Understand the Current Limitations of CC Libraries
In the February 2015 release of InDesign CC 2014, a new kind of library panel was added called CC Libraries. I wrote about its initial features in this blog post. In brief, this new library not only lets you share assets between InDesign documents, but also between other Adobe applications like Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC. It also is supported in Adobe mobile apps as well.
In June 2015, enhancements to CC libraries were added in InDesign CC 2015. These included the ability to store color swatches, character and paragraph styles, in addition to InDesign objects. A new ability to place a linked graphic from a CC library was also added, and CC libraries are used to support the new Adobe Stock feature to purchase photos and graphics. A short description of these enhancements is found in another blog post; a more thorough description is found in an article Keith Gilbert wrote in the July 2015 issue of InDesign Magazine. You can also read about it in the online Adobe Help files.
I encourage you to explore this new feature, and both Keith and I are starting to use it in our workflows. However, CC libraries are a work in progress. It’s highly likely that Adobe will update the CC library features to eliminate a lot of the current limitations in future updates to InDesign and the other Creative Cloud applications.
To help reduce your frustration level as you try this new feature, I thought it would be helpful to explain some of the current limitations of CC Libraries:
- You might expect that CC Libraries would start with the same features as InDesign’s existing Library feature (File > New > Library) but there are some things missing: You can’t sort the order of items in the CC Libraries panel. You also can’t search or filter a library which can make it difficult to find assets in a large library. You can’t add metadata to describe the assets like you can with an InDesign library. Workaround: Keep your libraries smaller and give your assets carefully picked, meaningful names.
- Similarly, there is no way yet to group paragraph or character styles, or color swatches. Again, careful naming is essential.
- Assets can only be added to a CC library one at a time. There is no way to multiple-select a number of styles or swatches at the same time.
- If you share a library with someone else, Illustrator or Photoshop assets can be edited in those programs. If your collaborator changes the asset, it will appear as out of date in your InDesign file. If you update the CC library links, the modified asset will appear. However, InDesign assets are stored in a CC library as an embedded copy. There is no way to create a link to an InDesign asset that will update on the page when that asset changes.
- If you copy your paragraph or character styles or color swatches to a CC library, and you subsequently change the style or swatch definitions, they aren’t updated in your CC library. You need to delete the original asset in the library, and add the style or swatch again, using the same name. Workaround: If you’re using the same assets in another file, use the Redefine Style feature to update the definition.
- InDesign assets are stored as both snippet files and PDF files. InDesign uses the snippet, and Illustrator and Photoshop uses the PDF version. There are limitations in how Illustrator and Photoshop can understand InDesign assets: If you create a spot color swatch and copy it to your CC library, InDesign will retain that color space if you place it in another file. However, Illustrator or Photoshop will not, and it will be converted to CMYK. Furthermore, Illustrator and Photoshop don’t yet support paragraph styles. And what was called text styles in the first incarnation of the feature are now called character styles. But Illustrator and Photoshop have more primitive text engines and may not understand all the character style formatting (I haven’t had the time to figure out exactly what may not be supported).
There are probably other limitations as well worth mentioning. Feel free to add more in the comments to this posting.