Why is version control for designers premium?

over 5 years ago from , UX Designer

I've been looking into version control software for doing my designs. There are many options available for version control, but every one I've found is premium. Why do designers have to pay when there is open source and free version control available for developers?


  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, over 5 years ago

    I imagine because there’s a lot of work in creating sophisticated GUIs that are “designer-friendly.” That said, I’ve been able to use Abstract at no cost so far because I don’t collaborate.

    9 points
  • Account deleted over 5 years ago

    https://kactus.io anyone?

    6 points
    • Sebastian Römer, over 5 years ago

      I was just doing research about git & Sketch and came across kactus.io - is anyone using it in production? What are your thought about it?

      0 points
  • Brian LeeBrian Lee, over 5 years ago

    Until Bitbucket / Atlassian came, version control for devs was only free if your project was open source. That said, there's nothing stopping designers from using the developer's free version of source control as well. The catch is the UI is focused on text as opposed to images. A possible work around is to pay once for a GUI client made for designers.

    4 points
  • vadim mikhnovvadim mikhnov, over 5 years ago

    Basic version control is absolutely available to designers for free, but its utility is very limited. That is because version control for design source files is a much bigger challenge than version control for text files (that is essentially what developers' source files are). Multiple companies are working on a solution which can work as a companion for Sketch, some are working on extensions to git for its easier use with source files of different design apps. Some new tools are having it build in, functionality varies though. Basic level is what essentially Sketch does via integration to your Time Machine. I would like to add, that version control for developers isn't always free, you can set up your git or basic github account for free, but if you need those collaboration, continuous integration and other such stuff you're not gonna get those for free.

    2 points
    • Andree Huk, over 5 years ago

      All design source files will be free and open for use very soon. Sketch leads the way and others will follow.

      0 points
  • Liam WheatonLiam Wheaton, over 5 years ago

    Another point—I assume it would cost a lot more to store design file blob data than it would to store txt files (in the case of most programming languages).

    1 point
  • Ajmal Afif, over 5 years ago

    Hi Vince, that's a very good question especially for us designers to ponder. Developers also contribute a lot of their own free personal time back to open source projects.

    Personally I don't see much but a few that contribute design to open source projects, and I think of course there are some of us here who do but not at the same scale as how developers do for all these open source projects.

    In a way, I won't feel entitled to have this for free.

    1 point
  • Richard SisonRichard Sison, over 5 years ago

    Like Steve mentioned, Abstract is free if you're just managing your own stuff.

    But if you're expecting version control within a team context, built specifically for the workflows and needs of designers AND for it to be free, it's just not sustainable.

    If it were to exist, I wouldn't expect it to last long.

    Try Abstract for your own things. It's awesome. Once you use it for a little while and need to collaborate, the $9 p/m will be well worth it. I haven't needed yet because I'm the only one touching my files, but I'm prepared to drop the cash if and when I need to.

    1 point
    • Andree Huk, over 5 years ago

      what's your incentive to use that tool only yourself?

      …curious as the biggest reason/incentive for Git is collaboration.

      0 points
      • Richard SisonRichard Sison, over 5 years ago

        Hey Andree!

        Completely get where you're coming from re Git.

        But there are a few big reasons for me to version control my design files:

        • Backup. This was the main one for me. I used to work between two computers (work and home), and whenever I needed to work from home, if I didn't copy the files across to a USB (and remember to take it out once it had copied…), I wouldn't be able to work on my files.

        • Version history. I've always been pretty good about managing my files so I never really had the issue of the stereotypical "design-file--v2-final-final.sketch" situation. What Abstract gives me though which I find valuable is a timeline of my commits, versions and history in one place just so I can roll-back to previous versions if required.

        • Branching. Helpful if you need to test an idea and roll back.

        And with all of that comes learning the software and tooling. The benefit of that is because it's such a regular part of my workflow, if I do need to join a team to collaborate on files, I won't need to learn it then…

        Hope that helps!

        Cheers, Rich

        0 points
        • Andree Huk, over 5 years ago

          Thanks Richard.

          regarding backup: I would happily suggest Resilio Sync, it's free if you don't need super-nerdy features.

          regarding history: I am surprised. I keep talking with various design teams and designers due to our internal process and collaboration needs and our work and articles on Git with Sketch (or any design tool). Hardly anyone ever "goes back", they don't see any need there.

          regarding branching: the need on the dev side is clear but on design? With teams for sure, alone - puhhh. that's a tricky one IMHO especially in regard to the need to change behaviour. Creating another page to which tests and random layouts are moved is apparently (feedback from designers) much more "natural" than using another tool to create a branch, commit, delete.

          Agree on the learning part. However, being able to use any online git platform would also be better here in order to streamline processes and move design much much closer to engineering.

          Take care, Andree

          0 points
  • Alexandru NăstaseAlexandru Năstase, over 5 years ago

    There's this one too https://jointrunk.com which accepts Photoshop files also the rest are limited to only sketch files

    0 points
  • Andree Huk, over 5 years ago

    Abstract enjoys the early bird premium at the moment, next to Plant or Kactus.

    The plethora of git clients such as Sourcetree (Atlassian), GH, Fork, Git-tower will very soon support Sketch files and the like that have opened up their source files. IMHO it is just a matter of time.

    Once that happens, you can simply use any online repo hosting service like GH, Gitlab or the like with such aforementioned git clients.

    I would bet that GL/Atlassian are already working on this (and Sourcetree is free and will remain, a guess)

    By the way, here is an article that I wrote a few months ago, Sketch with Git. Not yet ready for mainstream but perhaps some food for thought:

    Real Version Control & Collaboration for Sketch Is Finally Here


    0 points
  • Zyrus DeriZyrus Deri, over 5 years ago

    I've been using the free tier of https://plantapp.io/ and it's awesome! Very easy to use and the simplicity is just as I need it to be.

    0 points
  • Philip A, over 5 years ago

    Design with html/css and you too can get the magic of git free ;)

    0 points
    • Chris LüdersChris Lüders, over 5 years ago

      Can you recommend a good workflow for "design in code"? So that a designer (who just started coding), can switch quickly.

      0 points
      • Philip A, over 5 years ago

        Web design workflow? I'd start with learning about atomic CSS (and atomic design) and combine the two. My workflow is sketching on whiteboards followed by a 50/50 screen with emacs/browser using atomic CSS classes in html to rapidly design in the browser. Then, publishing to a static page (usually github pages) and handing over a URL to the devs (and actually working on implementing the designs in whatever tech the devs are using (react/angular etc).

        That is so condensed its not funny. I'd love to write/screencast this.

        0 points
    • Josh Sanders, over 5 years ago

      not all design projects rely on or are made of code ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      1 point