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Tag across projects with extensions

Maintain standardized sets of tags for use in multiple projects with extensions.

Extensions enable you to create global / universal tags that span projects. With extensions, your Dovetail workspace can scale to thousands of tags across projects and teams, without requiring all users to search through tags that might be irrelevant to them.

Extensions contain tags, have a readme, and can be restricted using access control, so you can manage access in the same way you can with projects. Researchers can standardize sets of tags for other teams to use in their projects. This is great for personas, shared feature requests, jobs-to-be-done, platform flows, and more.

How extensions work

By default, tags in Dovetail live in a specific project and can’t be shared across projects. This keeps things simple for most people. The architecture looks like this:

Diagram showing three projects with no extension

Extensions enable you to ‘pull’ common tags out of a project so you can re-use them across projects. In the example above, we may want to pull Personas out into an extension so we can re-use the personas tags across projects:

Diagram showing three projects and an extension with tags

When you create an extension, it’s not linked to anything. You’ll need to link the extension to one or more projects so each project can use the tags in the extension:

Diagram showing three projects with an extension linked to all three projects

Inside a project, nothing changes – extension tags are seamlessly integrated with existing tags inside a project. You can create highlights like normal, choosing extension tags or project tags without too much thought.

Extensions are ‘live’ – changes you make to tags in an extension will immediately be reflected in all linked projects. In this sense, extensions in Dovetail are similar to Masters in Keynote, Symbols and Libraries in Sketch, and Components in Figma.

We’ve chosen the name extension because they extend your tag set. We also have further plans for extensions which go beyond just enabling tags that span projects.

Create a new extension

Admins and users can create extensions. To create an extension:

  1. Click the workspace name.
  2. Click Settings near the bottom left.
  3. Click Extensions near the top left.
  4. Click + New extension.
  5. Name your extension and choose an icon.
  6. Describe your extension in the readme.

Once you’ve created your extension, you’ll need to link it to at least one project to give that project access to the tags in the extension. After you link an extension to a project, its tags will seamlessly show up inside the linked project.

To link a project and an extension:

  1. Navigate to a project.
  2. Click Settings near the middle left.
  3. Click Extensions near the top left.
  4. Click a checkbox to link an extension.
  5. Click Link extension to confirm.

Manage tags in an extension

Extensions tags can be organized into boards and groups. This works the same as a project – you can organize your tags, change their color, rename the groups, and so on.

There are two ways to organize, edit, and delete the tags in an extension:

  1. Navigate to the extension through workspace settings; or
  2. Edit tags in-context inside any linked project by clicking Tags.

⚠️ Remember that extensions are live. Changes you make to tag boards, tag groups, and tags in an extension will be reflected immediately in all linked projects.

Move tags from a project to an extension

To move a tag from a project to a linked extension:

  1. Link an extension to your project.
  2. Navigate to the tag you’d like to move.
  3. Open the Actions (···) menu.
  4. Click Move to….
  5. Choose a tag group in the extension.

⚠️ This is a one way operation. While you can move a tag into an extension, moving a tag out of an extension is currently not supported.

Manage fields in an extension

In addition to tags, fields can also be managed within an extension. Fields enable you to store structured data on your notes and insights. To create fields within an extension:

  1. Click Settings.
  2. Click Extensions.
  3. Click the Settings for the extension you wish to manage, or create a new extension.
  4. Then, click Data fields or Insight fields.
  5. Click + New field.
  6. Enter a name for your field.
  7. Select a type for your field. The default type will be text.
  8. Click Create.

⚠️ Remember that extensions are live. Changes you make to fields in an extension will be reflected immediately in all linked projects.

Control access to an extension

Extensions have a similar access control model to projects. You can restrict access to an extension by changing its workspace access level, and setting individual users as Full access, View and edit, or View only.

In an extension, users with View only access can still contribute highlights to tags in the extension. This allows you to open up contribution to a set of tags, without giving everyone the ability to modify the tags themselves (e.g. change the color, name, description).

Extensions must be viewable by everyone in the workspace, and cannot be hidden from the workspace by setting workspace or user access to No access.

Templates help you standardize user research across your organization by giving other people a starting set of data, tags, and project configuration to begin new projects from.

Extensions can be linked to project templates. This allows new projects created from your template to automatically include your extensions.

Create reusable project templates

Add tags to an extension

Once your extension is linked to a project, you can seamlessly create highlights with tags in the extension in the exact same way as you can with tags in the project. For detailed instructions on how to highlight and tag content, have a look at this help article:

Highlight and tag content in your project

When you unlink an extension from a project, any tags, boards, and groups in the extension will be duplicated into the project once the link is broken. This may result in a lot of duplicated tags and highlights which you’ll need to clean up.

To unlink a project and an extension:

  1. Navigate to a project.
  2. Click Settings near the middle left.
  3. Click Extensions near the top left.
  4. Click a checkbox to unlink an extension.
  5. Click Unlink extension to confirm.

Delete an extension

A deleted extension goes to workspace trash where it can be restored for 30 days.

To delete an extension:

  1. Navigate to an extension.
  2. Click Settings near the top left.
  3. Click Delete extension.
5 minute read
Updated 30 Apr 2020


Benjamin Humphrey
Kai Forsyth

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