Design Tools News No. 8

It’s been more than two months since my last installment in this series, and so there’s a lot of stuff to catch up on. Here goes:

Graphics and Layout

  • Vector graphics app iDraw has been acquired by AutoDesk and is now called AutoDesk Graphic. It’s also now available for iPhone, iPad and OS X.
  • BoxBox is a new UX/UI design tool that focuses on rules definition rather than placement and layout. Its creators are unapologetic about this more complex, forward-leaning approach: “BoxBox is emphatically a design tool, not a WYSIWYG UI builder.” The team is very articulate and writes extensively about their beliefs; there are some fascinating ideas at work here. More information at
  • Protosketch, a vector graphics design tool for iPad, has emerged from beta and released its version 1.0. It claims to be suitable for everything from logo design to prototyping application behavior. The company promises that versions for OS X and iPhone are in the works. More at
  • Professional photo editing app Affinity Photo was named Best Mac App of 2015 by Apple. This is a significant achievement for Serif, who was already having an outstanding 2015; their vector graphics app Affinity Designer won an Apple Design Award earlier in the year. (Both applications are discounted now until Christmas, by the way.) Congratulations to the team.
  • Also, earlier this month I wrote about the launch of Figma, a new browser-based interface design tool. They are still in private beta but the early word seems to be pretty positive. The company has already raised US$18 million in venture. Find out more at


  • Fuse is a blandly named but apparently ambitious “UX tool suite for app designers and developers.” It allows you to “create and update the look and feel for native apps in real time on multiple devices simultaneously.” It’s effectively a new markup language (they call it “UX Markup”) for prototyping. More at
  • Prototyping app Marvel has released Canvas, a browser-based tool for design and animation. My guess is that Canvas is the work of the team that Marvel gained when the company acquired Plexi, a design and animation tool. Canvas is in beta now. More at
  • Speaking of Marvel, the company also raised a US$2 million dollar “seed extension” round late in the summer from Index Ventures and Connect Ventures, who presumably are aware that they did not actually invest in a multi-billion dollar publisher of comics and producer of super-hero movies. But someone should check. Story at
  • Floid is an excellently named (sorry, I can’t help but comment on names) new prototyping tool for OS X. From what I understand it’s a UI layer built on top of Framer. It also happens to be half-off for the holidays at
  • Speaking of Framer, which is one of the more powerful and complex prototyping packages out there, the team behind it has recently invested significant effort into overhauling its documentation. Good stuff.
  • Silver is a new prototyping tool (another!) with a slightly different approach: open Silver on your iPhone, plug it into your Mac, and work directly from Sketch to create tappable interactions on the phone.
  • Popular prototyping app Pixate has released a major revision of its Pixate Studio software. Version 2.0 includes a massive rewrite of backend code and major speed improvements. More at


  • Type design software maker FontLab has released a public preview of its forthcoming major release FontLab VI. This seems like a major rewrite of the company’s flagship FontLab Studio product. More at
  • uMake is a new iPad app that lets “makers and designers” sketch in three-dimensions. It’s obviously geared towards industrial designers and model makers. More at
  • Designer-focused version control system Folio now supports team collaboration via Git repos, a key element that was missing from their launch several months back. More info at and in this Medium post.

Read the previous installment in this series here, and send me any tips and recommendations via the form below. Thanks!