Creating a lightning-fast workflow with Craft

4 min read
Daniel Schwarz
  •  Jul 27, 2017
Link copied to clipboard
Excerpted and adapted from Sketch + InVision—A guide to high speed design.

Even if you’re not using it yet, you’ve probably heard of Craft, InVision’s suite of plugins for Sketch and Photoshop. These plugins are designed to streamline your workflow, accelerate your design process, and help you build better products.

Power up your workflow

While Craft is a suite of plugins, it’s so robust I would consider it more like a toolbox of crucial features. It’s your rapid prototyping, your lorem ipsum, and your asset manager extension all rolled into one; a highly-impressive set of tools built on top of an already-useful, already-intuitive design app.

“It’s your rapid prototyping, your lorem ipsum, and your asset manager extension all rolled into one.”

Twitter Logo

Here are some of the things Craft can do.

1. Quickly insert contextual dummy content

Forget trying to come up with fake content for your designs—Craft can insert realistic headings, names, dates, addresses, even API data from real sites into your design with only a few clicks. For images, Craft can source from your Dropbox account, from your own computer, from Unsplash, or from a website chosen by you.

2. Rapidly create grids of repeated elements

Let’s say that you’re designing a list of comments for a blog layout (composed of the commenter’s name, comment, timestamp and like count). Craft can help you duplicate comments into as many rows and columns as you’d like.

3. Synchronize design assets in the cloud

Craft lets you generate style guides based on your design, helping you to reuse assets while also keeping them consistent throughout your team’s shared library of assets. You can make changes to your team’s library, and you can receive changes made by other teammates. Assets can be kept in-sync via Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or a networked drive on your macOS computer.

4. Prototype right inside Sketch

Craft’s Prototype plugin for Sketch saves time by allowing you to quickly experiment with flows within your screen hierarchy without ever leaving your design environment.

Just add a hotspot to any layer in your Sketch project. Then, link it to an artboard with a desktop or mobile gesture and create transitions by fading, sliding, rotating, and more. You’ll instantly get a bird’s eye view of how your screens are connected.

When your prototype is ready for review, sync your screens to InVision with Craft Sync (we’ll learn about that more soon!). With just a click, you can preview your work, share with your team, and collaborateTwitter Logo in real time.

That’s not all Craft can do, but it’s a solid look at some of the most powerful, efficient ways Craft can improve your workflow.

Installing Craft

Now that you know what Craft does, let’s install Craft Manager, a macOS app for managing Craft. From here we can then install the Craft plugins.

When you’re done with the installation, open Craft Manager from the macOS menu bar. Select your design platform of choice, and then “Install.”

You’re now ready to start building your screens and creating a low-fidelity prototype with them. Need a hand? Check out our post on how to build an interactive prototype in Sketch in just minutes.

Getting instant feedback with Craft Freehand

Craft Freehand takes your Artboards into the browser, where you can collaborate with your teammates by freehand sketching on top of the screen. It’s instant, it’s easy, and it’s a very effective way of receiving feedback with contextual annotations.

“It’s instant, it’s easy, and it’s a very effective way of receiving feedback.”

Twitter Logo

Spin up a Freehand, share the link with your team, and go wild—you and your team can click, draw, drop in images, add comments, and present ideas live, in real-time, all inside Freehand.

Once you’ve taken in all their feedback and made the necessary adjustments, you’re ready to start using another one of Craft’s plugins: Data.

Designing with real data

Aside from having Craft source dummy content for you, you can also extract more specific data from the web, and also from JSON files (local files or API responses).

Craft is excellent at automation—you only lift a finger when you need toTwitter Logo. Let’s say you’ve used Unsplash to source a random image for your mockup, and you then use the Duplicate tool to repeat that component; Craft, knowing that you’ve sourced an image for that section of the component, will then source an image for each and every instance of the component. If you’ve duplicated it 4 times, Craft will then source 4 unique images so that your design looks more real.

Use Data to insert anything from names to realistic addresses to images, based on what you’re designing.

Once you have a high-fidelity prototype, it’s time to sync it into InVision, where teammates can comment on it, and developers can inspect the design and download the image assets required to begin coding it.

Craft Sync

Sync acts as a seamless bridge for importing designs into InVision. You can sync prototypes into InVision directly from Sketch, without the need to export assets—no saving, no dragging, no dropping.

Craft Sync is a small but mighty player in the Craft suite. Why? Well…

  • It’s much faster (often 10x faster) than InVision’s other sync methods.
  • It lives right inside Sketch and Photoshop, so you never have to leave your native design environment.
  • It unlocks the power of InVision Inspect helping eliminate redlines and wireframes.
  • It sits beside other popular Craft plugins like Prototype, Library, and Freehand, that all make your experience designing across Sketch and InVision that much easier.

Since Sync is the lynchpin to this entire workflow, it’s important to master its usage. Luckily, it’s incredibly simple—this video tells you everything you need to know.

Fitting it all into your workflow

Now that you’re all set to use Sync to get your designs into InVision, it’s time to level up your collaboration with your team by reviewing screens, configuring your prototypes, and commenting. And, your developer teammates can hop in and start using Inspect to grab specs, code, and other details to help bring your design to life.

Here are some helpful posts to help you level up your workflow with InVision:

Ready to start speeding up your workflow with Craft and InVision?

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard