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I work with a team of 10 designers, producing product and packaging for stationery, electronics and toys. We pretty much exclusively use Illustrator CC.

We need an elegant and robust system for creating, sharing and updating a range of product warnings across swing tags, sew in labels and printed packaging.

Ideally this would be a localised asset bank that automatically updates across our team when any changes are made.

At first glance, Libraries looked good, but we need layer continuity for dielines and artwork (Libraries currently flattens unless I'm missing something). Also in a perfect world text would remain live.

We've tried Symbols and found they are not an option due to the number of assets we require. Currently we share a master .ai file, but with new products and warnings on the horizon I'm looking for a better solution...

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Have you looked into using Variable Data for Adobe Illustrator? (See link of explanatory video)

The thing about this approach is that there's really no automatic update without a user action to effect the process- mainly they have to go through a dialog box and update the files. I think this would be the case in any such workflow, where graphic files are changed: you'd have to at least open the files and have your Illustrator save them after they are changed. However, there's an advantage to using Illustrator variable data and actions: you can change your document in many ways by just switching/importing a dataset and using an action which can play a custom script, to further manipulate the visual changes.

You can visit my LinkedIn page to read all the articles regarding Illustrator variable data - as it appears to have emerged as one of my areas of specialization.

Yet, if you still need this automatic update to happen, perhaps a custom solution can be engineered to mimic some kind of live-link scenario.. perhaps an extension which senses when a document is opened and also when the main source data file is changed, in order to automatically sync up the changes. Still, with all this, the fact that you have to open the file inside of Illustrator in order to edit all the changes has to remain.

I'm always interested in this subject and workflows regarding such graphic art goals- so I'd welcome you to contact me via my email or LinkedIn profile.

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    Thanks for this, having not used variable data before I found it very informative. I'll take a closer look at it as an option. – Joe C Oct 6 '17 at 4:28

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