• author: Kevin Powell

Exploring the Exciting Features of Figma's Dev Mode

Figma recently unveiled its highly anticipated Dev Mode, generating a lot of buzz among developers. As a fellow developer and Figma user, I couldn't resist diving in to experience all the cool features firsthand. In this article, we will explore the enticing aspects of Dev Mode that have everyone excited, as well as a significant downside that seems to be overlooked.

Embracing New Possibilities

  • New Units: One of the most exciting updates in Dev Mode is the ability to use REM units within Figma. This eliminates the need for manual conversions and streamlines the design-to-development process.
  • GitHub Integration: Dev Mode allows seamless linking to GitHub, enabling efficient collaboration between designers and developers.
  • Expanded Plugin Library: Figma's Dev Mode introduces a variety of new plugins and integrations, including an extension for VS Code. These enhancements contribute to an improved user experience for developers working with Figma.

Entering Dev Mode

Upon opening Figma, I accidentally stumbled upon Dev Mode while trying to assist someone with a query. Although the pop-up window only appeared once and I am uncertain if there is a reset option, I managed to capture a screenshot for reference. The initial setup includes several simple steps, providing an opportunity to adjust preferences and explore the features. Most of the Dev Mode functionality is situated on the right side of the screen, making it easily accessible.

Unveiling the Dev Mode Interface

In a regular Figma file, a new switch appears in the top right corner, allowing users to toggle Dev Mode on and off. Activating Dev Mode introduces a range of changes, including modified color schemes, altered icons, and adjusted layouts. To familiarize ourselves with the capabilities of Dev Mode, let's focus on the updated interface.

Language Customization and Enhanced Units

  • Language Selection: Dev Mode enables users to change the language setting if they initially selected the wrong one. This option can be found when nothing is selected in the interface.
  • Unit Preferences: Within Dev Mode, altering the units from pixels to REM or vice versa becomes effortless. By clicking away from any selected elements, the unit options become visible, making conversions a thing of the past. For example, a spacing of 2 REMs becomes instantly visible, simplifying development tasks.

CSS and Visual Insights

A notable improvement in Dev Mode is the output of CSS code. Although it may not suit everyone's preferences, the new CSS output surpasses its earlier counterpart in terms of quality. Previously, the code included unnecessary attributes and relied heavily on position: absolute, creating a cluttered and inefficient structure. The updated CSS code, however, leans toward the popular display: flex approach, generally favored in modern web development. There is room for adjustment and enhancement, such as accommodating a percentage-based line height, which aligns better with contemporary CSS writing practices. Despite these minor imperfections, copying and pasting CSS code from Figma proves to be a valuable feature for further customization.

Simplifying Asset Management

Obtaining assets from Figma has become more straightforward in Dev Mode. Downloading images as PNG, JPEG, or PDF files requires just a few clicks, saving developers time and effort. However, it is worth noting that the exported images retain rounded corners, which might not align with everyone's design preferences. Ideally, Figma should offer an option to download images without rounded corners, allowing developers to apply their own border radius styles through CSS.

Leveraging Dev Mode for Efficient Development

For developers who take full advantage of Dev Mode and adopt proper practices, their workflow gains significant improvements. By organizing components in sections and marking them as "ready for development," this feature enables developers to focus solely on the relevant parts of a design. Gone are the days of searching for specific artboards in a file crowded with dozens of prototypes. With Dev Mode's highlighted sections, identifying and accessing the components ready to be worked on becomes effortless.

Unveiling Component-Based Development

In a separate file, I have created a collection of components as an example. One notable aspect is the introduction of reusable sections. These sections serve as individual parts of a design layout that are classified as "ready for development." By labeling each section and assigning specific names, developers can effortlessly navigate to the desired component, further streamlining their workflow.

Looking ahead

While Dev Mode in Figma introduces various exciting features, such as REM units and improved asset management, it is essential to address potential limitations. For instance, the inconsistency in the interpretation of units, specifically noticed with border radiuses, raises concerns. Additionally, refining the CSS output and incorporating user feedback regarding line height settings in percentage form could enhance the overall user experience.

Despite these minor drawbacks, Figma's Dev Mode undoubtedly offers a more refined and efficient design-to-development workflow. By embracing its features and exploiting its full potential, developers can navigate through their projects seamlessly, improving productivity and collaboration.

Comparing Changes and GitHub Integration: Simplifying Collaboration and Version Control

One of the remarkable features of Figma is the ability to easily compare changes made to a design file. This functionality saves valuable time and effort, especially when multiple designers are working on a project. By clicking on the "Compare Changes" button, users can quickly identify and review modifications made since their last interaction with the file. This ensures that everyone involved is on the same page and eliminates the need for tedious manual searches within the design file.

Additionally, Figma's integration with GitHub further enhances the collaborative experience. By linking a design element to a GitHub repository, designers can seamlessly view the corresponding code used to create that particular element. This integration eliminates the need to recreate components that already exist in the codebase. Instead, designers can directly access and make changes to the existing code, ensuring consistency and efficiency.

The GitHub integration is especially useful in scenarios where designers need to work with complex components that have been previously used in other projects. By navigating to the linked GitHub repository, designers can gain insights into how the component was implemented and locate the specific code files associated with it. This integration promotes effective version control and reduces the risk of creating duplicate or outdated components.

Improved Accessibility through Section Marking

Figma introduces a helpful feature called "Sections," which provides a structured way to navigate and organize design files. With the use of sections, designers can easily locate specific areas in a file and focus their attention on the relevant sections of their work. This feature not only streamlines the design process but also enhances the user experience by reducing the time spent searching for specific design elements.

While sections are commonly employed in the development process, they can also be leveraged for prototyping purposes. Designers can create different sections to simulate various user flows within a project, making it easier to showcase and iterate on interactive prototypes. Hence, sections serve as a versatile tool that supports both development-related tasks and prototyping requirements.

Styling Systems: An Overview of Variables and Style Preservation

Figma's styling system introduces variables, which enable designers to define and control consistent styles in their designs. These variables can be utilized for various design attributes, such as colors, spacing, and typography. By using variables, designers can apply changes to a single source, guaranteeing uniformity throughout their design files.

When it comes to colors and spacing, Figma provides a convenient way to utilize variables, accompanied by fallback options. By saving colors and spacing values as variables, designers can easily iterate and experiment with different values. However, it is worth noting that variables for typography styles are not currently supported. Typography styles in Figma continue to utilize the existing style system, displaying the saved style name as a comment at the top of the code. The code snippet then reflects the appropriate color and text styling associated with that style.

Although using variables introduces a level of convenience, designers should be mindful of a potential issue. At times, the Figma interface may not accurately display the variable values, possibly due to some unresolved transitional quirks. Nonetheless, this minor drawback should not diminish the overall benefits of using variables in Figma's styling system.

The Power of Plugins: Extending Functionality and Enhancing Workflows

Figma's plugin ecosystem empowers designers to extend the functionality of the design tool, enabling them to streamline their workflows and enhance their productivity. With a diverse range of plugins available, designers can access additional features and integrations tailored to their specific needs.

Plugins, such as the GitHub plugin mentioned earlier, provide the ability to integrate Figma with external systems to leverage version control capabilities seamlessly. These integrations offer invaluable assistance to designers by linking design elements to their corresponding code implementation. By effortlessly referencing existing code components, designers can avoid duplication of work and quickly make necessary modifications.

Exploring and experimenting with plugins can significantly enhance the Figma experience, contributing to increased efficiency and improved collaboration across design teams. Therefore, designers are encouraged to explore and leverage the extensive plugin library within Figma to maximize their design capabilities.

Enhancing Development Efficiency with Figma and VS Code Plugins

In today's fast-paced world of web development, it is crucial to have tools that streamline the design-to-development process. Figma and VS Code plugins offer a seamless integration between design and development, empowering developers to work more efficiently. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using these plugins and delve into their features.

Figma Plugins: Enhancing Workflow

One of the standout features of Figma is its extensive collection of plugins. These plugins can greatly enhance your workflow by providing you with additional functionality and automating repetitive tasks. Let's take a closer look at some of the popular plugins and how they can benefit you:

  1. GitHub: This plugin allows you to connect your Figma designs directly to GitHub, making it easier to collaborate with your team and maintain version control.

  2. Jira: By connecting Figma with Jira, you can seamlessly track and manage design-related tasks and issues within your project management system.

  3. Storybook: Storybook is a powerful tool for building UI components in isolation. The Figma plugin allows you to import your designs directly into Storybook, enabling you to rapidly prototype and iterate on your components.

  4. Figma to Code: This plugin bridges the gap between design and development by generating code snippets (such as Tailwind CSS classes) directly from your Figma designs. It also captures the colors and variables used in your design, ensuring consistency in your codebase.

These plugins, among many others, offer a range of automation and integration options to enhance your design and development workflow.

VS Code Integration: Seamless Collaboration

Integrating Figma with VS Code takes collaboration to the next level. The Figma plugin for VS Code allows you to access your Figma files and even open them within the editor itself. The plugin also offers features like comment management and reply capabilities, allowing you to interact with your design team without leaving your development environment.

Additionally, the VS Code integration provides code hints based on your Figma designs. When working on a component, you can see the suggested code snippets and even view the colors and variables used in your design. This feature bridges the gap between design and development, ensuring consistency and efficiency in your coding process.

Potential Challenges and Drawbacks

While Figma and VS Code plugins offer tremendous benefits, it's essential to be aware of potential challenges and drawbacks. One issue users may encounter is Figma's tendency to generate excessive inline styles, particularly when using the Figma to Code plugin. Users should exercise caution when directly copying and pasting these styles, as they may result in bloated and inefficient code.

Furthermore, some features of the Figma plugin for VS Code, such as code hints from Figma designs, may occasionally encounter glitches or require additional configuration. These issues can usually be resolved by adjusting specific settings within the plugin.

A Closer Look at the Figma Plugin for Easy Asset Management

The Figma plugin for asset management has recently gained popularity among designers and developers. With its seamless integration with code editors like VS Code, it offers a convenient way to access and download assets directly from the Figma platform.

Simplifying Asset Downloads

One of the biggest advantages of using the Figma plugin is its simplicity in downloading assets. When using this plugin in VS Code, designers can easily choose the preferred file format for the asset, such as SVG, and click the download button. Unlike traditional methods of asset management, the Figma plugin does not require manually selecting a folder to save the files. Instead, it intelligently identifies the project folder and automatically saves the assets within it, eliminating the need to navigate through multiple directories.

Time-Saving Convenience

The plugin's ability to automatically save assets to the correct project folder not only streamlines the download process but also saves designers a significant amount of time. With just a few clicks, assets can be added to the project without the hassle of manually searching for the appropriate folder. This time-saving feature allows designers to focus more on their work, ultimately increasing productivity.

Additional Features and Customization

In addition to its convenient asset management capabilities, the Figma plugin offers several bonus features to enhance the designer's workflow. For instance, designers can choose to customize the file name when saving the asset, ensuring it aligns with project requirements. Moreover, the plugin provides options for specifying image sizes and quality, allowing for easy optimization of assets for various purposes, such as responsive images or source sets.

Room for Improvement

While the Figma plugin offers many advantages, there are also some limitations to consider. For instance, some users have reported difficulties selecting specific parts of an asset when multiple components or sub-components are present. Although this issue should not overshadow the overall positive experience, it is worth noting for potential users.

The Impending Transition to a Paid Model

Perhaps the most significant downside of the Figma plugin is its future pricing structure. As of now, the plugin is available for free use, but Figma has announced plans to transition it into a paid product by 2024. Once this transition occurs, users will need to subscribe to a paid plan to continue using the plugin's features. This shift has sparked some controversy among users who have come to rely on the plugin's convenience and efficiency. It is essential for designers and developers to be aware of this impending change and consider its implications before fully incorporating the plugin into their workflow.

Figma's compare changes functionality, github integration, sections, and styling systems, along with its plugin ecosystem, elevate the collaborative design process by simplifying version control, streamlining workflows, and preserving design consistency. incorporating these features into design workflows can lead to improved efficiency, enhanced teamwork, and a more streamlined design and development process.
In conclusion, the integration of figma and vs code offers a powerful combination for efficient design-to-development workflows. the wide range of figma plugins and the seamless collaboration capabilities of the vs code integration open up new possibilities for designers and developers. by leveraging these tools effectively and being mindful of potential challenges, you can enhance your productivity and create exceptional web experiences.
and Further Learning

Despite the potential drawbacks, the Figma plugin for asset management offers a plethora of advantages for designers and developers. Its seamless integration with code editors, intuitive asset downloads, and time-saving features make it a valuable addition to any workflow. However, it is crucial to keep in mind the plugin's future transition towards a paid model and consider the long-term implications before becoming heavily reliant on its functionalities.

To learn more about Figma and its features, check out my comprehensive Figma playlist, which covers various aspects of using this powerful design tool. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to my enablers of awesome - Bailey, Andrew, James, Michael, Simon, Tim, and Johnny - and all my patrons for their continuous support. Together, let's make the internet a more awesome place for everyone.

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