Illustration of design version control tool Helix Sync.
April 7, 2022

What's the Best Version Control For Designers?

Digital Asset Management

Version control is an essential tool for developers. But today, development includes more than just code. Using version control for artist and designers centralizes collaboration and secures valuable digital assets.

In this blog, we break down why version control is so important for designers. And we answer — what's the best version control for designers and artists?

Why Designers Need Version Control

How often do design teams end up with assets everywhere, not knowing who made what edit to a file, when, or why?

You know the answer to that –– it’s too often.

Cross-team collaboration between artists, designers, and developers is an integral part of the development process today. But design tools lack the robust, team-oriented features that can enhance collaboration. With the world now remote, teams need a way to collaborate and share assets with one another, while using different tools.

Challenges of Simple File and Folder Sharing

File-sharing solutions — Google Drive, Dropbox, and Email — are an option. The problem is these solutions are not strongly integrated with the tools either of these groups use. Teams end up passing files back and forth with “_V3” or “_LH_edits.” These methods also leave valuable digital assets unsecure and easily susceptible to hacking.

In the virtual production and game development process, artists and designers use popular tools such as Photoshop, 3ds Max, Maya, and more. They often generate multiple versions of very large files, at numerous stages of design and production workflows. As projects scale, they require something more than shared folders, which only address the issue of access.

A better way to control, manage, and collaborate is a version control system that allows that centralizes asserts and enhances collaboration for everyone on the team, including designers and developers.

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How Version Control Helps Artists & Designers

Using version control empowers your team. It organizes their files and keeps track of every change and version. You can even compare versions of files to see changes. Having a single source of truth for all assets — designs and code — streamlines your build process, giving teams faster and more accurate feedback. With version control, contributors on a team always know they are working on the correct and most recent version of a file.

From a business standpoint, the primary purpose of version control is to protect your intellectual property. By providing security, permissions for access, backups, and disaster recovery, you always know your valuable digital assets are protected. It also prevents people from making accidental deletions or undesirable changes.

Your version control system tracks changes, including the creation and deletion of files as well as edits. The history of changes is an important feature and should include the author, date, and notes on the purpose of each change. Some systems have powerful undo features, so changes can be reverted. These features are all as equally valuable for graphics and design files as they are for source code. Overall, these features dramatically improve productivity, no matter the team role.

Why Some Designers Don’t Like Version Control

Designers know using basic file-sharing solutions are not ideal. But many version control systems require them to learn complex new tools instead of the products they love. Many of these solutions lack intuitive interfaces and rely on arcane commands and terminal windows to manage files. Compounding the situation, most return messages that need human translation. It’s a UX nightmare.

But there is an even larger reason why designers are reluctant to join the party: most versioning systems can’t hold their extremely large graphics files. For example, binaries generated by popular design tools from companies like Adobe and Autodesk require a high-performant system to manage.

What’s the Best Version Control For Designers?

To enhance collaboration, centralize assets, and secure everything (without unnecessary complexity) you need Perforce Helix Core — the game and media standard for version control. Helix Core has been serving teams of developers and designers for years. It is the version control system trusted by 19/20 top AAA game development studios because of its ability to manage the large, complex binary files with the speed teams need.

Many of the teams we have worked with want more invisible version control specifically for their designers, so that it’s easier to use. For that reason, we recently launched Helix DAM Beta.

Digital Asset Management for Designers

Helix DAM — now in beta, with the official launch slated for Summer 2022 — is digital asset management for designers built on top of Helix Core. More than just a place to store assets, Helix DAM is version control for artists and designers, allowing them to do Photoshop versioning and more. It allows teams to:

  • Store, easily find, and use all creative assets.
  • Provide in-context feedback on assets.
  • Streamline the creative workflow.
  • Secure creative IP.
  • Save time and money.

Learn how Helix DAM Works

Check out the technical blog explaining Helix DAM Beta and how it works.

How It Works

Get Started With the Best Version Control For Designers

To achieve tighter integration between teams and accelerate development, try Perforce Helix Core version control. And stay turned for Helix DAM, launching Summer 2022.



This post was originally published on April 8, 2021 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.