Plasmic vs. other tools
- Focus on cross-functional collaboration. Empower marketers, designers, content teams to ship, and free up developers from pixel-pushing.
- Deep integration into website and app codebases. Plasmic aims to be a visual builder that you can plug into any environment. You are never limited by the tool, since you can always extend with code.
- Unparalleled visual control and power. While it’s easy to start with, Plasmic gives you tools never before been seen in any design tool or page builder to let you create maintainable frontends at scale.
- Total ownership. You truly own your code and have the freedom to host or deploy it anywhere.
Examples: Wix, Webflow, Squarespace, Shopify.
These are end-to-end platforms. If your needs fit within their box for the foreseeable future, they are a great solution.
However, many orgs have requirements preventing them from committing to such platforms for their website or app, or they want a more open-architecture solution. Plasmic focuses on flexible integration into arbitrary codebases and complex environments.
This flexibility lets you:
- Integrate flexibly and incrementally into projects involving existing codebases and development teams.
- Maintain freedom over choice of hosting, CMS, SEO, analytics, frameworks, CI/CD, and other infrastructure.
- Build arbitrarily complex applications and websites (such as Plasmic itself, which is built in Plasmic). Plasmic is designed to work seamlessly with custom code.
Beyond integrations, Plasmic as a design tool gives you greater power than seen before in other site builders.
Examples: Figma, XD, Sketch.
These are great vector drawing tools for exploratory design and mock-ups. You can use them together with Plasmic—when your designs are settled and you would normally hand things off to developers, you can instead build them in Plasmic. For Figma specifically, Plasmic provides a Figma importer.
That said, you can absolutely use Plasmic starting in the design phase. Plasmic’s UI is designed to be familiar to users coming from vector design tools. You can even start all the way from simply drawing wireframes without worrying about layout—Plasmic gives you a smooth path to refining these into production-ready assets.
Plasmic as a design tool has a number of advantages:
- Take designs all the way from mock-ups to production. Publish directly and eliminate handoffs.
- What you see is guaranteed to be what you get in production. Design within the real constraints and capabilities of the final medium.
- Build rich, responsive designs with a full set of layout features. Vector drawing tools often have a small subset of the layout that production assets need.
- Plasmic’s abstractions (how it represents components, slots, variants, tokens, mixins) are significantly more maintainable and scalable. Vector drawing tools are optimized for quickly “faking things” and place less emphasis on structure.
Examples: Contentful, Sanity.io, Strapi.
Plasmic is quite different from (headless) CMSes—it has a page builder rather than a structured content editor.
But like CMSes, developers use Plasmic to enable non-developers to publish changes to a website or app. Drop a Plasmic integration into your site’s codebase, and from then on, content teams can directly publish pages or parts of pages.
Plasmic complements CMSes well. You can manage your blog posts in a CMS, while designing your landing pages in Plasmic. You can even design your blog page template in Plasmic, and plug in your blog posts as dynamic data.
There exist various open and closed source tools that try to convert designs from design tools (such as Figma/XD/Sketch) into code.
These are one-shot tools that let you copy/paste the generated code into your codebase. As soon as you add your own logic, you diverge from the original generated code. You cannot iterate further on the design, which highly limits their applicability for most real-world products.
While Plasmic can also produce plain React code to let you eject, Plasmic’s primary codegen scheme lets you continuously make changes both to the design and to the code.
Beyond this key difference, Plasmic also prioritizes clean, production-grade code generation and render performance (core vitals). We do not (for instance) render large sections of your design as images!
Furthermore, Plasmic’s Figma importer lets you import from Figma into Plasmic with extremely high fidelity, supporting all layout/constraints, transforms, blend modes, filter effects, and more.
Examples: Framer, ProtoPie.
Prototyping tools have significant overlap with vector design tools, but are focused on mocking up what an interaction looks like. For instance, if you are exploring or communicating what a microinteraction animation should look like, or if you are creating a click-through sequence of screens for user testing or communicating a design, prototyping tools are great.
The distinction is that prototyping tools:
- are not built to ship to production (for instance, does not use real layout, does not use normal HTML elements, etc.).
- are not designed to integrate deeply and naturally with production code or developer workflows.
- do not focus on design tool features that enable a design to be quickly and maintainably built at scale (tokens, mixins, etc.).
See for instance Framer’s own elaboration on why not production.