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Adobe XD in 2019: How Far They’ve Come and Where They’re Going

As Adobe approaches their second anniversary of launching Adobe XD, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the more recent feature additions to the platform, as well as to share insights into their future roadmap.

It’s an exciting time to be a designer, with new tools seemingly coming to market every month. At the same time, it’s challenging for product design teams to choose which tools to standardize on; design is increasingly more collaborative, involving more people across more functions in the process than ever before.

Since Adobe’s 1.0 release two years ago, they’ve focused on providing a modern, collaborative platform for product design teams and deliver a consistent stream of new features and enhancements based on feedback from their community, with over 20 major releases of XD so far.

Whether you’ve already adopted XD, like the product design teams highlighted here, or you’re evaluating whether to switch tools, we hope this blog post helps you and your team build toward a more complete solution with prototyping and collaboration for your product designs.

Design and prototyping

Over the last year, Adobe has focused on making sure many of the core features we expect to find in a modern design tool are in place in XD — selection across groups, improved typography control, artboard guides, and mark for export, for example. For details of all features added in every release of XD, check out the full list.

But they haven’t stopped there. They’ve sought out points of friction where designers spend hours unnecessarily — resolving missing fonts in documents is a case in point. Using Adobe’s extensive font library in Creative Cloud, they added the capability to auto-resolve most missing fonts automatically as soon as you open a document.

They also recently replaced symbols with components to enable the creation of reusable design elements, with robust support for overrides and resizing, and allow you to form the foundation of a shareable design system.

Prototyping has been core to XD since its beginning. The ability to quickly create low and high-fidelity experiences allows for design exploration, user testing, and helps communicate the design’s intent. XD offers prototyping capabilities that no other design tools do: following the introduction of voice prototyping and Auto-Animate, they added support for keyboard and gamepad triggers, making it possible to prototype desktop and console-based experiences with XD.

As they continue to invest in design and prototyping features in XD, here’s what you can expect:

  • A continued stream of design features, prioritized based on our feedback — including blend modes, multiple borders and fills, bulleted lists, and so much more!
  • A focus on intelligent tools that make your designs adapt to content changes and remove tedious work associated with manually adjusting layouts.
  • Enhancements to components, including support for component states, override management, swapping and nesting, making them suitable for more complex design systems.
  • Hover interaction support, Auto-Animate for component states, as well as more granular control over how animation is choreographed.
  • Support for inclusion of rich media elements in your prototypes.

Adobe encourages you to share your feedback on these upcoming features and/or make your requests for additional design and prototyping features on UserVoice — their team loves to hear from designers using XD!

Integrated ecosystem

While XD has supported import from Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch for some time, their team has refined and improved the import fidelity based on feedback from their community, with noticeable improvements landing in the last couple of releases. They’ve also recently added support for editing images directly in Photoshop, with a roundtrip of your edits coming back into XD — making the process of adjusting images extremely efficient and seamless.

Third-party plugins in XD received a huge boost with the recent addition of the new Plugins Panel, enabling plugin developers to create new and enhanced experiences that surface alongside the canvas. There are nearly 200 plugins available for XD, providing everything from accessibility tools and tools allowing you to import design resources, to content generators and ones that automate routine tasks. You can read more about the new Plugins Panel here, as well as learn more about new tools that are being created within the XD ecosystem as part of their Adobe Fund for Design initiative.

Adobe’s plugin APIs enable developers to extend the capabilities of XD and help designers explore new creative frontiers — like voice interfaces. Building on the voice prototyping capabilities in XD, they’ve introduced a new integration with Amazon Alexa to let you export and preview voice prototypes on any Alexa-enabled device, such as the Echo Dot or Echo Show. The integration helps designers incorporate voice into their processes to create experiences that leverage this new medium.

In the future, Adobe plans to invest further for XD in both Creative Cloud and broader ecosystem interoperability, including:

  • Full support for creating and using Creative Cloud Libraries in XD.
  • Improved discoverability of plugins through a new marketplace experience.
  • Expanded extensibility support through additional plugin APIs, a document validator, and the introduction of cloud document APIs.

Collaboration

Adobe XD provides easy ways for designers to share designs and prototypes with stakeholders. A main focus of attention is on refining the experience based on our feedback — enabling single-link published prototypes and design specs with improved navigation, adding developer support with automatically generated CSS snippets, allowing stakeholders to request access to content, and enabling commenting on mobile devices, and more! They’ve also worked closely with their partners to integrate XD with other project management and collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Jira, and more.

Enabling product design teams to collaborate on design documents together has been a major investment this year. They’re gearing up to add support for Coediting very soon. This will allow multiple designers on multiple devices to have the same XD document open, allowing them to work together and make changes that are reflected in real-time for all coeditors. Alongside Coediting, they also plan to be adding full support for versioning, allowing teams to work in confidence knowing previous versions of your design are easily accessible right within XD.

On their future roadmap, beyond Coediting and versioning, they’ll be focused on:

  • Offering design teams the ability to use shared projects as a way to organize related work and ensure that all team members have easy access to documents, artifacts, and libraries of assets.
  • Extending real-time collaboration beyond XD on desktop, enabling designers to invite the extended product design team to documents, so that everyone has access to and can contribute to the latest designs at all times.

Design systems

The challenges of designing at scale while ensuring efficiency and reuse is a top priority. With several hundred designers at Adobe all working on different, but related projects, the use of a common design language is critical. They’re figuring out how design systems can work for other teams, too.

Combining the introduction of cloud documents as a single source of truth and reusable components with the ability to link and update assets from a cloud document has provided the foundation for building a design system in XD — check out their guide for more information.

Over the last several months they’ve been working closely with a number of customers to plan out their design systems roadmap and has led them to invest in:

  • Expanding the range of asset types supported in XD, as well as improving tools to organize assets in the assets panel.
  • Enabling design system documentation through support for annotations.
  • Providing additional control over sharing permissions, versioning, and updating design systems.
  • Introducing support for style guides.
  • Extending design systems through the use of cloud document APIs, enabling design-to-production workflows

 

You can join the XD Team at Adobe MAX, either in person or for the live keynote streams, for a host of announcements related to XD.

Any thoughts?



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