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Facebook updates Origami Studio for design prototyping

About three years ago I wrote about the Facebook Design teams new rapid prototyping tool called Origami that they used to design all the interactions for their new app Paper. That app had some really nice interaction patterns but it died a pretty quick death and was taken off the market. However, their design tool Origami has lived on and recently got a major overhaul to make prototyping apps much faster and easier than your current workflow.

phoneWhen it was originally launched I was 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 had been completely asleep at the wheel on how digital and app designers workflows have changed and that we can’t create great experiences through static Photoshop comps anymore. Since that time Adobe has made great strides to close that gap with the launch of Adobe XD and we have seen other products like Craft bring prototyping to design tools that have found a lot of popularity like Sketch. The problem with Origami at the time was that it sat on Apple’s animation tool Quartz composer which was power but was extremely complicated.

Origami Studio is native for OS X, that uses current technology like Core Animation for stability and speed. You can check out prototypes in real-time as part of the design environment, or on an iPhone plugged into your Mac.

This new release finally simplifies the interface which can still be daunting but it makes it much easier to use. The interface is a bit like visual programming which an old concept that never got off the ground for creating actual software. You create interactions by loading up different elements and interactions then connecting them into a visual map that resembles a web site map.

One of the best parts of the tool is its library of animations and stock iOS elements that give a really nice level of sophistication to your work. It is reminiscent of the differences that make Principle my go to prototyping tool for more sophisticated interactions. The other great piece if functionality is that you can copy anything from Sketch and paste native layers into Origami Studio. Then quickly adjust, add behavior and animate any layer property without going back.

The good thing is that Origami is free and there is a very robust support system that they have also released along side the app. There is a large example library, documentation section, and community where you can get tips and ask questions. I am going to try and give it another chance but will be interested to see if Origami is going to be able to find more success this time around since they have added a lot of new functionality but is still going to have to overcome the fact that it does still have a steeper learning curve than other tools.


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