When you’re one of the most popular social networks in the world, sometimes a boxed solution just won’t cut it when you’re designing your next mobile app. So what do you do? Make your own!
On February 3, Facebook launched Paper, a mobile phone app that basically takes its chaotic news feed content and re-packages it in a more palatable finished product. However, before Paper, there was Origami, the Quartz Composer plug-in that Facebook developed in order for their designers to quickly create and test complex animations for its user interface design.
Prior to Origami, Facebook’s team designed mockups using Photoshop and presented them to management, representing an era of design that was primarily static. With the introduction of smartphones and tablets, the way we interact with applications has changed; we’ve swapped mouse clicks for finger gestures. As a result, designers knew the software had to respond differently as well.
With Origami, designers can bring their user interfaces to life without having to deal with coding. “It allows you to quickly explore ideas that might take a lot longer to actually build and has the property of letting you stumble into new ones as you explore,” says Drew Hamlin, one of the developers of Paper and Origami. “There’s certainly some overhead in ‘doing the work twice’ but a lot of benefits as well to being able to try ideas out quickly. In our experience, prototyping actually ends up saving a lot of wasted time in the long run—and also leads to better results—but I appreciate that different teams might get different mileage depending on all sorts of factors.”
Since the development of Origami, Facebook has released it to the public—for FREE nonetheless—because it believes that it can strengthen the next generation of designers, changing the way they think about design from something static to something more fluid. Facebook is also now training all of its own designers to use Quartz Composer and Origami.
“This is something I’m really passionate about,” Hamlin said. “Origami is really powerful, but I know there’s a learning curve there as well. We’re working on getting out more documentation and video tutorials. We’ve also seen a number of people in the community doing this as well, which is really exciting. There are some examples and videos out there already that people can download and watch to get started.”
Quartz Composer is available to registered Apple developers. You can download Origami here: http://facebook.github.io/origami/.