Thoughts on Sketch

13 August 2015 #Thoughts

So I’ve just completed my first design project using the so hot right now Sketch 3 from Bohemian Coding. Like many advancements in tools and code I feel a little late to the party.

And like those parties I attend late I’m soon glad I didn’t come early. Early adopters get to wear the brunt of the frustration that comes with new tools. On the surface Sketch certainly looks polished by Version 3.

Sketch is a fine tool. You only need to use it for a few minutes to see where it excels as a UI design tool over Photoshop. But the evangelism of Sketch online is a bit much. Does it get so much attention simply for being new?

Where Photoshop has cruft, it also has maturity. Where Sketch has useful features, it also has rough edges.

For example you can have Type Styles in Sketch — similar to InDesign — which is an incredibly powerful feature when working with multiple blocks of type over multiple art boards.

Unlike InDesign though, you cannot have a type style applied and make exceptions in small parts of text. For example, trying to colour a few words differently to the rest of the paragraph to indicate a link. Instead this will change the whole paragraph to that colour, and update every other text block using this style.

That’s right, editing one styled piece of text will automatically update the style, instead of making an exception that you can then make into a new style or redefine as the style.

Worse than this is there is no undo when this happens! Multiple times I accidentally changed the formatting on one piece of text, upsetting the entire document, with no functional undo command. I haven’t felt this undo-powerless since QuarkXPress 3.

I’ll likely stick with it. There are some really neat features, and any new tool takes time to adapt to. It is updated frequently at least so hopefully there are fixes coming.

Overall Sketch almost feels like beta software, and has given me an appreciation for Photoshop’s maturity, despite its shortcomings.

Side note: After installing Sketch it hard-locked shortly after launch for perhaps the first dozen times. I don’t know what caused that or why it stopped. Rough on-boarding.

Side note 2: Not sure if anyone who makes Sketch has used it on a 13″ screen but it’s rough when designing desktop-sized designs. It could really do with a ‘hide all panels’ keyboard shortcut, or even a ‘Small UI’ mode.