Why are plugins needed? pros and cons

Sketch has become a popular graphics editor not only thanks to its native functional application, the large design community, and human feedback from users, but also because of hundreds of plugins from third-party developers.


You could say that Sketch became a platform for designers’ mini tool stack like the App Store is for apps. Plugins speed up design work, automate routine, and increase productivity.


Designers use dozens of plugins, and Sketch has made it easy. They are conveniently managed using a tab in the Sketch settings. There you can keep track of plugin updates, disable unused plugins and delete unnecessary ones.


Surely there is a plugin for any type of problem a designer is facing. Whether you need help creating layouts, adding data to interfaces, or managing layers, the Sketch plugin ecosystem has the right tool.


However, there are some downsides to using plugins. Despite the expansion of functionality, these add-ons are not a native code of the Sketch team, but a third-party add-on. Their code may differ from that used in Sketch, therefore plugins may slow down other programs. In addition, an older version of a plugin may not work in the updated version of Sketch. There is always a risk of being left without the necessary functionality at the wrong time.

Each designer has their own plugins, without which they cannot imagine their daily work in Sketch. In this collection, there are both popular and proven plugins, as well as those that will be new and useful for some.

Organization within a file

Runner

This plugin is similar to Spotlight for Sketch. With Quick Commands, you can manipulate styles, symbols, and even other plugins.

Source: https://sketchrunner.com/

Find and Replace

If you need to quickly change any text globally in the layout, this plugin is what you need. The familiar interface works the same as in other text editors: just type in the text to be replaced and new text. The plugin does the rest.

Source: https://github.com/thierryc/Sketch-Find-And-Replace

Artboard Manager

The plugin saves you the hassle of dragging and dropping dozens of artboards, trying to organize them in a visual way. Layouts are automatically arranged in rows and columns with almost no designer involvement.

Source: https://github.com/bomberstudios/artboard-manager

Sort Me

Organize not only your artboards but also your layers with this simple plugin. It will sort the layers alphabetically in any order.

Source: https://github.com/romashamin/sort-me-sketch

Nudge, Push, Shove

If a designer uses a grid in layouts, it is important to arrange the elements evenly on the page. But using the arrow keys with Shift is not always convenient. By default, hotkeys move the object 10px, which is inappropriate for an 8px grid. The plugin allows you to fine-tune how many pixels the layer will move using the arrow keys.

Source: http://nudgepushshove.com/

Mockups and data

Unsplash

A good example of when a plugin became part of the default functionality of Sketch itself. Photos can now be added with one click from the huge free Unsplash collection.

Source: https://www.sketch.com/extensions/plugins/unsplash/

UI faces

Despite the fact that in Sketch, out of the box, you can insert not only stock photos but also faces. The UI Faces plugin gives you more options: adding multiple faces at once, customizing by gender and age, and even generated avatars.

Source: https://uifaces.co

Magic Mirror

I really wanted to have this feature in Sketch by default: the plugin can freely transform shapes and photos, just like in Photoshop. Without it, it's hard to imagine working on shots with interfaces in the future for Dribbble.

Source: http://magicsketch.io/mirror/

Angle

Nice alternative to Magic Mirror from Design + Code team. The plugin comes with a huge collection of mobile device mockups.

Source: https://angle.sh

Map Generator

The plugin generates the desired fragment of Google Maps or Mapbox and allows you to flexibly customize its design. No more screenshots of maps!

Source: https://github.com/eddiesigner/sketch-map-generator

Working with color

Alembic

Harmonious colors help the whole layout look nice. To get a palette from an imported photo, use Alembic. This one-click plugin generates colors that can be copied in one click.

Source: http://alembicforsketch.com

Mesh gradients

New and unique plugin for creating multicolor gradients. Flexible settings and a collection of ready-made presets will help you create a modern and luscious design.

Source: https://www.meshgradients.com

Chromatic Sketch

Oftentimes, Sketch's auto-generated gradients look a little messy in the middle. Chromatic corrects this flaw by making gradients look nicer. In addition, it knows how to mathematically generate a palette from a gradient from two given colors.

Source: https://github.com/petterheterjag/chromatic-sketch

Confetti

A fun and simple plugin that adds celebration to your layout with confetti patterns. It will get rid of the routine "scattering" of layers on the artboard.

Source: https://sketchconfetti.com

Where to find them

First of all, Sketch itself collects interesting plugins on its website.

There are also collection sites created by enthusiasts that have dozens of useful plugins. The most popular ones are:

  1. Sketch Elements
  2. Sketch App Hub


And don't forget about the huge community of users who communicate on big sites like Design + Sketch. You will probably find advice there for any plugin issue.

If you decide to create your plugin

The Sketch team has made it possible to create plugins for those who lack standard features. They offer powerful tools, clear documentation, and a collection of ready-made examples for building your plugin.


If you have a desire to improve your design process in Sketch, you can always create your own plugin and add what you need to it. This is how our Plant product came about: from an idea of a user-friendly version control system and from Sketch's third-party capabilities.