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About JGD

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    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 05/30/1985

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    Lisbon, Portugal
  • Interests
    Typography, type design, modular geometric type design, grid systems, information design

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  1. To be fair, Adobe apps also deal with my dual-monitor setup terribly. But Affinity's floating palettes are even worse, as since there's no Workspace function, I can't reset them with a hotkey. I just force-quit and reopen the app in question so that I don't lose their positions. As for having to use third-party tools to fix UX shortcomings being unacceptable, I fully concur. I know Affinity apps are affordable, but it's a matter of basic usability and principle.
  2. JGD

    Variable fonts

    Make no mistake about it, @MikeW: I fully agree with you. RTL support should definitely be higher up the priority list for “best-in-class” in a classical sense, as is a multi-line composer equivalent. But the way I see it, Designer is very much focused on digital illustration, so I can certainly accept that typography in general is probably not a priority there. On the other hand, Serif is no stranger to going for flashy, low-hanging-fruit features, and maybe these are just easy enough to implement for them to make the cut. It's not that I think that's the best way to go about it, but I'm biased toward typography (so sue me ) and considering just how harder it might be to implement the support you mentioned, I wouldn't mind at all seeing at least those features in Designer a bit quicker so that they become an industry standard ASAP. Full disclaimer: you mustn't forget that, as a type designer, I do have a vested interest in seeing certain things become standard so that I might commit to them (and, of course, reap the benefits, both creative and pecuniary ). As for Publisher, well… Being a DTP app, it must allow for some “boring” stuff, as in manuals, packaging, labels, etc. And even as a western designer, you can't do many of those without RTL, I'm afraid, so you're absolutely right in that it should be a top priority. Still, that doesn't preclude us from discussing the possible implementations of this thing, am I right? We could certainly create a dedicated RTL thread or post on an existing one, even if it was just for +1 posts (because there's not much to it when it comes to the UX, is there? It's basically standardised at this point). Also, it's hard to ascertain just how big that market is, as the lack of said support is a complete non-starter and will make most potential customers self-exclude from the user pool.
  3. Patrick, I know we had our differences, but these two snippets right here warrant some kudos: I now see that you totally get our sentiment. That about sums it up nicely. Also this. I've been mentioning it before as something I just assume it's going to happen, hard and ambitious as it may be to achieve (in fact, I think it's something akin to squaring the circle), but to see you actually commit to that is refreshing. Never in a million years did I wish for any of my suggestions to make Affinity apps harder to work with for those who already enjoy and are used to them, and I expected they would get that by default. I'm hoping that your statement clears that up a bit. Anyhoo, I'm now heading back to my little SVG/variable font corner.
  4. I'm not sure I fully agree with your assessment. They will actually see a lively back-and-forth between devs and users. Sure, it may not always be perfect, but it's leagues ahead of what happens at the competition's user forums (and here, I'll single out Adobe by name: I will never, *ever* forget that infamous Photoshop gradient thread). We are discussing very precise factors here, and users who don't feel affected by them will either ignore the discussion altogether, or realise those issues aren't that big of a deal anyway. Also, Affinity apps are so affordable that taking the plunge isn't that big of a risk, IMHO. Even if you never pick them up again, they cost as much as a few months of a CC subscription, and you can absolutely recoup the initial investment in no time. The main reasons I (and others?) am so “passionate” about the Affinity suite are, as stated earlier, because I do wish to switch to a more affordable alternative, but also because I'm trying to recoup the time investment and regain some of the credibility lost for having peddled it to no end at the very beginning of the public beta phase. And the main reason I'm not doing so anymore, nor investing in crazy workarounds without any guarantee that they will become obsolete ASAP, is the fact that I know of the sunken cost fallacy. Nuh-uh, I'm not getting caught in that rabbit hole. Once I realised AD did not work for me and my students in its current state I pulled out of my self-appointed duties as a full-blown tester and evangeliser, and focused on its irreconcilable structural shortcomings instead. For all the people here thinking that I'm too emotional, or passionate or whatever, I would kindly ask you to take a moment to appreciate how very rational, logical and laser-focused those decisions actually were. As for Serif, a company constantly propped up by none other than Apple itself, I think you worry too much about its short-term future. Our comments about the long term are aimed mostly at Serif management itself, not other users – current and potential –, and I fully believe the latter realise that and are more than able to decide for themselves if Affinity is good enough for them in its current form. There is, IMHO, plenty of time to correct course here and there, and these latest posts are absolutely a step in the right direction.
  5. Also, not what I said. Overall, AD is indeed more user-friendly. I did mention its intuitive tools, didn't I? As for Ai, I believe I mentioned it before but it does bear repeating: it has a steep learning curve and features some positively horrible vector editing tools. So, it stands to reason that for a digital illustrator that wants to quickly plop down some artwork into a simple virtual canvas, AD is WAY friendlier. But for someone who's more of a perfectionist (re-read my comments regarding artwork repositioning in more complex documents), the current document model may start to irk them a bit… And, finally, for an information designer who may have to produce, say, an entire signage system…? Ehhhh, things start to get ugly and slow, real fast. As I've also demonstrated before here in the forums. As you should know, when it comes to software usability and workflows, things are anything but obvious and linear. Once you get past that learning curve, economies of scale kick in, and I can assure you that whatever workarounds I'd have to come up with in AD would be way worse and time-wasting than having to deal with Ai's horrid tools every now and then. I know, because I tried them.
  6. Nope, we're doing it even faster with the tools we already know how to work with (and which work in a way compatible with a) our workflows and b) the complexity of our projects), with our 10+ years of accumulated experience.
  7. You completely missed the mark here. Where, pray tell, did I single out Adobe on my last comment? Quite the contrary… I mentioned ALL of Serif's competition. That includes: CorelDRAW; Inkscape; Scribus; the defunct Macromedia; yes, Adobe, but certainly not just them; Glyphs.app; FontLab; and I'm willing to bet that the list goes on, and on, and on… Sure, I'm willing to admit that per-artboard, per-master and per-spread layers can be incredibly useful, as @Seneca pointed out. In fact, just because I think the implementation is flawed/incomplete, and outright weird from a conceptual standpoint, never have I said that they were an inherently useless, bad idea. But universal layers are also demonstrably useful, and I gave plenty of examples elsewhere on this forum where that may be the case… To claim otherwise is, to put it mildly, fanboyism and intellectual dishonesty of the highest order.
  8. *And therein lie the issues which, IMHO, plague Serif apps (also, for the sake of accuracy and intellectual honesty, no, Ai's artboards are most definitely not “glorified rectangles”; they are smart enough to also drag objects along with them, have a database and panel of their own, and allow for quick export with printers' marks, so, if anything, they are “glorified slices/groups” which do their intended job just perfectly and with almost zero complaints from end-users – or none that I heard of). No other design application does this, and for good reason. Conceptually speaking, artboards are pieces of paper/media (or their final, cropped state), and artists, designers, etc. can and will on occasion work well outside their boundaries and readjust said cropping factor, or reposition their artwork, while still keeping an unobstructed, bird's-eye view of all their stuff. The etymology of the word, and the way the physical object used to work – and still does, in fact – offers some insight as to how it should be approached in a mostly digital-first but not digital-only world, and a container/box/folder it is not. You may conceptualise it as such, being a developer and all, but artists do not “see” it that way, nor does it work that way in real life with physical media. That is why I've been saying for years that Serif apps are inherently non-WYSIWYG/non-skeumorphic/non-whatchamacallit. They do not behave like real-world, physical tools at their basic level (of course, digital tools will always offer a degree of abstraction impossible in the physical world, but to do so at the very conceptual/structural core may break some people's minds). And most other competitors, conversely, do. For all its snappiness and even intuitiveness when it comes to certain tools, Affinity apps – especially Designer – add a layer of user-unfriendliness that is hard to survey or put into words, but believe me, it's there. Just because enough users and Apple itself heaped you with praise, that doesn't mean I'm wrong about it; it's just that they didn't notice it or it didn't make much of a difference to them considering their demands and/or how affordable Affinity apps are. Honestly, have you personally seen non-digital illustrators work, in the field, with their pens, pencils, brushes, masking tape, scissors, x-acto knives, rulers, glue sticks and whatnot? I've dated one for three years and I saw her and her colleagues work almost daily for more than two years straight. They do that kind of tinkering and repositioning a lot, and the “artboard” only becomes an irreversible, done deal much later in the process (more often than not only in digital form, after the original artwork is scanned). As for my design work, even I do that a lot (albeit digitally), and I'd love to be able to do so in Designer, too. Maybe it comes down to the fact that I was trained at a fine-arts school, as are many top-level designers all over the world, and started out working in physical media myself (and the same goes for our MA, which includes an entire semester at a letterpress workshop as the main subject). You might ask: in a digital-first/mostly-digital world, why should a developer like Serif even worry about physical metaphors and accommodate for users who started out on physical media? Ask me, and I'll say that 99.9% of art and design teachers at the under- and postgraduate level will tell you that learning first how to draw by hand is essential. Ask them directly, and you'll be lucky if they don't outright laugh at you. I know, because I tried having that very debate with some of them, and it wasn't pretty. Also, the more I read on the subject and teach students of my own, the more convinced I am they are absolutely right, and I'm very far from being conservative as a person, as a creative or as a teacher. And I'm not even getting back into the whole “universal layer” conundrum (and I'm ecstatic to see that you may be fixing it soon, thus allowing you to have your cake and us to eat it too)… As I've said before, those two concepts, while related, aren't mutually exclusive, so we should also have the ability to turn off “Clip to Canvas” even in a multi-artboard document whose objects are indeed contained in specific artboards (if you must insist in keeping that interaction model around, and I understand why you would, for backward compatibility with that always-cropped, iPad-first paradigm that I'm sure a sizeable portion of users enjoy). If I may give you a constructive suggestion, an easy solution for the inevitable issue of having objects contained in an artboard overlap with objects contained in another, maybe that mode might affect only the active/selected artboard, thus acting a bit like an “isolation mode” of sorts. That would probably also force you to add further functionality to the Layers panel, such as entering modal states via, say, double-clicking/tapping (i.e. “entering” an artboard/group/clipping group/inpainted group/layer/universal layer), instead of just selecting stuff; all that modal functionality offers a level of abstraction for power users which, IMHO, is perfectly acceptable, desirable and sometimes vital, unlike the arguably and demonstrably weird/crippled “container model”. That, too, would also allow us all to have our cake – i.e. artboards as containers – and eat it too – i.e. seeing stuff outside of them even in complex documents. My €0,02.
  9. Well, by any other name, I guess it is. And it makes a world of difference… Wait, is it finally coming?! Considering how nicely Publisher is also coming along, especially the IDML importer, I could really start digging into Designer for the odd job. If I do indeed get used to it, all those other advanced features from Ai would then be just “nice-to-have”; and as long as Publisher correctly renders PDFs generated in .Ai with unsupported features (such as, say, the variable and SVG fonts we're discussing on another thread), I could certainly do the bulk of my work in Designer and save Ai for those odd use cases. It's not as practical or elegant a solution as having embedded, editable .afdesign artwork, but I've been working that way with ID and Ai for years, it's not like it's a downgrade to my workflow or anything.
  10. JGD

    Variable fonts

    This being a thread with some traction and very recent posts, and on a generic “Affinity Desktop” forum, no less, I believe it's the best place to discuss this matter. The last objective feedback we had on this feature was by Dave Harris himself, and it doesn't bode well. It seems variable font support is not in the cards at all at this moment, which, considering the current variable font support landscape, is a shame. You see, all of Adobe's former “Design Standard” apps (Ai, Id and Ps) already support them via this teensy button that opens up any and all variable parameter sliders that type designers may have put in their own fonts. Adding support for them may be hard, but necessary, at least if Serif wishes for their digital typography support to be best-in-class. I commended Serif before for offering proper OpenType support, and I expect nothing less from them. The same goes for SVG fonts, but those could be discussed in a different thread and are an entirely different beast (they are strictly appropriate for artistic work, whereas variable fonts can also be used for finer adjustments in DTP projects). And now, for something completely different (because I never thought that Serif should just ape Adobe; they should try to one-up them at every step of the way and, if that wasn't the case, I'd be writing this on an Adobe forum instead): As I've said on this thread, I just came back from 10ET, in Porto, where one of the hot topics was precisely variable fonts. One of the issues Peter Bilak raised was the excessive choice provided by them, a factor which apparently also doomed the Multiple Master format before… Being a great fan of Barry Schwartz's “The Paradox of Choice” talk, I concur in thinking that too much choice can do more harm than good. Fully featured variable fonts can, at the very limit, allow for really, really stupid choices, which make you wonder what good they are for, after all. And that's where one of the suggestions I made to Bilak during Q&A comes in: constraints. I.e., there should be a standard method, in font editors such as Glyphs.app, FontLab, RoboFont, etc., to add certain rules that limit specific stupid/illegible combinations as per Bilak's own “design space” concept. Basically, when drawing one slider all the way up or down, others might be limited in their range and vice-versa; also and as a consequence of that, you might be able to lock them selectively in design apps so as to prioritise certain parameters over others. Alternatively, because choice can be good, there might be a special mode akin to the current anarchy where anything goes, which would accordingly disable said constraints altogether; we could call it “sandbox mode” or some other playful term that emphasised that it should not be the default setting (kind of like Affinity apps do not allow optical deformations of text along a single axis, come to think of it). What do you think? If this idea gains enough traction, I'll be sure to put it into an actual paper and propose it to the powers-that-be.
  11. I mean, this topic is named “discussion on outstanding features” and he's an expert on something that could become a feature in Affinity one day. While on the subject of keeping things strongly offtopic, I didn't even know Adobe had a HQ in Edinburgh, and I've already been there twice. And here I was thinking the only famous company that did was Rockstar North (F.K.A. DMA Design)…
  12. Yeah, we could go there instead. In fact, those topics should be merged, or something, but I guess I'll just pick the one that's got more traction. As for your comment regarding SVG fonts, well… I totally get it. They are flashy and, compared with the arguably complex variable fonts, are low-hanging fruit, UX speaking (though Adobe did solve it, for the time being, with a single button and a floating dialog with simple sliders). They don't really entail any standard setting other than, you know, properly implementing the format. Sérgio is actually an expert on those, by the way, and did a presentation about that topic last year. Still, I'd say that variable fonts can be more useful, especially in Publisher, and all those formats aren't mutually exclusive. The only reason I periodically bring it up is the fact that Serif, for all their failings, did prioritise decent OpenType support early on. That's a major win in my book, and likely one of the main reasons that got me interested in Affinity in the first place.
  13. Is my understanding that, since this thread was split, it won't be shut down correct? If so, can we now talk about other stuff, namely variable fonts? That's the feature I currently have more info to share on right now, including some very interesting insights from type systems and interpolation extraordinaire Peter Bilak. He raised a few of the same issues some of you did and, in fact, I had an interesting but as of then inconclusive one-on-one with him during Q&A. I may write a paper on that soon enough, in fact, and share it with him; if it's any good, I think it would be great to raise that issue with the powers that be (i.e. type designers, as well as type design and graphic design app developers; I already got Rainer covered, and maybe Rui Abreu, from Adobe – who, guess what, was also also there and always attends that conference –, or my future colleague Sérgio could also be a good entry point to that unavoidable behemoth). But, of course, I'd love to first hear from, you know, “regular” designers. I am one, too, but I'm obviously biased, as you may guess. As a teaser, that's me actually sharing my concerns and suggestions with Mr. Bilak.
  14. @ErrkaPetti that is uncalled for, and untoward both to me and Serif. But since you ask, I don't expect special treatment. I just didn't like some of the treatment I, and others, got in the past, and defended myself way back when and once again now. It's no secret that I had my fair share of issues with @Patrick Connor, and still am not fully satisfied with our current status, but it would be completely unfair to say that it got worse or even stayed the same. As a matter of fact, kudos to him for distancing himself from your comments. Whenever I pull up my credentials, the only reason I do so is to shore up my credibility and the validity of my arguments. As for “special treatment”, if anything, *I* am the one giving it to Serif, both in the form of feedback, suggestions and potential networking deals, and “tough love”, where other users just would up and leave. It saddens me that those haven't had the effect I expected, which doesn't inspire me the least bit of confidence in the future, but hey, accepting or even acknowledging suggestions or not is their prerogative. As for you, other than speaking for Serif without having any contractual obligation towards them or checking with them first (do you see the absurdity of your situation? In order to be able to do the latter without coming across as an uncritical fanboy, you should also have the former… which, AFAIK, you don't) and attacking other users, what do you have to offer to either Serif or us? I did not address you directly, and if you're happy with Affinity, good on you. But being a “yes man”, while certainly great for their ego and motivation, doesn't make much of a material difference to the development process, now, does it? As I said to those who made the suggestion, I will open or bump a thread on variable fonts, specifically for us to discuss said feature (and, yes, a bump on typography threads will always be in order every now and then, as each year there are new developments to be discussed; for all it's “600-year-old-industry” status, its digital manifestations in the commercial arena are, IMHO, vastly underdeveloped when compared to the kind of experimental stuff some of us are doing in academia), because I firmly believe – and that belief is grounded in experience, hence me mentioning it in the first place – it will be useful, usable and finally reach critical mass, so if you have something useful to contribute with – even if it's on-topic criticism, yes –, you'll be more than welcome. But if not, please spare us that attitude. @Patrick Connor, for all I care, please lock it down, sure. We'll take this elsewhere and hopefully learn something useful in the process.
  15. You raised some interesting points, which we discussed ourselves already during said meeting. I won't rehash them here as yours is a great suggestion, so I'll either create a new thread or revive an old one if I find it (after I'm done with said abstract, of course ).

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