Top Sketch resources for Android UI design

Over the past 2 years, Sketch has become the fan favourite when it comes to UI design on Mac. However, Android designers weren’t getting the same kind of attention as iOS designers. This is now starting to change with some support in the app itself, some coming from Google, and with more and more Android designers sharing their work online.

Obviously many resources are universal. Many plugins will be useful across all platforms and a lot of the knowledge can be transferred over.

But then there are specifics of Android design. Screen densities, vector drawables, common patterns and layouts. With Google’s introduction of Material Design designers need to step up their game for apps to stay relevant and fit in.

I would hardly call myself a designer. But even I fire up Sketch every now and then for a quick UI mockup or a simple icon. This post gathers my favourite Sketch resources for Android UI designers.

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Introducing: Quicksend

It’s been a good while since I shipped… well anything. I completed Replayer in 2013 and eventually updated it to 1.1 two years later. Other than that, my nine-to-five took over the part of my brain responsible for shipping. Oh and the parts responsible for brainstorming and coding too.

That’s a shame though. Shipping is fun. Putting a name on something. Polishing it just enough. Releasing into the wild. Getting one-star reviews. No but really, it’s a good feeling. Which is why I want back in the game.

I’ve had a bunch of ideas floating around my head over time. For some reason, despite all the fun new platforms coming in (did you know phones are now “smart”?), most of them revolve around the Mac.

I’ll look into the smartphone thing, don’t you worry. But for now, just to get my feet wet… again - here’s Quicksend.

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Absolutely minimal Android project

I’m a big fan of the command line. I spend most of my programming time in the Integrated Development Environment of tmux and Vim. When I started dabbling in Android development, I feared I would be stuck in the IDE all the time, wrangling some binary file formats using graphical click-and-play tools, with little to no understanding of what goes behind the scenes. I was delighted to learn otherwise.

In order to build a “Hello world” project for Android, you need two text files. One will be an XML. The other - a Java source file. That’s it. Then you build and install that project on your phone with a single command.

I’m not here to sneer at a good IDE. Despite my fears, Android Studio is proving to be a very comfortable tool. As a newcomer to Android, I can see great value in the instant feedback, code completion and all the suggestions it provides. They make exploring the APIs this much easier. But an IDE, no matter how well thought out, can make us lazy. It can shield us from what it really means to place a button in the UI designer or what really happens when I press Build. I think it’s beneficial to look behind the curtains from time to time.

Which is why I ventured to find the Absolutely minimal Android project.

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Single-file Cocoa application with Swift

Coming from a Ruby background, Xcode - and IDEs in general - never really feels like home to me. I often miss Vim and hope to get as much done in the terminal as possible.

Working in the IDE, I often feel there’s a lot hidden out of sight. Hidden behind config files, property lists, some unknown IDE defaults. A lot I don’t know and a lot that gets done for me rather than by me. Surely there’s some benefit to that. But the downside is that the inner workings of an application can be poorly understood.

That’s why sometimes I like to strip away the layers, drop all the config files and attempt to build stuff “by hand”. It might not always make sense, but invariably I learn something in the process.

Does it make sense to build Cocoa apps without Xcode? Without Interface Builder? For any non-trivial application, the answer is most probably “no”. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

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