Important announcement: Winding down Subform


Hi friends,

We have some bad news: We will no longer be developing Subform.

Logistics first:

  • Your copy of Subform will continue to work, indefinitely. You can continue to open
    existing files or create whole new projects for as long as you want.

  • We’ll be leaving the forum online for the foreseeable future, but on September 1st we’ll disable posting, transitioning it to a read-only reference.

  • If you were a part of the paid beta, your subscription has been automatically canceled and you will not be charged again going forward. You’ll continue to have forum access.

As for why we’re shutting down: we just don’t think there’s a place in the market where Subform can compete.

At some point we’ll be writing full postmortems about what we learned. Keep an eye on Kevin’s personal homepage and Ryan’s twitter account for those.

For now, the brief explanation is that we weren’t able to find a place where Subform fits into most designers’ workflows.

In testing and talking with a huge range of designers, we found that the promise of Subform was different for everyone. Many wanted a more efficent drawing tool, but only if it has full feature parity with Sketch. Some wanted complex conditional logic for prototyping, a la Axure. Others wanted a tool for visually composing React components, a WYSIWYG web editor, and so on.

Unfortunately, what we’ve found is that there isn’t a single product scope that’s achievable in the near-team—and is still useful and usable for the majority of testers. Going forward, we suspect that we’ll see more specialized tools for specialized tasks, rather than monoliths. (We released as a standalone tool, rather than a complex integration into Subform, for this reason.)

We appreciate all of the support and feedback ya’ll have given us over the past three years, from funding our first prototype on Kickstarter to the many long conversations here on this forum that convinced us that we needed a better layout engine and friendlier UI interactions.

Subform is absolutely a better tool because of your help, so thank you.

If you catch one of us in person, drinks are on us.


Kevin + Ryan



You’ve done a lot of great work on Subform. It’s a great tool. I think a lot of us were just waiting to see the official v1 but rooting in the back. However you’ve done the market research (I was one of your interviewees and I remember how thorough your questions were) and I’m certain this must have been a tough decision. I really appreciate that you want to keep the forums open. There’s a good community of forward thinkers here who really saw something worthwhile in the tool. However if the current version is the last one that anyone will ever be able to use, then it’ll die out. Any thoughts on open-sourcing the tool? Would be great if we could continue to build on top of what we have so far, and add the killer features that we see in its potential.


Thank you for all the work!

I would also love to see Subform open-sourced. Maybe it will find a good use case accidentally, or if nothing else, then at least it can be maintained to keep it running in the future.


What about Kickstarter backers? I pledged $129 and never got anything resembling what was promised. Are you telling me all I did was fund your pivot to

The application never even got to the point it could export out work!

What a slap in the face…


It feels like that to me too!


Yeah, I’d like my money back.

Funded a project that has ultimately been given up for something else.


It’s extremely important to realise that when you pledged your money to Subform on Kickstarter, you didn’t buy a product nor the promise of one. If you aren’t aware of this I’d prompt you to review what your roles and responsibilities as a backer on Kickstarter are. There’s no guarantee you’ll ever get what you paid for, you are paying to hopefully make what you see a reality one day, if you believe in it as much as the founders do. This is what an investor does, and when you back a project on Kickstarter you do the same.

I’m sorry we will never get to see what Subform could’ve been, but I don’t believe for a moment that Ryan and Kevin abandoned it for any other reason than there not being a future for it in the first place. They’re extremely rational and thoughtful people and that has shown all throughout this project.

So either way, even if we’d gotten our wish granted for a product that does what Subform was supposed to do, they would’ve probably gone bankrupt eventually for trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It takes a huge amount of courage to be able to admit that to yourself and make such a hard choice as this. While I also wish I’d have gotten to see Subform grow, all my respect goes to Ryan and Kevin for taking a difficult and honest decision.


I take issue with your assessment of the situation. Plenty of Kickstarter projects have offered refunds to backers when they reached a point they realized a project was not going to deliver on goals. That is the honorable and ethical thing to do as a business if you still have funds leftover from the original funding campaign.

I did not agree to nor was I consulted to allow my money to be used to fund a completely different product, which is what appears to be happening with

It would be one thing if General Reactives was closing shop for good, but they are not. They clearly stated in the original threat post they are unwilling to develop a product that serves the user needs they have identified over the past 2 years.

Assuming General Reactives has prior experience running a company, there should have been a specific cost center to go with the Subform project. As an investor, I want to see a balance sheet for the project to fully understand where the financials stand now that the project its killed.


Well said, @gabrycir !

There is huge value in knowing what doesn’t work—and where we are, as designers, with the current ecosystem of tools. I see Subform as valuable research in what we can and can’t do in a single tool. The market is becoming more and more competitive with the entrance of InVision Studio and the maturation of Sketch and Framer. For designers who want a lot of control and access to code, I think Framer will take the lead as one of the most robust tools in the long run, while Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, and InVision Studio will continue to contend in a different arena among designers who don’t want to touch any code.


Edit: I was wrong, they delivered what was promised in the kickstarter:


So maybe before shut down and close forum you can create some help file and set of tutorials in one place?


Wise decision you guys, still, amazing work with what you accomplished.


Are you giving all of your kickstarter backers free indefinite access to


Sadly… You have no equity. You have no financial stake in their business. You gave them free* money on a prayer that they’ll bring something interesting and useful into this world.

Consequently, they do not have to adhere to your demands. This is the nature of being a Kickstarter backer. Kickstarter is great for businesses to get what amounts to a grant. It’s not a loan, it’s not a sale of stock, it’s pretty much a grant. They got a hundred thousand dollar grant in 30 days from hundreds of funders.

The only grounds to testify on would be whether or not they delivered what their kickstarter campaign promised.

Here’s what they promised to their backers:

Product Designer

Receive one (1) licensed copy of Subform immediately after the Kickstarter, with fresh new builds as often as we make 'em.

You’ll also get access to our private discussion/support forum where you can help us shape Subform.

And of course, you’ll be immortalized as a design thought leader in the Subform app credits.

It appears as though they delivered what they promised. At least as far as any court would be concerned.

Whether or not this has left a bad taste in your mouth and you’ll avoid their company and future products like the plague… that’s up to you.

I think it would be in the spirit of subform’s essence for it to be open sourced. They don’t see a single market large enough to make continued development worthwhile. But there are lots of smaller use cases for it. If they don’t see it being something they can make money out of, which is their stated reason for the pivot, then why not allow us to build on top of it for our own uses? Why let their contribution to the world of product design fade into obscurity when it can have a legacy?


I’m confused by this. Were all of the designers you spoke with backers? Because it seemed the promise you were selling was a reactive design tool, one that automatically laid out and adjusted things according to the rules set by the designer. This is much more in line with how the web actually works, which was, to me, the key value of the tool and why I signed up for the beta. That “the promise of Subform [would be] different for everyone” seems… counter-intuitive, hence my confusion.

I’m definitely disappointed to hear you’re ending efforts. Better luck in your future endeavors. Keep us posted on them.


I strongly second the idea of open-sourcing Subform (the tool) and its layout engine. They are both very innovative and an eager team of designer/developers could keep their legacy alive.

@kevin and @Ryan, as long as you aren’t planning for General Reactives to make commercial use of the Subform IP, I beg you to consider this. Following your announcement I imagine Subform as a design tool doesn’t have a commercial future, so open-sourcing at least the UI design part of the software seems like a very viable course of action and you’d give back immensely to the community. If you don’t predict further maintaining or reusing the layout engine, I’d also be extremely in favor of you open-sourcing that as well.

There’s an extremely eager community of designers and developers whom would love to help bring Subform to fulfillment of its original promise: a complete and reliable tool for UI design with fewer of the shortcomings classic tools like Sketch have.

I’d even go as far as saying that if you were to open-source Subform in its current state, you’d be giving back just as much if not more to the community and Kickstarter backers than if you had brought the product to a final commercial release in the first place. I believe Subform and its components, such as the layout system, have an important future as open-source software.


“If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”
— Henry Ford


Are you going to release the source code for Subform at some point? I would be very interested in poking at it a bit.


Just signed in to try the beta to only hear the bad news. Also I agree with your decision you’re never going to beat CSS flexbox and grid at their own game and I could see some time ago you weren’t going to crack ‘the problem’ because as you say the ‘problem’ is different in everyone’s head

Re the funding thing will there be accounts to see where our money went? Plus a lifetime access to any tools developed with the funds. You morally owe all your backers that at least.