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  1. My relationship with Linux is a more pragmatic one. I actually recommend people get a Windows PC over a Mac, mainly due to overall cost, performance, maintainability, upgradeability, and just having more software options in general. It sucks that you don't have the overlap of a Unix-based system and the ability to run the Adobe suite, like you do on the Mac, but there's ways around that (VMs, Windows Subsystem for Linux, etc.). Some of the more annoying Windows "features" can be disabled. When I used the term "creative" it's more a general term that does not just include paid professionals. The education work I'm doing focuses on the whole gamut of creatives: a lot of pre- and post-college creatives who are self-taught, not in college or are already past that. So when looking at "creatives" with a wider lens, this includes all visual artist, including hobbyist and people trying to change into a more design-oriented career. That is why non-Adobe products are appealing to the educational work I'm doing. It includes people who have not made it into college yet (an ideal place to learn the Adobe suite), or are focusing on building something new on their own outside of a studio. If they took out a loan to get their education, then absolutely, I'll only teach them the Adobe software. Regarding the small number of developers working on open-source projects. I recall a big funding push for Krita while it was still a young piece of software. They had a Kickstarter campaign, and a lot of marketing. They also have a website that makes the donation path very clear. Compared to Inkscape and GIMP? Not so much. Inkscape's donation page says they use it to help developers attend conferences. GIMP's donate page says "we don’t raise funds to sponsor development of GIMP as an organization at this time." Blender has had an online store for a very long time, paid training materials, and a membership program, so no wonder they were so successful at getting funding (before Epic gave them over a million dollars). It also doesn't hurt that their software was already fairly capable when it first became open source. I think the big takeaway there is that most open-source development projects are not great at marketing and asking for money.
  2. It really depends on the business strategy. By no means do I think that choosing not to have a fully cross-platform product is done in spite, as some users want to portray. (Seriously guys, that strategy doesn't work. Cut it out.) There's some value in targeting someone else's customers. It's seen as a strategy with less risk. However, I hope that the value proposition for Affinity doesn't continue to be "it's like Adobe but cheaper." There's definitely some features that Affinity products have that Adobe does not, but it doesn't take long for a competitor to add similar features. I think the best thing that Affinity Designer had going for it was a fresh start: a more modern architecture, a fresh UI, less legacy code. A fresh start is also the time when you want to think about cross platform support. One thing I wanted to reiterate, is that the people who are off Adobe's radar are MOST of the creatives out there. I'm not just talking about professional graphic designers, I'm talking about photographers, illustrators, software developers, clients, students (pre- and post-college), and creatives outside of the US or Europe. Just because they can't afford an Adobe subscription, an OS that runs it, or simply choose not to, doesn't mean they are not able to pay $50 once for design software that they can use forever. Programmers are very skeptical of subscription software, but are prone to impulse buys. It's also worth pointing out that people who don't have access to the software needed to create graphic designs, are more likely to give up early and never show up in any surveys. As software becomes accessible, interest in that field grows instead of dying before it even begins. I've talked to developers that had interested in design, but when they found out that the existing Linux-compatible tools are, well...crap, they gave up. Sure, that helps me as a freelancer, but I think what Serif wants are more customers, especially budding creatives that want an accessible tool that they can financially justify. In my corner of the USA, graphic design jobs are paying less and less. The supply and demand is not in our favor right now, which is why I'm pivoting to front-end development. Other designers are making the same move. That's another reason why Linux is becoming so much more desirable among graphic designers: software development is becoming a more valuable skill. But at the same time the value of design is understood, so visual design is becoming something that more of the design team is touching and interacting with. That includes the developers running Linux. Are programmers the only potential customers that could be gained from a Linux version? No. Front-end developers/designers who want to switch off of MacOS but can't. People who want to donate a computer and load it with software the recipient will actually use. (Seriously, donating a Windows computer can be a huge pain because of the cost of a Windows license.) Educators like myself that want to teach design software that won't burden the students or the school (Adobe's educational pricing is a bit of a joke, and scrappy educational schools like ours don't qualify). And of course, the people who want to move off of Windows but are waiting for the right collection of software that will let them transition. I predict that once a Linux version is available, more people will buy the Windows and Mac versions because they'll want to get comfortable with the new software before they are ready to transition away from Windows/MacOS, and finally cancel their Adobe subscription. Graphic designers, developers, and educators like myself don't want Serif to create a Linux version to help pump up support for Linux. It's not about that. There's already mass support for Linux, including from those who don't actually run Linux. It's just that most of us can't migrate to Linux because of Adobe! So when we have both Adobe and Affinity software, and neither work on the OS that so many of us want to use daily, there's not much point in migrating away from what we are already familiar with. So we stick with Adobe products. * * * * * Serif, I have a suggestion. Run an exit intent pop up asking people why they decided to not purchase Affinity products. I would also recommend a checkout survey asking why they almost decided not to purchase your product. I've found that a lot of companies put their heads too far into the numbers as opposed to talking to people that bounced and decided they were not interested in their product. Take a more human-centered approach to find out what is really going on. Find the creatives that suffer the most. Talk to scrappy educators, makers, and aspiring creatives. Go to meet up groups. Figure out what they struggle with. Every time those companies have been surprised by the findings. I think you'll find more success in filling gaps that others have not filled.
  3. Recently I was responsible for getting a company to switch over to the Affinity products. (Serif, you're welcome. ) I wanted to share some insights behind one company's process of deciding what design software to purchase, my own experience as a teacher of art and design, and why Affinity should start thinking about developing Linux versions of their design software. This isn't intended to influence short-term plans, just long term ones and the way the market is shifting with regards to software ownership and operating systems. * * * * * The company I convinced to adopt the Affinity software is a web software company that also creates print/video games. We primarily run Linux. I'm a new hire in the design and art team, so I was able to bring up the existence of the Affinity products when the discussion of design software came up. We have huge issues with Adobe with regards to ownership, and other issues I won't get into here. The short version is that we had philosophical issues with Creative Cloud and Adobe as a company. The problem is that our choice to go with Affinity products is that it was a compromise. There wasn't any other reason for us to use Affinity products besides we didn't like Adobe, and the minor issue of cost. It doesn't run on our preferred development environment, meaning that seemingly arbitrary separation between developers and designers and the software that they run will still exist in our process. It's almost 2020; it shouldn't be that way. Developers are designers too. That is why we use software like Figma. It works on all operating systems because it's a vector and UI design tool that works in the browser. We are not really a fan of the subscription model or how our data is basically held hostage, but it's more practical to pay extra to have a unifying tool among all team member's operating systems. That is why we use Figma. With WebAssembly, we'll start seeing more browser-based design applications. I strongly suspect that this is the direction Adobe will go to address the cross platform issue, but it doesn't address people's pain with "subscription fatigue," the questions of ownership, or having performant design applications. (If you haven't used Figma, it's performance is acceptable but not great.) I don't see WebAssembly browser apps having as good a user experience as native design apps in the near future. So there's still a need for native design apps, including native Linux apps. For us, Affinity was a compromise purchase, and we bought the minimum number of copies we needed for each team member's role, instead of making sure everyone was on the same page which is what would have been ideal for us, but alas, "not available on Linux." What happened to the rest of the software budget that didn't go to getting copies for the entire staff, including the development team? That budget is going to the development funds of other design tools that do work in Linux, but just need more work to make them viable. * * * * * Okay, so that's just one company. It's just a web development company, not a design agency. Web development companies may not be Serif's intended customer. I get that might be the possibility. But here's something else to consider. I'm also a teacher of art and design. I took a human-centered design approach to art education, and did a lot of research on the people who want to learn design. That process led me to focusing my efforts on teaching underprivileged and disadvantaged creatives, because I found that group encompasses most of the creatives out there. Since starting that journey I've developed some personal beefs with Adobe. I've witnessed creatives who couldn't afford their Adobe subscription, which meant they had to stop working as a freelancer if I hadn't stepped in. That's the type of stuff I deal with. Again, this group is huge: people in college, just out of college, or trying to ditch their horrible day jobs and pursue a more creative career. When it comes to this group of people, every dollar counts. You may not think the cost of Windows ($140-$200 per computer) is that big of a deal, but it matters when you have to scrimp and save for every dollar, or when your local currency doesn't go as far is does in other countries. If that freelancer had the choice to use Linux as a designer, they would have been able to afford a few more months of the Creative Cloud subscription and continue working that month. Linux is the difference between someone having to save $460 for a computer instead of $600 to get started (that's 24% less, just from the cost of Windows). It's the difference between being able to work as a multi-disciplinary web developer and be able to design for and code in the operating system that powers the web. (Just us a VM for your dev server you say? VMs require a good chunk of dedicated RAM and a little bit more overhead, and a budget computer may not be able to handle that, especially if you have Windows as your host OS, making it far more memory efficient to run your entire server environment locally.) Quite frankly, for creatives Linux is about providing more opportunities to people that would otherwise not have it. I'm hoping that more software companies adopt that mission too. But until that happens, as a teacher I have to provide equal software coverage for both the Adobe products and the Affinity products in the curriculum, because I can't with full confidence entirely recommend one over the other. But for audio and video editing? DaVinci Resolve. Full stop. I won't teach Premier. Not everyone can install Premier, but everyone can install Resolve. For 3D modeling? Blender. Period. It works for everyone. No need to teach anything else. I would love love LOVE to only teach Affinity products, but currently I can only recommend it. Granted, it's a strong recommendation, but my curriculum can't be as dedicated to one piece of graphic design software like I can with DaVinci Resolve, Blender, Krita, Godot, and Visual Studio Code, which are all programs I didn't have to compromise on. I'm pleased with what Serif is doing. I got one company to adopting it, and a handful of other freelancers to start using it. I'm slowly moving over to Affinity for my freelance. Having software that competes with InDesign was a lot more urgent than Linux support, so I've been happy with the prioritization. (Although I think all software companies should consider targeting all three platforms at the beginning of a project. The libraries to do so have existed for years. But that's a business decision that is in the past.) The freelancer who couldn't pay for his Adobe subscription that month is now using Affinity products as per my recommendation. So Serif is doing a lot of good. I just hope that people who create design software don't forget about the creatives that are off of Adobe's radar.

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