Getting started with Abstract

Follow these 9 steps to start using Abstract with your team.

Click here to start your 30-day free trial.

1. Join an Organization.

Already invited to Abstract?

If you were invited to an existing Abstract Organization, go to your invitation email and follow the prompts. Then, come back and continue to step 2.

Designers and stakeholders collaborate on Projects inside of Organizations. Your Organization is your team's home for all design work.

If you’re the first person on your team to join Abstract, you’ll need to create your team’s Organization.

Create an Organization

How to create an Organization

To create an Organization:

  1. Go to Abstract’s sign up page.
  2. Fill out the information requested.
    • Notes:
      • Be sure to use the email address associated with the company that will be using Abstract.
      • To sign up for emails about our upcoming webinars and trainings, select Yes, I would like to receive email updates.
  4. Select Create a team.
  5. To use Abstract to version control only your personal design files, select Just the individual account.
  6. Click CONTINUE.
  7. Name your Organization.

💡Abstract tip: Create one Organization per company. By having all designers in one Abstract Organization, you can:

  • Share Libraries
  • Centralize billing management
  • Prevent double-paying for designers who sit on multiple teams / Organizations

2. Download the macOS app.

To edit or create Sketch files in Abstract, you'll need to download the macOS desktop app. It’s not possible to edit or create Sketch files on Abstract’s web app.

You can view design files, provide feedback, or handle billing payments directly from Abstract’s web app.

3. Decide how to organize your Projects.

In Abstract, you’ll organize your Sketch files into Projects. Since your team shares Projects, how you divide Sketch files into Projects and name those Projects impacts your entire team.

Organize your Projects

We recommend organizing your Projects in one of three ways:

  • By platform. This works well for teams that organize their work according to platform, e.g. iOS app, Android app, Web, etc.
  • By feature. This works well for teams that organize their work according to feature, e.g. Onboarding, Activation, Marketing, etc.
  • By client. If you work at an agency, consider organizing Projects by client.

💡Abstract tip: Organize Projects based on the product you’re making, not based on how your design team is organized.

Read our blog or watch our Abstract 101 webinar to learn more about Projects.

4. Create your first Team Project.

You can create three kinds of Projects in Abstract: Team Projects, Private Projects, and Personal Projects. Create a Team Project to collaborate with other designers and stakeholders.

Create a Team Project

How to create a Team Project

To create a Team Project:

  1. Open the Abstract desktop app.
  2. Select the New Project button in the top right corner.
    • Note: Only Contributors will see this blue New Project button. If you see a grey button instead, your role is set to Viewer. Ask your Abstract admin to update your role to Contributor. If you don’t see a button at all, click the Home button in the top left.
  3. In the Name section, title your Project according to the decisions you made in step 3. For example, if you decided to organize your Projects by platform, you can title your Project “Web.”
  4. In the Description section, give your team details about what is and is not part of this Project.
  5. Select a Project Color if you want.
  6. Choose whether you’d like to make this Project private. We recommend that Projects stay public to your Organization unless you have a reason to make the Project private.

5. Add Sketch files to your Project.

Next, you’ll create the Project’s Master—what we call the finalized, approved designs. Your team can discuss and decide which designs are considered “final” for each Project. Once aligned, your team can import existing Sketch files or create new ones.

💡Abstract tip: Only import Sketch files that represent the most up-to-date version of your product. Duplicate and/or outdated files will will create confusion and clutter for your team.

Add Sketch files

⚠️ Caution: We recommend importing Sketch files no larger than 50MB. Abstract performs best when individual Sketch files are smaller than 50MB or contain less than 500 artboards.

6. Create a Branch.

Start new work in Abstract by creating a Branch. Think of a Branch as a working copy of Master that only you can edit. A Branch is where you can explore and edit designs in a Project. You’ll share these designs with your team by committing your changes, as outlined in the next step.

💡Abstract tip: Creating a Branch does not affect Master. You’ll request a design review before you merge any changes to Master.

Create a Branch

How to create a Branch

To create a Branch from Master:

  1. Open the Abstract desktop app.
  2. Select the Project you’d like to edit.
  3. Select Master from the left side pane.
  4. Select the .SKETCH file you’d like to edit.
  5. Select EDIT IN SKETCH in the top right.
  6. Select CREATE A BRANCH.
  7. Enter a Branch name that describes the edits you’re planning to make in that Branch (e.g. "Gift cards in checkout").
  8. Select CREATE BRANCH.

Your new Branch will open in Sketch. You can make edits right away.

7. Commit your changes.

Each time you arrive at a decision while designing, commit your changes. A Commit is like a bookmark: you’re marking a point you can return to if needed. If you change your mind about a decision, you can restore a Project’s Master back to any previous Commit and try again. We recommend committing several times a day.

💡Abstract tip: Committing your changes does not affect Master. You’ll request a design review before you merge any changes to Master.


How to commit your changes

To commit your changes:

  1. Create a Branch in the Abstract desktop app.
    • Note: If you don’t open your Sketch file via the Abstract app, your work is not backed up in Abstract and you can’t commit changes.
  2. Make changes to your Sketch file(s).
  3. At the bottom of your Sketch window, select COMMIT CHANGES.
    • Note: If you’re not seeing the Commit button, make sure you opened your Sketch file via the Abstract desktop app. If you’re still not seeing the Commit button, click File > Save in Sketch. Saving should trigger the Commit button to show up.
  4. Summarize your changes in the Commit comment.
    • Commit comments are visible to your team. They act as a reminder of what was changed if you ever need to restore a previous Commit.

The edits you made in your Branch are now visible to the rest of your Project team. You’ll find a record of your Commit in the Commit History.

8. Merge a Branch to Master.

Once your Branch is reviewed and approved, you’re ready to merge your changes to Master. Merging a Branch makes those designs part of Master.

💡Abstract tip: If you accidentally merge a Branch to Master, you can restore the Project's Master to a previous Commit.

Merge Branch to Master

How to merge a Branch

To merge a Branch to Master:

  1. Open the Abstract desktop app.
  2. Select the Project that contains the Branch you’d like to merge.
  3. Select Branches from the left side pane.
  4. Select the Branch you’d like to Merge.
  5. Click MERGE in the top right corner.
  6. Add notes to document the changes.

You’ll find a record of your Merge in the Commit History.

Note: Merged Branches are automatically archived and you cannot unarchive them. If you want to keep working on a Branch you’ve just merged, create a new Branch from Master, which will include the changes you just merged. You can also create a new child Branch from a merged one.

9. Invite team members.

Invite a team member to your Organization to try out the entire Abstract collaboration workflow: Branch, Commit, Review, and Merge.

Invite someone to your team

How to invite someone to your Organization

To invite someone to join your Abstract Organization:

  1. Select PEOPLE from the left side pane in Abstract.
  2. Click INVITE PEOPLE in the top right corner.
  3. In the Invite to Organization window, choose a Viewer or Contributor role.
  4. Click GET INVITE LINK to generate a link or INVITE VIA EMAIL to send an email.

You can also add Contributor seats here, if needed. You'll be able to see the number of used seats in your Organization here as well.

Advanced setup

These articles may be helpful once you’ve got the basics down:

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