I used to be and am still at times, an avid Adobe Fireworks user. I strongly believe it was ahead of its time and it wasn’t given a proper chance to be the standout premier web design tool that many realised it was.
Recently after moving to a MacBook Pro, I have started playing around with Sketch 3. I think it is fantastic, a great design tool and above all, really snappy (the exportable SVG feature is great).
However, there is a looming problem with Sketch: how do you hand over the design files to developers or designers on non-Mac machines?
Well, you can’t. Sadly Sketch does not support working with Adobe’s proprietary PSD format. This is actually a big problem for Sketch and is hampering its adoption.
Not everyone uses a Mac or can afford to buy one. Then you have the issue of not all companies being equal. I have worked at places where people used PC’s running Windows, Mac’s, PC’s running Linux and Mac’s running Windows. It’s a crazy world out there.
The community is on the fence about this problem. I am a frequent Designer News reader and I have seen this problem raised a couple of times by the community and the answers were pretty split.
Some people argue that developers shouldn’t get given final design files and that they should be given just the assets and static comps of the designs instead.
Some people argue that it is a problem that requires a solution, one of which will not come soon.
I can see where designers are coming from, sometimes developers do a pretty rubbish job at cutting up assets correctly, at the right resolutions or sizes and end up getting assets from the designer anyway.
But there is more to a design then assets. The big thing for me is font sizes, colours and font weights. I have worked on projects using extensive typefaces before of which have weights ranging from light to black, a design is able to tell you this.
Sure, designers could also go through and write up a styleguide document detailing the font weights, sizes and colours, but what about things like padding and margins? I know a plugin exists for Sketch that adds in the spacings between elements, but it feels like a hack more than anything.
But then there is another problem that a specification document/styleguide comes with: language barriers. I have been given designs like this before and seen in the document things being referenced like: h1, h2, h3, h4. This is incredibly vague because sometimes I might not even use a heading tag for something.
Once you get over the design to develop workflow issues with Sketch you have a problem with clients and deliverables.
Sadly, the industry is still very Adobe dominated. If you design a website and the client requests deliverables, Sketch files will not cut it if the client and their team are using PC’s.
It is not uncommon for clients to request deliverables and I have worked on a couple of jobs where the deliverable designs were expected to be Photoshop PSD files and logos in Adobe Illustration (.ai) format.
There is no short-term solution to this problem. Sketch cannot export editable Photoshop files and there is no easy way to hand over deliverables to non-Mac users or Mac users who don’t have or want to buy a licence for it.
For some organisations using Sketch at scale, it is obviously different. If you are doing in-house design and everyone is using a Mac, then there is nothing stopping you from implementing and using it.
If you’re a design agency that design and develop WordPress websites and no two clients are the same, you will eventually run into an easy when it comes to deliverables. Even if you educate, it means nothing. The client paid for something and they want the source files.
I have read too many stories of designers ditching Sketch halfway through a client project for Photoshop because of this exact reason for it to be a minor issue.
We need Sketch for Windows and hopefully it eventually happens. Sketch 3 has been selling incredibly well, so perhaps Bohemian Coding can reinvest some of that cash into a Windows version.
If not, perhaps even another solution could be to write a plugin for Photoshop that allows Sketch files to be imported. Whether or not the scripting system in Photoshop would allow this or not.