This is about version control for designers and how to best organize your file structure within the of your project. If you’re unfamiliar with the subject you can get a primer in my previous post; Mastering the Abstract Workflow.

EL Fox asked me on Twitter “You guys have any follow-up opinions on how to split up files in your master?”

Matter of fact, I do. Here are a few insights pulled from working with split Master files since we started working with Abstract.

O’Reilly’s Design System split Master.

While this will likely vary by team, breaking down your files too granularly can introduce unnecessary issues. I think it makes sense to identify the type of project you’re working on, then organize your files in a way that syncs with your team’s workflow for that project. If you have multiple teams/squads working on multiple projects, this could result in each project being set up differently, and that’s OK. If your team is smaller and the same team works across all projects, you might want to keep the organization pattern the same or minimally varied.

Projects like style guides and design systems lend themselves to being organized in a certain way, which is more object-oriented and themed by groups (e.g. Forms, Components, Color, etc.).

Apps and sites might be organized by feature, sections, pages, or views, or even by major global pieces such as navigation, heroes, etc. if it’s not tied to a global system.

If you’re in a larger team where there might be a wider distribution of work or deeper specialists, you could also split files based on team role/responsibility. For example, you might want to split your conceptual/approved views from your responsive breakpoint views which might be inherited versions of those designs and assigned to someone else to flesh out.

If you’re working with shared libraries and/or a design system it’s crucial to establish these files as linked libraries first to avoid redundancies and housekeeping debt later.

The more files you add as linked libraries, the more menu options with shared text styles will display in Sketch (if you are sharing text styles across your project files which you likely would be). This can be super annoying and distracting when trying to choose which project to pull text styles from. If anyone has a fix/hack for this one, please sound off in the comments below.

If you use shared text styles they will appear as available options for all libraries used.

If you have files in your Master that contain reference material or other assets that are not Sketch symbols, it’s better to keep these as normal files and not convert them to libraries. We have a file with user personas and another for grid templates/settings, but since Sketch does not support placing shared art boards there really is no value-add and it just bloats the Insert menu unnecessarily.

Non-linked library files living in Master.

In the end, how you split your Master depends on the type of project and how your team is organized. Just remember the goal is to make it easier for team members to work concurrently with the contents/assets of the project.

How do you split your Master?

Share your experience in the comments below for others to learn from. Thanks for taking the time to read. Clap if you like.

Splitting MA/ST/ER was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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