Abstract vs. Plant, an all-out war on Version Control

You can read this article in Spanish.

I recently talked about ‘How version control changed my life’ but surely you, like me, already made attempts to keep track of your own VCS (version control system). I’m convinced that we’ve all gone through the endless (non-final) final versions of a file. And I would say more, I’m almost certain that you’ll have tried to manage everything using Google Drive or Dropbox. These tools come in handy if there was a fatality and you want to restore a file to a previous version but the reality is that none of these methods is effective or designed for our work. So from this point of personal need, I had to undertake the arduous task of finding THE TOOL (read with reverb), to start testing different solutions in a tiny environments to see if they had the potential to scale it to an entire organization. And as always happens, there is always someone who has already gone before you by the same point, so I started researche online; from searching how other companies did it to reading what people were doing on Medium and I found several articles that talked about good proposals such as Abstract, Kactus or Plant.

So after an initial sieve of tools, I spent a few days to investigate thoroughly what each one offered me. As you (may) know, I finally stayed with Abstract because I think it’s the one that best suited the needs of my workflow and projects but as I took a small comparison of key features, I would like to state just in case someone in the same situation could find it useful.

App vs. In-app

  • Abstract it’s an app with a web-app version. Files have to be opened from Abstract itself, instead of Sketch or Finder (so from now on Abstract need to be the pillar of your workflow). Nevertheless, once you’re in Sketch you will see the Abstract Snackbar at the bottom of the screen.
  • Plant it’s a sketch plugin with a web-app version. As Craft does, Plant automatically plugs into Sketch by adding an additional side panel so you can easily integrate into your workflow.


  • Abstract works more seamlessly in the background — from time to time, it just autosaves. It’s nice because you can continue editing some other file and then go back to commit the changes.
  • Plant needs you to push an upload and, till now, it doesn’t allow to push just selected artboards.

Library management

  • Abstract is 1 project with multiple branches & multiple sketch files. The true power of Git, you can start working on a feature (branch) and then open different timelines (sub-branches) that can evolve separately from each other and be merged to the developer branch (even the master) in the future.
  • Plant is 1 project with multiple sketch files. In contrast to Abstract, Plant will show you only a linear timeline, which your design team can work on by uploading/downloading changes. No branches, nor local commits.

Manual Save vs. Auto-save

  • Abstract allows you to save locally and then files synchronize automatically to the cloud.
  • On Plant, you need to remember to upload (push) or download (pull) changes.

Review changes

  • On Abstract you can sort out visual and non-visual conflicts inside the App. Besides, you can merge two branches and bring automatically those Sketch files together in one place or merge them to the Master.
  • By contrast, on Plant you must solve conflicts inside Sketch. An artboard level way to handle conflicts, as it truly allows you to identify the details that have changed.

Review commits with your team

  • On Abstract, when you are done with your work, you can modify the status of your branch by highlight it and ask your teammates to review the changes.
  • Conversely, on Plant, you can’t make local commits. You need to make them through the website version.

Sketch Libraries

  • After marking your Sketch files as a “library”, Abstract will transform them to be available to use them as Libraries. Any later deviation in the Library Master file will be automatically notified through a contextual notification just as Sketch does.
  • With Plant, you’ll also have the chance to shared Sketch Libraries across all your project but you must first have to load them into Sketch.

Just do it!

After all, no matter which tool you will use if you incorporate version control into your day-to-day. Abstract was my choice. It is a good option that we will see how it evolves but if you are a UI designer that continuously strives to improve your work processes, keeping an eye on these tools.


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