LayerVault: "Simple version control for designers"

The service promises simple cloud backup & versioning of PSDs & other formats:

If the LayerVault guys can crack this particular nut, God bless ’em. Years ago Adobe Version Cue tried integrating check-in & versioning into Creative Suite apps, but designers didn’t bite. Later GridIron Flow arrived with what I thought was brilliant auto-versioning, but I haven’t seen it get wide adoption. It’s just hard to move people beyond the dirt-simple “final,” “finalfinal,” “finalfinal02,” approach they’ve used for 20+ years.

7 thoughts on “LayerVault: "Simple version control for designers"

  1. Version Cue didn’t take off because it was provided as-is with ZERO documentation, only a recommendation to get an official Adobe provider to set it up.
    Whilst I agree that designers are a difficult bunch to get to change their habits, no docs = no chance.

  2. I still use Flow (version 1 no less). It works great. But then GridIron decided to go the “sell it as an online service route” and I’ve since lost interest. Which is a shame because the product really was quite good!

  3. I agree that this service will also fail but I would argue that the problem has more to do with software developers than designers. Designers already have more than enough to deal with so adding a complex versioning system with poor documentation or uploading all my PSDs online with my craptacular bandwidth is not going to happen.
    Don’t know if this is possible but here’s my take on version control. I don’t want a database or separate application to manage. I want to embed the changes I make to a document within that document. The history pallet currently does this but then it dumps everything once you close the file. What I would like is for Photoshop to record every change, allow me to set “bake” points and all of this would be embedded in the file. So when I open that file months from now I could bring up my history pallet and move a slider back and forth that would update my canvas in real time. I would also like an option to have a history pallet like the timeline pallet. There would be thumbnails for major changes and “bake” points again with a slider below. When I slide left I go back in time, right would go forward in time and it would behave kind of like apple’s carousel view.
    Bake points are simply moments in time where I’m comfortable with the current file. This basically discards all the minor changes up to that point and keeps the file size smaller.
    Hope that makes sense and let me know if you want any more input on how to improve Photoshop. I’m sure you get enough of it already 🙂

    1. For me layer comps allows me to save multiple versions of an image inside the image.
      Otherwise I’m all for saving filenames like -V2, -V3, etc. to keep things simple when dealing with multiple clients.

  4. Hi Folks,
    First off, thanks to John for writing the post. We’re hoping to carry baton to the next folks.
    The points brought up here are great. We’re young (launched yesterday, have had a beta for almost 2 months) but we’re already seeing the power in the idea. To Simon’s point, we need to get better about our own documentation as well.
    Really, LayerVault is enabled by the idea of an “infinite hard drive.” It’s difficult to keep every single version of a file when local space is a limiting factor.
    Along with that, many designers love the ideas of having their files already be online. We see them passing around permalinks to their files to share with friends, get clients to sign off on or to pass off to developers for implementation. To Tom’s point, we’ll be working on bake points not only for individual files but collections of files as well.
    In the meantime if you have any more feedback, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email at

  5. Things are trending far too much to a SaaS solution for everything. Flow initially did it right by having it all be local. And while I do enjoy having some files in the cloud for certain projects, so I can access them from home and while traveling, the plans are never, really, viable or useful. Not everything should be in the cloud, dropbox or something similar offers plenty of the “access everywhere” features, without the exorbitant cost that some services are throwing in. Layervault looks great, but at 6x more expensive than something like Dropbox for the same storage, it’s a non-starter for me. With dropbox I can allow any number of people access to those projects, and there is no way that the versioning functionality is worth 6X more. Give me a good versioning tool that exists locally on my machine, and I’d happily pay a one time purchase for it, but there’s nothing it adds that makes it worth a constant recurring fee, especially when I can hit that 50GB limit on a single project pretty quickly.
    I am saddened that so many developers want to cash in on the SaaS route, just for recurring income. Everyone wants to make an income and succeed, but for the design industry (especially print and video), I really don’t think that the cloud is where our services need to be, because the files can be prohibitively large.
    I want a locally managed versioning system that’s easy to use and just works. Flow was very close, until they, too, wanted to charge monthly fees for something that doesn’t make sense to pay for monthly, for me.

  6. Just to circle back on Gridiron Flow 2.0, it seems their gamble on SaaS didn’t exactly pan out. They’ve rebranded as FileTrek, and if you look at their new promo video, it’s now gone completely to the “enterprise” (read: Office docs).
    Sad, really, since 1.0 was such an innovation, and would have made an incredible integration point to the Creative Suite. Do you know why Adobe never bought them?

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