Layer movement / manipulation needs to change

I’ve repeatedly moved away from using Figma as a design tool multiple times in the life span of Figma for one sole reason. The layer selection is bad, its not just different, its counter-intuitive. Its so counter-intuitive, that it feels like an anti pattern and frustrates me to the point where I revert back to sketch.

Im going to break this down into “expected behavior” and “Figma behavior” Im not going to use “bad behavior” or “anti-pattern” because these were decisions made by Figma. I just disagree with those decisions.

Layer move over auto-layout (expected behavior):

user has a group, two text layers. in close proximity(layout doesn’t matter). this group sits on top of a completed mock with auto-layouts all over the place.

  1. user double clicks one of the text layers to move that layer.
  2. user moves that layer up about 200px, the move drags the layer over multiple other layers, auto-layouts and groups underneath the text group.
  3. user stops moving the the text layer, and hits esc to deselect and commit their changes.
  4. the group stays intact both text layers are still in the same group(you know whats coming now).

Layer move over auto-layout (Figma behavior):

user has a group, two text layers. in close proximity(layout doesn’t matter). this group sits on top of a completed mock with auto-layouts all over the place.

  1. user double clicks one of the text layers to move that layer.
  2. user moves that layer up about 200px, the move drags the layer over multiple other layers, auto-layouts and groups underneath the text group.
  3. during the move the layer is pulled out of the group into another group (auto-layout), even though that action was never intended by the user.
  4. user stops moving the the text layer, and hits esc to deselect and commit their changes.
  5. the original group has been destroyed and now the selected text layer is in another group when it was dragged around. The other text layer is also pulled out of the group if it was the last layer in the group.

The behavior of auto grouping should be off by default. a hotkey/modifier key should be used for this auto layer grouping management.

deselection of edit object (expected behavior)

user has a primitive rectangle on the frame.

  1. user double clicks (or hits enter) to modify the path of the rectangle.
  2. user edits the path, user clicks (once) outside the path (or hits esc) to deselect and commit changes.

deselection of edit object (Figma behavior)

user has a primitive rectangle on the frame.

  1. user double clicks (or hits enter) to modify the path of the rectangle.
  2. user edits the path, user clicks (once) outside the path but nothing happens.
  3. user clicks again (once) outside the path but nothing happens. user thinks this is a bug so they start clicking more than once and finds that they have to (double click) to deselect. hitting esc does the correct behavior of deselecting the layer.

This one really boggles my mind, I don’t know what I’m missing here. I don’t know what Figma expects the user to do if they click outside the object. Is it that you can commit the path and continue to edit paths? can’t you do that without clicking outside the object? Or maybe Figma is trying to be consistent, you need to double click to edit and double click to commit? It’s a true mystery to me since this behavior has been in Figma since the beginning. I can’t think of another application where “blurring” clicking outside of the item your editing doesn’t commit the changes.

This next one I think is a bug and related to the first behavior above.

moving a layer over a obstructed group (expected behavior)

Obstructed here means you’ve got two layers stacked on top of each other. like a rectangle with a background blur(glass pane) over an auto-layout group.

user is moving a third layer at the top of the stack.

  1. user moves layer on top of the rectangle that obstructs the auto-layout.
  2. it works.

moving a layer over a obstructed group (Figma behavior)

Obstructed here means you’ve got two layers stacked on top of each other. like a rectangle with a background blur(glass pane) over an auto-layout group.

user is moving a third layer at the top of the stack.

  1. user moves layer on top of the rectangle that obstructs the auto-layout.
  2. the layer gets swallowed up by the auto-layout that is two layers below.

Again this prolly could be fixed with auto-grouping be off by default and a modifier key to activate the behavior. But really you shouldn’t be able to interact with the obstructed auto-layout.


Some might be quick to point out that Sketch doesn’t have a robust auto layout like Figma. But they have via a very popular 3rd party plugin by anima. been around for 5+ years that lets you do all the things Figma now does but without all the buggy layer selection behaviors.

There’s a number of other grievances I have with Figma; like why do I have to be in path editing tool to curve a path. I can’t just double click the point on the path to curve it? Like using the pen tool should put me into path editing mode automatically right? Why is there pen mode and path mode as two separate modes…

These issues I have add up and cause a lot of fixing when I think they were intended to speed things up. I find myself cursing the editor and wondering why people put up with this when sketch has none of these issues. I want to use Figma because they build into their app what sketch relies on plugins for. But right now the way layers work is so frustrating that I have to go back to sketch.

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