There was Analog, Clear for iPhone and Mac, some of RapidWeaver, and Ember for the Mac too. I was there for three and a half years, which is a long time in software-land. Plus, Sketch was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

      2) Oh man, Ember for the web. We loved that thing too. I can’t remember the exact reasons but it was a sad day when it went

      1 point
  • Ale FracazoAle Fracazo, 1 year ago

    Hi Chris, how are you doing?

    I'm working in Vodafone and I'm trying to bring sketch over to the design team around here, my question is regarding user flows in sketch, do you guys plan to create something like "group artboards"? Or create an artboard for artboards. Sorry if this sounds confused, it will be really helpful since we need to make presentations for stakeholders and for some sessions we need to print the flows, at this stage I'm creating an A3 artboard and dragging and dropping the screens from another file.

    Thanks for the great job you guys are doing with sketch!

    ps* the screenshot designing sketch using sketch was awesome!

    0 points