is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
Last October, on stage at the annual Adobe Max conference, I debuted a collaboration between Adobe and myself called Project LayUp, a new iPad app for designers. Today, that app officially launches in the App Store under a new name: Adobe Comp CC. Read the company’s official release for the app is here.
Adobe describes Comp CC as a “lightweight composition app [that] lets you quickly wireframe ideas for print, web, and mobile using actual assets.” Our goal has been to create a truly tablet-native tool for designers to explore creative layout ideas. It’s not a desktop tool that has been ported to the iPad or a replica of real world art materials, but a wholly different approach to turbo-charging creativity that builds on what the iPad is uniquely suited for: gesture-based input; super-smart, automated saving so that you don’t have to manage files or versions; seamless integration with existing design workflows; and a laser-like focus on making you faster at expressing your design ideas.
Everything that I demoed last fall ships today and more. You can see app in its shipping form showcased in this video, prepared by the Adobe marketing team. It’s a great overview of how the app works, though had it been left to me, I might have deemphasized the stylus that you see being used; Comp CC works great with a stylus but it was conceived to work every bit as powerfully with just your finger.
There are two major improvements over the original announcement that are worth pointing out. First: Typekit support is far more robust than we had initially anticipated. Our original intention was to support only the fonts that users had chosen to sync ahead of time through the Typekit site. Though limiting, even that level of impromptu access to new fonts would be a win, we figured—getting your preferred fonts on these devices has historically been a major point of friction. But what ships today is even better that what we set out to do; Comp CC is the first implementation of the full Typekit catalog, completely optimized for touch and fully embedded for easy access. That alone exponentializes the value of the iPad as a creative tool, if you ask me. Here’s the interface for selecting fonts from Typekit on the fly.
Next up: Comp CC’s drawing gestures, which form the heart of the app, are much more extensive and capable than originally promised. Not only can you draw primitive shapes and text objects, but you can also draw rounded image objects, rectangles with chamfered corners, polygons, paragraphs of text, lines of text and headlines. Each option requires its own gesture, of course, so to make it easier to master this simple language, the app combines a rich help system that shows up just at the right time, along with a really slick animated gesture cheat sheet. It looks and works like this:
Seeing Adobe Comp CC launch is a big deal for me. The app represents many huge lessons that I learned painfully from Mixel, the social collage app that I built for iPad several years ago, as well as a lot of incredibly smart, ingenious ideas from the folks at Adobe. Our collaboration has been deeply rewarding, and I couldn’t be prouder of what’s launching today. My thanks to Scott Belsky, Renaun Erickson, Eric Snowden, Mathieu Badimon, Phil Baudoin, Teresa Crotty (and her phenomenal engineering team), Will Eisley and the rest of the amazing team at Adobe for bringing this idea to life.
You can get the app right now; it works best with a full subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud service, but it also works with a free, basic level Creative Cloud membership, which includes 2GB of complementary storage for file syncing and sharing. Give it a try and let me know what you think.+