Firstly, let me congratulate you on your efforts to create a free, open source team-based product.
In light of the recent acquisition of Figma by Adobe, your presence is much needed to keep essential screen-based design tools open to everyone, not just people with deep pockets. I want to help you improve Penpot, so here are my honest initial thoughts.
I attempted to create a simple mobile sign-up screen in Penpot but, unfortunately, I felt too frustrated to continue. Namely:
- Panning, scrolling and zooming around the workspace are often very laggy for me. I’m running Penpot in Google Chrome on a late 2015 27" iMac with very few apps open. I feel that the workspace performance could benefit from a significant upgrade
- For some unknown reason, Penpot crashes (“Internal error. Something bad happened…”) when I attempt to change the fill on a rectangle from a solid colour to a linear gradient
- I find the Penpot workspace UI a little on the small side and hard to read in places (especially the keyboard shortcuts). It may be that the UI has not yet been optimised for retina displays but it would be great if this could be improved as well
- When I export an element or an artboard to SVG, I expect the visual elements to be retained in the exported file but when I open the files in Affinity Designer, the layouts are completely broken. Admittedly, Affinity Design may be parsing the data differently and things may have been lost in translation. Nevertheless, improved export options that allow SVGs to be opened in any other vector-based app with minimal loss of information would be great. The reuse of screen assets for other applications or archival purposes is incredibly valuable.
I would love for Penpot to become the Figma-killer that I believe it can be. To do so, the product may have to do exactly what Figma can do already, if not better. For instance, I would love to see:
- Multi-point gradients
- Auto layout (or similar to mirror how Flexbox works in code)
- Device mockups in prototypes (i.e. the prototype running within the screen of the device)
- Import files from Sketch and Figma
- Ability to interact with prototypes directly on the target device (i.e. Figma Mirror app for android and ios)
- A native desktop app so that I can program different shortcuts into my graphics tablet that don’t conflict with the web browser shortcuts. (I also hate hunting through multiple browser tabs to get back to Penpot).
I’m sure you already have a long list in your product roadmap. I see a bright future ahead for Penpot.
I will continue to explore it in the background as I learn more about UX/UI design.