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Color Variables, Components View and a new Insert Window — what’s in the 69 beta?

We’re very excited to give you a preview of what’s coming next for the Mac app with this beta release of version 69. In this release, we’ve focused on improving the experience of creating and managing design systems; from introducing Color Variables, to offering new ways to browse and manage Components.

Before we dive in, a quick note on our betas: As with any pre-release beta builds, things can unstable. Documents you open in a beta build may also become incompatible with stable release builds. So, please create a backup copy of your documents before opening them. Finally, you’ll need an active license or subscription to try out the beta.

Here’s what’s new in this beta release:

Color Variables

Color Variables are a key building block in design systems, making it easier to organize your work and keep colors consistent throughout your designs. You can create and apply them anywhere you’d normally use a solid color. And when you make a change to a Color Variable, it will automatically update in all the layers that use it.

Color Variables replace solid color presets. When you open a document, we’ll automatically convert any existing color presets that belong to it and they’ll become their own local Library.

How to create Color Variables

You can create Color Variables in two places — the Inspector and the new Components View. To create a Color Variable from the Inspector, select a layer and add a new style property. From there, click on that property’s color well, choose a color and click the Create Color Variable button to save it to your document’s Components.

To create a Color Variable from the Components View, select the Colors tab and click on the + icon. Choose the color you want and give a name to your Color Variable in the Inspector.

Color Variables support / naming conventions to create groups, just like other Components. But you can also use the new Components View to group them visually if you prefer.

How to apply Color Variables

You can apply Color Variable to layers from the Inspector or using new Insert Window.

To apply a Color Variable from the Inspector, select a layer, then click on the new swatch icon next to the color well and pick the Color Variable you want from your document’s components or any Libraries that use them.

How to edit, rename, detach or delete Color Variables

You can edit a Color Variable from the Inspector or from the Components View.

To edit from the Components View. Click on the Colors tab, select the variable and edit its color in the Inspector. You can also rename Color Variables from here, too.

To edit from the Inspector, click on a color well to open the color popover, then right-click on the Color Variable you want to edit. Choose Edit, pick a new color and click Update.

To detach a Color Variable, select the layer you want to detach the Color Variable from and click on the color well in the Fills section. Click on Detach Color Variable to detach it. However, the Color Variable will still be available for you in your library or document colors.

To delete a Color Variable, switch to the Components View and click on the Colors tab. Select the color swatch you want to delete and hit backspace. You can also right-click on the color swatch and choose Delete.

Managing your Components

We’ve been reflecting on what it means to create a design system in Sketch, and we asked ourselves how we could make that experience better. Components are at the core of any design system, and we knew we could push them further. We wanted to make working with them smarter and faster. So with this release, we’re introducing a new Components View and Insert Window.

Components View (Beta)

With the new Components View, you can manage all the components that are local to your document. With this new home, you can organize, rename, edit or delete Symbols, Text Styles, Layers and Color Variables. All in one place.

To get started, use the new tabs on the left side of the toolbar to switch between the Canvas and this new view.

How does it work?

An annotated image showing the new Components View
  1. Switching Views. Switch between the Canvas and Components View by toggling between the two tabs on the left of the toolbar. Or use Ctrl 1 and Ctrl 2.
  2. Filtering Components. By default, we’ll show you all the Symbols in your document, but you can use the toolbar controls to switch between Symbols, Layer Styles, Text Styles and Color Variables.
  3. Editing in the Inspector. You can edit, rename or delete any Symbol, Layer Style, Text Style or Color Variable using the Inspector. Simply select a component and make your changes.
  4. Search. Filter between Component types using the tabs, then search by name (if you know it) to find what you need.
  5. Duplicate or Create new. To create a new Layer, Text Style or Color Variable, click on the + toolbar item. You can also use it duplicate Symbols.
  6. Contextual Menu. Control-click on Component thumbnails to insert, rename, group, duplicate, delete, or copy their CSS attributes.
  7. Insert. Use insert to add a copy of your select Component to your canvas. When you pick a Component and click the Insert button, Sketch will switch to the Canvas view, so you drop your Component into your design.

This new view is all about organizing, so it only shows Components that are local to the document you have open. It doesn’t show Components from Libraries, even if you’ve used them in your document. You’ll need to open the original Library Sketch file to manage that Library’s Components.

Insert Window

Navigating components in large designs can be overwhelming, and it can sometimes be hard to find what you are looking for. We wanted to build something that would make searching for a specific component easy, but also fast to insert into your design. So we created a new Insert Window.

As the name suggests, the Insert Window is a separate window that works alongside the main document window. Use the keyboard shortcut c to open the window or choose Window › Insert. Start typing to for any Symbol, Layer, Text Style or Color Variable you are looking for. Then drag and drop it onto your canvas.

How does it work?

  1. Component Tabs. Filter between Symbols, Layer Styles, Text Styles and Color Variables.
  2. Search bar. When you search in the Insert Window you’ll see results for the Component type you’ve selected in the sidebar, so be sure to select the relevant Component type first.
  3. Left sidebar. Quickly navigate between different Libraries and groups to filter the previews on the right.
  4. Previews Grid. Each components gets a big, beautiful preview. You can drag and drop any of them straight onto your Canvas. Try dragging Color Variables onto shapes, or Text Styles onto Text Layers. 😎
  5. Window pinning. By default, when you start dragging a component onto your Canvas, the Insert Window unfocuses and hides itself behind your document window so you get a full view of your design. To have the Insert Window immediately reappear as soon as you’ve finished dragging a component, simply click the pin icon.

We’re really excited about the new features and improvements we’ve made in the release and we hope you will be, too! As ever, we’d love to hear your feedback — and we’ve added a new Feedback button into the Toolbar in beta builds that makes it easier than ever to share it with us.