Sketch plugin management

Sketchpacks helps Sketch users discover, manage, and sync their plugins across machines and teams.

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Sketchpacks

What first was just a side–project has grown into a Sketch plugin registry, macOS desktop app, and distribution channel for many Sketch users and developers. Sketchpacks helps designers manage and sync their essential Sketch plugins across machines and teams.

Sketchpacks desktop is built with Electron, React and Redux, fetching the latest plugins from a content rich API built on top of Ruby on Rails.

The Challenge

Sketch provides a powerful Javascript API, allowing the creation of plugins that extend its native functionality. As the Sketch plugin ecosystem started to scale, so did the experience gaps in the management and distribution of plugins.

My challenge was to provide Sketch Users a service to manage and sync their plugins across machines and teams. This service would be built on top of a system designed to help Sketch Developers distribute their plugins at scale.

“I'm super excited about @sketchpacks, that was a much needed tool!”

@SketchTricks

The Approach

Well–understood problems have well–designed solutions. That's why understanding the problem and the people affected play a huge role in my design process and strategy.

Identifying the root cause is key to solving problems well. I approached the problem by analyzing the core elements, systems, and their connections with one another. Understanding their purpose provided the insights to begin designing an essential service.

The journey starts with the people

I had the pleasure of meeting many talented people from the Sketch Design & Development community.

Including sponsor users in the design & development process gave me the confidence to move forward with iterations.

Loose proto–personas were inspired by the people I've met and interviewed throughout the process.

Alice

Sketch Developer

I love creating plugins that extend Sketch's native capabilities. This is the future of design tooling.

Bob

Sketch User

I love sharing colleagues and teammates. These plugins are so useful!

Focus on user outcomes

Job Stories were defined to help align the solution with the problem over time with each release. Continuous delivery played a key tact to being able to iterate and validate assumptions quickly.

User

When I want to automate reptitive tasks within Sketch,
I want to search for a qualified plugin,
So that I can be more efficient.

User

When I become aware of new versions of plugins,
I want to update them,
So that I can receive new features and bug fixes.

User

When I work across multiple machines regularly,
I want access to the same plugins,
So that I can preserve my design tool chain.

User

When I am need to share my set of plugins,
I want provide my list of plugins,
So that the recipient can install my set of plugins.

Developer

When I have committed my final changes,
I want to publish my work,
So that my users will receive my latest revisions.

Developer

When my plugin has been published,
I want to view its analytics,
So that I can measure its performance.

Analyze & Synthesize

Closing the (service) loop

Most services are designed to support repeat usage. This experience was no different for Developers and Users.

Withthis in mind, I set out to craft systems within the Sketchpacks ecosystem that would support the various service loops Developers and Users would experience.

Uncover insights and opportunities

Service blueprints are a great method for documenting and analyzing the user's As–Is situation within an ecosystem.

Once I analyzed the As–Is situation of the current services available to developers and users, I then crafted a To–Be service blueprint.

“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.”

Carl Sagan

The Strategy

The product roadmap was iterative and motivated by the community. Their vision consisted of four key experiences: discovery, management, sharing, and syncing.

Feedback from the community helped shape how Sketchpacks solved their problems.

Discovery

Searching for plugins relied on the browser's native Find, proving only to be useful if you knew exactly what you were looking for.

People engage with the User Service Loop once they search and install a plugin through the desktop app. The app provides full–text search which surfaces plugins indexed by name, description, and the contents of their README.

Management

People want fine–grain control through an unibstrusive and simple interface.

Power users create custom strategies by defining semantic version ranges for ultimate control.

Sharing

Sharing plugins is a natural behavior amongst the Sketch community. I designed a JSON schema format that would allow Sketchpacks users to share plugins easily.

People share their essential plugins consistently and accurately using a sketchpack with defined install and update strategies.

Multi–machine Syncing

Simply keep a sketchpack containing your essential plugins within a sync'd directory and let the desktop client do the rest.

Designers and teams sync their plugins across machines in real–time using Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or any other file syncing desktop app.

The Impact

Since the product launch in March '17, the response has been both humbling and amazing. The app's monthly active users grows healthily month–over–month.

However, the journey does not end here. The future is still full with a backlog of feature requests and improvements.

App Downloads

28k

Plugin Installs

115k

Plugin Updates

87k

Monthly Active Users

4k

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