Visual & Interaction Designer

Illustrator JSON

Illustrator JSON Scripts

The goal of these scripts are to provide versionable, user controlled syncing of colors & styles between Illustrator files as an alternative to the blackbox syncing provided by Cloud Libraries. –GitHub ReadMe

This personal project was born out of a frustration with Illustrator's inability to synchronize it's global styling features between documents. Illustrator tends to chug under the weight of too many artboards, so if you're using it for UI design as I do, it becomes necessary to split your designs up across many files in the course of designing an entire system. This is ok until you want to make a system wide change, like for instance changing your primary accent color.

Within a single Illustrator file, this would be a trivial change, assuming you were disciplined and used Illustrator's global color swatches feature. All you would need to do is open up that swatch, make the necessary value changes and voila, all instances of objects using that color would be updated. This workflow breaks the second you move artwork into a separate file, and so you need a way of transferring these updates from one file to another.

What about Creative Cloud Libraries?

I had two main reasons to avoid using Adobe's Creative Cloud Libraries feature.

  1. The Libraries feature is still in it's early days of development, and while it has potential and is clearly aiming to solve these kinds of problems that often appear in complex team workflows, it just isn't there yet. You can save swatches to a Library, and then use them in multiple files, but they aren't global swatches and don't come with the automatic updating ability necessary to enable this workflow. (At least not at the time I started this project)
  2. They lock important change information about your files into Adobe's cloud services, and this means that you don't have the ability to manually version control them (hugely important in any work environment, and arguably all personal projects as well).

This project is still in fairly early stages, but the color synchronizing feature that initiated it is fully functional and has been fairly robustly tested in a team environment.

Ideas for next steps include: synchronizing Character & Paragraph Styles to enable system wide typography updates, simple object styling (stroke, fill, corner radii) and Symbol Library sync.

Please check out the project on GitHub and let me know what you think of it. I'd love feedback and to know if it's useful to folks outside my team.

Illustrator JSON on GitHub