Why Adobe XD and Sketch are not Competitors (but InVision Studio might be)

Why Adobe XD and Sketch are not Competitors (but InVision Studio might be)

The differences between Adobe XD, Sketch and InVision Studio

​It is easy to see why Adobe Experience Design (XD) may appear at first glance to be a direct competitor to Sketch. But after using both, it becomes clear that they in fact have very different audiences and are each better suited to different types of work.

Did Adobe copy Sketch?

When Experience Design was first released by Adobe, one of the primary criticisms that it received was it's similarity to Sketch. Most notably the UI was a departure from previous efforts such as Photoshop and Illustrator and instead it bore a striking resemblance to the UI of Sketch.

Both applications have an infinite canvas, layers in a sidebar on the left and properties in a sidebar on the right. They aren't identical by any means, for example XD has the tools arranged vertically on the left, where as Sketch has them in the top bar. But if you look at the alignment icons in the right sidebar for example, I find it very hard to believe this was a coincidence.

I think it's fair to say that Adobe took some amount of inspiration from Sketch here. But the real question is does it matter? When compared to Adobe's other apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator which combined are used by Digital Artists, Photographers, Graphic Designers, Web Designers, 3D Artists etc. XD is different because it is specifically created for UX Designers. It is possible that this is simply the best solution for a UX Design app, and changing it for the sake of being different would not be wise.

Is Adobe XD a Sketch alternative for non-Mac users?

Simply put, no. Illustrator is more Sketch-like than Adobe XD. Let's ignore the UI of the apps for now and focus on what they actually do instead. Sketch is a vector drawing application, it can be used for Illustrations, Logo Design, Icon Design, Typeface Design, Graphic Design, UI/UX Design and more.

Adobe XD was not created for these purposes and quite frankly would be bad at all of them except for UX design. This isn't a criticism of the quality of the software, but rather a simple fact. Adobe already have the industry standard for vector drawing in their arsenal, they are not trying to create another vector drawing app with Adobe XD.

If you are a PC user looking for a Sketch alternative, I recommend Illustrator.

What is XD better for?

Adobe XD shines, as the name would suggest, in User Experience (UX) Design. Another criticism XD received upon it's release was it's limited feature set. But in it's defence, XD has pretty much everything you are ever going to need for UX Design. We need to remember that Adobe Creative Cloud is a suite of software, most users of XD will have a CC subscription and therefore also have access to Photoshop for image editing and Illustrator for more complex vector drawing.

Adobe XD has a few features which make it really stand out from Sketch when it comes to UX Design. The prototyping features in particular which allow you to create device or desktop previews of apps are absolutely invaluable. Clicking through your app design concepts and seeing the animations brings your designs to life. 

Other features such as Repeat Grid which automatically duplicates content to fill a specified area are a step up from Symbols in Sketch and are clearly aimed at UX Designers to make their processes quicker and easier than ever. 

What about InVision Studio?

At the time of writing, we don't yet have a lot of information about InVision Studio. It appears however to combine the vector editing of Sketch with the prototyping features of Adobe XD which is a very exciting concept. Being compatible with both Mac and PC, this could be serious competition for both Adobe XD and Sketch.

Check out this video to see what I'm talking about:

Conclusion

In my personal opinion, I don't believe that Adobe XD and Sketch should be compared, they are simply different apps. InVision Studio on the other hand could be a different matter.

It is worth noting that plugins may be available for Sketch which provide some of the features it is lacking when compared to Adobe XD. But unless they ship as standard with the software I have not taken these into account.


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