Create prototypes with keyboard and gamepad

Learn how to prototype using keyboard and gamepad as triggers.

keyboard and gamepad triggers

Adobe XD lets you use keyboard shortcuts and gamepad triggers to simulate native desktop applications and prototype an enriched game experience or design. When wiring a prototype, you can select Keys & Gamepad from the Trigger drop down list and assign any key. You can then play back or record these animations in the preview window, web browser, or mobile applications and share them with your stakeholders for collaborative reviews. This helps you tell a better prototype story while adding a rich layer to the overall user experience.

You can choose Keys & Gamepad to wire:

  • An individual object or an artboard to another artboard.
  • Two component states.
  • A component state to another artboard.

Work with keyboard triggers

When prototyping certain desktop apps, accessibility or shortcuts or games, you need a keyboard to interact with the prototype. With this requirement in mind, Adobe XD introduces the ability to use a keyboard shortcut as a trigger to transition across screens or component states in a prototype.

When wiring a prototype, select Keys & Gamepad. You can then press any key on the keyboard to assign it as the trigger to an individual object, a component state, or an entire artboard. This means that you can have multiple triggers from the same artboard.

keyboard trigger
Keyboard triggers

A. Trigger set to keyboard shortcut B. Keyboard shortcut key C. Action set to auto-animate D. Destination artboard or component state 

You can also combine a key along with a modifier to define triggers using shortcuts like CMD S, CTRL R. Do note that you cannot use spacebar and other system level keys such as function, sleep, volume, and power. When you assign multiple triggers with the same shortcut on the same artboard, the last trigger is assigned and triggers during a preview.

Work with gamepad triggers

The best way to test a game prototype is to use the actual game controller hardware. Adobe XD allows you to interact with an XD prototype in a desktop player or a web browser using a connected gamepad controller and create prototypes with gamepads as triggers to transition across screens or component states. 

Connect an Xbox controller (Series X/S or One) via Bluetooth or a PlayStation controller (DualSense or DualShock 4) via Bluetooth or USB, and select Keys & Gamepad. You can then press any key on the connected gamepad to assign it as a trigger to an individual object, a component state, or an entire artboard.

Gamepad trigger
Gamepad triggers

A. Select trigger to gamepad B. Gamepad shortcut key C. Action set to auto-animate D. Destination artboard or component state 

 Ensure that you use the same controller to design and preview the prototype. For example, you can test a prototype with an Xbox controller on desktop or web if it was designed using an Xbox controller.

Mobile app and mobile web experience

XD supports keyboard gamepad support in the desktop preview app and web prototypes. If you are previewing the prototype on a mobile app or a mobile browser, you can tap to transition between artboards (since they would not have a keyboard or gamepad device attached).

Supported game controllers and browsers

USB and Bluetooth support:

Controller

Mac (USB)

Mac (Bluetooth)

Win (USB)

Win (Bluetooth)

Xbox (Series X/S, One)

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

PlayStation (DualSense, DualShock 4)  

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Browser support:

Controller

Chrome (Mac)

Chrome (Win)

Edge Chromium (Mac)

Edge Chromium (Win)

Edge (legacy)

IE

Firefox (Mac & Win)

Safari

Xbox (USB)

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

Xbox (Bluetooth)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

PlayStation (USB)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Not recommended

PlayStation (Bluetooth)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Not recommended

Prototype using keyboard or gamepad keys

  1. Switch to the Prototype tab.

  2. To define an interaction, click the blue connector on the source object, component state, or artboard. Set the following options in the Property Inspector:

    • Trigger: Set the trigger type to Keys & Gamepad and select any key on the keyboard or a gamepad to assign a trigger except spacebar and other system level keys such as function, sleep, volume, and power.
    • Action: Select any of the available options: Transition, Auto-Animate, Overlay, Scroll to, Previous Artboard, Audio Playback, or Speech Playback.
    • Destination: Set the destination artboard or component state from the drop-down list.
    • Animation: Select the options from the drop-down list. This is applicable only if you have set an Action to Transition.
  3. To define more than one interaction for an object, component state, or artboard:

    1. Select it and click the + button on the artboard. Alternatively, you can also click the + button in the Property Inspector.
    2. Set the properties in the Property Inspector.

     Remember that you can apply Tap, Drag, Hover, and Time triggers once, and VoiceKeys & Gamepad many times. 

    1

  4. To preview the changes on desktop, select the Desktop Preview icon. 

  5. To share your prototype with your stakeholders from the XD desktop app, select Share > View Settings > Design Review or  Development.

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