15 Next-Gen Mac Apps for Designers and Developers in 2015

By on May 26, 2016 in How To
15 Next-Gen Mac Apps for Designers and Developers in 2015

Mac applications have always been known for their gorgeous design and user-friendly interfaces. When compared to the hundreds of amazing iPhone apps that hit the market every single week though, it can seem like the Mac development community has gone stagnant. Fortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth. Hardworking, dedicated Mac developers are still churning out amazing applications and pushing the bounds of the platform to change the way you work. Here are 15 fresh Mac applications that designers and developers will love.


Hammer for Mac is a veritable Swiss Army Knife of useful tools for developers. For starters, it's an effortless, GUI-driven compiler for SASS (with Bourbon), CoffeeScript, HAML & Markdown. The real power of Hammer though lies in its own custom HTML tags that provide PHP-like superpowers right in your vanilla HTML: variables, automatic file paths, image placeholders, HTML includes and more.

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Cactus is one of the best, most simple static site generators around, and it's free! It supports local development, preprocessors, S3, and more. If you think the days of amazing free Mac apps are long gone, think again.

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Macaw is one of the few WYSIWYG web design editors that I actually enjoy using. It's built from the ground up to have a responsive design workflow and is extremely powerful. If you'd like to hear more, check out our interview with one of Macaw's founders.

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Focusing on simplicity and quality, Blocs frees you from the need to write your own code. It's a lot like Macaw, but with less emphasis on powerful customization and more emphasis on rapid development with pre-built content blocks.

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Affinity Designer

Vector graphic design software engineered specifically for the Mac, Affinity Designer offers lightning-fast tools that work in exactly the way you need. Real-time previews and customizable workspaces are just a few elements in this powerful design environment. Affinity is the new kid on the block in the design tool space, but its affordability and amazingly powerful feature set is quickly setting it apart as a major competitor.

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Built for the contemporary graphic artist, Sketch lets you easily create complex shapes and layers. Its flexible workflow supports multiple pages and art boards while it enables you to rapidly re-use elements as needed. Winner of the Apple Design Award and recipient of five-star reviews from DigitalArts and MacWorld, Sketch is the go-to tool for the web's top designers. You'll find countless blog posts online from designers who have given up Photoshop for web/interface design and found a welcome alternative in Sketch.

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Pixelmator is perhaps the best Mac Photoshop alternative around (at least for raster artwork and photo editing). If you're a Photoshop fan, the workflow and toolset will feel familiar, yet refined. It doesn't have the feature bloat that's crept into Photoshop over the last two decades and it's price point is unbeatable: $29.99. They recently released an iPad version that looks pretty sharp too.

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RapidWeaver 6

RapidWeaver is the veteran on this list. It's been around for a long time and has always been what Apple's failed iWeb should've been: a fantastic way for absolutely anyone to built a website. This app might not be new, but the thing is, it keeps getting better and better, and version 6 is outstanding. With a dead-simple design workflow, gorgeous themes, and enough rich plugins to provide any feature you can dream up, RapidWeaver is a perfect example of why the Mac developer ecosystem simply can't be beat.

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If you're a sketch artist, SketchBook isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Built by our parent company Autodesk, SketchBook is an app that will delight true artists and newbies alike. The industry-best feature set is huge and powerful, but it avoids any distracting UI clutter so you can focus on your artwork.

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Offering the features of a full-size design suite in a compact app format, Gravit provides a set of intuitive tools in a streamlined workspace. Raster and vector effects, as well as path, shape and typography tools, are all at your fingertips for easy creation of complex designs. The best thing about Gravit is that it's a creative tool that's licensed like creative art, using creative commons.

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Framer Studio & Briefs

Framer is an innovative prototyping application that helps you build interactive mockups of your apps so you can experiment with different types of interaction. You can import your Photoshop, Sketch, or AfterEffects files, then use simple CoffeeScript to create high fidelity, animated prototypes that run on mobile devices.

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If Framer is a bit too complex for you, try Briefs, a simpler, code-free alternative.

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Atom is a powerful text editor built by the folks at GitHub, and it's an open-source system that's "hackable to the core." You can access the file system, initiate original sub-processes and seamlessly integrate Node and browser APIs. I use and love Sublime Text, but Atom has me seriously thinking twice about that dedication.

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Like GitHub, Adobe is gunning to be the standard text editor in your dock. Brackets is a lightweight open-source text editor that puts powerful visual tools in your hands. Inline editors, a live preview and pre-processor support all combine to generate clean design and flawless CSS. Where Atom and Sublime feel eerily similar, Brackets has some truly unique features that give it a personality all its own.

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Avocode is meant to be a bridge between designers and developers. It helps you take Photoshop mockups and turn them into front end code. You can really dig into a PSD and grab colors, generate code from vector shapes, and export images in a variety of formats. If you're interested, check out our comparison of Avocode and Adobe's Creative Cloud Extract.

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What Did We Miss?

These 15 next-gen Mac applications make me excited about OS X again and where we're headed with the future of design and development software. If you know of any great apps that should be added to the list, leave a comment below.

Want to learn more? Check out 10 Apps to Turn Your iPad Into a Bad Ass Drawing Tablet, The Best Screenshot Apps for Mac & Windows, and 5 Great Tools To Share Design Files with Your Team.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this list. There are apps that I haven't seen before. I would also like to recommend QuickLens (http://www.quicklensapp.com): a Mac App for UI Designers/Developers. Its a suite of tools to zoom into an area, sample colors, export to Photoshop/HTML, check alignments, see real-time distances and much more. Would be good to add to this list.


  2. Okay, great, so I'm a print designer who has a beginner-to-intermediate knowledge of CSS. So when I have to design a website, I take a Wordpress theme and customize it pretty heavily. Will any of these tools (like Blocs or Macaw) help me connect a design to a Wordpress (or similar) CMS?

  3. Hello Nikabrik, these tools will help you design your HTML, which you can then take and integrate with your CMS. The integration will be manual though, but at least you can design visually.

  4. I've been using Macaw for a little while now and find it to be a great way to speed up our design/development workflow.

  5. Webflow is far superior to macaw for full site builds, not prototyping. It is far more user friendly and powerful than any of the web design options on here. Check it out.

  6. Of course nice set of applications that we all need to be aware of mobile application developers were amidst of so many things which changed the mobile application trends. Those changes are supposed to extend in the forthcoming years as well. Because of the versatility in hardware and software ecosystems, fluctuating internet connectivity and contradiction in application delivery methods, mobile application development has been a difficult job as said so in http://goo.gl/b6UXSU

  7. @Nikabrik you could probably use Headway Themes it's a visual designing Wordpress theme. Or try Cloud-Press.net which allows you to build your own Wordpress theme from scratch or PineGrow.com which promises to release compatibility to Wordpress soon.

  8. I think you should remove Hammer from the "next gen apps" list. It hasn't seen an update since Jan 2014.

  9. Thanks for your sharing! I'd like add RightFont to the list, it's a beautiful font manager for designers.

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