How to convert Adobe XD designs to HTML code with App Builder

Jason Beres [Infragistics] / Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Are you familiar with these steps when crafting a new app design in Adobe XD from scratch and getting it into a complete, coded, production-ready product?

ideation and actual design --> wireframing and tackling designer-developer handoffs --> user/usability testing, iterating changes with stakeholders --> and finally coding

Then you know that the process is complicated and time consuming because it is split across multiple people and teams, and involves many phases.

Luckily, the year is 2022, and there are comprehensive design and development app accelerators, like App Buildertm, that aid in this design-to-code process.

In this article, we will help you learn:

What is Adobe XD?

Crafted from the ground-up to equip designers with a modern and easy-to-use arsenal of tools which allow them to design wireframes and apps, Adobe XD is one of the most popular vector graphic design platforms in the market today. Along with wireframe features, designers can create hi-fidelity prototypes, collaborate across teams through the design process, configure animations and collect feedback.

Like software development teams and IT teams, design teams depend on reusability more than ever before to create a sustainable yet dynamic ecosystem of tools that saves time and efforts on repetitive tasks. Adobe XD supports these goals in that it enables the creation of higher-level components like buttons and navigation in the form of UI Kits that promote reusable designs and streamline the design process.

What is Adobe XD best for? 

  • Quickly and easily create interactive prototypes, wireframes, add animation 
  • Run prototypes on various device types and sizes
  • Create reusable design elements and design systems 
  • Swap, spacing, resizing, and aligning functionalities for your layouts 
  • Sharing handoffs and collecting feedback 

What are Adobe XD’s disadvantages? 

  • It does not include code generation or code output
  • No user testing / user study features
  • Limited plug-in ecosystem
  • Cannot transfer your prototype or wireframe into an official design  

Adobe XD is designed to create wireframes and prototypes, without the promise of code generation of getting any type of HTML coded results. Front-end programmers and digital software teams must step in to produce the required HTML code (or try to find plugins online that might help), so the design gets real and it can be synced to everything developed in the back end.

What Is an Adobe XD File?

Adobe XD files are .zip files that include image assets, color values, style guide, and some CSS. In other words, they contain design elements that can be converted into production-quality HTML code with additional tooling and automation. In a developer hand-off scenario, the developer must have Adobe XD installed on their system to read the design files. On the other hand, converting design files into PNG or PDF, while possible, design elements, layers and application flow is lost in translation.

There are tools and websites like filext.com, that may be useful for viewing the content of the XD file, but this only adds more time to the project and slows down the product time-to-market.

What Does Adobe XD to Code Mean?

In essence, Adobe XD to code refers to the process of transforming the XD design files into code. The goal of building a new digital product design using Adobe XD is to be able to convert it into a working application with real, usable code. Typically, this process involves many steps, people, and time invested in communication, collaboration, design improvements, and manual code fixes.

Art boards and visual mock-ups must be created.  POCs must clearly communicate the idea and the value of the design to stakeholders. Designer-developer handoffs  must be extensive and detailed enough as to provide all the specs to programmers and eliminate iterations, silos, and miscommunication at a later stage before recreating the prototype into UI code. It also takes conducting user and usability tests to see how users interact with the design, whether it validates its purpose, and if it can increase the value of a given business.

Code generation tools like our App Builder step in to help teams transform Adobe XD file designs into production-ready code in a matter of minutes, not days.

How to Convert Adobe XD to HTML Code using App Builder?

There are a couple pre-requisites to get started:

Once you have installed Adobe XD, you need to install the Indigo.Design App Builder plugin, which enables design to code.  You can access this from the Stock & Marketplace -> Plugins in the Creative Cloud app, simply search for Indigo.Design.

Adobe XD Creative Cloud Plugins

Figure 1: Adobe Creative Cloud Plugins

Once you have installed the Indigo.Design App Builder plugin, you need a design based on the UI Kits from Infragistics.  The way design to code works with App Builder is that designs in Adobe XD must be created using out UI Kits, which are full-featured, extensible and customizable libraries of UI components and UI patterns that accelerate the design phase.

Go to our sample’s library here https://www.infragistics.com/resources/sample-applications/angular-people-app and download the Adobe XD files for the People App example.

People App Adobe XD files 

Figure 2: People App Adobe XD files

One downloaded, open the People App Adobe XD file in Adobe XD.

People App Opened in Adobe XD

Figure 3: People App Opened in Adobe XD

From here, select the Create New App option from the Plugins -> Indigo.Design menu.

Create New App Menu in Adobe XD for App Builder

Figure 4: Create New App Menu Option

Next, you’re presented with the Create New App dialog, where you can change your Workspace, and a few other options in the app creation process.

Create New App Dialog for App Builder in Adobe XD

Figure 5: Create New App Dialog

One you click Create App on this dialog, the Adobe XD file is sent to the cloud, where it is processed, parsed, dissected, and ultimately transformed into the Common App Model of the App Builder. 

Successful Deployment of you App to App Builder from Adobe XD

Figure 6: Successful Deployment of the People App to App Builder in the Cloud

Once you click the link in the Success Dialog, or click the Visit Workspace button, you are taken directly to App Builder, where you will see your new application!

The People App from Adobe XD in your App Builder Workspace

Figure 7: People App in you Workspace in App Builder

Next, simply click on the People App to edit it in the App Builder!

People App in the App Builder WYSIWYG Designer

Figure 8: People App in App Builder

From here, you can Preview Code, generate Angular or Blazor code, or start modifying the app in the WYSIWYG designer. And because we know that developers love GitHub, App Builder enables them to upload all application files to a GitHub repository or download them as a package which can be run locally.

 Try App Builder

What differentiates App Builder from other low-code design development tools?

In the What is Low Code Development and Why is it Important?” article, we highlight that there are three main challenges when it comes to design to code:

  • Lack of WYSIWYG low-code app makers to build enterprise-ready apps that work with the most popular frameworks like AngularReact, and Blazor
  • Design sketches and prototypes are difficult to automatically translate into real code or functional apps.
  • Few low-code platforms have an integrated design system with a comprehensive array of UX controls, patterns, and style guidelines that translate into software components and can be reused or contextualized for building branded solutions.

And here is when the App Builder can outperform design-to-code software examples from competitors. The top differentiating factor is that unlike other app makers that produce non-editable and non-changeable spaghetti code, App Builder generates clean production-ready code that is usable, testable, and debuggable.

On top of this, App Builder relies on a shared codebase and includes built-in development, testing, debugging and deployment capabilities, which means this cloud-based, low-code web app builder from Infragistics, reduces your development time by 80%. Serving as a single “force multiplier,” it streamlines sketching, designing, prototyping, user testing,  real-time code preview and code generation, and it also automates repetitive tasks, eliminating the complexity behind building user interfaces and enabling you to create an excellent UX without manual coding.

This way, everyone — from stakeholders, through designers, to developers — is being consolidated within a single platform without asking team members to give up the tools they have been using so far.

In addition, App Builder replaces development tasks, configures UI components, and interactions which can be linked to code, styling, and layouts.

Just recently, we released a comprehensive App Builder product overview and tutorial. You can watch it below to learn all about its features and capabilities and get started with it.

From a business perspective, our low-code platform reduces app development costs by democratizing the app dev process, helps avoid technology churns and automates business workflows. Since it is cloud based, the app builder software also promotes scalability and data encryption.