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Switching from Sketch to Figma (intercom.com)
112 points by jcolman 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 59 comments

Comments so far are not mentioning the biggest advantage and motivation for switching to Figma:

1. Freedom from Mac hardware dependency

2. Cross platform compatibility. Heck even cross device - it would open up on iPad as well I assume (haven't tried it though).

It opens on an iPad, and with yesterday’a release of iOS 13.4 and proper mouse support its almost completely usable. I had issues with the viewport, but managed to create a simple UI flow with interactions and run a prototype.

Almost every Figma user I know (and I know a lot) uses it on a Mac, so I’m not convinced that that’s a benefit they care about.

As a developer consuming their designs on Linux, I care. Most platforms don't check that box.

Check out Avocode. It is designed to do just that and is cross platform (electron). It works with PSD, AI, sketch, and figma files.

Most designers use Macs, sure. But just giving a link to product owners, QA, clients, and developers is a whole lot easier than trying to get them to successfully use Zeplin or manually keep track of what static images I've copy/pasted in tickets etc.

Also: I use Mac at work and PC at home. So now you know one designer who uses Figma on PC.

Zeplin is just a link too.

That's what we've been using quite successfully for GUI apps development: designers work in sketch, everyone else consumes the result through Zeplin.

I do really love Zeplin, and I use it at work since my company prefers Sketch over Figma. It's great if you have to use Sketch.

A lot of web developers have been put off Apple due to macOS and Mac hardware issues, and simultaneously attracted to Windows due to WSL. Figma gives them an option to switch.

As a Mac user who has had to Switch my workstation machine to PC for performance anything that reduces my reliance on Apple hardware is a great thing.

I went from a macbook to a surface pro, Sketch was the only thing keeping me on the mac until I switched to Figma. I use it for UI design.

Figma user. As I do real time 3D stuff I constantly switch between Mac and PC.

you're living in a bubble then :) I also was a designer using mac but that was only because the tools forced me to, but in reality I can't afford a proper mac so I now have the option.

About 50% of our local office cares that their tools work on Windows as well.

Figma user myself. Use on Mac at home, on Windows at office. At office Windows machine due to corporate security policies.

Our designer runs Windows. His friends running Windows. I'm convinced. They all use Figma.

>Freedom from Mac hardware dependency.

I view this as positive and negative.

It resonates with me because users should have the freedom. I ran Boston Sketch meetups https://www.meetup.com/Sketch-Design-Boston/ for two years and several users couldn’t participate because they were using windows.

I see it as a problem because designing on windows puts you in a different state of mind and atmosphere...and one way or another we are products of our environment.

I found out that the environment of windows reflects negatively on design.

I worked at TBWA advertising, I had a startup, and I recruit many freelancers all the time...

When I look at designers portfolios I can immediately know whether they are/were using Windows or Mac.

For design Mac is the winner.

For crunching numbers nothing beats Windows excel.

That's sounds very pretentious. I work at a product company, I ask my team (and myself) to use paper and pencil, which could be on any scrappy piece of paper or notebook.

This discussion is not about Windows vs Mac, and those who still discuss that, have not really moved with times.

[Edit] FWIW, I'm a Sketch user, adopted it very early. Now I have started using Figma on my Mac which already has Sketch; and I find it very liberating (can continue work when I move from home-office-home, without needing to carry a 3 pound machine), and also see no difference in my productivity - no performance issues, all features present that I need.

The fact that you suggest pencil and paper indicates you do actually see that the working environment makes a difference, however pretentious you may find it.

Are they really 'environment'? They are tools which do not place any restriction on where and when you can use them.

Except for fonts, there are issues using custom fonts with Linux.

"Issues" might be a understatement. As the font-loading tool only supports windows and macOS, it's straight up impossible to have custom fonts in a official manner.

Seems to be some 3rd party solutions for this though, but since local font-exposing tools/servers are frequently used in vulnerabilities (Adobe's font loading tool that now comes built-in in Windows [and possibly macOS?] is one example, was recently exploited), it's a bit scary to run them.

You can use the Figma Linux wrapper to solve that issue. I have thrown my MacBook in a corner since them. I'm fully designing and developing on Pop_OS since 3 months.


It's great that you can use it, but it's still quite buggy for a lot of users, for me I can't even load it without it crashing, there are issues logged in the github

THIS! I hate that Figma cannot support adding external webfonts when it is a webapp. This is the nr. 1 and only reason why I do not give them my money.

For those curious about the hype behind figma, here are the reasons why teams are moving to it:

1. No versioning needed. For designers versioning has been a huge pain, some git like tools have popped up but with Figma none is needed. Changes made by multiple parties are always in sync since they are made live in the same doc. Plus always on versioning.

2. All in one tool. Currently designers use sketch(create designs), Invision (prototype and get feedback, and Zeplin (hand off to dev). Thats 3 different places to manage, no source of truth. With Figma its all in one package.

3. Cheap. Free for teams of 2 designers, viewers are always free. You done need to pay for the above tools I mentioned.

4. Strong foundation for plugins and community. They way the figma team have built the product allows for rich plugins and community.

Design version control has actually been a big win for our design team and the handoff to engineering. We use Sketch + Abstract to do this. WIP projects live in separate branches that we can share out to get feedback. Once the design is locked in for that milestone, we push to Master and hand that off to engineering where they can inspect the mocks right in Abstract.

We don’t mind using multiple tools if they’re all really good at what they do. Our core toolkit includes Sketch, Abstract, and Marvel. Sketch Cloud has supported prototyping and commenting for a while now, but Marvel is a bit more robust.

Obviously each team has their own needs, but this has worked for us.

I liked Abstract's rigor in keeping things in order but it also added a lot of overhead of commit, write, merge, etc.

Also the biggest hurdle I had with Abstract was no layer level diffing/conflicts. I know they were working on it though.

Figma allows us to move a lot faster but you do lose some of that workflow rigor that something like abstract forces you into. Like you said different teams with different needs.However, looking ahead in the next 5 years, sketch is going to have a hard time staying relevant imho.

Does Figma have an equivalent to Sketch Runner?

It's kind of like Alfred for sketch. If there is a symbol or icon I need I can start typing it's name and I insert it without having to go through our design system's file tree. It has been a godsend for speed and I don't think it would be possible for me to work without it.


It doesn’t. Overall its plugins are very limited compared to sketch.

I was forced to switch to it and I miss all of my plugins, but I have to say the sharing and commenting features are so much more useful/seamless than the Sketch/Zeplin combo I used to use. So even though it’s a worse design tool, my productivity is better because of the seamless collaboration.

That's what I get the sense of.

We use Sketch with Invision—that works well enough for us. Although I wish Invision would allow me to @ myself on comments so I get an email reminder me to fix things I've found in review.

Outside of Runner, what plugins are you missing?

I've never used Sketch Runner, but you can search assets in Figma which appears to be 90% of what you're looking for.

1 minute of searching also reveals a plugin called "Figma Walker" which, as the name implies, is an attempt to copy the exact functionality of Sketch Runner.

If you type `cmd /` you open up the menu focused on the search field. You can then type the command or plugin that you want.

Not quite sketch runner, but part of the way there.

Only somewhat related, but I recently found out that the dev who created Finite State Machine Designer [1] (which I used extensively in my undergrad) is Evan Wallace, the CTO of Figma.

[1] http://madebyevan.com/fsm/

I only have limited experience with Figma (my prev experience is with Sketch,Zeplin and Invision), but as a Developer, I'm finding it very hard to inspect elements and find margins, paddings and distances between elements. Not sure if our design team is doing something wrong.

You can use Figma + Zeplin. Maybe have your designer export a design to Zeplin and see if you have the same issues inspecting elements there as well.

It's most likely that your designer just has a messy file. I've never had an issue with the Figma inspector.

Some of it probably has to do with the file itself not being clearly organized, some of it is probably how Figma selects groups.

Where I work, we started to mark the spaces with spacer elements, which look like boxes that have the number of pixels on them. It felt like a waste of time after using Zeplin, but it’s just much easier to see the measurements at a glance and doesn’t require the engineers to measure everything themselves. As a designer, it saves me time because I don’t have to answer as many questions or spend as much time on the design QA feedback loop.

In Figma if you select an element and then hold the `option` key when you hover other elements it will show you the distances between them.

Yes I know, but most of the time it shows it wrong, it adds some artificial space or it just does not detect the element under the mouse cursor.

> decided to really stress-test Figma by working on the beach.

"Alright guys, I think we should double check Figma on a poor connection"

"Oh yea, that's smart. Chrome can easily let you simulate that using devtools."

"We could do that, or..." puts on shades and grabs beachball

Chrome dev what? I can't hear you over the sounds of waves crashing on the beach

“Can’t hear you Tanner... I’m beachballing.”

Perhaps I am old fashioned, but I am very vary about moving from Sketch to Adobe's new "Creative Cloud" or Figma.

As a novice, I'm currently studying the designs and work of Dieter Rams and lesser known contemporary studios such as, http://pharusdesign.com/en/case/rio-cello/ , watching them wield their craft has taught me more than any college course ever could. We are very lucky that such work has been preserved for the benefit of future generations.

Design is a deeply collaborative process, with each designer standing on the shoulder of giants. Great design needs to be studied and preserved so that it is accessible in the long-run. So far that has been easy to do. The designs have been on paper, and can be viewed in physical products. But now, with the advent of design tools made entirely for the web, I am worried that many great works will slip through the cracks of history.

In the future, we'll no longer be able to benefit from hindsight. The groundbreaking designs whose impact doesn't become obvious or important until decades into the future might evaporate with time, with little to show for it. After all, will Figma keep all designs, permanently in their archives, even when companies go bust and stop paying their bills? No matter how influential or interesting their design was? Will we be able to do autopsies of work from this era when Figma's servers are down?

Data ownership doesn't seem to be an option in Figma's paradigm. You do not have a copy of the tool, you only execute a part of it. You do not possess the data, they store it for you. Should there be an event where Figma is acquired or goes out of business, then (in all likelihood) every user of this platform will lack the ability and the choice to preserve their work for future generations (and for their business).

What are the odds of Figma staying as it is, in the control of founders, chugging along as a profitable business a year from now? 5 year from now? A decade? Two decades?

This timeline may seem to be long, but the average startup takes 7 years to IPO. Consequently, if you choose Figma as your tool of choice now, then it will be a marriage that lasts a decade or more.

I prefer Sketch and other tools because they store files natively. I know who is in control of my data. And, if need be, I can archive these files and the latest version of the program so that they can be spun up in the future, decades from now, for future generations to view.

Or, in the business context, there is data portability and ownership, when you control your data, you can control how it is inherited by future iterations of your product teams.

It seems Odd that you state how important collaboration is, then your conclusion is that you should use a tool that is extremely Bad at collaboration! It seems like the value of collaborating with each other in the moment is much much much more valuable than whether I can review my 10-year old designs.

Also, you're using macOS which is extremely callous as to keeping old versions of programs running - do you really think that a 10-year old version of Sketch or any other macOS program will run on any modern OS? macOS fully deprecates and breaks programs aggressively every release.

"Design is a deeply collaborative process, with each designer standing on the shoulder of giants."

I believe that what was meant was collaboration between generations, collaboration of ideas through time. And not so much collaboration of managers keeping tabs on the amount of minutes freelance designers work.

In that regard Sketch file format is open and specced (https://github.com/sketch-hq/sketch-file-format). It should allow for future generations of OSes and tools to work on top of their files.

This is in direct opposition to figma approach, which clearly state:

"We store Files in Figma, in our own File Format: .fig

This File format is specific to Figma and cannot be opened by any other tool."


Once you go Figma there is no coming back.

I dislike cloud-only or subscription based design tools as well - you have less control.

When Adobe moved to a subscription model I didn't upgrade.

I used Sketch and other tools, but unfortunately they are not cross platform, so I switched to Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo.

I'm hoping native tools can survive.

I wonder why not Axure? It is much closer to UX type of work, and Affinity Designer is more illustration-focused.

Oh definitely, Axure is one of my main tools for creating complex prototypes that these other tools can’t do.

Hot-spotting some images isn’t really going to cut it.

I’m waiting for Framer X to come to windows (switched from Mac to Windows because Apple are taking the p*ss). But I think it’s going to be web only like Figma.

If that’s the case I might just use svelte for higher fidelity prototyping.

Interesting. We solved the problem of file management and versioning by having the designers use Github Desktop. Tracking files, changes, versions, commit messages, etc. is a solved problem.

Well.. that's what the Abstract is; Visual Git for Sketch files. We're using Abstract + Sketch at the moment and I can't complain. Being able to export the file or opening it track/untracked is a real benefit sometimes.

That said, Figma promises to be the combination of Abstract + Sketch + Invision and thats what has me intrigued. Going to a Figma webinar may ease a lot of my worry.

I've been hesitant to recommend that because I don't know how git handles image changes.

If you don't mind me asking, how do your designers handle rebasing and conflict resolution?

You should just use the same tricks for images that you would use for binary files. Instead of doing a diff, and merging the bits and pieces of conflicting files, you want to select the version from the two branches that you want.

In a merge, select the desired version (eg `git checkout --theirs -- logo.png` for the version from the branch you're merging into the current branch or `git checkout --ours -- logo.png` for the version from the current branch), then add the file and complete a normal merge commit.

  git merge foo
  git checkout --theirs -- logo.png
  git add logo.png
  git commit -m "Merging foo into master"
See here for some more info: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/278081/resolving-a-git-c...

I'm in the middle of this transition right now and it's pretty good so far.

Also, there's a plugin for Figma that lets you automate anything in Figma with typescript which is immensely cool.

What is the plugin?

Yep this is the thing I meant!

I just used it recently to go through and add the hex code for every color in our library to its description for quick designer reference

GP may be describing the Figma plugin platform itself, which allows you to "automate anything in Figma with TypeScript" — by authoring plugins.

Sketch only works on Mac, so it's a non-starter for real distributed teams where people aren't given company hardware

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