Version Cue

September 17, 2008

Version Cue is the Adobe file management software that comes with any larger package of Adobe software. If you aren’t familiar with file management, it’s the process of handling multiple versions of the same file. For example, if I work on a logo 3 different times, proper file management allows me to go back to a previous saved version of the logo I may have made. For the past couple of months we’ve been using Version Cue at the office and overall it’s been a great addition and powerful productivity tool.

Initially the way we handled versions was with file naming conventions (Client Name – Project Name – v1.1.psd for example). That was ok for awhile but we found that people didn’t follow it 100% of the time. There was often miscommunication about who had the most current file and what needed to be done. At the time we also didn’t have a networked storage solution, so everyone was working on their own sets of files and it was really hard to share work on a project and know what the most recent file was.

I had a looked into another file management system called Subversion and found the system way to complex and not particularly user friendly to non computer geeks. It was geared towards managing text files, which would have been ok for websites but with the amount of imagery we work with it wasn’t feasible. I ended up deciding to try Version Cue out on my own computer to see how it works.

After you turn Version Cue on, you can access it though most Adobe programs (Photoshop, inDesign, Illustrator, Flash) so you can easily save the file you’re work on as a version. You can also access Version Cue through Bridge; this is Adobe’s take on a file manager like Windows Explorer or Finder but with artists in mind. Using Bridge and Version Cue you can browse though the version history of a file as well as tag and label files and slew of other options.

Over time we found that Version Cue can also do simple networking as well. We ended up putting Version Cue on a dedicated computer on our network and using Bridge it was really easy to find the server and start working on files. It also allowed us to do automatic backups which was something we had needed to setup for a while. There is simple web administration software that you can login to from any computer in your local network that allows you to backup the server data as well as set a schedule for when you want a particular project to backup.

One of the issues we have run into is the stability of Bridge on Windows. Depending on what features you have turned on, Bridge can crash as often as every 5 minutes. By turning certain features off you can reduce the amount of crashing but it still ends up being finicky. On the Mac computers we use there haven’t been any problems.

For any designers that want to take the next step in how they do file management on their projects I would recommend giving Version Cue and Bridge a try.