is a desktop Mac OS X application that allows you to take any design of a mobile application, and convert it from design data (i.e., Sketch files) to a working mobile application using one-of-a-kind predictive algorithms. The results include native components, responsive layouts, all the assets, code, localizations. Most of the tasks are automated beyond your wildest imagination — what previously took hundreds of hours now takes minutes.
Hi Nav, So tell us about what you are working on?
Supernova is a design to code platform with the mission to accelerate the app development workflow for mobile designers and developers. Supernova Studio allows for flawless conversion of app designs into native iOS, Android and React Native code.
Studio converts Sketch designs within minutes, into native and production components such as buttons, labels, images, tables and more. That’s just the beginning, Studio employs highly advanced heuristics and analytics allowing for automatic export of assets, localizations, animations, code.. and more, without a developer.
Supernova Cloud is Supernova’s collaboration platform, where designers and developers can gather feedback directly from their teams or clients, make adjustments and repeat the process until satisfied. Contrary to other collaboration solutions, Supernova Cloud allows users to review real working apps, not prototypes, which are ready to be immediately converted to code, without compromise.
Tell me more about why you are building this?
Supernova started out of personal frustration as we were tired of the repetitive and tedious tasks of front end development. All of us have worked with mobile apps, in some capacity, so we’ve seen the possible variations of the same problems. We see Supernova as the game changer to an ever growing range of problems which plague the industry such as repetition, lack of time to truly polish apps or simply the entry level of knowledge required to get into the development (we see Supernova as a great educational tool for beginners).
The high and rising demand for developers. The only way to fulfill this demand is to add automation where it’s missing. Mobile development and the hand-off of designs to developers is a slow, tedious process and defeats innovations.
Supernova automates many of the standard developer tasks (resource export, design creation, responsive layouts) in a seamless way, fitting perfectly into the development process. Supernova produces production-ready code that can be then used to further iterate the app, saving countless hours.
How is Supernova different from what already exists in the market?
Native Studio by Neonto
, Zeplin Avocode
. These are the primary tools used by designers and developers to create prototypes for clients or extract information from the designs (handoff) nowadays. Those tools are useful for prototyping, but none of them solve the primary challenge of handing over app screens in native code ready for developers.
Supernova delivers production code with native components. While all other tools animate images, we animate actual buttons and transitions. While some tools deliver code snippets, we generate entire screens using the latest technologies and standards. Supernova doesn’t interrupt one’s workflow but enhances it — by using Sketch files as the source of information and outputs assets currently delivered by a developer.
Who uses Supernova? What types of roles do your customers have at their companies?
Our target customers are mobile designers and developers. Our goal is empower designers to bring their designs to life without learning a single line of code and free up resources for developers enabling them to build innovative apps. Our customers could be freelancers, app development agencies, startups, enterprises, you name it. Really, anyone who has a mobile presence on iOS, Android or React Native.
Our customers are the individuals to really make it happen from a design and development perspective. They’re artists and engineers who take ideas and bring them to life in the form of mobile apps. By removing the hours of repetitive and tedious coding, we believe our customers will produce innovative and engaging apps.
How are your customers using Supernova? Could you share a few different use cases?
There are 2 main streams of users that use Supernova very differently — developers and designers. Developers use Supernova for a very fast hand-off that was not possible before. While other services would create you snippets for certain aspects of the UI, Supernova skips this step and generate the complete UI for that platform, freeing up developers to focus on code that requires creativity and human touch.
The designers on the other hand, now have ability they’ve craved for for a longest time — to bring the designs to life without learning to code. By building the entire UI-side, the need for unnecessary back-and-forth between developers and designers is gone — designers just hands-off the fully coded UI which the developer can build the backend.
Have there been unique use cases for Supernova that you hadn’t thought of or expected?
Amongst the usual use cases — the quick and precise conversion of the designs to actual, working apps, we have observed quite a few that we originally thought will be just an edge case — but now definitely prove that we’ve created a very versatile tool useful for a lot of people.
One of those is quick high fidelity prototyping in the startup world. Previously it took weeks to months, to even launch the most basic MVP but with the Supernova, designers are able to come up with several iterations of the app, weekly and effectively, not having to wait for any coding work to be done at all. Once the MVP is stable and finalized, coders can jump in and finish the backend integrations etc. — the work you only want do once.
Another very interesting angle, is Supernova’s ability to teach coders and designers how to create the apps properly. We have hundreds of designers who are using Supernova to learn basics of frontend coding just by experimenting, drawing different designs and reading through the output of Supernova. Same goes for students and people just learning about code for the first time. It is true that learning by example is the quickest way to grasp concepts quickly and Supernova allows for a whole new level of interaction — creating the educational materials for you as you learn**.**
Were there any early ‘growth hacks’ or tactics that have contributed to your current success?
We wholeheartedly believe that building a strong product requires an amazing community and it has been our focus from the beginning. We’ve been there for our users when things were not working, working alongside them to make sure they are satisfied — even if it meant spending extra days working on a feature or bug to make one user happy.
Those are the people who became evangelists, good friends and gave us the best feedback we could ask for. Working with real people, without going “blind”, is truly the best way to get to know your user base and the path one’s product should take to become successful.
Always being completely open and honest has become our company motto. Our users know what to expect, what is coming and where we want to take it in the future
. (Of course, we still keep some things as a surprise — because who does not like a good surprise?)
What were some of the biggest challenges while building the product early on and how did you solve them?
Contrary to some startups who can afford to launch with half-finished MVP, we fought the technology
and many times we asked ourselves if it is even possible. The famous quote by Reid Hoffman “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”, in this case, doesn’t apply to us.
Our developers and designers expect certain quality in terms of the code they are receiving and since so many companies failed to automate even the smallest aspects of the development, we had to make sure it was right.
For this reason, we worked on Supernova for nearly 3 years before the public beta release- and there were times where we just couldn’t continue. Ultimately, we made it to the finish line. Being persistent and laser-focused on the target was the single deciding factor of whether we’ll be successful or lost before we could even had chance to show it to anyone.
Finally what are the top products that you depend on to run the company & how do you use them?
We are an automation startup so we use quite a lot of automation ourselves — be it for emails, support or just to run day-to-day operations like deployment of the new versions. We use dozens of services because saving a few minutes of our time,is usually still worth it. Here are some of the products we’re proud to partner with:
- Slack We’ve built our entire community using the community channels alone and without it Supernova would not be where it is today.. Slack excels in the integration and simplicity of use for everyone.
- AWS & Google Cloud Engine to run our entire cloud services and web pages
- Firebase and now also Firestore to power our real-time services. We love this service, it allows us to iterate so quickly
- Stripe for the management of payments, invoices etc., all that is nearly impossible to built when time is short (and it always is in startup world)
- Intercom for the entire customer support. We had hundreds of people at once on our website, and our team is only 6 people, yet we still averaged out less than 3 minutes to respond to every single question — only possible by the great setup of the Intercom