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Facebook Creates the Photoshop of App Design



I wrote last week about my thoughts on Facebook’s new app Paper but I later found out that the Facebook Design team created a really cool new rapid prototyping tool called Origami that they used to design all the interactions for the app.  Origami is a free toolkit for Apple’s free Quartz Composer application that has traditionally been used as a motion graphics tool. Origami makes some key additions with effects like scrolling, animations, remembered states, transitions, layers, buttons and iPhone, Android or Windows Phones to test your work on.

I am genuinely excited about Origami because there has been a desperate need for a design tool like this for at least the past three years. Adobe has been completely asleep at the wheel on how digital and app designers workflows have changed and that we can’t create great experience through static Photoshop comps any more. I am fed up with having to create static comps that I have to translate into a motley crew of crude prototyping techniques that don’t really give me the interaction prototypes I really need. I need to be able to quickly touch, test and play around with my interface designs to really be sure they are working the way I want without having to wait days for my iOS developer to create the design in code only to discover that I need to make changes to the design.

It took me about 2 hours of trial and error to get to a place with Origami where I was able to create the prototypes I wanted. Getting started is easy and here is what you will need to do:

1 – Click here to register as an Apple developer if you haven’t already.

2 – Click here to download and install Quartz Composer

3 – Click here to download and install Origami. You may get an error message about the installer coming from an unknown developer but if that happen just launch it again and then hit ‘trust’ to launch the installer.


Once you have it installed I found a few resources that make it easier to get up and running. First I would download the examples files the Facebook Design team created as it makes it easy to see a finished project and then work backward through how they created it. I also found the Origami launch page and community page helpful for questions and feedback as I worked through the process.  Unfortunately there isn’t much more documentation than that and I haven’t been able to find any video tutorials just yet.

It is rare that you see a company who is willing to create something like this and not hold on it to try to get any advantage over their competitors. So while I wasn’t that blown away with the concept behind Paper I strongly applaud Facebook for creating and release Origami to help move the art of digital design forward.

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