By default, when importing assets, Unreal stores paths to each asset relative to the Unreal project folder. You can usually tell the path is relative because the Source File property of an asset has a lot of ../../../../ at the front.

Asset imported with Data Source unset.

Why is this a problem?

If you are working on a project on your own and on a single machine, this isn’t usually a problem.

But if you are working in a team, or across multiple machines this can start to be a real pain in the butt.

That relative path to the asset will likely not point to the raw asset on another machine:

  • The project could be installed in a different location.
  • The raw asset could be stored in a different location.

This matters because when changing a bunch of assets, the easiest thing to do is overwrite the raw file(s), and click Reimport from Unreal.

However if the raw asset cannot be found, Reimport will prompt you to find the asset. This is the last thing you want to be doing for hundreds of updated icons, right before a deadline.

So what’s the solution?

Making “reimport” work on everyone’s machine

Before starting, you will need to make sure your raw asset files are organized correctly:

  • All your raw assets should be in version control, or at least some kind of online backup service. If they’re not, go and do that now.
  • All of your raw assets should be under the same root structure. e.g. environment models in GameAssets/Environment/Meshes/, UI textures in GameAssets/UI/Textures/ etc.
  • Everyone in your team should be able to access all the raw assets. If they don’t have access to version control or online backup account, give it to them.

Next, open Editor Settings, and set the Data Source Folder property to point to the root of where all your assets are stored. In this example they are in C:\MyGameAssets\

Make sure that everyone in your team sets the Data Asset Folder setting, on all of their machines.

Data Source Folder property in Editor Settings

From then on, all of your imported assets should have paths that are relative to the Data Asset Folder.

Source File path with Data Asset Folder set

Now any time any asset is changed, you can simply click Reimport!

A note on Auto Reimport

As of Feburary 2021, there is a bug with Unreal’s Auto Reimport feature where it does not respect the data source path. There is a GitHub PR for a fix for this but just something to be aware of if you use Auto Reimport.

Thanks to @dougrichardson_ for telling me about this!