local-first software — why it’s a game-changer for developers and designers?

Eden Vidal
2 min readSep 20, 2023

let’s talk about something pretty cool that’s going on in tech. local-first software.

why is it happening?

there’s a move towards “decentralized systems.” in simpler terms, this means breaking away from giant, single cloud systems that hold all the power and control. instead, we’re looking at smaller, independent units that can work together but also operate on their own.

it’s a golden chance to build apps that are not only super modern but also ethical and centered around the user.

if you’re a developer or a designer, you really need to pay attention. why? well, it’s all about giving us more control and better privacy. making our apps work even when we’re offline. sounds great, right?

it’s built on something called crdts (conflict-free replicated data types). in simple terms, it lets us collaborate in real-time without needing a central server. so, you and your team can work together, even when you’re not online.

i know what you’re thinking… “this is what figma and google docs have” but in fact, it doesn’t. you know how annoying it is when there’s a lag in figma? this happens because your design files are running on figma’s cloud. local-first software fixes that.

i was one of the early advocates for live collaboration, and my team at ‘under’ took figma to the next level. nowadays, i feel live collaboration has become somewhat overrated, as if it’s the only mode we should work at.

we should be able to work both online and offline and collaborate as needed. local-first software is like getting the best of both online and offline worlds.

i appreciate how collaboration works for developers using git. and i believe designers should be able to work in such a way. imagine designing solo, without ever worrying about version conflicts.

with a local-first approach, it’s a core feature. local-first keeps your apps running smoothly. once you’re back online, all your changes sync up automatically. this is a real game-changer!

if you’re creating tools, going local-first makes your software way more attractive. it offers a truly collaborative space, free from any conflicts.

now, let’s talk privacy.

with all the debates going on about who owns our data, local-first apps have a killer advantage. your data is stored on your own device and can be encrypted from end to end. that means you’re the boss of your information.

if you’re building tools, local-first is a trust booster for your users.

big names like apple are already on board, using crdts in their notes app. and startups are also getting in on the action.

this isn’t just some trend — it’s foundational tech that’s going to change the game.