The way we build

April 21st 2016

The challenge today is that we are often still using the same methods we were 20 years ago. Tools don’t communicate well, if at all, with each other. We continue to mock things up. The way we work today can broaden the gap between engineering and design, and the many layers between designing and building are a burden.

We can do better. We can work better.

It's fun to catch a glimpse inside Airbnb's latest design investment. Their new Design Language System, or DLS, looks powerful and feels like a natural progression for design tools: put the code and the designer closer together. Mapping components across apps like Sketch and Photoshop and then tying them to production code is a logical (albeit daunting) step forward for the design process.

One of the most pressing challenges in product collaboration is attempting to standardize naming conventions and component designs across product, design, and engineering teams. From a naming standpoint, creating a shared language is hard because different people experience the world with a different vocabulary. One woman's UITableViewCell is another man's list row.

From the nuts-and-bolts angle of building products, if there is any degree of separation between the final code and a component's visual design, entropy within the system takes over; small tweaks accumulate over time and degrade any semblance of a consistent UI.

So my snaps go out to the team at Airbnb who are working to tackle these problems and share their findings with the rest of the community. My only wish is that more of these tools would be open-sourced as a way to give the whole community a level-up.

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