XD Dev Days 2019: New Frontiers for the XD Plugin Ecosystem

Ash Ryan Arnwine
Jun 26 · 6 min read

We just held XD Dev Days 2019, the second annual event of its kind, to prepare developers for the upcoming launch of panel plugins for Adobe XD and it was incredible.

Fifty designers and developers, including members of our new Adobe XD Plugin Accelerator, joined us in one room for two days, and by the end of the event, most of the teams were able to demo plugins that they’ll be offering to Adobe XD users in the near future.

In addition to the feedback we got and the fun we had with the community, the real progress that the teams made was inspiring. By being the first to take advantage of the new panel APIs, these developers will extend Adobe XD in new, richer ways — and empower designers with more powerful and interactive integrations.

We were thrilled to give these developers support on the way to shipping this new class of XD plugins, and we’re working quickly to make the new APIs openly available soon.

In this post, I’ll share a bit about what we did at XD Dev Days 2019 and ways you can stay informed of things we’re doing for XD plugins developers.

Some background

Back in 2018, when Adobe XD plugin APIs were still in private prerelease, we held the first XD Dev Days in San Francisco where a select group of third-party developers from around the world came together to build many of the first-ever plugins for Adobe XD.

The event was such a success in terms of developer feedback and progress made in building XD plugins that we decided to do it again in 2019.

This time around, one highly anticipated milestone for the XD plugin API is the upcoming release of panel-based plugins for Adobe XD. Until now, developers had the option of building either modal-based or non-UI plugins, which enabled a wide range of XD plugins to ship in the first year of the API. With the added option of panels, we expect developers will be able to push the Adobe XD platform even further for experience designers and their stakeholders.

XD Dev Days 2019 was created to support developers who are pioneering this new frontier of the Adobe XD platform before its release.

Sharing new information on the XD plugin APIs

For our XD Dev Days events, the core focus for us is to help our developers build: we create the space, get out of the way, and then wait on the sidelines to offer immediate, hands-on, multidisciplinary support.

To achieve that, we had Adobe staff on-deck from a number of teams including UXP product and engineering, Adobe XD product and engineering, Creative Cloud Platform and Ecosystem, Adobe Design, and Adobe I/O.

We gave a few short talks on Monday morning to set the stage, showcasing Adobe XD from the user perspective, offering early looks into our plans for plugin discoverability, and providing go-to-market tips for developers shipping XD plugins.

Then we jumped into the highlights of recent API updates (for example, in XD 19, XD 20, and beyond), and offered a live coding session to help developers learn about the new beta APIs for building panel-based plugins.

We wrapped up the talks with a session on UX best practices for XD plugins and shared previews of new developer tools and documentation to help plugin creators provide great user experiences.

Getting developer feedback

After the Monday morning talks, we stepped back and let developers build their plugins. During that time, Adobe staff offered support for development, design, and marketing. We also took in direct feedback on our APIs, documentation, developer tools, and services.

“User validation is a key component to the success of any product, and this is especially true for developer platforms where the goal is, by definition, to unlock use cases that you haven’t thought of,” said Ari Fuchs, group product manager for UXP. “We use events like XD Dev Days to share and learn from our developers — to re-calibrate our assumptions, and course correct where necessary.”

Shannon Rhodes from Adobe Design joined XD Dev Days to lead user testing sessions on future designs for the Adobe I/O Console, where XD plugin developers go to get their plugin IDs and submit their products for inclusion in the XD Plugin Manager.

“XD Dev Days was a great opportunity to have conversations with these developers about their process,” noted Shannon. “I was able to get direct and observational feedback that will be incorporated into the I/O Console.”

With the feedback we received during XD Dev Days, we’ll be in a stronger place to serve more developers building XD plugins. But keep in mind that we’re always listening, and we welcome feedback on our developer forums and our GitHub repos.

Making quick progress on building XD plugins

Before the end of the event on Tuesday afternoon, we opened up time for plugin demos.

We were once again amazed at the progress the developers made in such a short amount of time. After less than two days of building, we saw 15 demos, many of which will be available to Adobe XD users soon.

“It was inspiring to see what some of the best creative tool builders came up with in just two days,” said Drew Endick, partnerships manager for Creative Cloud platform. “Many attendees left with a feature-rich working plugin and are on the right path to ship powerful plugins for users.”

Salil Apte from Tiled, a microapp platform for interactive content, was one of the developers who demoed an early version of their plugin. “Dev conferences should be about technical learning and networking, not just product launches, and XD Dev Days hits the mark,” said Salil. “The Adobe staff, from engineers, designers, marketers and everything in between, were all critical in building a vision for Tiled’s first XD plugin. We arrived on the first day with a light proof of concept and left with a full-featured plugin that we demoed for the audience. 10/10 would recommend.”

Shannon Rhodes put into words what was a frequent reaction by Adobe staff and third-party developers in the room: “as an end-user of XD, it was exciting to see all the great plugins that I can’t wait to use in the future!”

Get involved and stay in touch

If you weren’t at XD Dev Days 2019 but want some of the content we shared, various aspects of it will make its way into our documentation soon. If you have any particular requests for documentation or other developer resources, be sure to let us know in the XD plugin developer forums.

As always, to stay in the loop on the evolution of Creative Cloud application APIs, developer events, and more, be sure to follow this blog and subscribe to our developer newsletter.

If you’re ready to start creating your own XD plugin, visit AdobeXDPlatform.com and get started today!

Adobe Tech Blog

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

Ash Ryan Arnwine

Written by

Lead Technical Evangelist for the Adobe Creative Cloud Developer Ecosystem.

Adobe Tech Blog

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