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Currently working on @subformapp Joined over 8 years ago
Hi everyone, co-creator of Subform here. We're actively beta testing Subform with a small group of designers and shipping new releases every two weeks. We're still just a two-person team, so we're expanding access slowly to keep things manageable for ourselves. :)
Now that we've got the foundations in place, we're primarily focused on sanding off the rough edges, improving usability, and incorporate beta tester feedback. More soon!
Forgot to mention: we've been putting together quick little demos that show some of the differences between Sketch and Subform like these:
You can check them all out on our Dribbble account: https://dribbble.com/subform
Yeah, that's the goal. And make it useful to teams (not just designers and developers, but PMs, marketers, etc) in the process.
Some of this I addressed in my response to Jon, but the tl;dr is: one component can change layouts quite dynamically, more useable/flexible data override system than Sketch, composable style classes mean you can make style changes across the different states of a component.
We're not quite fully incepted yet! But yes, I try to do as much in Subform as possible.
I'm the designer, Kevin's the developer. We split the business duties. Except that I do a little development and Kevin is secretly an industrial designer/architect in a physicist's clothing. We both really like coffee and sandwiches.
Seriously, though, we've done product consulting work together for a number of years, so our process and business relationship was in place before we started working on Subform.
(Full disclosure for DN: Ben and I went to industrial design school together. ;) Oh, and he's working on GitPrime and you should check it out: https://www.gitprime.com/)
Right now, we're a team of two—so we had to be careful about scope and focus on getting a product out the door. So some things that we'd really like to have in the app, vector drawing tools being one of them, aren't in there right now.
Being able to crank out some quick beziers with a pen tool is definitely a part of UI work. But we wanted to spend our time exploring the ideas that no one else was working on. So for now, you can draw vector stuff in an external app like Illustrator and drop in an SVG into Subform.
That’s not optimal, but as any product designer knows, you have to make trade-offs, ship product, and iterate quickly.
Hey Sven, we're familiar with it. Some hardcore Antetype users reached out to us during our development process and were kind enough to share their likes/dislikes about the product.
In terms of process, I don't think digital product design is wholy different than traditional product/industrial design. Maybe more time in front of the computer than in the metal shop. But the basic process is and has always been: sketching and ideation, user research and testing, iteration and prototyping, understanding your media and manufacturing/development processes.
Some process-oriented books I like are "Designing for People" by Henry Dreyfuss and "Creating Breakthrough Products" by Jonathan Cagan and Craig Vogel.
Market size is really a tough one to get a handle on. There are a lot of UI/UX designers in the world, but I don't think there are really any hard numbers on exactly how many. It's still a relatively young field and growing rapidly.
With Subform, we're trying to build something more aimed at the digital product design professional... a little more powerful and complex than a basic drawing tool. That, by nature, limits the market somewhat. I think there are some analogs in other professional design tooling, like 3D, CAD, compositing, etc. Kind of tangentially related, but I really liked this juxtaposition of other creative tools to web tools that Vlad Magdalin put together: https://medium.com/@callmevlad/a-cheeky-guide-to-creative-tools-e5e3388c4614#.3c9f8s8uw
Gavin, great insight. Agree that creating visual artifacts is really only one step in the product design process, no matter how sophisticated the tool.
"How do we define and manage design systems?" is a big question. I don't think we have the answer more nailed down than anyone else, Subform's really just a first step in thinking about what it might look like.
Strategically, I think you are right in that we need to"abstract our design thinking from what's underneath." Tactically, it's hard to know exactly what it looks like. We're excited to throw a bunch of things against the wall and see what sticks.
Kevin (co-creator of Subform) wrote an article that covers some potential ideas here: https://medium.com/subform/disrupting-design-interns-comps-and-redlines-b2ecdc07604c#.2xn8xxx5p
Code export's always an interesting idea, because it diffs really easily and is more useful to a developer than a stack of redlines jpegs. But it's not a perfect story, because the production languages and layout systems aren't always the same (CSS/HTML/JS? What JS, React? React Native? Obj-C? Java? AutoLayout? ConstraintLayout? Etc.)
It's also a two-way street. When changes are made in the production product because it's faster, or more convenient, how do they make their way back into our design documentation and visual design tools?
Rory, agree 100% percent. We're just two guys right now and we have limited time to tackle everything, so we decided to focus on shorter demos to start with. The Internet has a short attention span, so that felt like the best way to quickly communicate some of these big ideas.
That said, we really want to get some more longer screencasts up. We're working on it. And if you haven't yet, take a look at https://subformapp.com/learn/ — there's 30 minutes of screencasts there right now.
If you want a notification of when we post that stuff, follow our Twitter and join our mailing list (in the footer of https://subformapp.com). We always announce new articles etc. there first.
We do actually have a CSS escape hatch in the app right now, where you can just override the panel settings and go straight to code. We'll probably keep that around for awhile for this exact reason.
This works both ways, though, and there are always some things you might want to do that CSS doesn't support. (Like, say, multiple borders) So TBD on the long term viability of mapping 1:1 to CSS in a visual design tool.
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