Why Sketch 52 will make your Design Workflow even better now 🔥🔥🔥

It’s the Sketch Update that improves things on so many levels


Well, it’s been a couple of weeks now since Bohemian Coding brought version 52 of Sketch out to play with us, and it’s probably their biggest, and best update yet!

A bold statement of sorts, but I really feel that Bohemian Coding have really, like really, really found their groove with this update, and the future looks promising for our favourite diamond encrusted design tool.

In this article I’ll touch upon some of the key features I’ve been really impressed with, and my experience of v52 thus far. Tally Ho!


❤️️ The ‘Damn that looks mighty fine’ improved interface

Let’s touch upon Sketch’s improved UI first. It’s definitely worth shouting about.

I feel the Sketch UI was definitely in need of an overhaul. How can i put it. Compared to similar tools out there, the UI was looking a little dated, a little too cute perhaps with its then current iconography, less pro-looking than its competitors, and was very much in need of a 2018 visual facelift.

BC (Bohemian Coding) have surpassed themselves here, and have polished, tweaked and improved the UI considerably .

The support for native Dark Mode inside of MacOS Mojave works amazingly well with version 52, and with the support for Mojave’s Accent and Highlight colours, you have a UI that looks beautiful in Hot Pink as well as the standard, let’s play it safe Blue Accent.

Now, my heart does go out to the team behind the Midnight Sketch Plug-in, which has been greatly affected with these new changes to the Sketch UI, and rendered null and void pretty much. They had an extremely strong and valuable plug-in right there, and the team at BC would be wise to reference Midnight moving forward when working on incremental updates to the UI, because Midnight created something really special there.

Quick Update: It looks like some of the Midnight features may be coming to Sketch sooner than we anticipated… https://twitter.com/_midnightsketch/status/1049992167001747457


💾 Data is now baked right into Sketch. Yummy!

Hands up! Who has, or is using the Craft plugin from InVision, inside of Sketch? That was a large show of hands right there. Hands up! Who has had issues with Sketch/Craft crashing after every update to Sketch? Damn! That was practically a Mexican Wave right there.

It’s safe to say Sketch and Craft have not always been the best of friends when a new update swings around. If you’ve not personally had issues comes update time, just go browse past Tweets @sketchapp. You may have to set aside an hour to two to read through them! I’ll see you back here in a couple of hours.

The days of Sketch and Craft been a ‘thing’ (albeit a very strained thing from time to time) may be coming to an end I feel, now that BC have brought Data to version 52.

It’s early days for the new Data feature within side Sketch, but from what’s already available the future looks promising for this new, but much needed (and expected as standard) feature.

Aside from Craft, there’s been countless plugins created to handle working with Data inside of Sketch, and I’ve pretty much tried them all.

It’s great now though to have Data as a default feature of the tool, and less worries of beach-balling and the like come Update Day! Hurrah!

For now Sketch is offering 4 Data Sources…

- Names

- Faces

- World Cities

- Tiles

…which is a little barebones if you’re comparing to the tried and tested Craft plugin, but there’s enough there to keep you from the dark side of Lorem Ipsum, or defaulting to your own choices (John Smith, Jane Smith, Will Smith…)

Also, being able to create Data Layers (Names, Avatars etc..) inside of Symbols and then refresh multiple data sources at once is the money shot right there! CMD + SHIFT + D is your new keyboard shortcut best friend.

Kudos also to BC for making the selection of Names and Faces data sources more culturally and ethically diverse, and with a 50/50 gender balance throughout.

Like they mention themselves…

…so your designs will no longer be populated with profiles for white guys called Chad or John.

The icing on cake for me, and I’m sure it’s the same for countless Designers out there, is the inclusion of Unsplash inside the new Data feature. Who doesn’t love a bit of Unsplash right?

Having the ability to call upon the ridiculously large, and royalty free Unsplash library when working on concepts inside of Sketch is just perfect, and something I will be calling on many times, moving forward.


🖋 Text and Layer Style Overrides are now a thing in Sketch

Ok. So the 52 update of Sketch has brought some awesome new updates, and improved features, but for me, Text and Layer Style Overrides is the cherry on top of an already feature-rich, and improved cake!

As you may, or may not know, I built this Design System/Starter Boilerplate for Sketch called Cabana. You can check out a rather generous offer for it at the bottom of this article (the plug has now been firmly placed in the plug hole).

When I built Version 1.0 of Cabana back in November 2017, I was restricted, and unfortunately had to resort to creating both Color, and Text Symbols to power the rest of the system.

Color Symbols had to be created for when I was using (of which there was many) Nested Symbols inside of the system.

Of course, when it came to Nested Symbols time, and for Icons in particular you had to resort to using Masks with your Color Symbols to achieve the desired effect when it came to Color Overrides time. This was all acceptable in practice, until said Icons needed to be exported to something like Zeplin. Color Masks and Zeplin don’t really mix! It was doable, but it was that extra bit of work that was not really appreciated by many a designer out there.

Now, with version 52 of Sketch, being able to simply use Layer Styles inside of your Symbols Overrides, has opened things up greatly, and fixed many nagging issues that came before.

It’s enabled me with version 2.1 of Cabana (which is very happily Sketch 52 ready), to cut down on the file size of the Sketch file, simplify the Layer List inside of the Symbols page, as well as reduce the Symbols page itself, and produce a much cleaner Overrides panel when putting Cabana to work.

The same goes for the ability to now Override Text Styles inside of Symbols. I was able to, once more, clean up my Symbols page, removing those hacky Text Symbols, and basically just call upon pre-built Text Styles inside of the Symbols Overrides.

Being able to call upon Text Styles inside of my Symbol Overrides allows me much more freedom.

Granted you still have to create the required Text Styles beforehand, so that means accounting for Text alignment, colour choices etc… before you even hop on the Override train, so there is that.

Compare this to something like Figma which does allow you to adjust Alignment, Color options etc… without the need for creating the aforementioned Text Styles, and you will see that Sketch, at this current stage does feel a little limited to some of the competitors. But I have faith in the BH team, and as they have shown many times before they like to make these new updates in incremental stages, and I’m confident that features that are available to those Figma users making the L shape with their fingers on their foreheads, will be coming very soon to a future Sketch update.

Anyways, Layer Style, and particularly Text Style Overrides in their current form are a massive improvement on what has come before, and like I mentioned previously, have improved the usability of my Cabana Design System massively.

Just the feeling of being able to jump into the Overrides in the Inspector panel and having so much more freedom to adjust your Symbols to a higher degree is a real joy!


🌯 To wrap things up around here…

I feel with version 52, Bohemian Coding have laid down the foundations of where they really want to take Sketch moving forward.

A tool that with the many improvements I’ve mentioned, as well of course, the massive speed increases with the move to Metal, they’ve made the Design Tool that we’ve always loved for its ‘I’ll just get out of the way and let you Design’ approach, that much more complete, rounded and more important than ever.

Bohemian Coding have always made updates and improvements in incremental steps, mainly due to the fact they’re a small team with a big user-base to cater for, and also that’s just the way they like to do things around these parts. And in an indirect kind of way this has enabled them to share similarities to a certain company based out of Cupertino, in the way that they may introduce new features with great fanfare, features that existing products are already feeding to their users, but we still lose our s**t over it. In a good way of course.

Hey. It’s not done that little Cupertino based company any harm 😉

📣 Oh. Before you go…

…the Cabana Design System that I mentioned earlier is now Sketch 52 ready…

🎁 Design Better, Smarter, and Faster in Sketch. You can pick up a copy of my Design System — Cabana right here.

Use the offer code MEDIUM25 to receive 25% OFF.

Thanks for reading the article,

Marc

Designer, Author, Father and Lover of rather splendid updates to Sketch