Design Tools News No. 4

Though I’ve been trying not to make these roundups of design tool-related news too complicated (something I do with just about every project; such is the wont of fussy designers), this latest edition is pretty hefty. So I’ve decided to parse out the stories into loose categories, at least for this week. First up: some big news for indie design tools companies.

  • Ambitious design collaboration company InVision recently closed a big US$45 million series C funding round. This is a pretty meaningful moment for this new generation of design tools; an independent player is barreling towards a massive valuation. InVision could be the next Adobe, a design-based company with a multi-billion dollar market cap. Here is the press release, and there’s more in the write-up at
  • Prototyping app Pixate and its team have been acquired by Google. Pixate is the most used of the various interactive prototyping apps in our toolbox at Wildcard, and so the news is bittersweet for me; I thought they had a bright future on their own, but I’m optimistic that Google will do some interesting things with them in the near future. Read the announcement at
  • Design hand-off tool Zeplin, which recently just came out of beta, announced that it has joined prestigious startup accelerator Y Combinator. The Zeplin team is already in the current class, apparently, though I couldn’t find any details about the timing.

Now for some news about some actual design tools.

  • Digital agency Huge has debuted Style Guide, a tool that aims to make creating and maintaining style guides much simpler. They’ve released documentation and a public repo here, where you can also try an online demo.
  • Principle is a new OS X app “that helps user interface designers create interactive and animated designs.” It’s in private beta—I haven’t been able to try it out yet.
  • RightFont is a new font management utility for OS X and it’s out in beta. It claims to “integrate with Adobe Creative Cloud & Sketch 3,” which I first took to mean that it could co-mingle your local fonts with Adobe’s Typekit fonts—which would have been awesome—but it doesn’t look like that’s actually the case. Oh well.
  • Panic’s mobile text editor Diet Coda has been updated and is now called Coda for iOS 2. If you use this, I mean if you really use this, I’d like to hear more.
  • Sketch Data Populator, the plugin that lets you use live data inside your Sketch layouts, keeps getting better (or at least they keep emailing me, so I keep writing about it). The latest version allows you to select an element, create a grid of duplicates with it and then populate each cell in the grid with data, all in one action. That addresses the main critique I had of the plugin some weeks back. Grab it at
  • Similarly, designer Elliott Jackson (of RealMac Software) has released Ditto, a tool that lets you make Photoshop layouts more dynamic. Ditto “allows the use of variables for things like colours, text, font sizes and perhaps most powerfully of all: visibility.” You can download—and donate—at
  • InVision has added an overlays feature that claims to let users “get more realistic-looking prototypes without adding any extra time to your normal prototyping process.”

Finally, two very worthwhile articles written by designers.

  • Designer Linda Dong wrote a superb overview of iAd Producer, which I didn’t even know existed because well it’s called “iAd Producer.” She walks you through using it as a surprisingly capable prototyping tool, sort of like a more robust, UI-focused variant of Keynote. This is highly recommended. Read it at
  • Designer Benjamin Berger believes that “there is still [a class of design tool] missing between Sketch and Zeplin.” This is his exhaustive outline of what that might be; he calls it a “scalable” design tool. Published over at

Also, read my last installment in Design Tool News here, and let me know if you see something interesting via the form below.


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