Collaborative Design with Adobe XD

One of the core motivations for creating Adobe XD was to enable designers to design at the speed of thought — removing friction in the design process wherever possible.

With this in mind, we started our journey by delivering XD on Mac, bringing together design, prototyping and sharing tools, while also focusing relentlessly on performance and quality. We then added support for real-time design and prototype preview on iOS and Android, making it easier than ever to craft beautiful mobile experiences.

We’re extremely close to releasing the first beta of XD on Windows, bringing the same speed and efficiency to the large number of designers using PCs. With the availability of XD on Mac and Windows, we hope to improve interoperability for design teams in mixed environments — something that is a real issue when using software that is only available on a single platform.

While we’re excited to see how Adobe XD will make a positive impact to your efficiency and creativity as a designer, we understand that designing compelling experiences involves a much larger group of people, including other designers on your team, developers and additional project stakeholders.

At Adobe MAX, our annual creativity conference, and in this blog post, we’re previewing the next set of capabilities that we’ll be adding to Adobe XD throughout 2017, all of which are centered around collaborative design — with the goal of helping you design, prototype and iterate faster than ever before.

Note: Like everything we work on for XD, we spend lots of time getting feedback from customers and iterating on designs and functionality, so everything described here is subject to change before release.

Working with Stakeholders

Publishing prototypes for review by stakeholders has been a core capability since we first released XD. With our MAX release, we’ve added support for commenting on prototypes. Looking beyond 2016, expect continued improvements to both the commenting and design signoff experience.

Another critical step in the stakeholder process is the handoff between the designer and the developer. From talking to our customers, we’ve heard that when working with developers to implement the design, you want to provide as much information and as much interpretation of the design in one place. While you could create a PDF and add annotations to provide additional context and guidance, it is a slow and tedious process of exporting and updating. To simplify this process, we will be adding the ability to publish and share design specs and style guides directly from your XD document.

With the addition of design specifications in XD, you’ll be able to provide developers with a link to a version of your design document that they can view and interact with directly inside the browser. In this view, they’ll get access to artboard and object level annotations you’ve made, be able to download assets, get code snippets for the target platforms, inspect animations and transitions, as well as take measurements so as to get layouts just right.

While the spec provides a view on the XD document, a link to a style guide will provide an easy to consume view of the assets used within your project. Whether you’re a developer who needs an asset for implementation or a marketer who wants a logo for use in campaign, the published style guide will provide an up-to-date repository of colors, fonts and assets for download and re-use.

Across the prototyping, document specs and style guide experiences, stakeholders will be able to review and comment so as to provide feedback on the design, as well as use the assets you’ve created for production purposes. We believe these tools will dramatically improve how you collaborate with stakeholders and are excited to add them to XD in the coming months.

Working with Other Designers

As a designer, you’re not just collaborating with stakeholders, especially on larger projects, you work with other designers to divide and conquer to meet deadlines.

Existing approaches for collaboration among multiple designers require splitting work into separate design documents, which ultimately means needing to merge multiple versions of the documents and sharing assets across documents. With the added pain of assembling everything together for final review and delivery, managing a single source of truth is time-consuming and difficult.

With our goal of reducing friction and ensuring focus on designing, we’re excited to be adding the ability for multiple designers to collaborate in real time on the same document in XD.

This will be as simple as inviting your co-designers into the XD document and then working on your artboards. While you’re editing an artboard, others can see what you’re doing and use your assets, but they can’t make edits to your work. When you’re done and move onto editing a different artboard, the artboard automatically becomes available for another designer to work on, allowing you to focus on design rather than managing files and assets.

As a cloud-connected native desktop app, XD will support multiple designers working on hundreds of artboards in a single document, with the amazing performance and fidelity that you expect as designer.

Of course, with multiple designers working together, you might find that an incorrect design change happens inadvertently — that’s why we are adding visual versioning to XD.

With visual versioning, you can access automatically saved revisions, as well as create milestone versions of the document. Directly within XD, you can now quickly go back to any point in your design, find the version of an artboard or design asset that you need, and bring it forward to the latest version of the document in no time at all.

Since the versioning capability is cloud-based, the capability will be available by default when you save your document to the Creative Cloud. Once you’re cloud-enabled, you’ll be able to publish prototypes, specifications and style guides, as well as co-edit in real-time, secure in the knowledge that your document versions are automatically managed and available to you.

When Will These Collaborative Capabilities be Available?

We’re actively working on the collaborative workflows highlighted here and will be exposing these gradually to selected pre-release customers before making them incrementally available through our public beta releases starting in early 2017.

We hope you are as excited as we are about the opportunity to collaborate more effectively with other designers, developers and project stakeholders as you work on mobile and web projects.

You can reach out to our team here in the comments or @AdobeXD on Twitter — we look forward to hearing from you.


Andrew Shorten is Director of Product Management for UX Design at Adobe. He is passionate about improving the quality, richness, and value of digital experiences. Andrew previously developed user interfaces for government and enterprise customers while working at Fujitsu. He has since worked for Macromedia, Microsoft, and Adobe, where he has engaged with designers, developers, digital agencies, and organizations to help them deliver engaging web, mobile and desktop experiences.

Originally published at blogs.adobe.com.


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