With the release of Sketch 47 came Sketch Libraries. An awesome, new way to manage reusable assets throughout all your project. Having access to good libraries allows you to create consistent designs throughout your team and projects.
Sketch comes with an iOS library pre-installed. This is a great place to start to get a feel for the power of libraries and how you can utilize them in your projects.
Getting started with Libraries is really simple.
- Download Sketch 47
- Open Sketch menu > Preferences > Libraries tab.
- Here you can manage your libraries. You will notice there is already an iOS library installed.
Creating your own library.
Libraries are simple to create. Any Sketch file with symbols in it can be loaded as a library in your project. This means that you can download any Sketch UIKits or other .sketch files that utilize symbols and load them into your document as a library.
Once a Sketch file is used as a library, you will be warned when making changes that they might affect other documents as it’s a shared library.
Using the symbols in your documents
Now you will find, through the insert menu you now have extra options to add symbols. You will see the iOS library and any others you added, as well as the usual symbol menu option for local symbols.
Quick note: A really neat trick, when naming your symbols is to use / as a separator in your names. This allow you to organise your symbols in to sub menus, which are much easier to navigate when you start getting more and more.
Sharing your libraries in a team
By adding your library to a shared dropbox or other cloud storage service, multiple people can access your library and everyone can maintain consistent designs. Anyone with permission can update and edit these files.
When someone updates a library. The updates are shared to all the documents that use them. It’s recommended to be careful of these changes as they make break your layouts.
Luckily, Sketch asks you before updating the symbols in the document.
Tapping the “Library Update Available” button will update your symbols to match the library and update your artboards with the new symbol.
A few other tips and notes:
- You can manage your permissions through dropbox by allowing used edit or read only access to the folder where libraries are kept.
- Make sure the symbols in your library are of high quality, flexible and useful. If many people are using your symbols but are required to edit them just to make them fit in their project, you library becomes a lot less useful and consistency is hard to maintain. Ensure your symbols can support as many different needs as possible. Nested symbols are great for this. Read more here: Sketch Symbol Best Practices
- As mentioned earlier, using / when naming your symbols to manage your menus and submenus is a life saver once you start to gather together a large library of items. Example below would look something like Android_GUI_library.sketch > Buttons/FAB/Mini Normal.
As I mentioned a little earlier, any document that has symbols in it can be used as a library. This means there are incredible amounts of resources freely available on the net that you can use right now.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Flexible symbols for creating beautiful UX screen flows.
Font awesome library
Awesome resource for general sketch resources.
Thanks for reading
Alex Knight – UX / UI Designer – Tokyo, Japan