Geek Speak – New software for a new era

By Oscar Myre IV

Valley Bugler Columnist

Adobe created Illustrator in 1985. Photoshop, the industry standard graphics editor, was created in 1988. I prefer Macromedia Freehand, but Illustrator is certainly the more widely used vector graphic editor at this time. Why the history lesson?

These Adobe products (and others) are excellent software and have been refined and improved upon through the many years. Photoshop was originally created to work with photos and Illustrator for text. These were the days before the world wide web. I know my kids almost can’t imagine a world without the Internet.

Jump forward to 2017 and traditional design such as logos, business cards and brochures. This type of design adheres to fixed sizes. For example, a business card is generally 3.5 inches x 2 inches. I can design a different size, but then it is really a different piece. It might now be a postcard. This is in sharp contrast to the design for web and for apps. For digital devices, the design needs to be responsive. This means it needs to change for varying screen sizes. For a website, it needs to work nicely on everything from a small screen of say 320 pixels wide to a 4k display that is 4000 pixels wide. The trick here for a designer is how to most efficiently design for these screen sizes.

I have a lot of experience in this rapid “prototyping” in both PhotoShop and Illustrator. Designers have learned to adapt these tools to best work in this responsive environment. I’ve often wondered what a piece of software designed post y2k for our current environments would look like. I’ve seen alternatives to Adobe products, but they were just variations of the current offering.

Recently, I’ve begun using InVision. It is a great tool to take my designs online to collaborate with my team across the globe. It allows me to create interactive prototypes before going to code. More recently I started using Sketch as a new way to create web and app mockups. I appreciated the responsive grids built in and it really helps you to visualize the various screen sizes from the same window. It is exciting and admittedly a little scary to go from the comfort of Adobe to a promising new process. I’ve just begun experimenting with the design and blog and it’s various layouts across screen sizes (resolutions). So far I’m very impressed and my design can easily be exported to our site’s style guide.

Is this the death of Adobe?

Not anytime soon. But there are many rewards for the brave designers wanting more. I challenge you (if you use a Mac) to give Sketch a try.

https://sketchapp.com/

Oscar Myre IV is currently Senior Visual Designer on contract with Allied Telesis in Bothell. He enjoys to continually learn and share his knowledge .

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