Why i'm trying penpot and my first thoughts

Probably my thoughts and persona will help team

I’m figma user and enjoy using it at my job. I think this is the greatest ui design tool for now and for paid work this is my weapon of choice.

The main reason I came to use penpot is that figma does not support libraries in the free tier. A few times per month or decade I make hobby and educational projects or tinkering some ui(currently learning frontend development and make fast designs for react projects) and I don’t want to pay a monthly fee for a few hours of using a tool.

I was looking for free tool with component library support and features, based on component management and reuse. I think this is the pivotal feature i need to quickly make some prototype

Before penpot I’ve tried lunacy. But it has various drawbacks in terms of component management and finally it crashes during component manipulation which makes it unusable.

With penpot i successfully imported 700 svg icons, one-click created 700 components from them. Also was able to group them in component tab (with help of shift+click). That was good.
I also found some good libraries readily available in penpot.

I was disappointed i cant swap instances - this is very frequent use case, but it will be available in 2.0 so look forward to try this

What i don’t like:

  • Performance. penpot works slow and micro-freezes
  • Strange deep selection behavior. When i need to select nested text node, i make multiple clicks. Somehow doing so in penpot require more clicks then in figma and feels uncomfortable
  • Visual artifacts. Sometimes when zoom or dragging objects the visual artifacts appear
  • Zoom in/out on MacBook touchpad is too slow

What i like:

  • Penpot has a great set of tools (i think that many features are even overkill, like prototyping. IMO stability is more important) which make it great tool i can dream of for small projects. OMG it even support flex-like auto layout with different alignment options
  • Feeling that it is opensource and i’m like against the traditional figma and sketch Lmao
  • Penpot is quite similar to figma so it is easy to learn

The direction i think will be interesting:
I personally expect from opensource project to be less conservative and more experimental, rather than trying to implement all features figma or sketch have.

  • Implement more features to design with a code.
    What i mean, for example, let user to write some code for node/component manipulation. Maybe mimick react approach: Instead of figma/sketch approach to properties implement the ability to implement some drawing logic of nested components based on input props: if prop.type=expanded return {component1(text=collapse)} {component2} else return {component1(text=expand)}. Make it more tinker-friendly. I know Grasshopper for Rhino3d - that is brilliant stuff and having something like this for web design software could be very interesting
  1. I assume that sometime it is easier to develop feature that requires writing down the code of what u want to make, rather than implement it in UI.
  2. This can provide some extra capabilities
  3. This can make it fun to tinker
  4. probably will allow later integration with ai tools (we all know that designers will be replaced with ai soon lol)

Penpot is great - thank you for making it. Good luck!

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