Making Sketch collaboration better with Abstract

Stop asking, “What’s in this file?” “Why is it different than the current file? “Where’s the final version?”

It happens all too often: you realize halfway through a project that part of your team has been working with an outdated Sketch file. Maybe you’ve tried adopting a stringent naming convention, or perhaps you’re using Dropbox or Google Drive to manage files.

What happens if you want to deviate from the main file a bit, explore an alternate direction, or play around with an idea you had? Over time, you and your teammates will be asking questions like, “What’s in this file?” “Why is it different than the current file?” “Did we implement any of these ideas into the main file?” “Which one of these is the main file?!?!?”

As a designer, having the autonomy to explore new design ideas is critical. If you’re held back by versioning woes, it detracts from the creative and collaborative qualities that are essential for modern design teams.

Which is the correct file?

We created Abstract to solve the workflow challenges that design teams face every day. Abstract tracks file versions and helps your team collaborate more effectively. It removes the anxiety around having the right version of a project’s Sketch files and helps designers stay in flow.

How Abstract improves Sketch collaboration

Prevent duplicate files with branches

Abstract’s Git-based workflow prevents duplicate files and ensures that each member of the team works from the latest, approved files. In Abstract, new work starts by creating a branch — which is a working copy of the Master files that only you can edit. As you are working, Abstract captures all of your changes whenever you save. Once the work reaches a point where it would be helpful to add some context, you can commit your work to Abstract. You can think of commits like you’re saving work and sharing a comment about what changed. Then bring your changes back into the main file by merging your branch into Master when you’re done. The workflow operates entirely in-app and there is no need to use the command-line. And it even works offline! Read more about our branch-commit-merge workflow.

Discussion is a central part of effective design projects. You can foster productive discussions with annotations, comments, and replies. When you have questions or feedback, we’ve made it easy to comment on files, commits, and branches. Once you submit a comment, we’ll notify the appropriate people, so you can keep designing and collaborating.

Review changes with Compare mode

If you ever want to know what has changed in a Sketch file, Compare mode allows you to compare two versions of any artboard, layer, or symbol side-by-side or as an overlay, making it easy to see the difference between the two versions.

Stay in the loop with the activity feed

When you need to quickly scan through a project to see what has been happening, check the activity feed for a summary of changes, comments, and other updates. This is great for staying on top of how the project is going, sparking discussions, and making sure the entire team is clear on where things stand.

Improve design reviews with Collections

Whether you’re giving updates about a project or presenting the finished version, Collections allow you to organize the work you want to highlight in a clean, presentable format. No need to scroll through commit messages when you’re showing off your work; just pull out the screens that are important for stakeholders to see. By default, screens added to a Collection will automatically update whenever new changes are committed. As well, we’ve added the ability to pin a screen to a specific commit making it easy to share and compare various iterations of a particular screen, icon, or element.

Keep your Sketch Libraries in sync

Abstract manages your Sketch files and Libraries, automatically making symbols available as you need them. The Linked Libraries feature allows you to have one project for your design system that can be used in any other project inside of Abstract. Per-project Libraries are great for things that will only be used in a single project. It’s a great way of avoiding symbol duplication and makes it clear who’s responsible for changes made to the overall design system.

Use Inspect to share design specifications with Engineers

With Inspect, repeatedly exporting screens, updating annotations, and adding redlines are a thing of the past. As a designer, there are no additional steps, just keep creating and committing your work in Abstract as usual. As an engineer, you now have access to a range of specifications needed to accurately implement any project. As the designs change, so do the specifications, automatically.

Modernize your Sketch collaboration workflow

Abstract was born out of real-world design versioning challenges. We’re intimately familiar with the pain points that exist in the design process and are passionate about working together with the design community to make it better. We’d love for you to give Abstract a try with your team.

Go ahead and Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Abstract.

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Originally published at www.goabstract.com on June 28, 2018.