Managing Assets with Adobe XD

Jonathan Pimento
Apr 7, 2018 · 7 min read

Curating and reusing colors, character styles, and symbols with the Assets Panel

Assets Panel in Adobe XD. (Previously — Symbol Library)

Design Systems help maintain consistency and build a shared vocabulary that speeds up design and development time.

​​However, the cost of building and maintaining them is often very expensive. Designers have to rely on multiple plugins and extensions in addition to their main authoring tool to make this workflow truly useful. I believe that the cost to maintain a design system should not outweigh the need for one.

One of our core principles for Adobe XD is reducing friction in the design process. The Assets Panel is the first step towards better managing of linked colors, character styles, and Symbols in XD. I’ve put together a quick overview of the different workflows that the Assets Panel supports, in order to speed up your design process.


Adding a color

1. Adding colors to assets

You can select a layer, group, or an entire artboard(s) and click on the (+) button in the Assets Panel to extract all the colors in your selection. XD will scan for fill and stroke colors, which may be solid fills or gradients. The panel doesn’t allow duplicate values to be added.

Tip: Multi-select all your artboards and click on (+) to extract the document’s color palette.

Applying a color

2. Reusing colors from assets

Once you’ve curated your colors, make a selection on the artboard and click a color swatch to apply it. You can right click a color swatch and use the context menu to apply it as a stroke color.

Tip : Colors are automatically sorted to show values in the following order — solid fills, solid fills with alpha, gradients, gradients with alpha value.

Tooltips for color values

3. Copying color values

There are two ways to access a color’s hex value. Hover over a swatch to see the hex value or right click and use the context menu option to copy the hex value.

Tip : Values with alpha display the alpha percent in the tooltip. For gradients, ( — ) between the hex values indicate two color stops. If a gradient contains multiple color stops, the tooltip shows you the first and last stop with (…) in between.

Editing a color

4. Editing colors (linked)

Right click and select Edit from the context menu to modify a color value and have it update in real time across all instances in the document. This is a great way to manage color changes across multiple artboards.

Tip : If you want to merge two similar color values, edit one of them to match the other and XD will automatically delete the duplicate swatch.

Swatches in the color picker

5. Swatches in the color picker

So why have color swatches in two different locations? Color picker swatches allow you to add colors from content that lives outside the XD document. The Assets Panel is a local library of colors used in the current document. Additionally, the Assets Panel allows you to globally manage changes to a value. We do plan on bridging the swatches in the future.

Tip : You can leverage the swatches in the color picker to play around with experimental palettes that you can extract from content outside of XD. Once you’ve settled on the final colors, you can add them to the Assets Panels swatches.

Adding character styles

6. Adding character styles to assets

You can select a layer, group, or an entire artboard and click on the (+) button in the Assets Panel to extract all the character styles in your selection. XD will scan each text layer for the font-family, font-size, weight, color, and line height. As with colors, the panel doesn’t allow the addition of duplicate styles. Text with sub-range styles will generate multiple character styles.

Tip : Character styles are ordered alphabetically and then sorted by font-size. Use the tooltip to see additional metadata like line height and character spacing.

Applying a character style

7. Reusing character styles from assets

Once you’ve curated your character styles, make a selection on the artboard and click a character style to apply it. You can select a sub-range of text and apply a character style only to the selected characters.

Tip : If your document contains a missing font, the character style in the panel will display a warning icon. You can use the edit functionality to replace the missing font.

Editing a character style

8. Editing character styles (linked)

Right click and select Edit from the context menu to modify a character style and have it update in real time across all instances in the document. This is a great way to manage changes across multiple artboards.

Tip : If you want to merge two similar styles, edit one of them to match the other and XD will automatically delete the duplicate style.

Adding symbols

9. Adding symbols to assets

In addition to using the shortcut (CMD/CTRL K) you can make a selection and hit (+) in the panel to convert it to a symbol. More details on symbols can be found here.

Tip : As you create symbols using the shortcut or context menu, they are automatically added into the panel.

Deleting from Assets

10. Deleting from assets

You can right click and use the context menu to delete a color, character style, or symbol from a document. Deleting a color or character style doesn’t impact the objects that use it. Deleting a symbol will result in the unlinking of all copies of it on canvas.

Tip : If a color, character style, or symbol for the current selection already exists, the (+) button in the panel is disabled.

Reverse highlight from the panel

11. Reverse highlight assets on canvas

Very often we find ourselves struggling to figure out which elements on a canvas use a specific color value or character style. Using the Assets Panel, right click a style and select “Highlight” to highlight all objects that use that specific value or style.

Tip : If your selected color value, character style, or symbol is no longer used in the document, XD will pop a message to let you know that 0 instances on the canvas use this style.

Reveal from canvas in the panel

12. Reveal assets used for a selected object

Sometimes we want to understand which character style or color our current selection on the canvas uses. You can right click an object and pick Reveal from the context menu to select the colors or styles it uses.

Tip : You can reveal colors, character styles, or symbols for a selection that contains several objects.

Filtering assets

13. Filtering assets

With the search bar at the top, you can filter by asset type. This is very helpful when you are working with a long list of symbols or styles. You can filter the panel to show only colors, character styles, symbols, or a specific recent search.

Tip : Your five most recent searches are saved in the filters for quicker access.

Searching assets

14. Searching assets

You can use the search field to search colors by hex value, character styles by font-family, font-weight, hex value, and symbols by their layer name. We save the five most recent searches for quicker access. You can also delete recent searches by hovering over them and clicking on the delete icon.

Tip : symbols currently map to their layer names. We are working on adding support for labeling in the Assets Panel.


What’s next?

This is just the start. Naming and reordering assets is coming soon! We believe that tools like the Assets Panel, symbols, Creative Cloud Libraries, and Design Specs will enable you to architect a scalable design system in Adobe XD. We are working on several features that range from nested symbol management and resizing, to states, components, and organization for assets.


Jonathan Pimento

Written by

Dropping pixels, fixing breakpoints & building roadmaps. Designer turned Product Manager on @AdobeXD ⚡️ www.jonathanpimento.com

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