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CC Libraries

Integrated with Creative Cloud services like Adobe Stock and apps like Photoshop and Illustrator, CC Libraries offer some amazing advantages over traditional InDesign libraries.


This article appeared in Issue 83 of InDesign Magazine.

Only a year ago, in the February 2015 release of InDesign CC 2014, a new kind of library was introduced to Adobe InDesign—called a CC library (short for Creative Cloud library). This CC library lives side by side with the traditional and familiar InDesign object library feature, which lets you store and reuse almost any kind of object you can create in InDesign. And CC libraries are in some ways similar… but in other ways very different. Different in a way that may excite you, or frustrate you, or, more likely, both.

The first version of CC libraries was pretty rudimentary, but Adobe enhanced it further with the release of InDesign CC 2015, in June of that same year, and even more with the November release of InDesign CC 2015.2. The result is that CC libraries are beginning to become not just interesting, but actually quite useful.

Unfortunately, the great majority of InDesign users (yes, I’m talking about you!) haven’t even tried the new CC library feature. In fact, your only encounter with it may be when the CC Libraries panel pops open unexpectedly if you create a new style or a new swatch color! So it’s time you were more formally introduced.

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Steve Werner

Steve Werner

Steve Werner is a trainer, consultant, and co-author (with David Blatner and Christopher Smith) of InDesign for QuarkXPress Users and Moving to InDesign. He has worked in the graphic arts industry for more than 20 years and was the training manager for ten years at Rapid Lasergraphics. He has taught computer graphics classes since 1988.
Steve Werner

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17 Comments on “CC Libraries

  1. First thing I disable by moving the InDesign.angular out of Resources/CEP/Extensions.

    Who gives a hoot about CC libraries.

    Have you seen what Quark is planning for QuarkXPress 2016? Converting placed PDF, EPS or AI (and even copied over items from InDesign) and Excel and… you name it to native items. Yes: edit PDF as native objects (bye bye PDF2ID).
    True innovation no longer lies at InDesign it seems.
    CC libraries? Pff! Don’t care. Not at all.

  2. Firstly, who gives a hoot about CC libraries… well it’s the high corporate end who don’t do design at all, at least that’s what I learned over the years.

    CC Libraries are at the moment a selling point… hey look we do Cloud stuff… not very well but hey we do them!!!

    I really hope Quark can do proper conversions to its software. EPS – it’s dead as a door nail – and Adobe control that format really.

    Editable PDF, well PDFs are designed as final format. But in a prepress environment you are tasked with editing PDFs. Ugly, but work work that needs to be done.

    Yes I can edit a PDF and make it print ready. I’m yet to find software that can do this from supplied artwork. Yes I can rework, but no what’s supplied is usually not workable.

    We all wish InDesign did more than well Design. Enhanced photoshop features for example as controlable in Indesign would be amazing. And of course, who wouldn’t love to convert a PDF to InDesign, or open it in InDesign and make edits.

    Why InDesign has not got a Save as PDF and compatible indd file like Illustrator has – >?

  3. I really have to disagree with both of you on this one. I’m using CC Libraries more and more. It’s still “young,” but it shows great promise and is very useful. I particularly like that people can collaborate on libraries easily. And it’s super helpful to be able to find InDesign snippets and graphics to import.

    My biggest wish is that it would allow linking to InDesign snippets, so that if you edit the CC Library objects, it would update in the InDesign page, too.

    As for comparing InDesign to QuarkXPress… um, seriously? Have fun! Let us know how it works out for you.

    • It’s probably okay if you have a decent connection. I’m in Australia where broadband is generally poor and CC Libraries trying to connect all the time slow down my workflow. Adobe should really make it easier to opt out.

  4. While I love InDesign, and it’s my favorite Adobe application, I spend a lot of time in other applications—particularly Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat. I co-wrote a Peachpit title, Real World Adobe Creative Suite 2 with Sandee Cohen. I’ve always been looking at ways to tie together Adobe’s applications, to move data between them. And that’s how I teach those applications.

    That’s why I have been so fascinated with CC Libraries. They provide new solutions to many problems that have existed for a long time: How do you move text formatting or colors or graphics from Illustrator to InDesign to Photoshop? How do you share assets in a multi-application project with other people in an efficient way?

    The Adobe Creative Cloud breaks down some of the boundaries between applications and lets designers bring in artwork from their tablets and smartphones with Comp CC, Capture CC and other apps. The CC Libraries provide a seamless way of sharing those assets with desktop apps. Using clip art or stock photos isn’t a new feature, but using them with CC Libraries is easier and smoother.

    While these features may not be of interest to you if you work in a narrower InDesign-centric workflow, this is of interest to lots of the graphic designers, marketing professionals, and other users that I teach.

    Try out the new features before you dismiss them in such a cavalier manner.

    • Steve’s exactly right. Folks need to try out CC libraries to see the advantages they have over traditional libraries. I love using them in our magazine production workflow. I’m not a fan of anything just because it’s shiny and new. It has to actually DO something useful for me, and CC libs do. They’re not perfect, but they’re definitely not a silly/useless feature.

  5. No, I could never go back and maybe I stated it a bit ‘strong’ but I do feel that real innovation and exiting developement was once that specific InDesign selling point and I can’t help feeling myself, as well as what I hear from many users, that this is disappointing to say the least since the CC brand…
    And while maybe CC libs are a useful addition, it is not a priority, nice but it is not a great selling point in closed working enviremonts and Europe in general. What is, besides innovation: bug fixing. We all know how many outstanding bugs there are.
    Now why did I mention Quark (a real altenative? No of course not, that was not the point At all) : because they now tickle us… and I wish that InDesign did the same again like it used to. And I know many, many of us feel the same way.

  6. Back on track for the CC Libraries.

    I do use them. They are good. They are a pain, especially when the Add to CC Libraries is ticked and something gets added to the wrong library. Or it automatically closes the swatches panel and opens the other panel.

    There’s a few things missing though, for me. For example, I have a list of the companies we do branding for, so I loaded up all their swatches into the libraries, very neatly done.

    It’s great to start a project and go to the library and access the colours directly.

    But it would be great if there was a – LOAD SWATCHES – button that would load the CC libraries you have open into the Swatches Panel.

    Oh wait there is – select all the swatches – then right click and add to swatches.

    It’s beggars belief why there wasn’t a button for this… it’s not in any drop down menu – it’s not intuitive.

    It’s not well designed.

    • Eugene, thank you for informing those of us (me) who hadn’t yet figured out how to add swatches from CC Libraries. I’ve managed it somehow in the past, but that was after a lot of flailing and cursing, and I couldn’t replicate it.

      On CC Libraries in general: I was really excited about it, and it has some use, but lately I’ve found that I’ve reverted back into the habit of loading styles from older documents. That might just be what’s most efficient based on my workflow though. I imagine if I collaborated more with other people CC Libraries could have some very serious benefits.

  7. Thanks for this excellent article Steve. It is this kind of in depth article that makes InDesign Magazine essential reading for anyone who wants to extend their InDesign skills and/or learn new workflows and techniques.

    I love CC Libraries. I end up using them in some way almost every day.

    One addition regarding placing a linked asset: You might wonder what happens to Linked assets when you choose File > Package in InDesign, since these assets are linked to an asset in your cloud storage. Well, thankfully, InDesign gathers up copies of these assets and puts them in your Links folder properly with all your other linked images. All is good!

  8. I worked with the CC libs, but I decided to work again with my old Libs again, and only for the reason that I could place all my content on the exact same place as where I placed it in my Lib. With Ctrl Place it’s gonna be placed on the same place as where it was before it was added to the Lib. I use it a lot…

    • Henri: That is a good point, but this works with CC Libraries, also! First, add an InDesign object to the CC Library. Then, when you drag it out (or right-click and choose Place) from the CC Library, it will give you a Place cursor. Hold down the OPTION/ALT key and then click. That tells InDesign to put the object in the same original location.

      • Hello David,

        Thanks for your input, I tried it before, but didn’t know that this was the solution. Thanks, but for now I still believe in my ‘non’-Cloud Lib ;-) haha

      • Hi David, I tried to place an object to the same position using the option key, but it just put the bloc where I clicked and not to the original spot, where I put in it in the CC library. I just upgraded to CC 2017.

      • Hi Birgit,
        You first have to place it in InDesign on the spot you want. If you place it from there in InDesign, then it is placeable on the same spot again if you pick it out of the Lib an then hold down the Option/Alt key and click anywhere in the InDesign document and it will snap to the same spot as where you picked it up before ;-)

  9. I love InDesign and have been with it since the first iteration. But as a sole trader design agency, libraries of any type – including CCLibraries – are of very limited value. I have tried and tested ways of saving all kinds of content and settings. If I’m working on a brochure or web graphics for a client and want the right colours (for any CC app I use), I have these saved as Adobe .ase files – it takes five seconds to import them into a new job. For paragraph and character styles I can import these just as quickly from other jobs through the styles panels. If I want to reuse a graphic created in InDesign (or, in most cases, in Illustrator) I can quickly locate an existing file and simply copy and paste it into a new document.

    For businesses where teams are working using shared assets, I can really see the value of CC Libraries, but for a sole trader it would be great to just be able to switch is off for good so that panel doesn’t keep popping up every time they create a style or swatch and at other random moments.

  10. My creative is halfway between upgrading to CC, some partners are (unnecessarily gun shy about making the upgrade). I recently created several Libraries in CS6 to support a new catalog design and production workflow. Somebody mistakenly opened them in CC and now nobody working in CS6 can open them. Does anybody know if a (native) CC Library back to CS6, or do I have to rebuild 4 libraries containing 100+ objects all over again?

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