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Figma and Sketch: any relation to the development?

denisester profile image Denis Dryk ・4 min read

The process of web app creations is undoubtedly effort- and time-consuming. From the design to data and code building, then to business logic, and finally to the web app itself.

The handoff between design and development may be quite challenging. At the stage of web design the idea is realized visually, the designers create interactive prototypes, which serve as the base for further development. Developers, in their turn, implement the visual design into the mechanism, translating the design into front-end and business logic. When the designers change and improve some features of the design, the front-end has to be changed as well. It might be quite a troublesome matter.

There are handoff tools that take the visual design and generate front-end code. The developers still need to improve the code to be right and coherent. However, some projects can be changed plenty of times before the final solution. It means that the code should be regenerated each time when the alteration is done. Before handoff tools appeared, designers had to describe their ideas and developers had to understand them, which eventually resulted in a misunderstanding between designers and development teams and led to inconsistencies in the project making. But then Sketch was introduced and the process began to improve gradually.

Sketch has been occupying high positions on the market for many years. Launched in 2010 as a graphic design app, it has been a long-time favorite tool for designers all over the world. Now some other design apps are catching up. The most notable alternative is Figma – a browser-based graphic design tool created in 2015.

Both programs are extremely powerful, but let’s examine Sketch and Figma more precisely.

Sketch has a clear and smooth interface, multiple-face layout, simple prototyping, and various extensions. As a matter of fact, Sketch possesses the largest plugin selection than any other design tool. It undeniably extends the design functionality and increases the speed of workflow.

Sketch is a fully Mac OS based tool meaning that Windows users can’t work with it. It can be challenging if you work in a team, because each member should have a Mac, otherwise the process will be full of errors and bugs.

Unlike Sketch, Figma is a fully browser-based design tool and it’s a great advantage. It can be used on any platform and operating system. There is no need to download and install anything – a working browser and internet connection is the minimum you need to access Figma. Moreover, it represents a great possibility for real-time collaboration. Figma has a useful functional filling. It offers all kinds of templates and plugins, clear prototyping, feedback, and a cloud-based storage system.

Both Sketch and Figma have sets of basic design tools. They serve as building blocks for more complex design systems. Both support boolean operations that combine, intersect, and subtract shape layers.

In Figma, you do not need to upload your files because they are saved automatically on the cloud. Therefore there is a possibility to share your files with anyone at any time within the Figma tool. It allows designers and developers to work collectively and seamlessly. This improves the overall process, making it faster and easier.

In Sketch, you can share your design file with anyone, but first, make sure that you have uploaded your files into Sketch’s cloud server, as there is no function of automatic uploading.

Figma has created an API that makes it relatively simple for a developer to reach into a Figma repository and specify a design to use in a third-party app or service. By giving developers direct access to its files, Figma is reflecting the real-time collaborative essence of a work process. What is more, a number of demos have been recently introduced. One of them tests the capability of Figma designs to be converted into the working code with the help of React, a widely used library of JavaScript snippets. There are third-party services that can do this, for instance, with Sketch files, but the advantageous thing about Figma test application is that you will only need a URL and the code will do the rest. However, the test applications do not guarantee success.

Figma has more complex, embedded handoff capabilities for the developers. For instance, Figma has a built-in panel view, which allows the developers to see the specifications for IOS, Android and CSS instantly as designs are changed. Sketch’s plugins and integrations extend the tool's functionality, however, the developers built-in capabilities are still quite limited. It’s obvious that from the two, Figma stimulates collaboration between design and development teams, allowing them to bridge the gap between design and engineering while creating web apps.

Therefore, the design tool can really go beyond designing and even influence the overall working process.

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