Engineers have GitHub. Sales teams live in Salesforce. Even our friends in marketing have embraced Marketo as their home. What about us designers?

When you think about it, designers are a pretty flexible bunch. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to bring great ideas to life. The result? We jump through hoops all day long, switching between tools, and trying to stay on top of everything.

Yes, we have workarounds. Not workflows.

When you look at it this way, it’s clear that we need help managing the rest of our work. Team coordination, collaborating with stakeholders, and interpreting feedback are part of the design process. Designers have long wished for a system of record like what developers have come to rely upon with Github. We need a secure, reliable, stable place we can call home for our design work.

We’ve spent the last year designing and building a home for designers. It’s called Abstract.

In November 2016 we started inviting designers to our Private Alpha. We had a few hypothesis we were hoping to prove or disprove:

  • Designers want to remove the friction of file management, renaming versions, and tracking changes
  • They need to a safe place to explore. And when they are ready to share, to do so without fear of overwriting or file conflicts
  • They needed their comments, ideas, and feedback closer to the actual work

During the Private Alpha we had hundreds of design teams using Abstract. They created more than 7000 projects, over 41,000 branches, and over 148,000 commits! These numbers were beyond our wildest imagination and helped prove our above hypothesis. We also learned a few things from our alpha users:

What they loved

  • A reliable, stable source of truth—Master files—for their design work
  • A safe place to work—Branches—exploring and iterating without fear of interfering with other’s work
  • Never having to worry about your files being renamed, lost, or overwritten

What they struggled with

  • More flexibility in organizing and managing files (especially nesting them)
  • Ability to give specific feedback on a particular design element (now available in Beta)
  • Branches, Commits, and Merges were new terminology and took some getting used to

What they asked for

  • An activity stream that kept the team updated on what’s changed in a project (now available on the web in Beta)
  • Improved performance especially with large files (significantly improved in Beta)
  • Inviting guests to their projects (now available in Beta)
  • Developer handoff (coming soon!)
  • Abstract to support more file formats (coming soon!)

We are so grateful to our alpha users for embracing our platform, using it, finding errors, and giving us awesome feedback. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Today we launch the Abstract Beta and open our doors to designers everywhere! Design teams of every shape and size benefit from Abstract’s stable, lightweight workflow. And we’ve integrated with Slack to seamlessly fit into your day-to-day work.

We believe Abstract is a better way to work. We hope you’ll try it and tell us what you think!