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Can someone describe their workflow they use to handle multiple versions of a file ? For example,

  • if more than one person worked on it
  • or you explored an idea with the design then realized you have to undo state multiple times and hope you reach the previous state you needed

Does one just save under a different filename every hour / every 15 minutes ?

As a sole designer does one even need version control ?

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Adobe Version Cue was a version control system bundled with Creative Suite 1-4, so widely available - but despite this, neither I nor anyone I know has ever used it. –  e100 Jan 7 '11 at 12:47
    
@e100 : tried it once for a project and it was incredibly slow :( - but maybe it was my PC back then... –  Shikiryu Jan 10 '11 at 9:30
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I never had to work on the same file with other person but I have 3 ways to deal with multiple versions of a design file.

Milestones

I used milestones for a moment when we were trying the AGILE way as designers (like some developers do). It's quite efficient but takes quite some times (more when you begin to use this. At the end, it's quite nice). Lots of organisation needed.

Number/dates/details in file name

When I started design, I dealt with numbers for versioning. Horrible. Seriously, don't. Or be organize. "Design1.psd" "Design2.psd" etc...

Dates/Hours are nice if you got a good memory of what did I do yesterday?. In my case, less horrible than number but not much more powerful. "Design20100801-1112.psd"

Details are better. I used names like "Design20100801-1112-add-pattern.psd" = date-hour-details. Quite long filenames but it's fast to use and you find your file quite faster than any previous method.

SVN or GIT

a.k.a the real version control

I, now, use SVN. I save regurally the same file "Design1.psd" for example. And every hour or every pause I commit my modifications and give details about it.

If I made an error or the client wanted the previous version, I just update to version xxx and it's done.

It also gives you the power of branches and tags which are really interesting to handle milestones.

There's a reason why developers use version control software/DB/etc... It's efficient and designers should use it too. (But it's quite hard to understand/use in the beginning)

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git, while probably much harder to grasp for someone with no previous VCS experience, has much better support for binary files than SVN. –  Can Berk Güder Jan 5 '11 at 19:13
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git also doesn't require you to set up server with a repository, which makes starting out much easier –  Jakub Arnold Jan 5 '11 at 20:47
    
@Can Berk Güder: Is git really better handling binary files? I never experienced problems with binary files in SVN. I think that's an legend. –  Mnementh Jan 5 '11 at 23:02
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@Darth: You need a repository, but you don't need a server. You can use a local repository with a file-URL. I use it on my computer to store all stuff I want to version-control but not to publish. Works fine. –  Mnementh Jan 5 '11 at 23:03
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Well, pro SVN : Easier to work with (I tried both, and svn is pretty straight for basic command), can work local or free private repo like assembla I use. pro GIT : Easier to fork / merge when in multi-user case (which isn't my case), better handle of file size if there's not too much files, can work local or private repo too. Only advice I would give to anyone is try both and choose the one that fit your needs –  Shikiryu Jan 6 '11 at 8:39
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Version control of some kind is always a good thing, especially with creative endeavors. Traditional systems like SVN are good for text files, but not so much for binary files (for example, InDesign and QuarkXpress).

Really what's needed here, especially if multiple designers are involved is a digital asset management system or content management system. This is, however, a very deep rabbit hole, and any real discussion goes way beyond the SE format. Suffice to say, prices run the gamut from free to multi-million dollar systems.

A good system will allow you to save by milestone, but also, more importantly for multiple designers, allow someone to check out a document for editing which bars others from downloading it, but also roll back changes to previous versions.

If you are considering some kind of a system, you need to sit down and think about your environment (computer hardware, software, office, number of potential users) and your needs, come up with a needs document, and start searching then compare systems against your needs.

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