2019 Wrap-Up for Creative Cloud Developers

Ash Ryan Arnwine
Dec 19, 2019 · 7 min read

Like most of our colleagues at Adobe, the Creative Cloud Platform and Ecosystem team will soon be taking a break until the new year. As the team winds things down, we wanted to share a recap of some of the biggest news for Creative Cloud developers from 2019.

Before recapping the year, one important note for the remainder of 2019 for anyone planning to submit a plugin, extension, or script to our marketplaces:

Our integrations review staff will be celebrating the holidays and offline from December 24, 2019 through January 1, 2020. We will resume reviews from January 2, 2020. Any submissions not finalized before the break or received during the break will be handled as quickly as possible from January 2.

As always, we’d like to thank you for building on our platform and extending Creative Cloud products.

Now let’s have a look back at 2019: from XD and UXP, to CEP and ESTK, and more.

XD and the future of Creative Cloud extensibility

Adobe XD had a big year in many ways, including a huge release at MAX 2019. The extensibility story for XD also saw important updates across 2019, a number of which are indicative of where extensibility for Creative Cloud is going in 2020 and beyond. Let’s take a look.

Whether you’re building Adobe XD plugins, or extensions and scripts for our many other Creative Cloud applications, it’s quite likely you’ve heard of UXP at this point, but might feel like you don’t have all of the details.

We’ll be talking a lot more about UXP, or the Unified Extensibility Platform, starting in 2020. To describe it in a few words, UXP is Creative Cloud’s new, modern, and performant API platform for extending our products. UXP currently powers XD plugins, and will be coming to other Creative Cloud applications starting in 2020.

We’ll have much more to share on this in the new year, but as an immediate takeaway for you now:

  • Spending a little time now learning about making UXP plugins for Adobe XD can help you get a jumpstart for when UXP comes to your application of choice later on.
  • Anyone keeping their eye on places like this blog or the CC Developer Newsletter will hear news related to UXP first; be sure to sign up for either or both.

We’re all excited about the future UXP represents and we’re looking forward to working with developers who are extending Creative Cloud products.

XD Plugin APIs saw many updates in 2019 in concert with the product’s monthly major release cadence.

A few notable updates in 2019:

These updates alone would be a remarkable year, showing our commitment to helping you build more, while making it easier for users to discover, install, and use your extensibility products.

But of course, the list above is comprised of the greatest hits of 2019, with plenty more updates for developers to dig into. If you want to follow along with all of the updates, check out the Plugin API changelog, starting with XD 15 in January 2019, and scrolling through to XD 25.

Over the last year, we’ve put more effort into making it simple to get started and easier to dive deep with XD Plugin APIs.

Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of that effort was the redesign of AdobeXDPlatform.com that shipped during MAX 2019. In addition to updating the look and feel of the pages, we streamlined how information is organized in the Plugin APIs section of the site, with 3 major areas to explore: develop, design, and share.

Some notable additions to the documentation include the Design section, which is devoted entirely to helping you ship plugins with great UX and UI, and the Submission Checklist, which helps you prepare for our Integrations Review process before publishing your work.

Our quick start tutorials remain an easy way to get going, and you might also want to check out these blog posts:

Additionally, v4.0 of our xdpm CLI now offers a bootstrapping feature, making creation of your plugin scaffold just a command away.

At MAX 2019, Adobe released the XD Cloud Content APIs, which will enable an entirely new class of integrations that bring design work created in Adobe XD to more places than ever before. We’re excited about what integrations with these APIs will enable for XD users starting in 2020.

Beyond this specific set of APIs, we expect to be able to bring more service APIs for other areas of Creative Cloud starting next year as well. As a developer, you’ll want to stay tuned for news on this front.

Classic CC extensibility is getting attention and updates

With so much happening in UXP and Adobe XD extensibility, it might be easy to assume that classic CC extensibility APIs aren’t getting any attention. But that’s definitely not the case, with news across the board for those using our JavaScript-based APIs.

We remain aware that expectations are high, and we will continue to work with you to better understand your needs with the future platform while removing blockers on the existing platform where possible.

CEP, or the Common Extensibility Platform, has been the primary way to write extension UI, networking features, and more since the early days of Creative Cloud itself.

The MAX 2019 release of CEP 9.4 came with the following note:

Our primary focus has been to maintain and support CEP 9 while we work on our new extensibility platform, UXP. That means we’ve been fixing CEP bugs, updating OS SDKs, etc.

This year’s release has been well-received by the developer community, with feedback coming in that this year was one of the smoothest transitions for developers in recent memory.

Part of what has made this possible is our community’s willingness to engage with us through various channels, including the 3-month prerelease (beta) period of CEP and interviews with product managers during events like our European Partner Day and Creative Developers Summit. (If you’re not already in one of prerelease programs, here’s how to sign up.)

Your involvement truly makes a difference. We look forward to engaging with you further in 2020.

For developers who use it, ExtendScript Toolkit has been an irreplaceable tool for getting the job done when it comes to writing and debugging ExtendScript. The story of ESTK’s slow decline in reliability and support is something many of those developers have witnessed first-hand, and is something we’ve been covering openly on this blog for the last year as we work to address some of the biggest issues.

To that end, the current options are:

[Recommended] A VS Code plugin for debugging ExtendScript that we shipped earlier this year.

  1. Pros: Works on 64-bit only operating systems, like macOS 10.15 Catalina.
  2. Cons: Doesn’t support all features that ESTK did, most notably DOM inspection.

[Alternative] The legacy ESTK installers are now available on GitHub.

  1. Pros: Gives you a way to install the same ESTK with the same features you’re used to.
  2. Cons: Won’t work on 64-bit systems and is not actively maintained by Adobe.

We realize that these tradeoffs are not ideal for some ExtendScript developers, but our aim is for the ExtendScript Debugger plugin for VS Code to fill in most gaps that would have been missed on 64-bit only machines.

ExManCmd was updated to v7.8 this year to provide some level of compatibility with macOS Catalina, but still requires a few extra steps to set up.

The community has made us aware of some issues regarding ZxpSignCmd, which are being looked into. In the meantime, please be sure to try ZXPSignCmd 4.1.1, which we uploaded to GitHub just last week. You can report bugs in this area of the forums.

We’re committed to the developer community

Whether it’s through our online forums, in-person events, or 1:1 interactions with partners, we remain committed to interacting with and serving the Creative Cloud developer community.

Here are a few places you can stay up to date, get involved, or keep in touch:

  • The Adobe Tech Blog: weekly news on Creative Cloud Developer Platform, CC APIs, and more
  • The Creative Cloud Developer Newsletter: news centered entirely around extending Creative Cloud products and services, delivered right to your inbox
  • XD Developer Forums: community experts and Adobe staff working together to help developers build and ship great plugins for Adobe XD
  • Adobe Community Forums: all of Adobe’s user and developer community in one place, where classic CC extensibility is frequently discussed
  • Creative Cloud product prereleases: early previews and betas that help you get ahead of API and product changes that impact your plugins and extensions
  • The Adobe Fund for Design: $10 million to support developers, teams, and startups that have creativity in their code

It was a big year for Creative Cloud extensibility across the board, and we expect 2020 to be even bigger. We’re looking forward to working with you next year, right after a little break for the holidays.

Happy holidays to you, and see you in the new year!

Adobe Tech Blog

News, updates, and thoughts related to Adobe, developers, and technology.

Thanks to Erin Finnegan

Ash Ryan Arnwine

Written by

Sr Mgr, Developer Experience and Evangelism for the Adobe Creative Cloud Developer Ecosystem.

Adobe Tech Blog

News, updates, and thoughts related to Adobe, developers, and technology.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade