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I have received several .sketch files from a graphic designer. I assume these files were created by SketchApp, which is a propietary software.

Since I don't need to edit the files, but merely review them, I would rather not buy the editor.

Is there an open-source software capable of viewing .sketch files, or convert them to PDFs?

Addendum Exporting a PDF is a valid solution, but I would like to take a look at the .sketch files at our shared folder during the workday without asking for a PDF export every few hours (the designer works from home, so I can't just drop by to his desk).

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I agree with the answers below in that you should ask for a common file like a PDF but if you're in a hurry you can download a trial version of the program to view the file. – AndrewH Jan 11 at 14:44
As a designer myself, I would not like the client to randomly access the native files for a project I'm working on. The WIP file does not necessarily reflect the version of the project I would supply as a draft PDF or JPEG, etc. Maybe you can ask for once daily PDF updates. – ispaany Jan 11 at 16:58
@ispaany It's all about correlation of expectations; I think that if it's done right, it can save a lot of communication friction. Moreover, it makes automatic backup a whole lot easier. – Adam Matan Jan 11 at 20:46
In response to your addendum, if the designer is placing the .sketch file in your shared folder, then why would you have to separately request a PDF each time? Why can't the designer place the PDF export (or both a PDF and the .sketch side by side) in the first instance? You didn't go into specifics about your circumstances, but in my experience dealing with external graphics designers and architects (where similar issues apply), it is perfectly normal and common to request that they submit their work in a widely recognized format that is convenient for their client. – JBentley Jan 11 at 21:57

Sketch is capable of exporting PDF files. I would simply ask the designer to send you a PDF version of the art; any other solution will be overly convoluted.

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While not open source, SketchTool is free and from the same company.

It's advertised as

An OS X command-line app for exporting Pages and Slices out of .sketch documents.

I don't know if that means that you can export to .pdf, but I'd assume that you can at least export to something that's not .sketch. Otherwise this command line tool would be almost useless.

Given that they also make the app, compatibility is ensured.

I see 2 possible workflows:

  1. You install SketchTool on your machine and run it on all the shared files before opening them. This has the least impact on the designer and you are in full control of when the conversion happens.
  2. There's a problem with 1., which can be found on the website linked above:

    SketchTool can only export a document if all the fonts that it uses have been installed on the system.

    If your designer does use some fancy font that you don't have, you could run into issues. Maybe it replaces missing fonts with standard ones, but this obviously changes the result, which could impact your review work, depending on how important special font are.

    To circumvent this, you could install SketchTool on the designer's computer and let him do the exporting. It's probably a good idea to set up some script that runs in the background and automatically executes SketchTool, when new .sketch files are saved (or existing ones updated). This allows the designer to keep his existing workflow and prevent him from forgetting to run this command line thing that does stuff with the files which could potentially be very alien to him/her.

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sketchtool is pretty handy. You can indeed export pdfs using commands like sketchtool export artboards --formats="pdf" my_file.sketch. You can also get other formats using sketchtool list formats my_file.sketch. Also dumps raw JSON if you want. There doesn't seem to be much online documentation for the tool, but the included readme is helpful. – killthrush Jan 28 at 21:52
@killthrush Thank you for verifying this. Also, welcome to this SE site =) – rapidograph Jan 28 at 22:03

Since Sketch is a fairly new program I do not think there would be software at this moment that will open the files.

I would suggest you ask the designer to export the sketch files in a common format such as:

  • PNG
  • JPG
  • PDF
  • TIFF

If you ever want to work on the files and might have something like Inkscape or enjoy code have them export it out as SVG.

Addendum Exporting a PDF is a valid solution, but I would like to take a look at the .sketch files at our shared folder during the workday without asking for a PDF export every few hours (the designer works from home, so I can't just drop by to his desk).

Then you're just going to have to buy the software to view the files.

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Have you tried using Invision? Not really an open-source solution but it is free and platform-independent.

The designer can keep syncing sketch files throughout the day and you can view them at once. You can even comment on specific parts of the mock-up!

Invision solved this problem for our workflow. The devs (like me) are on Linux while the designers are on Mac. If the designer is meticulous enough, you can even download assets straight from Invision to implement the design.

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