Sketch2PDF

Export, Merge & Optimize PDF Files in Sketch

Sketch2PDF is a Sketch plugin that streamlines the workflow when creating PDF presentations

Project Details

We always try to optimize and simplify our work processes. This not only saves us time but it also lets us focus on real design problems. After 100+ iterations on a pitch deck for a client, every one including the repetitive process of exporting artboards from Sketch, combining and optimizing them in Acrobat Reader, we developed a solution doing these steps seamlessly all in Sketch with a single button.

Period

March 2018

What we did

  • Research & Analysis
  • Sketch Plugin Development
  • Website Development

Deliverables

  • Desktop UI
  • Mobile UI
  • Website Development

~ 55%
Conversion Rate

+ 3,500
Downloads

+ 500
Upvotes on PH

+ 10
Mentions on Media

Problem

We have this large design project—Nexo and we had to design the entire visual language of the brand. One of the visual materials was a pitch deck for the product, which we decided to design using Sketch since our design system was already set there.

The design workflow was:

  1. Design each slide on a separate artboard in Sketch
  2. Export all artboards as PDFs
  3. Combine all PDFs in one using Acrobat Reader
  4. Optimize the file size in Acrobat Reader

Working on a PDF presentation that is constantly being improved and republished, means that you have to go through all of these 4 steps a few times per day which is not only annoying but it is also very time-consuming. Therefore:

The whole process should be streamlined in a much simpler workflow

We strongly believe that if a repetitive process can be automated, then it definitely should. This way, you can focus on solving real (design) problems instead of fighting with a software.

Solution

Firstly, I started by using Terminal to merge all separate PDF files into a single one by running a Python script that comes with the macOS Automator.

Then I found a way to optimize the file size with ps2pdf, which is a part of Ghostcript, by running a Terminal command.

Still—I had to run two commands after the PDF export is completed.

I realized that there must have been a way to auto run these commands on something like a hook. Consequently, that hook must have been triggered when one uses the built in export functionality of Sketch; and I found SVGO Export.

By reusing a part of its codebase, I was able to create a simple, no-GUI plugin that automates the whole process of exporting, merging and optimizing PDFs.

Website

Once we developed the plugin itself, we wrapped it in a nice and colorful website. I mean... that’s what we do most of the time!

Video Explainer

An important part of presenting the plugin was to explain it’s functions as visual, as possible. Combined with our passion for motion graphics, we created a short video that illustrates how it works.

Adoption

It is amazing how positive the reaction of the design community is. Appears that lots of designers had the same issue that we’ve managed to solve in a super streamlined way. Check out some of their feedback.

“Super smart. If Sketch has any sense, they’d pay you to integrate this natively.”

Eli Schiff

Birmingham Smithfield

Identity & Branding for The Popular Market Area