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Variable Fonts, improved OpenType support, and a new Data plugin — What’s new in Sketch?

Get more font flexibility in your projects and power up your designs with free access to over one million photos from Pexels

After the huge response to Smart Layout last month, we’re excited to launch Sketch 59 with a couple of features that should make a big difference to typography in your designs — better support for OpenType features and new variable fonts controls. On top of this, we’re introducing a new data plugin in partnership with Pexels, and a new API for plugin developers.

Variable fonts and improved OpenType support

Featuring Fixture by Sudtipos and Whoa by Future Fonts

From accessibility to brand perception, typography plays a huge role in design. At the same time, it has always been shaped by technology—from the early days of system fonts and slow modems on the web, to the growing importance of accessibility and the introduction of Dynamic Type on iOS.

We know it’s important to support flexible, modern typographic standards in Sketch, so we’ve been following the progress of OpenType and variable fonts right from their introduction.

On the web especially, variable fonts give designers and developers near-infinite flexibility, with just a single file to serve. Since they were introduced back in 2016, we’ve seen browser support grow (all major browsers now support them) and foundries have released more and more typefaces with variable options. With this in mind, we thought it was time to bring better OpenType support and a new set of Variable Fonts to Sketch.

If you’re using an OpenType font with variable options (like weight, width, slant, optical size, etc.), a new button will appear in the Inspector to launch the Variable Font Options popover. In there, you’ll see a slider for each option (as defined by the font), letting you tweak your type ’til your heart’s content.

The variable fonts popover shows different options depending on what your font supports. Featuring Fixture by Sudtipos.

You’ll also find a new OpenType Features menu under Type in the Menu Bar. Much like the Variable Fonts controls, your options here will vary depending on the font you’re using, but we hope this gives you a little more control over the text in your designs. Stay tuned for a future update that brings these controls to the Inspector.

Sketch 59 is out today and ships with a whole host of small improvements and bug fixes beyond the headline features. You can find a full list of what’s new at sketch.com/updates.

A data plugin from Pexels

They’re good dogs, Brent. Featuring Fixture by Sudtipos.

We’ve partnered with Pexels to offer a new data source for your designs. The new Pexels plugin gives you access to over one million free stock photos to add directly to any layer. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can roll the dice and let Pexels pick a random image, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can use search to find the perfect picture for your needs.

Jesse Showalter puts the new Pexels plugin to the test

Whether you’re creating high-fidelity mockups, experimenting with visual directions or simply looking for some fresh faces for your avatars, you can find them in a snap and add them to your designs via the Data menu or the Overrides panel. You can download and install the Pexels plugin today.

A new developer API

We’ve introduced a new API for plugin developers to respond to document changes like new layers being added, existing layers being deleted or rearranged within the layer list, as well as layer attribute changes. We’ve put together some documentation as well as a sample plugin so you can find out more and try it for yourself. Look out for a blog post from our developer platform lead, Christian Klotz, later this week!

What’s next for Sketch?

There are a whole host of exciting features in development right now, but here are just a few you can look forward to in the next few updates:

  • The new Components Panel — We’ve been teasing this one for a while now, and we’re excited to share that it’s coming very soon. If you’re dealing with large libraries of Symbols and looking for a better way to organize and insert them into your designs, you’re going to love this one. 😎
  • A brand new way to design with data—Using live Data in Sketch is the best way to test your designs, and we’ve been working hard on a new feature that gives you even more power and flexibility here. That’s all we’re saying for now. 🤫
  • On Cloud, we’re working hard on the Developer Handoff features we talked about in our Sketch for Teams announcement. They’ll be live before the end of the year. 🔜