Facebook Gives Away Next-Gen Design Tool Origami, for Free

Penina Finger By Penina Finger  |  Feb. 07, 2014

Origami, developed by the Facebook design team, is one of the emerging next-generation tools for designers producing interactive, flexible websites and apps. It’s also free.

Origami is not a standalone application, but is actually a plugin for Apple’s (also free) Quartz Composer. While QC was originally developed to create motion graphics, Origami transforms (or evolves) it into an interaction prototyping tool.

The making of Origami

The team was frustrated by the process and the results of developing dynamic concepts with sets of static images. Not only was it limiting for presentation of ideas, they felt it also limited the ways they were thinking about interactive design.

The patches and examples that make up the Origami toolkit are specifically for creating interactive prototypes. Adding Origami also eases what has been a steep learning curve for Quartz Composer. No longer dependent on a coding team to create and test interactive mobile experiences, designers at Facebook are learning to use Origami in training sessions of about an hour and a half.

The giveaway

Facebook product designers Drew Hamlin and Brandon Walkin are largely responsible for developing Origami, and we can thank Hamlin for his work in making it freely available to the public.

The team at Facebook believes Origami can energize the field of interaction design and get us thinking about fluid behaviors rather than static image design. Internally, they’re training all their own designers to use both Quartz Composer and Origami going forward. There is also an open Origami Community group on Facebook dedicated to “discussion, questions, feedback, and sharing examples.”

By giving it away for free, are they missing a revenue opportunity? Maybe, but Hamlin reminds us it’s not the tools that make great design, but the designers.


Have you tried out Origami yet? How do free tools compare to premium tools? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.