Config

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Config was the first user conference for Figma—a collaborative design tool that’s built to work inside a web browser. Imagine if Adobe Illustrator or XD was mashed up with Google Docs and had intelligent, sharable components.

I go to conferences, oh… about once every five years. Before this it was SXSW in 2010 and XOXO in 2015.

(I also went to a mommy blogger conference in Salt Lake City in 2011, but that was to hang with Wendy so it doesn’t count.)

I wanted to come to this event for several reasons:

  1. Craig Mod was speaking. I’ve been following his path for many years and he’s on to something. He’s all about the journey and he documents it in lovely, meaningful ways.
  2. Figma is an amazing application. I don’t use it in my professional workflow, yet… but I most definitely will. I’ve been using it to create side projects and it is a delightful new take on design that favors systems, components and collaboration. I’m a fan and want to get proficient.
  3. California. It’s been too long since my last visit. I immediately regretted not making the trip extra long.

The conference itself was dandy. Craig’s talk (which you can see in it’s entirety here) reinforced many of the ideas that have been swirling around my head about how to find harmony between the digital and analog worlds.

There were also talks about the application’s future, a presentation by Devon Zuegel showing the correlation between cities and open source software and a conversation with Tycho and his journey from designer to musician. The afternoon had breakout sessions that brought community members together with conversations.

I had some hopes to learn some practical aspects of the program, but what I got was far better: an introduction to a burgeoning and active community and an understanding that design systems are incredible beasts. Besides, learning the program is easy online. The Figma Youtube alone channel has TONS of tutorials.

The event wasn’t all sunshine. It felt beyond capacity—a good problem to have. Just took a deep breath to contend and it never went off kilter, the vibe kept the ship steady.

My excitement for this software is just beginning. What I love most is that it makes me think about design at a meta-level and begin to consider code more deeply. Too long I’ve made design decisions based on a single instance, which is fine for some things, but not for others. The additional bonus I’m foreseeing is the ability to work better with teams of developers and designers.

It’s nice to be excited.

For a WAY more thoughtful take on Figma’s approach to multiplayer software, I highly recommend Raph D’Amico’s Thigmotaxis on the infinite canvas.

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Craig Mod at Config 2020

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Config 2020 Figma Conference

Above? The Config Quilt. Before the event everyone was invited to submit a tile to the quilt using a template with defined colors and the challenge to represent what community means to you.