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AMA: All About Extensibility in Adobe XD

8 months ago from , Design Marketing, UI/UX @ Adobe

Note: For those of you adding questions or comments after 5pm PDT on 1/31, we will respond during the following workday, 2/1 (most of our team is based in San Francisco). Thanks and have a good day or night!

Hey everyone,

We’re back in 2018 for another AMA. Last week we released an update for Adobe XD that includes support for popular 3rd party integrations (Zeplin, Avocode, Sympli, ProtoPie, and Kite Compositor) and file previews from Dropbox. We will continue to release updates just about every month.

Today we’re excited to talk about the future of extensibility in XD. This is something on the horizon and will include support for in-app plugins on Mac and Windows that allow anyone to extend XD with additional tools, commands, and panels. As the team makes progress towards that goal, we wanted to hear from you about how you find, use, and develop extensions/plugins for your UX workflow.

He’re a few of the plugin use cases that we have heard from the community:

  • Content generation: Fill in areas with content like text, images, etc.

  • Asset export: Pre-process items before exporting like wrapping screens in a mockup; apply custom batch export commands

  • Data import: Bring in data from outside sources like websites and databases

  • Code generation: Generate code snippets from designs and prototypes

  • Custom edit commands: Modify selected objects or batch edits across a document

  • Web service: Connect with a web-based platform

Are these the most important areas around extensibility for you? Is there anything missing, or what else do you want to see related to extensibility? If you use plugins or extensions as part of your daily workflow, which ones are the most important to you?

Our team is here from now to 2pm PDT to chat and answer your questions. Let us know what you think!

Our goal is to build the best solution for UX design with your feedback. Stay in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, or UserVoice, and check out what other designers have created with XD.

Cheers, Kyle

28 comments

  • Pablo StanleyPablo Stanley, 8 months ago

    Native “Content Generation” and “Data Import” is freaking great! Congrats on making this feature a reality.

    EDIT: Oops, sorry, I misread. I thought it was a feature that had been already implemented. I think “Content Generation” would be a great use case for a plugin :)

    5 points
    • , 8 months ago

      Hi Pablo, thank you for the excitement. The team still has work to do before it is available in XD; though it sounds like you would be thrilled to have it when it is ready!

      0 points
      • Pablo StanleyPablo Stanley, 8 months ago

        Oh, sorry! I thought it was a new update! I saw that on the list and got super excited. I now see it's about the opportunity to have it as a plugin. Yeah, I think this is something that really helps to make product design more efficient and feel more “real.”

        1 point
        • , 8 months ago

          Thanks Pablo! Glad this use case would be helpful to you in your design work.

          0 points
    • Kamushken RomanKamushken Roman, 8 months ago

      Hey Pablo, should we expect "XD together" channel soon?

      2 points
  • Ron SwansonRon Swanson, 7 months ago

    The main thing I'm missing in XD now is the ability to trigger prototype actions that are not full page transitions - like folding out a menu or making objects larger/smaller with an interaction by the user (effecting other objects to move accordingly).

    And I really would like to do it inside XD without an extension. So perhaps my request was out of bounds from your initial question. :-)

    3 points
    • , 7 months ago

      Hi Ron, thank you for the feedback. The XD team is working on bringing additional prototyping functionality into XD (including overlays, scrollable areas, and micro-interactions) which should help you achieve some the effects you listed. If you have not already, I would add your vote to these requests here, here, and here . Our latest release also supports the flow of designs created in XD to tools like ProtoPie and Kite Compositor in which you can apply more advanced animations.

      1 point
  • Jan SemlerJan Semler, 8 months ago
    • Design/Asset Mangement System -> dont mean handoff
    • Record and apply Actions like in PS

    Besides the plugins. I am more interessted in the eco system. If i had to go over the current adobe „store“ i am out. The experience should be easy, install and go. The management should also be easy, here is where sketch falls behind. Also how to implement in to the ui, i hated in sketch while everything is positioned stupidly, anima for example. The extensions/plugins should be developable for huge group. Think about the sketch developer community it is big, you should consider the impact.

    2 points
    • , 8 months ago

      Hi Jan, I appreciate the feedback! The team is thinking about how to make using plugins simple. If you don't mind sharing, could you share how you would prefer to manage plugins as well as how they display in app?

      0 points
      • Jan SemlerJan Semler, 8 months ago

        Hey Kyle,

        For sure. I would suggest to get use of all the space you've got :-P

        The tabbar for example where Design and Prototype is placed. I could imagine that there could be other tabs for Invision, Marvel or other plugins that are intense or need something big to display.

        For smaller easier tools i think they can enter the toolbar with a dedicated icon or also the inspector depending on what the usage is. Maybe you can also introduce a similar toggle functionality for the layers/elements. I like the idea of the apple UI concept of editing toolbars, with drag and drop n stuff. Maybe something like this is achievable?

        Regarding the management i could imagine to use the toggle for layers/elements for this. Just another "tab" where you can use more space and place enough info there. I am not sure where I would position the settings for plugins alone because Adobe XD itself has no setting area. :-D

        I know it sounds maybe looney but, it don't like the way how it is implemented in sketch right now. Anima looks like that and placed there, invision with craft like that, the hole area can get sometimes so cluttered with unnecessary visual stuff. It is like an incarnation of the end 90s era browser cluttered with toolbars and everything is blinking, ya know.

        But i still like the way sketch is handling of the plugins right now, just an easy file, open it, wait, thats it. Thats so simple, but sometimes i like stores as well to find new stuff.

        I have taken time to sketch something out, because i was bored ;-)

        Example

        2 points
        • , 8 months ago

          Thank you for a very detailed reply!! Yes, I am with you on avoiding cluttered toolbars and blinking icons. I have asked some of the technical folks from the team to respond with more insights about how they're thinking about the UI for extensibility.

          0 points
        • Peter Flynn, 8 months ago

          Hi Jan,

          I've been working on our plans for extensibility here on the XD team and your suggestions very closely align with the design direction we're heading! It's important to us to keep the XD UI's clean and streamlined feel even as you add plugins. We want plugins to add minimal UI clutter, and blend in with the look & feel of the rest of XD's UI.

          We're also aiming to make it smooth and easy to install and manage plugins – and also to get started developing them!

          What plugin management features are most important to you? I assume you're talking about things like updating, disabling, or uninstalling plugins you already have installed?

          0 points
          • Jan SemlerJan Semler, 8 months ago

            Featurewise it‘s obvious installing, disabling, etc. I donˋt like the fragmented way like sketch did. You will find the plugin somewhere in the application or under the plugins tap. If you want to disable it you have to open the settings. If you want to setup the plugin you have to find the settings. They are „somewhere“ sort of. So a dedicated place for plugin settings and management would be nice.

            2 points
  • Riho KrollRiho Kroll, 8 months ago

    One big factor for development is allowing access to native panels and controls. If I just need to add a button to the layers panel to do something with a layer, I should not have to write a completely new layers panel to replace the existing one, so I can add my button there (looking at you Photoshop). Or find some other space to put the button, where it probably wont belong. I think it's important to make sure that the interface stays clean and free of clutter, but restricting developers too much will more likely create a net loss of UX than a benefit in the long run.

    Another big thing for the end user (and also developers) is having a space within the software to find, install, uninstall and otherwise manage plugins and their settings. The best execution of this currently on the market is Visual Studio Code. It's a tab in the software, you can search and install/uninstall/disable all plugins right within the software. My view is that people should not have to leave your software, and ask google to find plugins, from first-party websites or otherwise. This will increase the scope of this feature, but I think in the long run this will lead to a more healthy plugin ecosystem.

    As a side note, if you end up working on this, can you tell the TypeKit team to do the same? Why am I having to go to a browser to add fonts to my local computer? At the very least, would be nice to have some basic search and add in the fonts tab in CC. 90% of the time I'm looking for a specific font and just want to have it as quickly as possible.

    1 point
    • , 8 months ago

      Hi Riho, thank you for the detailed feedback! You are confirming what we have been hearing about optimal experiences for extensibility, for both designers and developers creating the plugins. We want to make extensions accessible and feel like part of XD without clutter.

      Following up on your comment related to TypeKit. Just to confirm you would like to go to the Creative Cloud Desktop App and be able to search for fonts there? Or are you referring to an in-app experience?

      0 points
      • Riho KrollRiho Kroll, 8 months ago

        Sounds good!

        Yea, I meant the fonts tab in CC Desktop App. My current flow is 'I need font X' > find CC tray icon > open CC desktop > go to assets tab > go to fonts tab (because marketplace is the default tab) > click manage fonts > realize I am logged in with my personal account on the web and am now syncing my personal fonts at my home computer > log out of my personal account > back to CC desktop and click 'manage fonts' (so I don't have to manually login to my work account) > go to home page (where the search bar has now moved to a completely different place) > find the search bar again > search > find the font > sync the font > get a success screen with a red bar that says I have gone over my font limit? but it works anyway? > back to work and repeat the next time I need a new font.

        I do think overall TypeKit is great. And maybe the added step of having a personal account logged in (for Behance mainly) is more of an edge case, but it's hard to argue against that overall the experience is not optimal at the moment.

        What would certainly help for me is removing the extra step of having to go through a browser (and deal with whatever my login situation might be there) and just have a simple search in the desktop app itself. That cuts down on a lot of steps.

        Of course even more nice would be if I was in, say, Photoshop and I typed into the font field a font that I don't have (but is available on TypeKit), I could just select the font, it would just download it automatically (a progress bar makes sense here of course) and I can continue without ever leaving Photoshop (something to think about for XD perhaps).

        1 point
    • Peter Flynn, 8 months ago

      It's important for us to strike a balance between making it too easy to create UI clutter vs. making things too limited or inflexible and preventing plugins from doing innovative things in the UI. Stability is another major factor: allowing too much fine-grained customization of complex UI like the layers panel can be fragile, since the core app changes that same UI too as it evolves. I think we will likely take an incremental approach here, offering well-defined generic forms of UI customization at first and opening up more detailed hooks over time.

      We definitely plan to have a great UI for browsing and managing your plugins without requiring you to go to a website to do so!

      Re TypeKit, I'd encourage you to post your suggestion at https://forums.adobe.com/community/typekit to the team hears it from you directly.

      1 point
    • Benjamin Welch, 7 months ago

      Hi Riho,

      This is Ben from Typekit. Just wanted you to know your feedback made it to us directly and I'll definitely share your thoughts with the team.

      Really appreciate your feedback/request.

      Cheers, Ben

      2 points
      • Riho KrollRiho Kroll, 7 months ago

        Thank you Ben! I'm glad to see Adobe interact with the community so directly. Good stuff.

        1 point
  • Mohamed ShehataMohamed Shehata, 7 months ago

    Hi Kyle, good news to hear you're thinking of that, yes plugin always extend the application capabilities, I think it will make huge different, you already covered all the required, I may develop a script to resize and align elements to fixed pixel grid without float numbers, resize a screen from iOS to Android in easier way, extract XD to another format or import EPS instead of the SVG limitation and thus,... cannot wait to see that, btw, you mention the 3rd party plugins, please note it is still not released for Windows and I am waiting for it, if you have any idea when it will be great to know ,.

    1 point
    • , 7 months ago

      Hi Mohamed, thank you for the feedback and excitement! I appreciate you sharing how you might extend XD. In regard to the integrations from the January release, I do not have any additional details to share at this time. The team is working on extensibility that will be available on both Mac and Windows 10.

      0 points
  • Andrew Hersh, 8 months ago

    I've got nothing along those lines, since I just started using XD a week or so ago. My question, and main annoyance with the program, is when will we be able to designate elements as "fixed" on art boards that scroll?

    1 point
    • , 8 months ago

      Hi Andrew, thank you for the note. The team is actively working on bringing fixed elements and scrollable areas this year. I hope to be able to share more soon. If you haven't already, add your vote here. If you don't mind sharing, why'd you decide to try XD?

      3 points
      • Andrew Hersh, 8 months ago

        Went ahead and added my vote.

        I decided to try XD because I came across a project that is perfect for it. I've got a freelance job where I have tremendous freedom to create the product, and XD allows me to create features pretty much as quickly as I can think of them. It's a fantastic hybrid of Illustrator and something like Webflow. It contains all of the Illustrator-type tools I need for web design, and none of the ones I don't need. It also has the functionality to make things clickable, but none of the logic requirements of actually creating a document that will display correctly in a browser, which allows me to design visually and with certain constraints, but I can put off the work of figuring out how to make everything work until later.

        I haven't been using it very long, but that's my impression of it so far, at least.

        2 points
        • , 8 months ago

          Thanks Andrew! Glad to hear that XD is helping you tackle this project! Feel free to stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook.

          0 points
    • Ciaran Madigan, 8 months ago

      How can Adobe say they're out of beta with XD when their prototypes can't replicate the most basic functionality of an app?

      1 point
      • , 8 months ago

        Hi Ciaran, the team is actively working on this and is eager to deliver it as soon as its ready.

        0 points