How does Knapsack compare to Style Dictionary?

TL;DR: Knapsack provides token transformation out of the box, which saves teams work in setting up a custom Style Dictionary workflow. However, Knapsack's source token file format is fully compatible with Style Dictionary, so engineers are welcome to set up a Style Dictionary workflow in the repo using source file that Knapsack reads from and writes to.
Style dictionary is powerful for transforming tokens into different outputs (e.g. CSS), but has some limitations:
  • Engineers are needed to build the workflows and manage the implementation
  • The default setup imposes limitations on what you can name tokens (based on what type of token they are)
  • Style Dictionary only solves for a limited part of the workflow without addressing documentation, distribution of style assets, or x-functional contribution.
Knapsack built a replacement for Style Dictionary within our platform that helps address these shortcomings:
  • Designers and non-engineers are able to contribute to token definition and updates from the web, all through a git-managed workflow
  • Leveraging the new draft W3C Design Token specification, Knapsack’s token architecture accommodates flexible naming and metadata (e.g. token descriptions) within the source files
  • Knapsack provides dynamic documentation for all tokens out-of-the-box, enabling non-engineers to create DS documentation rooted in code.
  • Knapsack automatically generates CSS, LESS, SCSS, XML (for Android), Swift (for iOS) and more styles based on the source tokens.
  • Knapsack automatically publishes npm packages of both raw tokens and compiled styles (CSS, etc.) for engineers to use. Designers can edit tokens and update CSS for engineers to consume and leverage without involving engineers in between!

Check out our documentation on editing and managing design tokens and configuring the Knapsack Token Engine to learn more!