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How Cloud Computing Is Changing Design

If you work in design, you’ve probably run across the cloud a time or two – or at least heard of it. A growing technology that runs software and applications across a large number of servers, the cloud is accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Its spread, in combination with the rise of mobile technology and the increasing reliability of browser connections, makes the cloud all the more likely to soon become an integral part of any designer’s process.

To some it seems like a farfetched aspiration, but it’s probable that someday the cloud will be all we’re using, and that projects will be able to be instantaneously stored, shared, or edited by anyone, at any time and anywhere. It’s a complex topic with a lot of misconceptions floating around about it, so refer to a cloud computing guide for a more thorough introduction on its use as a whole.
Photo by Shutterstock

Basic Editing Capabilities Are Already in Place

If you’re not a back-end web developer, you may have taken for granted the change from old FTP (file transfer protocol) updates to the seamless new dynamic content. But the ability to edit files from anywhere on any device is a powerful function that has implications for the way that cloud computing could eventually change all of our interactions.

In-browser photo-editing capabilities are becoming increasingly sophisticated, allowing for small-scale SDK (software development kits) such as Aviary, which can be embedded into web and mobile apps and used for such basic editing as changing saturation levels or orientation. It even assists in the creation of simple vector illustrations.

Adobe on the Cloud

Of course, most designers need more than these elementary features to do their work. Adobe programs (or their equivalent) would need to be fully ported over to the cloud to be a completely functional alternative to the traditional system of downloading onto a local server. But software companies certainly have an incentive to join the cloud; piracy accounts for huge profit losses for these companies. If they could stop offering software licenses and instead start charging per use, this problem would be solved.

Adobe has begun the process by providing a Creative Cloud monthly membership that gives individuals or whole teams continuous access to updates, negating the need to download and purchase features. Files can now be stored and shared on the cloud, and websites and apps can be published through it too. As cloud computing becomes more powerful and widespread, it’s a fair prediction that even something as complex as Adobe software will eventually be fully functional on the cloud.

Cloud-Based Development Platforms

For designers whose needs extend beyond Adobe software, the cloud also has plenty of innovation on offer. GitHub is a major code hosting and sharing destination because it allows front-end designers and back-end coders to fully collaborate for the first time. Its version control system is an all-inclusive tool that maintains a single repository for all project files. You can sift through any file’s revision history, and merge changes to the same file; with its system of pushes and pulls, it easily allows you to coordinate and edit a project among any number of people.


Through GitHub you can access Codeita and Bootstrap, both of which allow you to design and code sites fully on an online platform. You also get access to a grid layout engine, a responsive design framework, and the knowledge of a community of peers that you can go to for examples or advice.

 What’s great about the cloud is that it isn’t some new software that you have to take time to learn and integrate into your workflow; it’s purely a time-saving, synchronizing, and organizational tool that has absolutely no learning curve, and often no cost to use. Almost all the current cloud applications have a free option with generous server space, including:

So look forward to greater freedom, integration, and ease in all your design processes; the cloud is coming.

Written by Luke

Luke Clum is a graphic designer and web developer who is working alongside Shutterstock Photography. He loves UI design and and is a huge proponent for building simple, minimal design structures. He also enjoys working with video and can often be found editing a host of different side projects. Beyond design, Luke is an avid hiker and alpine climber in the North Cascades. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum                          

One Comment

  1. Great post Luke, everything cloud based gives me a lot of flexibility and it is really important to use it. I am always traveling with my husband, and I remember how in the past all of this wasn’t available and it was extremely difficult to create something. Nowadays the only problems are a small battery on laptop and sometimes internet connection;)

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