“This week’s guest post is by Cathi Kwon, a principal product manager on the Design Practices team who runs the XD Plugin Accelerator. She is also a proud board member of the San Francisco Community Music Center.”
— Erin Finnegan, Community Engineer, Creative Cloud
A few months ago, we announced the Adobe Fund for Design Plugin Accelerator, a three-month residency for designers and developers building plugins that expand what Adobe XD can do. As we near the halfway point, we wanted to introduce the teams and their projects.
We received a surplus of compelling applications, and after careful deliberation, we selected three teams for our first cohort.
Introducing Cohort One
Jason Festa, designer + Matt Holcombe, developer
Matt spins vinyl records, belongs to several historic preservation societies, and takes flying lessons. Jason obsesses over Paul Arden and Peter Saville and considers interviewing and illustrating his design hero Marc Newson a major high point in his life. Longtime collaborators and friends, Matt and Jason’s most recent venture, Design Engine, aims to reduce friction in designer-developer workflows.
Julian Crespo, designer + Marlene Guzman, developer
Julian is a father, sci-fi enthusiast, hip-hop head, and recent California College of the Arts graduate. Marlene is a self-taught developer who enjoys gardening, doing arts and crafts, attending hack-a-thons, and volunteering as a youth life coach. As Team JuMa, they are invested in finding ways to make accessibility a more integral part of the design process.
Manjila Nakarmi, developer + Shawn Harrison, designer
In her free time, Manjila dabbles in photography and binges on the anime series Naruto. Shawn enjoys traveling and chocolate. Together, they make up Team MaSh. Inspired by Shawn’s experience as part of a freelance collective, they hope to streamline the way designers collaborate with copywriters and content strategists.
On June 17, the teams arrived for their first day, each with an initial seed idea for their plugin in mind. For the next three months, they would be working from Adobe’s San Francisco offices, seated next to the XD design team and guided by a team mentor and subject matter expert (SME).
Week One went by in a blur of onboarding logistics, training sessions, and introductions. By Week Two, they settled into a more normal routine, and at the end of the week, the teams delivered their first milestone: an outlined plugin concept, including target use cases and proposed solutions for addressing pain points.
With newfound access to Adobe experts and user research, the teams were quickly overwhelmed with information and opinions. They also spent a lot of time talking to real users as they defined their plugin concepts.
Each week, the cohort meets to share their progress and solicit feedback, joined by a rotating panel of guest reviewers that includes at least one designer and one engineer. Based on the panel’s feedback, the teams have continued to evolve their plugin concepts.
Week Six and Beyond
All three plugins share the need to link new metadata and content sources to XD objects based on what they represent, e.g.:
- Design Engine starts with UI components from a live web page and converts them into to XD objects representing design system components.
- Team JuMa allows designers to assign tab order and alt-text for screen readers to XD objects representing navigation.
- Team MaSh enables copywriters to independently iterate on microcopy for XD objects representing buttons and menus.
The most recent updates to the XD APIs, including the panel UI option, makes this possible. As the teams consider different design and engineering approaches, they are facing some common questions:
- What is the best way to collect and store this new metadata?
- How do you display this information and indicate which XD object(s) it references?
- How does the designer share this information with non-designer collaborators?
Design Engine, Team JuMa, and Team MaSh will spend the remaining six weeks working through the above challenges and completing their XD plugins, and we look forward to hearing more from them here on the Adobe Tech Blog and in our XD Developer Forums. In the meantime, if you would like to get in touch with any of the teams, please email email@example.com.
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