Dear Sketch,

Hi all! I saw the news that Sketch is working on autolayout after all. That is good news for Sketch and I support it. I really love using Sketch, but I’m forced to use Figma as it became industry standard, especially with agencies. It did so for different reasons, but one of the reasons was that for a while they did a lot of really good features that made design work much easier (autolayout, decoupled text styles, collaboration, advanced prototyping etc.).

And that’s where I get frustrated with Sketch a little bit. :slight_smile:

There was talk about adding autolayout here in the community way back and Sketch product people didn’t want to do it, instead there was a big push to make smart layout more smart but that never really was good enough for use cases designers need these flexible layouts for. It was obvious to anyone but Sketch that would be the outcome. Time was spent but it didn’t make Sketch more competitive to Figma. In the meantime other tools came out which had these features already built in. Penpot, as one xample, went a step further and implemented CSS flexbox-like behavior. So, there was room to innovate on autolayout-like features which Sketch kinda missed.

I can think of a few more features like that. For example, we’ve been asking for different font style implementation where some parameters of font styles are decoupled so we don’t have to create hundreds of permutations of styles just to support different alignment or color. Or how we still can’t have multiple styles applied to text which are just super basic features for design work. That is to me a great example of something that should’ve been addressed way back when Figma was becoming more powerful. Instead, it was repeatedly pushed back and still is.

That kind of stubbornness is what got Sketch where it is today. Yes, Figma would become what it is anyway because of their mindless growth tactics and huge investments, but Sketch could’ve stayed competitive on most of the core features around layout, typography, design systems and prototyping and then mindfully innovate on top of that. We know it is possible to do this because Sketch did it with collaboration which was a huge and complicated project.

I feel it would’ve been relatively easy for Sketch to be much closer to Figma now, and then be in a better position to get more users back as Figma keeps being hostile towards customers with their shady billing practices and forcing of AI training on the customers’ designs. Instead, Sketch is only now doing autolayout which will take months to work well, text styles are extremely cumbersome to work with, prototypes are not flexible enough and don’t offer much of advanced features etc.

Instead of Sketch being the first alternative to Figma, we now have other tools which design community is talking about, like Penpot. Sketch is considered to have fallen behind too much (which in many ways is not true). I know Sketch has a completely different strategy than Figma as a company but most of these things are just a baseline for any design tool now. I think you should listen to the community a bit more when it comes to the features we need.

Or maybe I’m wrong about all this. What do others here think?

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Hi @wwwedran, thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts, we appreciate it.

We’re certainly not flawless and if we could go back in time there’s certainly a number of things we’d do differently. If only we could! Alas, we can’t. But what we can do is learn from that, and I think you’re now seeing us do so, with features we’ve recently released, others we’ve openly said are under development, and you’ll be seeing us learn and improve in other fronts too.

Would we like to do more, faster? Absolutely, every single day. There’s so so much we want to do. Everything that you mentioned, and then some. But to bring a feature to life is a difficult and constant balancing act that goes beyond just what we’d like to do, and we have to factor in what we can do within our constraints, resources, and principles.

We won’t always get it right, or be the first, or do the most. What matters to us is to keep improving our product and become better at doing so, while running a sustainable business. That’s what’s kept us here, while other tools have come and gone. So that’s what our ethos will continue to be. We count on and thank people like you for keeping us honest and pushing us to get better.

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I agree with pretty much everything @wwwedran said. I have been using Sketch from almost the beginning. It’s still my preferred design tool by a comfortable margin, but our loyalty is being tested as we see the community abandon the plugins we rely on, the resource marketplaces stop supporting us and employers looking for Sketch is very rare. (an opportunity for a Sketch Jobs site for someone - drop me a link when you build it!)

I would also love to see Text Styles become a priority, I don’t imagine there is a Sketch designer who does not have this as a priority. I think we have had text styles for 8 years or so without much change. It would be nice to hear if they are a priority at Sketch or not. It would be nice to hear what features are being improved and released (Sketch did a video call a few years back to discuss the year ahead and I thought it was brilliant way of connecting the Sketch team and its users - I would love to see this come back)

On a positive note: Complaining is good for business, We complain because we dont want to leave. The new protyping features are great, Im having fun using them and hope this feature continues to get improvements. Its also nice to see Joseph making Sketch tutorials again, and the new Command bar is excellent. I also really like the mini map (I didnt for the first day but it very quickly grew on me)

I used Figma recently for the first time. I ported some of my Sketch libraries over and had a good play around with it. They have nailed Text Styles and Prototyping but other than that its a bit clumsy and the UI is horrendous (they just released UI3 which is nightmare fuel! - its so bad I would bet money they roll the design back). It made me really appreciate the care the design team at Sketch have.

Keep up the good work, talk to us, tell us what your doing.

Much Love.

*away for a peek at Penpot, I have never heard of it!

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+1 for the idea for Sketch to do a live where team members discuss the plans for the near future and discuss other interesting things. It would rebuild the connection with the community because I feel a bit of disconnection lately regardless of this forum or Joseph’s videos. We haven’t heard from founders for a long time now and the trend is quite the opposite - you have people like Adam Moserri giving updates on Instagram regularly, you have Carl Pei of Nothing talk pretty openly about company’s plans which is very refreshing, and Dylan Field is also very present in the community. Would love to see more of that from Sketch.

I also agree that Sketch has superior interface to Figma, especially now that they are pushing for a new interface which is clearly designed for a world where designers are not in the main focus anymore.

I also don’t want to be too negative but I think this forum should be a place where we can talk openly about these things. Being a part of it I think shows enough that people here love Sketch and respect the team.

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@wwwedran Messages like yours have been written to Sketch for over 8 years; many have tried to help prevent, mitigate, and pushback against the Figma takeover. Sketch has made uncompetitive decisions, and worse — been incredibly slow to roll out many of those decisions — for a very long time (as you know). I pleaded with them several times prior to being effectively forced to switch my team to Figma about 6 years ago. I still remember the roadmap they released the better part of a decade ago, which I painfully waiting years to see realized, only for it to take years more beyond my breaking point.

It’s clear that there are plenty of people who want to leave Figma, but sadly alternatives simply aren’t competitive. Penpot development is painfully slow (I’ve tracked it rather closely, and for a time, very intimately). Optimistically, they won’t be relevant until 2026 or so, and that’s likely only if they manage to land some truly determined and talented open-source contributors who are given sufficient autonomy to cook.

Figma has very openly, aggressively, and successfully cannibalized Sketch, copying its best features (with a select few exceptions [that I’m purposefully not mentioning here – I stopped tipping off Figma when they announced their now-defunct Adobe Acquisition], which interestingly their closed-file format/data ownership model makes it unlikely for them to copy), and adding onto many of those best features, which has effectively buffered their advantage.

The hope continues to be that Sketch will be “better”, and that they’ll finally understand and execute on the required updates to make their product truly relevant in the eyes of prospective users and stakeholders again. I believe this is theoretically possible, but evidence for the realization of this continues to be more scarce than desired. I do commend their perseverance, and commitment to their values. And my continued belief is why I still peruse these forums and moderate the subreddit.

Also…middle mouse button support please…for the nteenth time :face_with_peeking_eye:

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