Behind the Plugins: Sam Mason de Caires, UX Engineer @ Cloudflare

Morgan Kennedy

Editor's Note: This article is part 1 of a 5-part series about the creators behind Figma plugins.

Plugins are coming to Figma. This would not have happened without the Figma community. 

A little over a month ago, we onboarded our first customers to the plugins beta. We were humbled by the incredible response from the community and completely amazed by what we saw when our customers got their hands on our new plugin APIs.

From data visualizations, to content imports, to accessibility tools, we can’t wait to share what our beta customers have built. But first, let’s go behind the plugins and meet some of our very first creators. 

In this series, we discuss what inspires them, how they see the design community evolving,and of course, get a sneak peek into the plugins they’ve been working on. 

Let’s meet our first creator.

Already having built four plugins for Figma’s community, Sam Mason de Caires, a UX Engineer at Cloudflare says he is most excited about Figma’s plugin API because, “it enables designers to automate tedious tasks so they can then work on the meaningful parts of their process, like designing.” 

Q: Why did you become a designer/developer?A: I’ve always enjoyed the idea of being able to build something out of nothing and seeing people around the world use your creation. That's what led me down the path of becoming a developer. At the same time, I’ve always enjoyed design and recognized that there is a lot of crossover between design and development. In my current role at Cloudflare, my skills as a developer have allowed me to meaningfully contribute to design projects.

Q: What Figma plugins are you building?A: I have built a few translation plugins, a data replacement plugin, a theme UI generator, and a graph plugin and a color reference plugin for colorblindness. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the color reference plugin:

Q: Why are you building for the Figma community?A: I find the idea of a design tool with an API to be an interesting one. Things that are often tedious and done by hand can easily be automated if we have access to the underlying code of the tool, therefore giving designers more time to work on the meaningful parts of their process, like designing. 

Q: How do you see the design community evolving over the next 5 years?A: I think there will be big enhancements in generative design. So rather than individually designing each possible state, you will instead be able to pass in data that describes what you want and the tools will be able to generate all the possible variations. Then you, as a designer, would decide the best facets of each one to make the fully formed final output. I would urge anyone who wants to learn more to read Adam Morse’s post on Chaos Design. He has done some incredibly deep thinking on the topics of design tooling and what the evolution of design might look like.

Q: How do you see yourself contributing to the community long term?A: For a long time I didn't think my skills as a developer would have been able to help the community much, but I'm now realizing that I can help make tools that help designers work faster and with more confidence. I would like to continue contributing more of those tools and processes to the community.

Q: What designer and/or company do you look up to?A: I’m a huge fan of Stripe and the designers and engineers there. Not just for their beautiful aesthetics and great UI, but the fact that they made a payment processing service a really cool and desirable product. They also seem to want to help people outside of their immediate product by creating businesses like Stripe Press.

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