In an article I wrote earlier this year called ‘Best New Digital Design Tools You’ve Never Heard Of‘ I took a look some new apps that are bringing about some interesting changes in the digital design application space. One of the more interesting developments in this space happened at Adobe MAX last year when Adobe showed off their new application called Project Comet that allowed you to be able to do design and prototyping work all in the same application. I have been lucky enough to work with Project Comet for a few months now and being able to design and prototype in the same application is a real game changer. This was a real workflow innovation but Project Comet currently isn’t available to the public yet so other companies have been scrambling to bring similar functionality to other apps.
The newest entrant to this space has been a plug-in for Sketch called Silver that brings some really interesting functionality into the app by letting you create lightweight mobile prototypes from inside of Sketch.
Silver works as a plug-in for Sketch which continues to be something that I think was a brilliant decision. Some of the most interesting core functionality of Silver is:
Link Layers to Artboards
Linking layers to artboards let you design Flows by converting Layers into tappable/swipeable Links that trigger transitions to other Artboards. Those transitions are then done as native transitions so you can navigate between Artboards using native Push, Pop, Modal and Dismiss transitions. Also modals can display Artboards which can be dismissed interactively.
Headers and Footers
You can convert Layers into fixed headers and footers with just a keyboard shortcut which makes it incredibly easy to see how a design will look and work without having to have one full height artboard and another device height artboard. This functionality also has support for transparent layers to create floating action buttons which may sound like a small thing but goes a long way when you are trying to create more visually complex interfaces.
Editable Input Fields
You can setup Text Layers to automagically transform into live input fields during preview so prototypes feel much more real. you can also configure different keyboard types and define behavior for the return key.
Embed Web Views
When you are designing an app showing a mobile web site is never the ideal experience but there are some times you just can’t get around it for a lot of reasons. Silver lets you add these web views to your prototype by making a simple Shape Layer show content from a website. Resize and position the Layer in Sketch to configure the appearance of the web content in the preview app.
Core OS Functionality
The one piece of functionality that really blew my mind was that you can make prototypes feel real by letting users access the Camera, browse Photos, compose emails and SMS, make a phone call, or launch an external website. This makes your app feel REAL when yo are using it since the integration into the hardware is so seamless.
Like all prototyping apps you can test the experience on an iOS device and all native components generated by Silver are updated in real time on the Silver Preview App for iOS. You can pair the iOS and Mac Apps over WiFi or via USB to get around this frustrating corporate WiFi networks.
This is the part when I would desperately love to tell you that you can go download this plug-in right now and start using it but the problem is that it is private beta with no word on a release date. I also found Silver about two months ago and have I tried my best to also get my hands on it so I would be able to give first-hand experiences since I hate writing pieces like this without have been able to actually use the software. But in the end I thought this looked so promising that I wanted to share it to try to get more people aware of their work and get them some more support for its launch. You can find out a little more about Silver here and keep on eye my blog or my Twitter feed as I will definitely announce when it goes live and will share my review as my teams and I start to put it through its paces.