Nitesh Shrestha

To me C# isn't a language, it's a lifestyle

27 Jan 2017

From PowerPoint to Adobe XD

Designing a great app requires a great designing tool, for me that tool used to be PowerPoint. I'm that kind of guy who doesn't know how to use Photoshop or Illustrator. I have tried various other prototyping solutions which were good but I didn't enjoy them. I mostly design UWP Apps but I'm not a professional it's my hobby, it's a thing I enjoy doing. So, I choose to stick with PowerPoint. This article is about how I used to use PowerPoint as UI designing tool and then Adobe XD happened.

PowerPoint and Adobe XD as designing tool

You might ask "Seriously, PowerPoint?"

Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 as UI designing tool.

Yes, it can be used to design basic UI with Storyboard Shapes which is similar to UI Kits which contains predefined set of UI controls to make designing faster and easier. Microsoft provides design resources to design UWP apps for PowerPoint along with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. This deck has everything you need to quickly mock up wireframes for UWP apps, including controls and layouts. This template contains screen for Phones, Tablets and PCs. It's great tool to make quick UI and you can manipulate formats of the elements in your UI. Let me emphasis this for basic and quick Mockups PowerPoint is a good choice but for professional use it's not up to the standard. Storyboard Shapes and Templates helps you get started with UWP app design easily. Many people told me why you use PowerPoint for UI designing there are other tools for it like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator but I was not willing to learn the skills required to use those advanced tools.

But things changed, there was a new kid in the town "Adobe XD". I had previously heard about it but never really bothered to look about it, but Dennis Bednarz tweeted a screenshot of pre-release version running on Windows 10, at this point I was curious about it.

Adobe Experience Design CC (Beat) for Windows.

I looked around for Adobe XD but it was in private beta so no luck there. They released first public beta of XD on Dec 12 for Windows 10, before then I didn't know it was a UWP app which is cool. It shows how a UWP app can be distributed outside of Windows Store, in this case via Adobe Creative Cloud App. Initial impression were amazing. It's startup time is fast, some really cool features like Repeat Grid is amazing. PowerPoint was a thing of yesterday now. Even though this software is incomplete as it's the first public beta it's pretty useful. They have promised to bring Windows version in parity with Mac version along with monthly updates. Thing like Repeat Grid, and how you can manipulate each point of any element is something I like in it. Export options are limited to .png but can be exported to various scales. Live changes to Preview Windows is the winner, I don't have to close the windows and start again to see my changes to UI and interaction.

There are many things missing which they said will be added in future updates. I miss blur, gradient the most, every time I need a blur or gradient I still go for PowerPoint but hopefully they will soon be added. UI Kit is the other thing that is interesting but missing. I have had times when I had to remove some layers to reach the layer beneath it which is tedious sometimes. There are bugs which has resulted in me loosing hours of my work. Contextual menu while using Dark Theme is hard to read.

Contextual menu when using Dark Mode

Coming from PowerPoint to Adobe XD, my experience so far has been amazing considering it's the first public beta. Bye PowerPoint as UI designing tool, you served me well, Welcome Adobe Experience Design. If you haven't tried it yet I would encourage you to give it a try. I have tried few other prototyping and designing tools like Just in Mind Prototyper, Mockups for Desktop, and few others but I can confidently say XD is the Best I ever had and it's not done yet it's just the first public beta. I can't wait to see what comes with future updates.

One Last Thing

There is always that one last thing it being a UWP makes me wonder how much of a work will it be to bring it to Windows 10 Mobile. Adobe XD Mobile is available in Android and iOS only which allows you to Preview your design in in your mobile device, if you want Adobe XD Mobile in Windows 10 Mobile I have filed a Uservoice Request in their forums don't forget to upvote it.

We have yet to receive January Update for XD hopefully it will introduce some of the features I have been looking for. I wish there was a way to test pre-release builds of XD just like Windows Insider program. This was my experience using Adobe XD coming from PowerPoint. Have you used XD and what was your experience? Do share with me either in the comments or in Twitter.

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