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Universal Design Tokens

A proposal for creating a standardised file format for storing design token data. More info at:

The hope is that, by standardising the file format, new and existing tools that operate on design tokens will become more interoperable than they are today.

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Universal Design Tokens

  1. 1. Universal Design Tokens Design System Exchange, London 6th December 2018 James Nash ( @c1rrus )
  2. 2. Design Tokens today
  3. 3. Design Token Tools SalesForce Theo Amazon Style Dictionary Dragoman InVision DSM
  4. 4. Bespoke tokens Firefox Photon Blackbaud Sky UX
  5. 5. What they do Token data Token tool Output files
  6. 6. Duplication Theo YAML / JSON DSM JSON Style Dictionary JSON
  7. 7. Complex examples Conversion script URL generator script EightShapes Contrast Grid
  8. 8. What if...
  9. 9. One file format Native support Manipulation
  10. 10. UNIX philosophy • Write programs that do one thing and do it well. • Write programs to work together. • Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.
  11. 11. Imagine...Lyft ColorBox EightShapes TextCrop Modular Scale Google Fonts
  12. 12. Beyond exports for code
  13. 13. The plan
  14. 14. 3 main tasks • Write human-readable specs and docs • Intro / tutorial • Examples, recipes, FAQs, etc. • Create schema for validation • JSON Schema? • Help tool developers maintain interoperability • Build reference implementation of parser / serialiser • Prove that things work • Potential basis for other tools to use
  15. 15. A rough draft
  16. 16. Risky live demo
  17. 17. Next steps • Get initial thoughts and feedback from community • Open it up to a wider audience (#design-tokens ?) • Find collaborators
  18. 18. Don’t want this...
  19. 19. • Engage with maintainers of Theo, Style Dictionary, etc. • Do we (continue to) make something new? • Pro: Can try new things. No politics. • Con: Reinventing the wheel. Yet another token tool. • Do we evolve Theo or SD’s format? • Pro: Probably quicker. Existing user base. • Con: Who gets to be the basis and why? Would there be politics?
  20. 20. Thanks! Questions?