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Adobe’s Project Comet: What to Expect from the 2016 Public Beta

Andrew Shorten is the Director of Project Management at Adobe and part of the Project Comet team. Comet is the codename for Adobe’s new UX/wireframing program meant to provide real UI design tools and offer an alternative to Sketch. Recently Andrew published a blog post sharing a few updates on Project Comet and what we should expect in the upcoming public beta release. So far Comet has only been announced for Mac OS X, much to the vexation of Windows users. Thankfully Andrew states the team plans to “accelerate their efforts” for a Windows product in 2016.
Mac beta Adobe Comet screenshot
Mac beta Adobe Comet screenshot
For now the public beta is Mac-only and still looking for signups! To get your name into the list you can fill out this survey for consideration. Adobe is taking extra care to release a quality public beta by first emphasizing a private alpha.
We’re actively using a private pre-release program to share alpha builds of Project Comet and get feedback on specific features. Over the coming weeks we’ll be expanding the program, so we can get more feedback in advance of our public beta.
By early next year the goal is to release a full public beta with all the bells and whistles. This functioning beta should allow end-to-end design functionality from prototyping user experiences to animation and designing the final interface. Initial focus is being placed on mobile app design while Project Comet is still in development. So web designers may still need Sketch for now, but Comet has the potential to become a serious competitor for all UI/UX design work. This beta will include many features and while they’re all subject to change, here’s a tentative list provided by Andrew Shorten:
  • Focused design and layout capabilities, including drawing, combining and editing shapes and paths, editing and styling text, working with gradients and shadows
  • Copying and pasting vector artwork from Illustrator and bitmap content from Photoshop into Project Comet, in addition to importing PNG, SVG, JPG and GIF files
  • Quick access to a UI kit that can accelerate design for mobile apps
  • Dedicated prototyping mode for defining interactive hotspots and transitions between artboards
  • Desktop-based preview mode for testing prototypes and design changes in real-time
  • Built-in sharing that enables team members and clients to access your prototype in-browser, on desktop, or mobile
  • Exporting artboards and assets ready for production use on web, iOS and Android
  • A simple way to discover features in Project Comet and become familiar with keyboard shortcuts for the most common tasks
Once the public beta is open designers will be notified with download links(sign up if you’re interested). Testing will continue for an undisclosed period of time with new updates released every month. Some of these new features have already been outlined in Andrew’s post:
  • Working directly with layers in a document
  • Quick sharing of design assets/styles
  • Leveraging Creative Cloud libraries
  • Previewing and making edits in real-time on connected mobile devices
  • Specific web design capabilities to aid responsive web design and CSS style creation
  • Going beyond screen-to-screen transitions for micro-interactions & animation of elements
  • Capabilities to extend Project Comet with a JavaScript API
Adobe Comet alpha screenshot
Adobe Comet alpha screenshot
The official beta release date has yet to be announced beyond a vague promise of “early 2016”. The recent Adobe AMA on Designer News left the top comment asking for a beta release date completely unanswered. But if I had to wager a guess I’d expect some updates within Q1 2016.
project comet logo adobe max 2015
project comet logo adobe max 2015
To see Comet in action check out the Adobe Max presentation from October 2015.