New file format in Sketch 43 and what we learned about it

In late February, Ale wrote that Sketch 43 will support the new file format. Our team took this news in two ways.

On one hand we saw great benefits that the new file format can give to Plant. On the other hand, this has raised a big question for us: “Is it worth sending forces to implement the support of a new file format or leave it as it is?”.

We understood that Plant is in a state of private beta testing, that there are places in the application that we need to modify, alter or completely change. During the period of beta testing, we have accumulated good statistics of user experience and statistics of possible problems while interaction with Sketch. This has helped as become familiar in this field in which we had a good orientation.

However, the old format, nevertheless, remained for a “black box” for us and continued to present considerable surprises.

We conducted the initial testing of a possible increase in Plant’s performance when switching to a new format. For this, we prepared two design files.

— The first file includes 350 artboards, it lacks symbols and nested symbols, but a large amount of raster graphics is added.

— The second file consists of 403 artboards, it is completely built on symbols and nested symbols and there are practically no raster graphics.

Testing surprised us and left no doubt that we should translate Plant to support the new format.

As you can see from the above graphs, a large number of raster graphics and nested characters that create multiple links increase the preparation of changes for sending. However, the new format allowed Plant to reduce the weight of the repositories 2 times, and the time of operations by 15 times.

There was a question what to do with the projects created by users before the transition to Sketch 43. As the new format will require serious changes in the application and the data won’t be backwards compatible.

We found a solution and migrated the entire history of projects and all user commits without losing data and timestamps. Users will only need to download the latest version of the file from Plant and voila, they can continue using Plant at a new space speed.

During the short life of the application, we encountered a lot of difficulties that we continue to overcome, trying to make Plant a truly useful application for designers.

Plant is still in the stage of private beta testing. However, soon we will be ready to open it for everyone who believes that Plant is doing a useful job.

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