AdriaAdria JimenezJimenez

My experience after Layervault shutdown

Layervault alternatives

I have to admit that I was a total fan of Layervault, that idea of having a nice version control system for your designs was really promising and it worked amazingly well, they also offered other ton of features but honestly I wasn’t using them pretty much.

Unfortunately shit happens and it seems like the business model they choose was not the best one, and starting from April 21st this year they had to close. Sad but true.

Discovery phase

After Layervault closing it’s doors, I started to look for alternatives, I tried several options but no one really fulfilled my needs, basically I was looking for a safe place to keep my designs where I could have a history of changes that I could review later and also easily share with my colleagues.

As I’m a developer I thought about using git. For those of you who don’t know git, it’s a version control system that let’s you keep an history of your changes, go forward and backward as you wish and even branch and merge things (it can be very mindtwisting for newbies).

My biggest fear with git was at that time, that it’s a tool prepared for working with text files and Sketch files are not text but binary, and although they should behave correctly, I was still afraid that at some point a conflict could appear and my work would be ruined.

git squareGit to the rescue

As I was already experienced with git I wanted to give it a try, the worst it could happen is that I had to stop using it, but no actual damage could happen.

I added a folder full of designs to a newly fresh created repository and everything started working flawless, I could edit my designs, commit my changes and I could even go back and forward. Binary files were working better than I expected.

Some days after using it for my daily workflow, I found my first issue. Sketch autosave was saving every single file just by opening it, so when I was going to commit, I was finding my history full of useless files ready to be committed… Well, fortunately in the recent versions of Sketch, autosave can be disabled in the preferences, so problem solved.

After the storm

Now months have passed, and I’ve made git my default way of dealing with designs, I can create a new repository for a new project, and add, remove and modify as many folders and files as I want. All my designs will be there, backed and ready to go back and forth to see that tiny detail I changed 4 months ago. Isn’t that incredible?

Fat iconWell all comes at a price, unfortunately as the repository grew, same did the space the “.git” folder occupies in my hard drive, as git needs to keep track of all the changes, it needs to save the bits and pieces that changes in all of them. Something that can be almost nothing for text files, but that can quickly grow for binary files.

So even after seeing those issues, I can confirm that at the moment of speaking, that’s the best way to store versioned copies of your designs.

And the best of all, I can quickly share my repositories with other people, and they can start working straight away!