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What Design Tool Should I Use?

· 4 min read
Bekah Hawrot Weigel
Developer Experience Lead

Today is day 17 of my 29 Days of Open Source Alternatives series, where I'll be exploring open source alternatives to proprietary software in the categories of Game Development and Multimedia, Development Tools and Platforms, Productivity and Collaboration Tools, and more. If you'd like to see the list of the open source alternatives I'll be covering this month, head over to my 29 Days of Open Source Alts Page or if you're interested in some of the top OSS projects of last year, check out this list. This is post is in the Productivity & Collaboration Category.

Designers today have many options for design tools. But navigating closed ecosystems, subscription models, and limited integrations makes it all, well, complicated. And to add to this complication, I want to share another option that might reshape the design experience: the open source tool, Penpot.

Designers and developers can finally work in unison to build beautifully designed software experiences that truly scale up.

In this post, we'll take a look at Penpot's features, compare it to proprietary alternatives, and take a look at its community.

Spotlight: Penpot

It's worth noting that Penpot 2.0 is coming soon and it sounds like there will be some major updates.

Some of the most notable features today include:

  • A professional UI that is easy to use: Penpot has a clean and intuitive interface that is easy to use.
  • The ability to create design systems, components, interactive prototypes, and designs: Penpot allows you to create all of the design assets that you need for your project in one place.
  • Support for open standards: Penpot supports open standards, so that you are not locked into any one vendor.
  • The ability to be self-hosted or used in the cloud: Penpot can be self-hosted on your own servers or used in the cloud. This gives you flexibility in how you deploy and use the tool.
  • Generates Code for Your Designs: Penpot generates CSS and markup code (currently only SVG).

Open Source

Penpot talks a lot about their decision to be an open source tool, including their Free For Ever policy.

Our mission is to provide an open source & open standards platform to bring collaboration between designers and developers to the next level.

This is reflected by the support they've had around their open source project.

  • Stars: 25.6k
  • Watching: 205 Forks: 1.2k Commits: 12.5k+ Total Contributors: 147 License: MPL-2.0 license

We can see there's a lot movement on the Penpot repo in the last 90 days, with a strong PR velocity.

repo insight to penpot

When we dive in a little deeper to see their contributors, we see a pretty good balance of the top five contributors. It would be great, however, to see more support from the community, since there is no shortage of issues (324 at the time of writing).

pennpot contributor breakdown


FeaturePenpotFigmaSketchAdobe XD
Real-Time CollaborationYesYeswith a subscriptionYes
Vector EditingYesYesYesYes
CSS Code GenerationYesNoNoYes
Layers PanelYesYesYesYes
PriceFreeLimited free, then $12/mo+$10/mo per editor+$9.99/mo


Examining open source alternatives enables designers and developers to enjoy benefits beyond proprietary counterparts, such as increased control, reduced costs, and enhanced extensibility. And with Penpot, there's no exception. Evaluating design tools requires careful consideration of a variety factors, ranging from ease of use to cost structures, feature availability, and alignment with individual values and goals. With Penpot 2.0 dropping soon, I definitely have my eye on this one.