Avocode will be four years old in January (since the launch of v. 1.0). All those years have been thrilling, but this year was the most exciting so far.
I think of Avocode as the underlying solution for teams that take screen design seriously. Doing business as Software as a Service is hard and takes a lot of responsibility. We need to ship fast and reply promptly.
Avocode stats and news from 2018
- We have shipped 48 product updates (most in our history). If you deduct holidays, that’s almost one update every week.
- The updates we released shipped 28 features requests by our community.
- We have started supporting 3 new formats (Figma, XD, and Adobe Illustrator).
- We were the first design hand-off tool to support Adobe Xd on Windows.
- We started supporting for Sketch, XD, and Figma prototypes.
- For the first time ever we have offered a design hand-off tool that works without plugins and design tools.
- We have improved our design file processing performance (~10x), desktop app launching performance (~3x), and design view performance (~3.2x).
- We managed to unify our product and marketing visuals.
- Finally you can import new designs and sync versions from Dropbox
- Support for Adobe Illustrator file format. We actually became the fist design hand-off tool to support AI.
- Plugins for Sketch and Photoshop has been completely rebuilt and are much faster now.
- Customer Support Satisfaction Rate averaged 99%.
- Customer ticket respond time averaged 10 minutes.
- Our API uptime was 99.9839% and our processing uptime 99.9425%.
- Our web traffic has doubled.
- Month over month user growth was the fastest yet.
Product and marketing are working more closely than ever
With the release of Avocode 3 we have been able to unify our design across product and marketing and introduce a new look that is more clean, flat on the product site and supported with creative illustrations on the marketing site.
It might seem strange that the year when Apple releases the Dark mode and so many tools like Sketch launched it as well, we switched to White. But don’t worry, you can still use the Dark theme if you want. You see, Avocode was `Dark` since its inception (before it was cool) and many user have requested the opposite.
We were working with top talent from the design/dev community
After successful collaboration with various illustrators on our 2017 UI Design Report, we have started working with some of them and others more closely (as seen on our homepage or our SDK page). The 2018 Design report is currently in the works and you can expect it sometimes during the winter. Additionally, we have started with design interviews on our blog and we had a few hits just right of the bat — for example we had a talk with the most followed person on Dribbble, AI interface designer, senior designer from McKinsey, or Janis — the talented illustrator who worked on illustrations for Facebook, Harvard University or our new homepage.
The technology was, is, and will be key for Avocode
When we started this venture, we were just trying to improve our personal workflow. Years ago, when we had a small digital agency, we hated preparing designs for development. Especially, redlining and spec’ing was a pain in the a**. Unlike other design hand-off tools on the market, we have bet everything on red: technology.
We knew that we could either compete with other plugin-based solutions that are dependent on third party APIs, or we could build our own solution — a parsing and rendering infrastructure. It’s our great pleasure to have released it in spring 2018 along with the most sophisticated version of our product yet — Avocode 3. Our rendering is invisible to the user but does all the magic when you’re simply dragging a design file in any format to an Avocode project like you’re used to. But that’s just the beginning.
Leveraging our technology
As the design space evolves, teams all around the world are facing one giant problem — design format incompatibility. For example, think about an enterprise that is using various design tools in various teams, but needs one central design system to keep everyone in sync. Or think about products that need to import and display design files (to present them, or to connect layers in a prototype, work showcase fonts, etc.), but they can’t because most design formats are not easily readable or incompatible with some operating systems.
At the end of the summer, we have answered these issues by announcing Avocode SDK — a platform agnostic solution to make design files accessible to everyone — in any product. A few forward-thinking companies have already contacted us and we can’t wait to build great things together in 2019.
This year has really confirmed that our bet on technology paid off and allowed us to become more competitive. Next, we plan to keep improving our cross-platform solution for design hand-off as well as explore new areas of the screen design workflows that we could improve.
New teammates, new office, more efficient workflows
It was not just our product and our technology that has evolved. Six talented people have joined our team which was one of the reasons to move to a bigger office in the heart of Prague, Czech Republic (where most of our team is based). We have done a lot of improvements in customer support, DevOps, and in-house Q&A which has helped us release more stable updates. Speaking of updates, our releasing workflow has gotten more streamlined, which has allowed us to release an update almost every week of the year.
All this has called for new processes. We have found out that 14-day sprints are not good for us and cut them down to a week. In terms of planning, our Marketing went from using Gitlab to Dropbox Paper and back to Gitlab. We have given more responsibility to dedicated team leaders and started syncing with them during regular meetings. While this might sound obvious and maybe even boring, for us it’s new. Our team has reached 30 people which is kind of a breaking point when these processes become necessary, and you need to be extra careful not to get flooded in Wiki’s, meetings and sprint plans. We have started to make calculated decisions about priorities on our product roadmap and the result of this effort should be evident already at the beginning of 2019.
The last months and few more to come we have been working on local processing of designs. This means that opening design files will be significantly faster (up to 3x). faster processing for PSD files has already been released; XD and Sketch will follow. We’re also working on full support for Figma files — so you could export images from Figma designs in Avocode. To see what’s next feature-wise, keep checking our product roadmap.
As mentioned, we have done significant improvements in our DevOps and backend architecture. In 2019, we hope to be ready to offer Avocode for companies that need to keep their design data within their walls. So you can look forward to offline and private cloud options.
Last but not least, we’re aiming to focus much more on UX and performance. We know your time is precious so we want Avocode to be the best assistant for you when dealing with designs. We’re also starting a special program for would like to regularly (monthly) test our product and report UX issues. If that’s something you might be interested in, check our Slack community during the first week of January 2019.