A Designer’s Review of Draftly

This week we talk to Brian Gilham, the developer behind Draftly; a Dribbble client that runs on Apple TV. So what does it do? Simple. It’s a really good way to browse Dribbble through Apple’s renowned media streamer. Have you ever thought of an alternative to Ballin’ that’s not bogged down with many features. Then try out Brian’s Draftly. Draftly is the best Dribbble experience for your Apple TV.

Draftly for Apple TV is perfect for browsing large images and animated GIF support all from the comfort of your couch. You can filter Shots based on their popularity, date, whether they’re animated or if they’re debuts. The top shelf support and full-screen mode make Draftly particularly useful for large teams that would like to appreciate minute details.

Additionally, you can easily browse the profile for any user or team that is on Dribbble. Draftly makes browsing Dribbble sleeker while still maintaining an intuitive experience similar to what you would normally have on a different platform or device.

To understand the work that went into Draftly and the inspiration behind it, check out Brian’s interview below.

Draftly Logo

1.What is the elevator pitch for Draftly?

Draftly is a Dribbble client for Apple TV that allows you to quickly and easily browse work from designers, illustrators, typographers, and artists from around the world – right from your couch. Draftly eschews unnecessary features and cluttered interfaces to provide an experience that feels at home on the Apple TV. It keeps the focus where it should be: browsing the best design work Dribbble has to offer.

Draftly on Flat Screen

2. How did you come up with the idea for Draftly?

I _love_ Dribbble. I’m not much of a designer, but consider myself to be a design-minded engineer. Dribble is a source of constant inspiration for me – hardly a day goes by that I don’t browse through the latest Shots multiple times. I was looking for a new side project and, wanting to try creating something for Apple TV, I thought a Dribble client would be a good fit. I loved the idea of spending 10-15 minutes casually browsing Dribbble from my couch. 
Draftly Simulator
There’s another popular Dribbble client, Ballin’, that had an Apple TV client from pretty early on. I gave it a try and, while I’m a huge fan of the app in general, didn’t find it to my taste. I wanted to create a Dribbble client that felt “natural” on the Apple TV. That’s why Draftly ignores many features that might be considered critical on a different platform. Draftly doesn’t allow you to comment on Shots, browse tags, or manage your account. It focuses on providing a beautiful way to browse Dribbble, and that’s it! For now, at least.

3. How long have you been working on building Draftly?

From the initial idea, through prototyping, and finally coding, it took me about two months of nights and weekends to complete the first version of Draftly. I intentionally focused on features that I considered “must-haves” and ignored everything else.


Drafly Simulation

4. Where is your team based?

My team is one person – just me 🙂 I’m based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. During the day, I’m a Senior Mobile Developer at The Working Group – a web and mobile design/development studio.
Draftly Simulator

5. Who do you see as your target audience?

For Draftly, the core audience is anyone who loves Dribbble and loves the idea of browsing it on their TV. I’ve heard from a few people that think a Dribbble client on Apple TV is unnecessary and “going too far”. I respect their opinions, but I disagree. I love kicking back and killing a spare 10-20 minutes browsing the latest work. And I think the Apple TV is the perfect way to show that work off. 
Profile on Dribble

6. What was technically the most challenging part of developing Draftly?

I’d say the most difficult part of developing Draftly wasn’t a technical hurdle at all. The technical aspects of writing an app come easily to me – it’s what I do all day, every day. But I spent a _ton_ of time refining the Shot detail view (the one where you can see the shot, description, number of likes, etc). To me, it’s quite possibly the most important view in the entire app. 
Draftly Simulator Screen Shot
It might sound weird, but I often think about the responsibility an app has when presenting work done by other people. Draftly would be nothing without the amazing work submitted by designers all over the world – I wanted to make sure that I was presenting their work in the best light possible. I’m not 100% happy with it, but I think it does a pretty good job.

7. What does your product roadmap look like? Can you let us in on some of the next features?

I’m currently working on a small update that will address a couple of small bugs, as well as some small features I couldn’t get to before launch. I’ve improved the rate at which the app refreshes its various sections (Popular, Recent, Animated, Debuts) to make sure users are always seeing the latest. I’m also adding the ability to read long Shot descriptions.
Draftly Simulator Screen Shot
For the next major update, one feature that I’ve been working on is a “screensaver” mode, which will show off a slideshow of shots, along with details about the creator and such. It’s easily been the most requested feature from users. Not to mention, I think it would be a great way for design teams to show off their work at events, booths, etc. I’m pretty excited about it.

8. How has the idea changed over time?

I’d say the core concept for Draftly hasn’t changed much over time. The goal has always been, and always will be, to present work in a beautiful, simple interface. Anything that doesn’t serve that goal gets the boot. 
Draftly Screenshot

9. What features are you most proud of?

Aside from the Shot detail view, I’m really proud of that Top Shelf extension. Basically, it allows you to see the latest popular Shots right from your Apple TV’s home screen (assuming you’ve moved Draftly to the top row of apps). But I’m pretty proud  of the entire thing 🙂
Draftly Screenshot

10. What technologies did you use to build your product?

Draftly is built with tvOS and Swift 2.
For a free app, Draftly delivers many (though not all) features that you’d expect in a free app giving pixel lovers the world over another reason to become a couch potato!
We’d like to thank Brian Gilham for taking his time to answer our many questions. To get a heads up of the latest updates as well as other projects he’s currently involved in you can follow Brian on Twitter @bgilham.
You can also visit the Crazyleaf Design Blog to check out more featured products.

Written by Mervyn

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