October 18, 2017 10:15 am

Adobe XD CC: A New High-Performance UWP App for UI/UX Design

By / Principal Technical Evangelist

It’s a big day today – after a year of public preview, Adobe released Adobe XD 1.0 on Windows 10 and Mac: a new tool for user experience creators to design, prototype and share interactive designs for apps and websites.

When it comes to designing anything, it’s important to have design tools that support a fast and fluid process – one where you can iterate rapidly through a design, test, and build process: designing at the speed of thought. For interaction design, creative professionals have often used tools that excel at creating images of screens, but these tools that created static images have always missed something: transitions and interactions that demonstrate the experience. Putting an interactive prototype in front of stakeholders that they can try out is now a crucial part of the process, and being able to iterate on design rapidly based on the feedback from the prototype is essential. Being able to create a prototype without any coding is mandatory for this process. Almost a year ago, I wrote about a new app that fits these requirements, when Adobe released a public preview of Adobe Experience Design CC (XD) on Windows and Mac. Since then, Adobe was able to iterate quickly, releasing monthly updates of Adobe XD, responding to early customer feedback and an ambitious list of features that interaction designers wanted. We’re excited to share that today, Adobe XD as part of the Creative Cloud, is available today on Windows and Mac. Here are a few other reasons that that this is such an important release.

XD is a Universal Windows Platform App

Available through Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription, XD takes advantage of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to deliver a modern, high performance, professional design tool. Whether you’re working with one artboard or a hundred, XD gives you the same fast performance. The rendering surface is accelerated by DirectX and the UI is implemented in XAML, C++ and JavaScript.  Using this architecture, Adobe was able to have maximum code reuse between their Mac and Windows versions yet take advantage of the most advanced, platform specific UI layout technology. During XD’s preview period, Adobe was able to iterate quickly, leveraging a proprietary automated testing framework for much of their code built on the Windows Application Driver. The end result is a high-performance, stable, professional tool.

Design, Prototype and Share in One Tool

In creating Adobe XD, the team thought of the whole Design/Test/Build workflow that interactive designers go through, and made an easy-to-use tool for designing experiences, creating rapid prototypes and sharing them with others to get their feedback. With Adobe XD, you can rapidly create screens with standard tools as well as utilizing tools that have been specially designed for UX designers. Repeat Grid, for instance, allows users to quickly create content grids based on a single element – helping designers to simulate the type of content they often have to create. The Assets Panel helps users reuse important design elements such as colors, character styles and symbols – so that making changes across an entire document is fast and easy. At 1.0 XD is also connected to Creative Cloud Libraries, allowing users to leverage content across documents and teams. You can also add artboards for common screen sizes ranging from Android Wear to Surface Pro.

Switching from design to prototype mode is a single click, and you can quickly connect artboards to communicate the flow and paths of multiscreen apps.

Once your prototype is ready for feedback, you can generate shareable web link of the prototype or embed it onto webpage or supported application. Since my team uses Microsoft Teams to collaborate, I can create a tab page in Teams using that link to share the design with my colleagues – they can interact with the prototype in Teams and we can chat about it there.



Designer and Developer Resources

In addition to the tools available, Adobe XD has a number of UI resources available for designers to use while creating, including Apple iOS, Google Material Design, Microsoft Windows, and Microsoft Office UI Fabric. Our Office and Windows teams worked closely with the Adobe XD team to deliver a great set of UI components that designers and developers can use to craft their user experiences. We will continue to work closely in the future as we help developers and designers take advantage of the Fluent Design System.

This Is Just the Beginning

Having worked closely with the Adobe XD team for the past two years, this is a very exciting day. The designers, engineers, testers and product managers that I have met on the Adobe XD team are passionate about their product and are eager to hear your feedback as you try it out, use it and craft the next generation of user experiences. While today marks the 1.0 release of Adobe XD, the team has big plans ahead, including improvements for the way designers and developers work together. Read more about where they’re headed here.

You can download XD as a free trial or as part of Creative Cloud today. Adobe will also be hosting a live stream on UX design from Oct. 24-26. Watch and interact with Daniel Alegria, a Microsoft UX designer in action using XD on Windows. See the schedule and more content here.

Adobe has delivered a new, high-performance, UWP app that is useful to designers, and you should try it out today.

Updated October 18, 2017 10:20 am

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