Sketch 3 and the UI Designer's Brain

Sketch 3 was released last week to my utter delight. Since giving Sketch 2 a try last fall, it's become my primary design tool, making me feel dramatically happier and more productive.

I began using Sketch in the middle of designing KPCC's iPad app, and was hesitant to try switching in the middle of such a big project. But it took just two days- one spent converting a set of views from Photoshop to Sketch, another spent toggling between documentation and my designs- for me to feel totally at home in Sketch. Since then, I've been hooked, and having to use Creative Suite feels like a chore.

With this latest Sketch update, I'm convinced I'll never open Illustrator ever again, and Photoshop only if I absolutely have to. The new symbols feature is an essential addition, and while Adobe's apps have had similar features for years, the addition of symbols allows Sketch to fully realize its promise as a UI designer's primary tool. I felt a momentary pinch having to fork over another $50 for this update, but when you consider the insane cost of Creative Cloud, Sketch 3 is so worth it.

And cost isn't the only place where Sketch shines a light on Adobe's bloat. In regular use, I generally find that Sketch performs much better and consumes far fewer resources than Photoshop. I ran some quick benchmarks on my 2012-era Macbook Pro, and the results were astonishing. When both programs are launched and idle, Sketch consumes about 10mb of RAM. Photoshop? 200mb of RAM at least– and that's before I've even opened a file. Sketch files tend to be much smaller as well. In my experience, Sketch files are 5-10x smaller than PSDs of similar complexity, even when the Sketch file includes a bunch of large bitmaps.

Beyond its stellar performance, Sketch really shines when it comes to designing mobile apps. Between Sketch Mirror, easy @2x asset export and features like background blur, Bohemian Coding have created a fully modern tool that understands a UI designer's workflow at a fundamental level. The best tools feel like a sort of mind meld, where the tool's function and the user's intent become one. That's how it feels to use Sketch 3.