I learned about Lunacy when it first came out. It was positioned as a (much needed!) “Sketch for Windows” back then. It looked pretty interesting but was a bit raw. I ended up forgetting about it because Figma came along and bulldozed this niche of the market (UI design) so quickly.
Now that Adobe has acquired Figma, it’s time to look around for alternatives.
Lunacy looks excellent – it has come a long way. But I am worried about it being “free”. No software is free to make, so there has to be a business model. It’s clear Figma’s was to burn through VC, build something competitive quickly, and cash-out. They never came close to making a profit, but that’s fine – fair enough – the goal was to get acquired. But users feel conned and let down, especially those of us previously so badly burned by Adobe. So, anything being marketed as “free” without a clearly communicated business model or being open source is a big worry. As the saying goes, if the product is free, then you’re the product. After you’ve been victim of software bait-and-switch a few times, you rightly get a bit cautious.
So, a big part in deciding to invest time with Lunacy is the business model. Are you able to share any plans around that, please?
I’m old enough to remember what Adobe did to my preferred graphics apps: Macromedia Freehand and Macromedia Fireworks (history tldr: Adobe acquired and killed them). I started my design journey pre-web using tools like Serif PagePlus and Corel Draw and eventually ended up using a combination of Macromedia Freehand and Fireworks, QuarkXPress, and Adobe Photoshop. Then Adobe flexed and we all got sucked into their products for over 20 years, like it or not. There was no real competition in the pro creative software space. But their gradual evolution to an exploitative and suffocating subscription model meant, after two decades, I switched to Affinity for my Photoshop and Illustrator alternatives. Thank goodness for good old Serif who I started with back in the early 90s still making and selling straightforward, high-quality, fairly-priced, non-exploitative software under the Affinity banner all these years later.
Then Sketch came along for Mac. This was the perfect and long-overdue replacement for the
dead killed Fireworks – a tool dedicated to screen-based UI design. But the team behind Sketch were (are?) doggedly uninterested in producing a Windows version. Many of us need to use Windows for assorted reasons (mine is that I use Windows-only GIS software as a major part of my job). So, when cross-platform Figma suddenly burst on the scene, I jumped on it.
Now Adobe is flexing again.
What I have learned in my time as both a pro and hobbyist is this: if you invest time and effort mastering a particular app or platform, it is extremely painful and disruptive (and quite emotionally upsetting, if I’m honest) when a big company comes and destroys that thing you’ve invested yourself in. So, it is important to have at least some idea of what the future holds. Serif do a great job of this with Affinity – and they are reassuringly profitable. Sketch is overpriced for the hobbyist making its reach and potential limited, and the single-platform model leaves it vulnerable to competition (e.g., Figma). Adobe is WAY overpriced – I don’t know a single person who believes Adobe is good value. I’d love to be able to use Lunacy with confidence, but without a clear business model, it seems risky. Will I have to depend on my employer making a purchase, or will I be able to safely purchase for myself at a reasonable price so I can use it at home? Will there be a generous, workable free offering but with “enterprise” upsells as with Figma’s old model or something like GitHub, Netlify, Cloudflare, etc? Or will you introduce tight restrictions on the free version, like with Miro and Lucidchart, making them effectively trial versions?