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Behind the Plugins: Jackie Chui, UX Designer @ Microsoft

Meet Jackie, a Figma API user from the start and Plugins beta user. Check out the useful tools he has been building for Microsoft and the broader community.

Editor's Note: This article is part 5 of a 5-part series about the creators behind Figma plugins—coming to a Figma near you on August 1, 2019. Tune in to watch our live announcement.

In our final “Behind the Plugins” interview, I’m sitting down with Jackie Chui, UX Designer at Microsoft working on the PowerApps design team. A natural tinkerer, Jackie has been exploring the Figma API ever since we launched our platform

more than a year ago. You may even recognize him as the creator of a community for Figma users to share functionality built with our APIs. Needless to say, Jackie has become a valued partner in our plugins beta program.

Since joining our beta, he’s been busy building useful tools for Microsoft and the broader community. He’s created so many plugins that we even lost count. As Jackie put it, “I love designing and building tools to help designers work faster and smarter, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.”

Let’s meet the creator behind the plugins.

Q: Why did you become a designer/developer?A: I remember as a kid I always loved building and inventing new things with my LEGOs. Later in life when I stumbled upon UX design, that same passion for building things was reignited. In my journey as a UX designer, I picked up some coding skills along the way, so I can actually build the products I design and see it all come together.

Q: What do you do to get inspired?A: I look to what others are doing in the space and try to draw connections between elements of their work into my own projects.

Q: What Figma plugins are you building?A: I’m most excited about the Find and Replace plugin I’ve built for the Figma community.

I’ve also built a Paste to Fill plugin,

a Button Resizer plugin,

...and so many more!

Q: Was this your first time building a plugin? How did you get started?A: Yes, this is my first time building plugins for any system. It actually all started from the Microsoft OneWeek Hackathon in 2018. My team wanted to do something with building accessibility features into our design tools (we were already using Figma at that time). Since Figma is built on the web, I got curious and started to explore Figma’s platform. After discovering some functions which allowed me to simulate user actions programmatically, I got completely hooked. Every little new function I found opened up a world of possibilities for me. This is why I really appreciate how easy and stable the official API is today.

Q: What piece of work are you most proud of?A: Ironically, Figma Plus.

Initially, I built my first hacky plugin in the form of Chrome extensions that only worked on the browser. After receiving a lot of positive feedback from the community, I realized there was a huge need for the plugin to work on Figma’s desktop app (because that’s where most users do their work). So I teamed up with Mirko Santangelo and Ahmad Al Haddad, who had also worked on a few plugins, to develop a platform that aggregates our knowledge of the Figma API. All three of us are over-achievers so what started as a small project eventually turned into a complete system with our own API, plugin store, and publishing process. So when Figma officially launched their plugins beta, of course the three of us wanted to be a part of it.

Q: How do you see the design community evolving over the next 5 years?A: Designers and developers will become closer in their workflows, especially as future design tools continue to bridge the gap that exists today.

Q: Why are you building for the Figma community?A: Figma has become the primary design tool in Microsoft, so it only makes sense for me to start building on the platform that helps my team's workflow and expand outward from there.

On August 1, Jackie’s plugins will be available to the Figma community. Tune in to watch our announcement live.

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