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Plugins - Allow for Temporary open source or proprietary solutions until Serif Develop the official Affinity solution.


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So there are a number of feature requests that could be temporarily solved by the use of open source plugins. Serif want to develop proprietary solutions to many of these tools and i honestly hope they do - however whilst they are working on these tool and on fixing bugs etc, why not allow a framework that can enable plugin implementation or development for the affinity system.

Another option to open source would be to have old serif utility modules, such as tools from Page Plus, Draw Plus or Photo Plus - as long as you make the functionality clear and the fact it is a Legacy or Open Plugin, I don't think users would mind and in fact would rather have limited functionality rather than none. I understand the Affinity Suite is a new set of programs and i understand it is built in a fundamentally different way, but in order to be a true replacement of your own software , nevermind an option to replace alternate offerings, more needs to be offered to cover some basic elements of modern software. 

lets look at some EXAMPLE requests that i know of that could be an easy temporary solution once implemented 

1. Measure tool

Currently this requires work arounds ...WHY?? we can, draw a line and get its length but we cannot simply measure gaps, objects etc - this one should be an easy and obvious win this shouldn't even require a plugin, but a plugin tool that would allow you to draw a toggleable printable / non printable measurement or group of such measurement lines would be very welcome. 

2. Trace Bitmap 

This is a very commonly requested feature, users that want this functionality currently have to use a separate program, leave affinity boot program, trace the image, then re import into affinity as a vector, by allowing for a plug in framework - for a temporary amount of time users could simply use a plugin built around Potrace - http://potrace.sourceforge.net/ - this is the same technology used in Inkscape - not perfect but works well enough, and if users are currently booting a separate program to do the same thing it would stop that annoying work around, keeping people inside the affinity workflow. 

2 (a). Vector Brushes (workaround)

by allowing the above method, users could "set" the dynamic raster brushes currently called vector brushes - once they were happy with them, if they wanted to keep dynamics they could simply create a duplicate layer and set then then turn off visibility of the "vector brush" stroke, this would allow brushes to be exported without rasterization, a bitmap trace module would also have other side benefits similar to these 2, using pixel layers to draw textures then vectorising etc etc.

3. Barcode generation / QR generation

while one could again make a potrace argument if you had a raster barcode, this would be weird, however there are many other solutions including those developed for previous serif products.



Whilst there are of course many many other tools that would benefit from such a system,  but the principal is this. 

if there are open source, or older proprietary tools that can do the jobs being requested, then until such time as development can be completed on the newest gen tool these tools should be available via a plug in system, the performance of these plugins should be made clear, these are to enable users to stay in the affinity workflow whilst completing a job NOT to provide the best result serif can offer, or reflect on serifs ability. Support for these plugins should be limited and down to the Community / OS Developers if the plugin is open source or if proprietary Serif for bug fixes / version clashes only. Plugins should not get new feature requests if Proprietary, however the usage of such plugins may actually aid development of the new generation tool, as users could suggest improvements on a tool basis. 

Whilst development of a plugin manager / porting code to work with affinity will take time and effort it should be considerably less time than required to develop the new tools, and "should" cover a lot of the bases of missing tools that people currently require or ask about of a regular basis.  

This could initially be offered as a premium upgrade if necessary to cover time / costs say £10 / £20 for Affinity Designer "(+)"  plugin suite containing draw plus / page plus tools) leaving the current version only having the officially developed Affinity Designer tools, and or open source tool compatibility  and allowing for the addition of these modules for those whom want them "NOW" at an extra cost, Let me be clear i would not think this is a good strategy long term, Tools should be developed and implemented into the Core Affinity System, i am simply talking about a way of giving people tools Sooner rather than later that is cost effective for the company so that I'm not trying top ask for everything for free.

its possible many features and tolls are planned for version 2.0 ...but how long will that be? and where is the roadmap to give us an expectation? 

this workaround would remove the need for roadmaps etc as when the New version of a tool was ready it would be implemented offering improvements over the plugin version, meanwhile features you don't wish to be implemented natively at this stage could be offered by plugin developers.


 

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Plug-in support itself is a feature request. It's almost guaranteed that existing plug-ins could not be used as the api in Affinity applications will be different, so that leaves purposefully-built plug-ins, which cannot be made until the plug-in feature request is filled. Even then, every function in Affinity applications would need documented in the api so that plug-in developers could make use of them.

However, whether plug-in developers will build what are likely to be plug-ins costing as much or more than the base application and whether they would sell enough copies to support both their initial development, profit, on-going development and enhancements is a whole other question.

But hey, I agree that developing the api and publishing it ought to be a priority--amongst the other priorities. We'll never know if there is/will be interest amongst developers until they can see an api.

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Hi MikeW, 

I am aware this is a feature request on its own, I was simply trying to show the benefits of allowing plugin support in relation to other requests, mainly through the use of open source programs out there that can be implemented into affinity as a work around until official tools are developed. 

There are many programmers out there that could develop plugins and there are many whom already contribute to opensource projects, so whilst I understand your price point objection, there are many cases of people working simply to improve tools or add to them.

The ultimate point about plugins is this - if the inbuilt tool works better then there is no longer need for the plugin - unless there is a very specific case point where the plugin does a better job, but if the toll does not exist or is never intended to be developed by serif, then plugins would be most helpful in those solutions. 

Developing the API is the core of what the post is about - but i was providing specific examples where such an API could not only be used, but help to clear up the Forums from lots of posts about the same issues - there are a number of opensource tools that could be turned into plugins and solve issues until serif cna develop the Affinity specific tool. 

The idea of a premium version upgrade  (Affinity (+)) could be offered temporarily, to cover the cost of the API development if it included a number of previous serif tools in plugin form which would also help to fill gaps in the current tool roster, if this path were chosen, you would want to replace plugins with inbuilt tools, so that the need for Affinity (+) would be phased out. 

for example - lets say one of the biggest issues with this path would be IPADS, Offer (Affinity (+)) only on desktop - make any exportable object have to be a vector / raster for export so there are no conflicting issues with Live filters / plugins. Once Serif Make the Native version of the tool - either remove the tool from Affinity (+) of leave it in as an alternate - Once all tools are implemented, remove Affinity (+) as an option.

If people wanted to use the serif tools and not open source ones they could for a premium, but this was of course just a suggestion to cover costs - Ultimately a Plugin API on its own would be Excellent as a number of workarounds could then be made inside Designer until Serif Develops the Affinity Specific tool.

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I rather like plug-in's, I tend to write minor ones for grids and such and would be happy to see Affinity open it up to some sort of JavaScript or Python model. Quite a lot of people have asked if they can use company x plug-in so I imagine they will have to add it at some point for professional use. It would be nice to see a micro's become more popular too, I have used those a lot in Photoshop. This sort of thing tends to take a long time to implement so I don't imagine it any time soon.

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