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Linked styles, swatches, libraries - how?

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Nekto Nektovich
Linked styles, swatches, libraries - how?
on Feb 15, 2017 at 8:37:39 am

Hi! I design websites and interfaces in AI. The problem is that I want to manage one set of styles and colors over several AI files.

Of course I can just draw everything inside one AI file, but I need much more room and artboards than Illustrator provides, and I don't want to hide excessive material in layers.

So the problem is really simple but seems impossible to solve: I want character & paragraph styles, swatches, symbols and whatever to be linked to a separate AI (or other format) file. Keyword here is linked, so when I modify those linked libraries the changes of styles and colors would apply to every design that has those linked libraries.

Of course I can just write my own script, or plugin, or application... But I'm not a programmer. Does anyone know - are the solutions of such problem out there?

Thank you!


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Vincent Rosati
Re: Linked styles, swatches, libraries - how?
on Feb 16, 2017 at 7:53:05 pm

Sounds like you'd need to maintain an Illustrator template file, though this wouldn't work like a linked file, as you need. The template is essentially just a regular AI file, except it loads from the templates folder. So, previously created files wouldn't update.

If you just need to globally update colors, you could File > Place a TIF, AI, EPS, or whatever, but I don't know of a good way to handle type styles.
That might be more suited to a InDesign project.

From a programmatic sense, you'd have to be able to essentially create classed text objects - A H1 text object, and a blockquote text object, etc.
This seems like it would be out of scope for Illustrator.

What I do in a similar situation is, as I'm sure you've considered, is to just maintain a master file 'Swatches and Patterns.ai', then copy and paste. For you, it might be 'Swatches and Text.ai'.
If it's something that can be created as an effect, I'll save it as a Graphic Style.

Even if you had a centralized style file, each of the attached AI files would also need to be resaved for the update to occur. However, that might only be an issue if you're including PDF previews in the file. Not sure. Just thinking out loud.

Just some initial thoughts.

Vince

*Please remember to Like an answer if it solves your question or gives you a good idea.


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Nekto Nektovich
Re: Linked styles, swatches, libraries - how?
on Feb 17, 2017 at 2:24:13 pm

@Vincent Rosati

Thank you for answering and thank you for not sending me to the CC Library description page, which is often advised but doesn't solve the problem of automatic updates of linked assets.

I didn't really understand this part:
If you just need to globally update colors, you could File > Place a TIF, AI, EPS

How exactly does this work? I mean, when I place a file it seems to be incapsulated and doesn't affect or interfere in anyway with the destination file's assets - it just becomes one of the assets, doesn't it?

And I'll comment this one too:
What I do in a similar situation is, as I'm sure you've considered, is to just maintain a master file 'Swatches and Patterns.ai', then copy and paste.

Does this mean that I'd have to manually replace all assets (from master file)? The workflow would look like this:
I make changes to assets in the master file, then I open all of the affected AI files and paste the changed assets into them, replacing destination assets (assuming they have same names)? It's a workaround, I guess, but will result in mind blowing tedious and confusing work in case there are tens or hundreds of assets across tens or hundreds AI files...

And a little offtopic, just for the chitchat. Don't you think that such features are so obviously useful and necessary that it's really weird that none of the graphic editors has them?? I mean, what can be as simple and useful as linked swatches, symbols, styles? Adobe allows to place and link all sorts of stuff - images, vector files, smart objects and even Microsoft Office documents! But not internal libraries! Oh my god, right?

They created this Creative Cloud. And they proudly say on its description page that all your assets will be linked to the Creative Cloud. But that's not true - they are NOT linked, and you even can't modify an asset in your CC Library. It even doesn't override it if you add an asset with a same name. Don't you find this ridiculous? Or I'm crazy? And everyone seems to be fine with this, even though the workflow on big projects becomes a pain just because of lack of these simplest features.


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Vincent Rosati
Re: Linked styles, swatches, libraries - how?
on Feb 17, 2017 at 9:29:50 pm

"If you just need to globally update colors,..."
This was incorrect. Although you can use the eyedropper on pasted items, to pull colors, it doesn't appear to work on placed files.
I was assuming it would work. I just tested it and it doesn't work, as you indicated.

I just don’t see a clean solution.

Regarding useful and necessary features, I’d say that that old heavyweight applications like Illustrator are built to service so many different needs in so many industries, and it’s been built up over the years to be what it needs to be. That said, plenty of people already think that apps like AI or PS are severely over bloated as it is.
Illustrator started as Adobe’s in-house font authoring tool.

What you are talking about would be a fantastic feature. I’m sure I’ve had similar thoughts, as I also do quite a bit of front end work.
I’d see it having to be some sort of plugin, possibly a script.
Maybe it could use some layer naming approach. All paragraphs go it the paragraphs layer. All H1s go it the H1 layer, etc.

I have a mixed opinion on CC. Currently only using it at work. Home is still CS.
I feel like it’s the best solution for Adobe to reduce piracy, earn profit. But I don’t really like the remote aspect at all, though it has a degree of convenience.

Vince

*Please remember to Like an answer if it solves your question or gives you a good idea.


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Nekto Nektovich
Re: Linked styles, swatches, libraries - how?
on Feb 19, 2017 at 3:26:16 pm

>>I’d see it having to be some sort of plugin, possibly a script.
You're reading my mind. I think this is a great startup idea. So many things need to be automated and it's good for business - such feature would save loads of time when it comes to quick design iteration.
Unfortunately I'm not a programmer ☹ I'm even willing to give this idea away with no credit, because I just want these features since they will make life a whole lot better ☺


>>Currently only using it at work. Home is still CS.
Amen! I really miss the CS6 apps. They were perfect and high performance - photoshop used to open itself faster than a folder in Windows! The deisgn trio - AI, PS, InDD - were samples of highly stable and fast programs, they were the best. And now with this CC crap I have to wait for like a minute while PS opens and creates a new file, on an Intel i7 / 8GB RAM computer! Ridiculous. AI is crashing all the time, like every 15 minutes. InDD constantly refuses to start because of some error and it won't work until I manually delete some strange file in the settings folder. All sorts of bugs, lags and crashes. No good. Geez!


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