As with the last mid-year update, this Company Flow update also falls on July 4th. Even though Hypermatic is based in Australia, and not the United States (or Japan, as some seem to think, based on the design of this website), I do like the idea of doing these mid-year updates on Independence Day, and re-focusing it on continuing to declare our independence from legacy design/development workflows.
First half of 2023 — tl;dr
The start of the year was kicked off with soft-launching (this is the first time it has actually been posted about at all so far) a brand new Figma plugin called Weblify, which has been in development for quite a while, and it seemed like it would just be better to ship a very stripped down version of what the plugin will eventually become, and launch it with the most basic functionality of allowing anyone to inspect their Figma layers as code (HTML, React, Vue etc).
Compared with the more chaotic and uncertain first half of 2022, the first 6 months of 2023 have been far more focused, with the main goal of just increasing the throughput of shipping as many useful product features, updates and fixes as possible; lots of customer requests or things that have been on the todo list for a while have now been shipped.
The momentum that gets generated by shipping lots of stuff tends to build on itself and lead to even more velocity. I think that momentum is one of the more underrated things when working on anything, and once you've lost it, it can be very difficult to get back; knowing that, I think being extra vigilant of ensuring momentum stays high should always be an important focus.
It's also important to balance high throughput of small to medium sized tasks with longer-term projects that can't be completed within a few days or a week, so the second half of 2023 will be less focused on raw throughput of shipping things, and more concentrated on tackling a smaller number of larger, significant features or updates that will create much higher value to every customer using them.
Plugin update highlights in 2023 (so far)
There are multiple updates and small fixes shipped to mulitple Figma plugins on a daily basis, but here are some cool highlights from the first half of 2023:
- Added Word Doc support to CopyDoc
- Added layer Styles support to CopyDoc
- Added layer Renaming support to CopyDoc
- Added markdown support to CopyDoc
- Added Jivox export option to Bannerify
- Added presentation analytics to Pitchdeck
- Added original image fill exports to TinyImage
- Added Pardot integration to Emailify
- Added dark mode previews to Emailify
- Added Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration to Emailify
- Added text link hovers to Emailify
- Added Canva embeds to Pitchdeck
- Added button hovers to Emailify
- Added iFrame website embeds to Pitchdeck
- Added custom component categories to Emailify
- Added 2-way hover effect transitions to Bannerify
- Added custom component libraries to Emailify
- Added wireframe mode previews to Emailify
- Added cubic-bezier easing to Bannerify
- Added responsive display ad exports to Bannerify
- Added PDF preview exports to Emailify
- Added Netlify preview links to Emailify
- Added automatic page numbering to Pitchdeck
- Added Netlify preview links to Bannerify
- Added text bullet lists for PPTX exports to Pitchdeck
- Added custom code block injection to Bannerify
- Added Mailgun integration to Emailify
- Added optimized SVG imports to Convertify
- Added Adobe Illustrator to Figma imports to Convertify
- Added scrollable slides to Pitchdeck
- Added PDF to Figma imports to Convertify
- Added Figma prototype embeds to Pitchdeck
- Added mobile hamburger menus to Emailify
- Added video sync from spreadsheets to CopyDoc
- Added custom webhook exports to Emailify
- Added Figma prototype links in PDF exports to Pitchdeck
- Added custom icon bullet lists to Emailify
- Added local image file sync from spreadsheet to CopyDoc
- Added link outlines toggle for PDF exports to TinyImage
- Added SVG favicons to Favvy
- Added custom color profiles to TinyImage
- Added dark mode support for Figma plugin UI to All Plugins
The (AI) elephant in the room
Since writing that "
software AI is eating the world design" in the last 2022 end of year update, seemingly every established company and startup are rushing to either pivot to AI or add-on AI in some form, often just as an API call to OpenAI to have ChatGPT sit behind their own product UI.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” - Mark Twain.
I'm a huge believer in this breakthrough technology, but at the same time, I don't think that it's the correct time for Hypermatic to drop everything to join the mad rush into mashing "AI" into every product; and there are a few reasons why:
First of all, Hypermatic is a private, self-funded startup, without any investors or other stakeholders; this means that's there is zero pressure or incentive to try and artificially (or actually) increase the valuation by mentioning "AI" as many times as possible in investor updates, pitches for new rounds of funding, or public product announcements.
Second, and more importantly, is that it's still super early. If the strategy a year ago had been to drop everything and start training bespoke models for design, or content, or anything like that, it's likely that any innovation or moat would have already been wiped out 12 months later by what's available as open-source or consumable APIs (ChatGPT, etc).
Third, I believe that the cost and barrier to leveraging this technology is trending down to zero, and will also be broadly available in almost every application that we use today as native functionality (where "AI" is never mentioned or thought of when using it). If lots of this is going native, then doubling up on that work prematurely seems like it could come back to bite later down the track.
By designing certain features or products in a way that sees all of these benefits coming down the track, and lays the groundwork to benefit from them, without going all-in right away, I think that over the long-term, it will lead to better products that are more efficient to build out and operate in the medium-term just by stepping back and waiting for the dust to settle.
So much venture capital is being poured into any startup with "AI" in their deck, so with all these smart teams working in that space, I'm very optimistic that this technology is going to get way better, more accessible and more cost effective over time; and that seems like a better time to start thoughtfully adopting things that can solve real problems in a new way, rather than just bolting on a ChatGPT API because it's possible (but not super useful or the right solution).
As mentioned above, using the (Rocks, Pebbles and Sand) analogy for work, if the first half of 2023 was focused on "sand", then the second half of the year will be much more focused on "rocks" and "pebbles".
Half way through the 3rd year into this mission, it feels like a really good foundation is there across the board for all the products now, but it's always day zero and there's still so much more to be done; it's definitely still a marathon and the focus is firmly on the long term, while also keeping the momentum at a pace where it always feels like sprinting day-to-day.
After planning out the next 3-6 months recently, I'm excited for Hypermatic to drop some really cool and useful bigger updates for some of the most popular products between now and the end of the year, while also doubling down on the long road ahead of taking Weblify to its final vision (as a worthy cousin to Emailify) for easily designing and building things for the web.
Anyway... back to work! See you in 6 months (for the end of year update).