Adobe Experience Design Interface

My experience with Adobe XD so far.

Originally published at Medium

The latest app in the Adobe family – Experience Design CC, previously called “Project Comet” is live for a few months now and it rocks! Well, Kinda…

I must say that the tools they provide are very limited, but are also the core ones needed for the modern web/app interface design. Now, there are some quite useful ones like “Text underline” or “Gradients” that are missing. It’s quite understandable considering the (preview) tag in the app’s title.

Settings panel

For a long period of time, I pushed it aside, thinking It`s another useless tool that won’t help me to achieve anything special really, seeing how limited the toolbox is. It appears though,  that what they provide is oddly enough for most of the work done. Hell, it even helps out to abstract yourself from all the flashy complex elements and build UI gets the work done.

Coming from another Adobe product (looking at you, my dear old PS friend) it felt like candy land with the vector-based rendering. All these pixelated PS views were eye soreness to me, especially on a retina screen. And yes, Adobe XD is still OSX only, but they plan to release Windows version later this year unless Adobe goes full Valve mode and do something like this… Valve Time

This pixelization and the overly complex interface of Photoshop are very well taken cared of by XD. The super simplistic interface focuses you on your work instead of hiding it behind tons of elements. The quick artboards are also allowing you to have a good and fast overview of your designs — seriously helping out for keeping more uniform and well-balanced design.

And this was probably the reason why I got hooked for 1–2 hours straight into it. It really felt different, sharp and rewarding in a way. One of the things I hate most in PS is exactly this feel of low quality as in order to keep proper units you have to design for low-density screens and on retina screens, these comps look awful. That exact difference has probably the biggest weight to me and the fact that everything (apart from images of course) is vector-based a.k.a. zoom as much as you want.

Adobe XD - Design / Preview
The only thing that changes between the two modes visually are the tools you get access to.

Preview mode

While it works quite well, the Preview mode that Adobe XD provides feels limited in almost any way possible. You get the option to assign “click” areas of elements (not areas of the screen) that will slide left/right/top/bottom or fade in another artboard element. Tools like Invision app already provide way more feature rich experience with great UI/UX that goes along with it.

Preview mode
Nice scroll, animation on left/right navigation between panels and keep the device’s aspect ratio.

What is still to come (and it’s a must) is a live preview on real devices. This feature already exists in the Adobe family, but it’s not yet present in XD.

What Adobe XD still lacks

One of the most important thing in my mind is export to Photoshop. Really, obviously what XD does is good and in my eyes, it is in the right direction, but there are still tons of people (yes, that includes clients) that require PSD files and at this point of time XD can’t provide that. You have only two options for export — SVG and PNG and that’s it.

Some more rather helpful tools like layers can come in handy, though I am perfectly fine with them being hidden by default. Gradients, more than one box-shadow per element, and a little bit better workflow on editing text would be a great addition.

How others take Adobe XD?

The general opinion I see from people is that XD is the obvious answer to Sketch, which is also why they released the OSX version quite a lot before the planned Windows one, where there isn’t such rival currently active.One of the messages sent from Adobe employee Andrew Shorten:

Our intention is to make Adobe XD to Creative Cloud subscribers

It means that the very badly taken subscription model will be extended to such a small tool as well. My personal opinion is that unless It’s part of the Photoshop + Lightroom bundle it will be taken quite badly compared to the rather cheap and way more feature-rich $99 Sketch that still maintains that nice simple non-distractive interface.

Will I use Adobe XD More?

No. While I liked playing around with it and it does its job rather OK, I feel very limited with the lack of some core features as well as exporting to other widely used formats. Having the big elephant in the room — Sketch, to me Adobe XD stands no chance.

My reasons may be different from yours, which is perfectly fine as for the wider range of different tools is only a good thing. Having the rivalry between the two apps is a win situation for us users, so I root for XD to get better as much as possible, in order for both Sketch and XD to grow even more.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences comparing the two tools in both usability, features, and business plan. Which is the best choice and while and for how long do you think Photoshop (an app that was not intended for UI) will stay strongly on the market?


2 responses to “My experience with Adobe XD so far.”

  1. I would say that sketch supports zeplin for pixel perfect integration to development. But XD does not support Zeplin. they could have improved lot in the areas such as prototype animation for individual elements such as how principle for mac does it. gradient is little hard to make it to flip. Overall top priority would be zeplin integration. If they do it ASAP, that would be great. 🙂

  2. I actually haven’t heard of zeplin before :shame on me:.

    It seems like something they should focus indeed. Adobe XD feels to fall behind everything, though it’s rather new, so we need to give them a little more time. I have a feeling they are trying to rewrite everything and focus a lot on making it good than making it feature rich.

    I am not sure if that’s the best thing to do..

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