They are holding off the initial release to include more features we want (from the update email that just came out). Hopefully, this thread makes clear that this is an indispensable part of what designers want/need to work in Publisher.
It seems that with very few exceptions, user requests for adding features to this exciting new Affinity platform are couched in "me, too" terms. ("I need this single deal-breaking feature now, just as it is in [my pet program], or I'm outta here!").
There's not really much new under the 2D graphics software sun, and hasn't been in a long time. I blame that on the continued dominance of the market by a few historic monoliths.
The good news is, almost every "me, too" feature request is a potential opportunity for breaking beyond the lockstep lethargy of current offerings. My constant hope is that the Affinity team is striving for something more innovative than the conventional wisdom standard-fare.
One of the macro consequences of the decades of micro improvements to the mainstream titles is that in today's increasingly data-driven world, publishing and illustration programs seem farther and farther behind the times. Just another "me, too" data merge feature like those typically used for recipient address labels, etc. is already passé.
Juha7one mentioned FileMaker and made my heart sing because I've used FileMaker to build fairly ambitious fully data-driven publishing solutions. Two examples:
A 1000-page aftermarket parts catalog, the content of which is directly and continuously updated by parts information experts, not graphic designers, using straightforward data-entry screens, designed to precisely fit and streamline their tasks. The dataset is much larger than what will fit in a thousand-page print, and includes relational tables for brand-to-brand cross-referencing, live pricing, and more. The design is built in, up-front, and is flexible. The layout assembly and export to print-ready PDFs is entirely automated, requiring no "desktop publishing" whatsoever. Workers can on-the-fly isolate focused content by section or part type, and automatically generate print-ready "extracts" from the catalog for monthly specials, trade-show handouts, etc.
An application that empowers Dealers to automatically generate their own individualized dealership-branded sales promotions (electronic or in print, in various formats) while keeping in full agreement with the factory branding standards. The application is a tidy six-step interface start-to-finish. Its dataset includes everything from the above-described product catalog database (access to tens of thousands of items), lookup functionality for current Dealer pricing (including a handy calculator for pricing on a per-item basis), the Dealer's Direct Mail info and indicia, and customer mail list.
Those and other projects like them have convinced me of this: It would be far easier to turn a version of FileMaker Pro into a graphically-powerful data-driven publishing platform than to turn a conventional page-layout program into a powerful data-handling solution. All that would be required is to flesh out FileMaker's Layout Mode with a few more graphics-oriented features.
I'm just an enthusiastic FileMaker user, and just mention it from that standpoint. When asked what my favorite "graphics program" of all time is, I only half-jokingly reply, "FileMaker Pro." Its approachability is well within the capabilities of most graphic designers, and for creative minds its use opens a whole world of data-driven publishing capabilities, either standalone or in conjunction with conventional graphics programs.
I would buy a Data Merge utility product that integrated with publisher (and the other apps) if that is what it come down to otherwise I'll be left following and waiting for the feature before purchasing and learning.
@gregoiredierendonck, @Sponka, @debiant, @Josh Mills, @lights95 , @BoloGauranga, @TomJG @am2008, @J. One, @ilocho and anyone else I have missed (sorry)
Welcome to the Serif Affinity forums
I have pinned this popular post to the top of the forum for others to find more easily. I cannot say if this will be implemented anytime soon, but clearly it would be desirable to you and others.
Just wanted to add, that without data merge. Publisher is also a no go for me. I need it for my workflow, which revolves around rapid paper prototyping using .csv files. My work would be abyssmal without it. It's why several other publishing apps failed to capture my interest. As someone who has purchased both other products in your line, I would ask that this be marked as a high priority feature for a final release. I want to be rid of that other company, and their rental policies, once and for all.
Th other features are great, but without Data/Mail merge, Publisher is unusable for me.