Supernova, a startup operating out of Prague in the Czech Republic, is on a mission to accelerate the app development workflow of mobile designers and developers. More than three years in the making — and the brainchild of co-founder Jiří Třečák — the Supernova Studio macOS app promises to automatically convert mobile app designs created in Sketch, a popular vector design tool, into native UI code, thus bridging the gap between prototyping and design, and front-end development.
Třečák says Supernova points to a burgeoning trend where automation is being employed in code generation in order to address the increasing demand for new software and apps, coupled with a worldwide shortage of developers. He also admits the idea and early versions of Supernova was born out of his own frustration as a mobile app developer that saw every new project employ a lot of repetition.
“I want to free up developers to spend more time on the interesting stuff,” he tells me before launching into an impressive demo of Supernova Studio.
Presuming your Sketch project is relatively well organised, Supernova Studio takes your designs and converts them into native and production components such as buttons, labels, images, tables and more. However, it is Studio’s employment of what Třečák describes as “highly advanced heuristics and analytics” (he is far too straightforward to call it AI) that enables the automatic export of assets, localizations, animations, code and more, without a developer. This potentially saves a ton of work, while the Supernova founder is particularly proud of the quality of code and project organisation that Supernova spits out.
“Supernova empowers designers and developers to bring designs to life,” he says. “Today, the designer prepares an app design, hands it off to the developer who manually codes each screen. This is where the back and forth starts such as colors, responsive layouts, buttons, animations and all the tedious work which goes into front end development. In some cases, this process can take weeks or months”.
In contrast, Supernova Studio attempts to automate this transition, allowing the developer or designer to choose which components correspond to their respective design elements, before creating the code, resources and everything required for front end app development. “Studio can save up to 50 percent of dev time on every app built,” claims Třečák.
And he should know. Prior to Supernova’s recent funding round, which saw the nascent startup pick up $500,000 led by Credo Ventures (disclaimer: the VC firm that backed by defunct startup), Třečák and his company was bootstrapped for several years, relying on revenue brought in by developing mobile apps for clients, with the help of early versions of Supernova, of course.
What Supernova isn’t is a full app or website creation tool that negates the need for developers entirely, products that often have a poor reputation within the development community for their cookie cutter approach and low-quality and bloated code. In contrast, the front end code and assets that Supernova generates is designed to be handed off to a developer to write the required logic and ‘wire up’ the app to backend code and databases, but with one repetitive and laborious step less than the current designer/developer workflow.
“We’ve automated the layout, resources, localizations, animations and pretty much everything UI-wise so the user just chooses which platform (either iOS, Android or React Native) and clicks export. At that point, the production code is ready,” adds Třečák.
Alongside Supernova Studio is Supernova Cloud, a collaboration platform where designers and developers can gather feedback directly from their teams or clients, make design adjustments and repeat the process until they are satisfied. “Contrary to other collaboration solutions, Supernova Cloud allows users to review real, working apps which are ready to be immediately converted to code, without compromise,” explains Třečák.
Supernova Cloud is free enabling you to collaborate, comment and share app designs. Supernova Studio is available for a monthly or yearly subscription starting at $39/month or $396/year.