Sketch2PDF—Sketch Plugin For One-click Export, Merge & Optimization of PDFs

The Problem

Recently we had this large design project at Oblik Studio—we had to design an identity and branding as well as a website and a set of various digital materials. One of them was a pitch deck for the product, which we decided to design using Sketch, since our Design System was already set there.

The workflow was:

  1. Design each slide on a separate artboard in Sketch
  2. Export all artboards as PDFs
  3. Combine all PDFs in one using Acrobat Reader
  4. Optimize the file size in Acrobat Reader

Working on a PDF presentation that is constantly being improved and published, means that you have to go through all of these 4 steps a few times per day which is not only annoying but it is also very time-consuming.

Therefore, the whole process should be streamlined in a much simpler workflow.

I strongly believe that if a repetitive process can be automated, then it definitely should. In this way, you can focus on solving real (design) problems instead of fighting with a software.

The Solution

A demo showing how it works with a few slides for

Firstly, I started by using Terminal to merge all separate PDF files into a single one by running a Python script that comes with the macOS Automator.

Then I found a way to optimize the file size with ps2pdf, which is a part of Ghostcript, by running a Terminal command.

Still — I had to run two commands after the PDF export is completed.

I realized that there must have been a way to auto run these commands on something like a hook. Consequently, that hook must have been triggered when one uses the built in export functionality of Sketch; and I found SVGO Export.

By reusing a part of its codebase, I was able to create a simple, no-GUI plugin that automates the whole process of exporting, merging and optimizing PDFs.

Oblik Studio is a cross-disciplinary design studio. If you are looking for a design partner, get in touch.

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