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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:

  1.  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.
  2. Similarly, there is no way yet to group paragraph or character styles, or color swatches. Again, careful naming is essential.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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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36 Comments on “Understand the Current Limitations of CC Libraries

  1. Unfortunately, the CC library on my version of InDesign CC 2015 doesn’t open at all as it has trouble initialising. And at the moment, the Adobe Tech Guys can’t help!!! :)

  2. Anne-Marie

    I’ve installed, uninstalled, reinstalled the software and rebuilt my preferences so many times I’ve lost count. I’ve also deleted anything to do with the Creative Cloud and Adobe from my Activity Monitor (memory) as requested by Adobe Tech Guys at least 3 times and started from scratch. InDesign CC 2015 is working but at a reduced level!!! A skeleton panel is available but without any function whatsoever, it just sits there annoying me so,I’ve deleted it and rebuilt my workspaces. :) :)
    Many thanks for responding.

  3. Hi Steve,
    one limitation I see not mentioned is that selected guides cannot be added to a CC Library. You can do this with the “normal” InDesign Library feature, that is also based on the Snippet “file format” (IDMS).

    And if you convert a lib file library to a CC Library and guides are part of it, you will get an error message about the fact that some assets cannot be converted.


    • Anne-Marie
      The Adobe Techie and I tried the Root User route and created another user for my computer. It helped with regard to installing InDesign CC 2015 allowing me to open the app and stemming the crashes, but there was no answer when it came to the CC Libraries initialising. Nothing works!! I’m going to have to replace my mac in a few months so perhaps that will help!!! :)

      BTW, just finished your latest course InDesign CC 2015 Epub Fundamentals – it’s great. Reminded me of all things I’d forgotten and seriously updated my skills. Thank you!

  4. CC Libraries… They are like Flash to me, can do without them! Sad to see so many time and effort put into this while there are so many, many things to fix in InDesign… I removed them from the CEP folder to never be bothered with them again in my own workspace (sadly, not in my teaching enviremont of course). Many of the Dutch government agencies don’t even allow such on-line things and it was driving them crazy, eo removed there also from the CEP Extensions folder, they are very happy now. Nope, don’t care at all for these things…

    • This has been driving me crazy! What’s the point of having swatches in the library if you can’t use them? I haven’t found any way to actually make them usable in Illustrator, other than double clicking on the Library swatch, noting down the values and recreating – so that’s helpful

      • H Kelly. In Illustrator, to apply a library color to an object on the canvas, you select the object, then select the stroke chip or the fill chip in the toolbar, then single-click the color in the library (or right-click on the library item and select Set Color). Hope this helps… Mark S

  5. We lost our server. It has been rebuilt but is under a different name. Is there any way to relink the libraries to the new server or do I have to recreate them from scratch?

  6. I’ve started using CC libraries for icons, logos, and images for my company’s marketing pieces. It seems that files exported as PDF are huge only after implementing CC library links. Has anyone else had this issue or know of a workaround? I can’t even save a PDF proof small enough to email, even after saving a postcript and distilling it. Thanks in advanced.

    • That’s weird. I tested placing the same image once from a CC Library and once from the desktop (each one in a new document), made PDFs of both, and they came out the same size. There shouldn’t be a difference.

      • Hmm it could be something else, but I can’t think of anything else that has changed.

        For snippets such as logos an icons, I created them from their original Illustrator files and then linked them into InDesign. I used to link them as .pngs. Perhaps the Illustrator links are much larger than the .pngs? Is this not how it should work?

        Thanks for the help!

  7. Yes, that makes sense and I was kind of fearing that. Thank’s for the article link.

    The reason we switched to CC Libraries from our internal server was so that we could easily go back to the original file to edit (such as icons in Illustrator); the links will always be the most up-to-date version among multiple users and many many marketing materials; and also because we seem to have to relink links almost every time we open a document after a while.

    If we switch our snippets to be smaller files (like .pngs or .jpgs vs pdfs or vectors), then what would be the benefits of using CC Libraries instead of our server?

    Sorry if this is hijacking the thread and thanks again for the advice!

    ps- we love watching your videos during our tips-n-tricks hour!

    • Thanks, Ethan! I see your point. I think you’d need to do something like place the AI file into a Photoshop document (as a linked or embedded smart object) and then place the image from Photoshop into CC Libraries. Then you can edit it in Photoshop by double-clicking the smart object layer, which would open it in Illustrator. (I’m not positive this would work; I’ve never tried it, but it seems like it should.)

  8. Any way to keep CC Libraries from opening up every time a new swatch or style is created? Short of removing it completely? Thanks!

  9. In the New Swatch or Swatch Options dialog box, as well as in the New [Paragraph/Character] dialogs there is a checkbox to Add to CC Libraries. Uncheck it. It’s sticky.

  10. I love libraries but the new CC version is frustrating. Is there no way to change the size of the icons/previews? They are very big compared to what I used for the old style libaries and that makes it much harder for my eye to catch the one I want, they are to explicit when they’re that big.
    Am I missing a feature?
    Also it seems much slower than the old libraries. :-S

  11. Apologies if I missed this somewhere, but can I make folders inside of the new CC libraries? The thought of a library growing like mad mushrooms gives me shivers!

  12. Sometimes I HATE Adobe, why they have such stupid ideas?!_

    and why on earth they implement them!?!?

    Probably Apple bought it…. that’s why

  13. In Anne-Marie’s InDesign Secrets #151 on, she pointed out that InDesign libraries are version-specific. She said that when the next version of InDesign comes out, we won’t be able to open libraries created in InDesign CC. Do we know if that is still the case?

    I’m about to save a bunch of assets, and I’d prefer to do it to a library, but not if I can’t open it when we upgrade. Thanks for any advice!

    • Phil: Just to clarify: You can open libraries in later versions of InDesign, but not earlier. So if you make (or make/save) a library in version CS6, you can open it in CC — but not the other way around.

    • I did say that, didn’t I. I could’ve sworn that was true at the time (2013-2014). Not anymore though — I just tested. In fact, I was able to open a library I created in CC 2015 in CS6, drag those items into my CS6 layout and edit them. So something magical has happened with InDesign object libraries, I guess. (I distinctly remember this not working at some point, and having to detach library items and export as snippets to get them to open as editable elements in different versions)

  14. I wish I could utilize CC Libraries, unfortunately, it’s a feature that dramatically slows down InDesign and AfterEffects on my Mac. The symptom was an intermittent lag while doing a simple task like selecting an object or highlighting text. After many months of this annoyance, I was able to figure out that CC Library was the problem. My current solution is to trash the CCLibrary folder everyday (Adobe updates the apps daily and puts it back in). When I do this, InDesign and AfterEffects work smoothly. Unfortunately, CC Library is a tool I cannot use until there is a solution to my problem.

  15. Hi everyone,

    Any idea where the CC libraries files are stored on the Mac? As I’m changing my professional status, I’m going to kill my current CC account for a new one (with a new ID). If I share my librairies with my new account, I’m not going to be their “owner” anymore. When or if Adobe kills my current account, I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose my libraries for good (and I don’t really want to put everything back, one element at a time…)

  16. We are just now trying to use the library feature to share assets between designers in two of our offices. Each of us can create a library and use Collaborate to share it with the others. We can accept and see the contents in CC Desktop app – but we cannot see those libraries in any apps. What are we doing wrong?

  17. When adding assets that are on different layers (i.e. something that has text on one layer with graphic underneath on another), CC libraries doesn’t retain that information. When placing the assent into indesign, it places it all on one layer. This is frustrating.

  18. We recently had one of our lead designers leave our company. She authored many of the CC libraries that are in use (viewable only to the other designers on the staff). One designers need the libraries re-shared to her today and we do not have the permissions. Is there a way to change those permissions to a more corporate level to avoid this problem now and in the future…Bog Thanks, Tom

    • Not directly, but you can add a graphic that uses a gradient swatch for the fill or stroke. Then the gradient swatch will go wherever the graphic goes (e.g. if you place the graphic in another document, the gradient swatch will be added to that document’s swatches).

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