Opportunity for better feedback about auto-layout logic when working with “fill”

Hi all,

I was recently building a component that had a horizontal resizing rule of “fill container” and ran into some strange behavior as I peeled off instances from the main component. These observations are nothing more than that; just interesting quirks of auto-layout that I wanted to share with the community and hopefully the good folks at Figma! Here’s what I’ve observed when working with a variant that has an auto-layout horizontal resizing rule of “fill container”

  1. Instances will respect their original “fill container” setting when placed inside another frame set to fixed width :white_check_mark: Good! Things are working as I’d expect.
  2. Instances dropped onto the canvas (no containing frame) are forced to become “fixed width.” :white_check_mark: Also good! This is logical. Because the object has no bounds to fill on the “infinite” canvas, it is impossible to have a setting of “fill container” in any direction.
  3. ^ Continuing off of point 2… this is what I’d consider a forced override. It’s not one I’ve made as a user, but one Figma must make because… logic. When I right-click on the instance, I am not presented with a “reset all overrides” option. :white_check_mark: Yes! This makes sense. I haven’t made any overrides, so even if that option were available to click, nothing would happen. OPPORTUNITY FOR BETTER UX: Figma does nothing at all to explain what’s going on. If I hadn’t slowed down to consider why a fill-container variant is suddenly set to fixed-width when that’s not what I instructed it to do, I might be really confused. I think having some way to know when a “forced override” has occurred would be helpful here.
  4. This is where things got weird (in my opinion). If I wrap an instance that was placed on the canvas in an auto-layout frame set to either “hug” or “fixed width”, I would’ve expected it to behave like instances did in point 1. But they don’t! :frowning_face: they remain “fixed width”
  5. ^ Continuing off of point 4… what’s worse is I expected to be able to reset overrides thinking that Figma thought my putting the instance in an auto-layout frame is like me opting-in to that “forced override” and accepting it as one I’m making as a user. But no! :frowning_face: The “reset all overrides” option is still not available. To get back to a “pure” instance, I have to make some sort of manual adjustment, like stretch the instance, change a color on something…etc. and then I have the “reset all overrides” option.

None of this breaks my workflow or prevents me from building things, but it the experience felt a bit wonky. Again, it all makes logical sense (mostly), but I also think there’s opportunities here for the tool to give me, the user, more feedback and better understand the logic of auto-layout without having to run little experiments. Though, I’ll probably always run little experiments, it’s something I love doing and how I like to learn :sweat_smile: but some folks don’t! They want a tool that just works and communicates information well, not puzzles to solve.

I’ve recorded a narrated screencast to demonstrate the points above, but having troubles uploading it (I’m going to keep trying; check back for edits)