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Show HN: Simple version control for designers
55 points by allang on Aug 30, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments
Hi HN,

I've been waiting to post what I've been working on for a few weeks now:)

Today we're launching LayerVault, which is a version control system made for designers. The URL is http://www.layervault.com

LayerVault keeps track of what you're working on without adding extra steps to your process. The app runs in your toolbar and tracks changes you make to your files. Basically — each time you create or modify a file you’re working on, LayerVault saves a copy. You can then login, flip through its versions, and download a version from a few weeks ago.

It's pretty neat — and we’ve built some stuff that makes impact to bandwidth pretty much negligible. We've been testing it with a small beta group for a little while now, and we're pretty excited.

A handful of beta invites are floating around but we're going to be open the private beta to more people today.

As always, feedback is welcome.




Looking like a great MVP.

I've just had a quick look at your demo video. 2 minor things struck me.

1) It's really blurry. Can I suggest you either re-encode it at a higher resolution, or perhaps record it on a smaller screen resolution (that way you can keep the file-size down, but can keep the bit-rate higher).

2) The timeline has no markers. It might be nice to add some little indicators to give the user a visual indication of where the versions lie on it.


Hi ollie,

The video is a bit blurry, yes. For the moment, might be best to head over to vimeo and watch it in HD. We'll likely take another pass at the demo and address the quality issue.

As for the timeline markers - if you hover over the timeline, you get a nice tooltip that indicates where you're scrubbing to in the file's history.

It's still a first iteration, so we're open to suggestions if you have some input on how we might do that better. Hope to get you into layervault soon — would love the feedback.

Thanks!


Ahh, that's much better. Not sure how many people would know to do that to view in HD though?

I saw the hover effect. I was talking about something more like this. http://gyazo.com/9eeaf082b72b63cf020b8869ebad538d.png (Google Chrome's find feature).

Are the versions spaced along the timeline equally or by time apart?


Correct me if I'm wrong but this seems almost identical to the versions feature in os x lion. Won't this be somewhat obsolete when adobe starts supporting versions on lion?


The short answer is that it is indeed very much like iCloud for Photoshop, though we're rolling out support for more filetypes over time. If we were to stop in our tracks and cease development, it might be something to be concerned with. There's so much in the pipeline that we're not too focused on it at the moment.


I've been wanting a nice version control system for my design projects for awhile. Looking forward to see what you guys come up with!


I highly recommend you get a good noise-canceling headset, put up some towels or carpets in a small room, and re-record the video. The sound will be a hundred times better. Take the opportunity to cut the video's length to a minute and a half, and prepare a more complex demo file (i.e. more than a gray canvas).

That said, I'm glad there is more VCS for designers. I see the need every day teaching Git to designers (although it's much easier now with, say, gitx).


Looks great - designers desperately need a better solution for versioning. My thoughts on existing options:

- Dropbox isn't great because (as far as I know) you don't get to leave messages as you do with Git/SVN commits.

- Git isn't great because (as far as I know) it's not so easy to quickly compare a whole history of iterations

- I haven't looked at hosted options for a few months, but they've always seemed to be expensive.

So you're left with:

- Trying to remember to incrementally increase filenames (Website01.psd, Website02.psd etc) - still leaving out memorable 'commit messages'.

- Saving the files with memorable 'commit messages' in the filename (Website_WideSidebar.psd, Website_NarrowSidebar.psd). Janky.

- Grouping all of your layers and duplicating the entire site for different iterations, turning on and off those groups to see previous work. Or using Layer Comps. Still janky.

- What I do in Illustrator (infinite canvas makes it easier than in Photoshop) - duplicating the artboard for each iteration, leaving a 'post-it note' to myself on the corner of each iteration. So I get the 'commit messages' and the ability quickly see all iterations at once. A recent example: http://c.jongold.in/1z452Y402o3V3s2d0r2W

I'd agree with the previous criticism about the video being too long - I'm sure you're aware of that though.

The pressing issue in versioning for me is being able to leave and view 'commit messages'/comments as simply as I can with Git - they're more meaningful to me that viewing solely by date. If you add that I think you'll have a great product.


We've toyed with the idea of doing commit messages, but we're holding off on them for now. A commit message is a way of explaining the behavior of the changes in (usually) code. When working with images though, the changes in design are readily visible. In a way, the commit message is contained within the image itself.

That being said, we may explore the options of a 2-up view in the future or a Github-style image diffing mechanism.


Agreed. We all end up naming our designs Index_01.psd, Index_01a.psd, .. anyway. I don't think commit messages are that important in design.


Cool idea, but I stopped watched the video after about 1 minute. I think you need to get to your sell faster. Like a newspaper article get to the point first, then fill in the details. Don't make me listen to you describe how to save a file in Photoshop for the first 1/3.


Cool! Glad to see more people entering this space, it's really validating for us and for you I'm sure too. We just launched our service that is very similar, but uses Dropbox as a back end: http://www.pixelstew.com

Nice design, my only complaint is the blurry video.

Edit: Also, your video is WAY long. You need to make it more succinct. People aren't going to stay engaged for 4 minutes.


http://www.layervault.com

This is awesome! Excited and signed up for beta :)


I sent this to our art department, and this is what I was told: I don’t really have time to look at this right now, but sounds interesting! Adobe creative suites have version control built in, but we have been investigating third party sources because it kind of sucks. Thanks for the heads up.


Seems very similar to FileHamster (http://www.filehamster.com) except I guess LayerVault would be "cloud-based" and available online. I've been using FH for about 3 years for keeping track of all kinds of files .


Benefit over using Dropbox (which many people have to use for other files anyways)?


At a glance, UI. Dropbox is horrible for restoring things - it's possible, but it's definitely not the primary use-case. Especially with something visual, you can go a lot further a lot faster if you can see what it was at each state without having to hit the back button a bazillion times.


This was my question exactly.

What about layering designer-specific functionality on top of dropbox? Use the Dropbox API, people sign up and tell you where in their Dropbox folder they store designs, and you provide specific functionality, like the ability to compare versions of a design in an intuitive way.


Hah, funny you should mention that. We just launched our service that does pretty well the same thing, but uses Dropbox: http://www.pixelstew.com

There are a few other people entering this space too, I think it will be crowded in coming months.


Have you seen designSVN : http://designsvn.com/

Similar idea - maybe slightly better execution in terms of the site style.


Should change the title to "Simple version control for Photoshop designers". The word Photoshop is not mentioned in your description too.


It's not just for Photoshop, though it is what we're launching with.


Oh. But you can see why I got confused. :) A bit more clarity in your description would be great.


This looks very promising. If you get your upcoming features right you could have something like Dropbox + proofHQ.


Going back in time left-to-right feels wrong, though perhaps those who read text RTL may disagree :-)



I'm not a designer either but it does look interesting. Is it Mac only?


For now, yes, this is Mac only.

We made the executive decision to make the minimum viable product for designers and we think going exclusively with the Mac is a safe choice for now.

That being said, we will eventually be adding PC support.




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