As 2023 draws to a close, it feels like a good time to take a look back at everything we’ve shipped in Sketch over the past 12 months — and there’s a lot to cover! So, let’s take a tour of what we’ve done this year.
Taking a giant leap with Smart Layout
We started by making Smart Layout’s existing behavior more reliable and predictable, especially how spacing collapses when you hid a nested Symbol. We also improved behavior for different layout directions. Then, we shipped a new experimental features menu — giving everyone a chance to try and share feedback on our future Smart Layout improvements.
Throughout the year, while we tackled updates in other areas of Sketch, our Smart Layout work continued. We polished up what already existed and honed in on our goal; to not just make Smart Layout more reliable, but break it free from Symbols.
In November, we released a major update and our biggest leap with Smart Layout yet. Smart Layout is now available wherever you need it — from simple groups, to entire Artboards. It opens up a whole new world of flexibility and convenience, all while automatically preserving your layout as your designs evolve.
Aside from making Smart Layout available everywhere, we also made it easier to use. We added more keyboard shortcuts, updated layout settings, improved Foresight support (for previewing changes), and we made it possible insert a layer into a layout simply by dragging it into a group.
We’re proud of what we’ve achieved with Smart Layout in 2023 — the results speak for themselves — and we owe a lot of thanks to the brilliant forum members who gave us invaluable feedback along the way. Thank you!
Closing the feedback loop
For a long time, we’ve had a simple way of sharing feedback in Sketch. You’d share a link to a design in the web app and collaborators could leave feedback as comments in a sidebar. This year, we thought it was time to take things up a notch.
Today, you can give, receive and discuss feedback in the Mac app as you’re designing, in our View & Mirror app on the go, and of course in the web app. Better still, you can do it all right in the context of your designs — by pinning those comments directly to the Canvas.
For clients and collaborators, annotating designs like this is far more efficient than taking screenshots and sharing feedback via email. For designers, seeing comments on the Canvas in the Mac app, makes it effortless to work with feedback without context switching.
To truly close the feedback loop, we added the option to resolve comments. Not only does resolving comments hide them from the Canvas by default, making it easier to view or edit designs themselves, but it also serves as a clear indication to your collaborators that you’ve considered their comments and closed the discussion.
Bringing Sketch to even more screens
2022 saw us ship an all-new iPhone app which went a lot further than our previous efforts, giving you access to every document in your Workspace from anywhere. Better still, those documents are always up to date with the latest version.
With Sketch — View & Mirror, there’s no need to connect to your Mac or make sure you’ve transferred a document with the latest changes. They’re always there, whether you’re catching up on the latest changes while you travel, quickly sharing feedback, or demoing the latest prototype to a client.
For our next step, we wanted to bring View & Mirror to the iPad. But it wasn’t just a case of scaling up the iPhone app. We went all-out and built a full Canvas view for the iPad. This was no small feat, but we’re incredibly happy with the results — being able to directly navigate through your designs like you would in the Mac app, on a large iPad Pro screen, is really quite magical.
We also spent time on feature parity, adding full canvas view to the iPhone and document mirroring to the iPad. Combine this with support for Apple’s handoff feature, which makes it easy to open the document on your iPhone or iPad that you’re currently editing in the Mac app, and mirroring has never been more convenient — or reliable!
To wrap things up, we added offline mode, so you can keep on viewing a document on those train journeys with patchy Wi-Fi. Finally, we made it possible to open and browse local documents you keep in Apple’s Files app (or a third-party service like Dropbox).
Building an even better Workspace
Storing documents in your Sketch Workspace comes with a lot of benefits. Aside from making it easy to access your files anywhere you sign in to Sketch, it unlocks features like real-time collaboration, annotations on the Canvas, developer handoff, and more. With that, we wanted to spend time this year making Workspaces even better.
If you make full use of your Workspace, it likely means you have a lot of files to browse through. To help with that, we added Collections — another level of organization inside your Projects. Much like Projects, we designed Collections to be as workflow-agnostic as possible, so you can group and organize documents in any way that makes sense to you.
On top of Collections, we added new filtering and sorting options to the web app, making it easier to find the exact document you need. Meanwhile in the Mac app, we introduced a redesigned save dialog, which takes full advantage of Collections and adds better search, navigation, and previews.
Back on the web app, we gave document share settings a major overhaul. The redesigned modal has three clear tabs, making it easier to set who you share your designs with, and what they can access.
Introducing Figma imports, Templates and more
Among some of the bigger changes we’ve made to Sketch during 2023, we’ve made plenty of quality-of-life improvements that are worth talking about. Here are just a few of them.
At the start of the year, we added support for importing Figma files. Now, switching tools is easy as dragging your .fig docs onto our app icon. We also open sourced the underlying file converter for others to use and help us improve on.
While Sketch’s infinite canvas offers infinite flexibility, it can also spell infinite stress if you’re not sure where to start. To help, we added over 200 design templates, covering everything from product mockups to Kanban boards. As well as being handy for beginners, they’re just as useful for saving time on creating common assets like social posts.
You can also now mark documents in your Workspace as templates that everyone you collaborate with can use. Creating your own templates can dramatically speed onboarding for new team members with a consistent base for new files.
Creating your own Workspace templates pairs nicely with a new option we shipped to enable Libraries on a per-document basis. Together, they mean you can set someone up with the right document structure and just the Libraries they need, so they’ll be able to quickly find and use the right Symbols and styles in their designs.
For those of you who care about naming your layers, we’ve added powerful multi-layer renaming. With modifier tokens, options to match and rename portions of layer names, and even regex support, there’s a lot of flexibility here and the potential to save a lot of time, too.
Finally, we’ve made a some big improvements to selection and dragging — there’s a lot to talk about here (so much we made a whole video about it) — from additional indicators when you’ve selected layers within a larger Symbol, to being able to hold
X to drag a marquee selection without moving the layer you’re currently hovering over. You’ll really feel the difference here.
Coming back to the Mac App Store
There’s so much more we could cover in this post, but just one more thing we have to mention. We’re very excited to be back on the Mac App Store. This was a long time coming and we’re happy to offer another choice when it comes to getting Sketch, alongside our own subscriptions and Mac-only licenses.
Apple were also kind enough to give us a write-up, detailing what they love about Sketch — check it out!
It’s been another busy year, and we’re proud of what we’ve been able to ship. We’ll be back in 2024 with plenty more. In the meantime, thank you for all your support and for continuing to make incredible things with Sketch — we love seeing the work you do.
As ever, we’re over in the community forum chatting all things Sketch — whether you need to some help, you’ve got an idea or a feature, or you just want to share something you’ve made, we’d love to see you there.