DANIEL VAUGHN

danielbvaughn@gmail.com

Why on Earth would someone build a programming language for designers? Especially right now, at this very moment? No-code and low-code tools have been around for a decade, and really began to thrive after Covid. Dozens of such tools now exist, all making the same promise - you can design an app without going near a line of code. We’re also facing an onslaught of LLMs and generative AI that promise to create everything under the sun for us, including UI.

Behind these trends is the belief that code is hard, slow, and expensive. As is the case with many popular truisms, this is a misguided idea. The reality is that code is simple, fast, and cheap.

In fact, code is so simple, fast, and cheap, that over the past century it’s been used to solve a huge number of very complex problems. Because of this, it is a victim of guilt-by-association. People have begun to believe that what was difficult about all of those problems was actually the code, and not the problem itself.

But really, at its heart, code is simply written text that both a human and a computer can understand. Anyone who understands written language can read, right? It doesn’t mean they know how to read everything - some material is densely packed with obscure terminology, scientific research being one example.

So they may not know every word in the dictionary, fine, but that’s irrelevant. They can still read, so long as they recognize the words they’re reading.

It’s the exact same case with code - it’s only as hard as the problem it’s trying to solve. If you can understand the problem, you can understand the code. It’s often thought that designers “cannot code,” but that’s only because code has never tried to solve the problems that designers face.

This is Matry’s goal.

It aims to challenge the definition of what code “is” by giving designers a language that feels as natural to them as traditional programming languages feel to developers. Doing so will unlock the potential for a new class of design tooling, one that transcends disciplines and brings designers and developers closer than ever before.

questions

Though I can’t anticipate every reaction, I’d like to address some of the concerns I expect to encounter most.

Designers like to draw, not code
This happens to be true today, but it isn’t written in stone. In fact, many designers work directly in the browser with HTML and CSS.

You’re forcing designers to become developers
Never! Matry is not a language for “developing software.” The sole purpose is to express design decisions.

Designers are creative, they’re much better off with creative tools
I (the creator of Matry) grew up as an artist. When I first began coding, I was worried that it would limit my creativity. In fact, the opposite happened - it expanded my creativity. It was an incredible revelation, and I hope I can share that same experience with others.

Designer workflows are going to change
Hopefully for the better - Matry’s goal is to create a workflow that is ultimately simpler than what exists today.

Is this just CSS?
No. There are some important differences between Matry and CSS; too many to explain here.

I’m really good with Figma, why would I learn this?
You’re welcome to stick with Figma, or any other tool! But no matter how good you are with Figma, you’ll never be as efficient as you could be writing code. Seriously, the difference in speed between drawing and writing is impossible to overstate.