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Feature request: command to split text flows

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Questions that involve splitting a text flow have come up a couple of times, and I'm now motivated to make a feature request.

First, let me clarify what I am not requesting, in the hope that discussion will stay focused on topic. This is not a request to insert a text frame into the middle of an existing sequence of linked text frames. This is not a request to insert frame/column/page breaks into a text flow.  This is not a request which is covered by the existing commands to link or unlink two successive text frames, when both frames contain different existing flows.

Given an existing text flow, present in a sequence of one or more linked text frames, it would occasionally be convenient to split the text flow into two distinct flows at the cursor.  Call flow 1 the part of the original text flow before the cursor, and the part of the original text flow after the cursor would become flow 2.  The text frame in which the cursor was placed would be divided into two adjacent text frames.  (See commnent next paragraph.)  The frames containing flow 1 would retain their existing links.  The frames containing flow 2 would retain their existing links.  There would be no link between the linked frames containing flow1 and the linked frames containing flow 2.  Obviously, there some reflow of flow 2 would be required.

Basically, I am looking for the functional inverse of the existing behavior when you link two text frames, each containing distinct flows.  Affinity Publisher merges the two flows.  The start of flow 2 immediately follows the end of flow 1, even if the end of flow 1 was not visible in its sequence of linked frames due to overflow.  Splitting an existing text frame (equivalently, creating a new one) is necessary in at least some cases. If there was a linked frame following the frame containing the cursor, you could unlink those two frames and let the following frame become the head frame for flow 2. That would be a pure inverse of the existing merge-flows behavior.  However, if there is no text frame linked after the frame containing the cursor, a new text frame would have to be created to contain flow 2.  I suggested simply splitting the frame containing the cursor, so together the last frame of flow 1 and the first frame of flow 2 occupy the space of the original text frame.  But this is not the only way to create and position a new text frame for this command.

If and when we get the additional functionality of linking text flows to external documents, things will become a bit more complicated.  (This is true even if splitting text flows is not added, as we already have merging.)  Presumably each text flow is optionally linked to an external document.  When flows are split or merged, if external linkage is involved, a varying number of external documents would have to be created, destroyed or modified by the splitting and merging process.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Let me add a +1 to this.

Perhaps a concrete example would be clearer.

You have a series of linked frames containing the text to a novel. The flow starts at Chapter1 for a few pages, then continues with Chapter2, then eventually Chapter 3, etc.

But say you want to (manually) split at the chapters. You put your cursor at the beginning of Chapter2, hit the magic button. You should now be left with a series of frames containing Chapter1 (all linked together), followed by a series of frames starting at Chapter2 and continuing to Chapter 3, etc.

You would manually repeat the process for Chapter 3, and so-on.

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While a one-step solution doesn't exist, it's easy to accomplish this.

  1. From the Tools panel, select the Move Tool.
  2. Select the text frame to be unlinked, then click the 'previous' and/or 'next' Text Flow buttons (top left or bottom right, respectively).
  3. Click within the frame when the unlink cursor (Unlink test frame) appears.
  4. From the Tools panel, select the Text Tool.
  5. Put the cursor at the end of the last frame that you unlinked and select all text from the insertion point to the end of the story - since you can't see the text, just use whatever keyboard shortcut you have assigned to Select End Story.
  6. Cut the text to the clipboard.
  7. Put the cursor at the start of the frame that is at the start of the next series of linked frames.
  8. Paste the text back in.

The problem with adding a feature to break the link between frames but keep the text where it is is increasing the UI complexity. Should you use a modifier key so that the Unlink Cursor works in a different way than it does currently which may be what others want it to do? This might be a bit obscure given this is a low usage feature. Or should clicking with the Unlink Cursor bring up a context menu of options to reduce the complexity?

Download a free manual for Publisher 2.4 from this forum - expanded 300-page PDF

My system: Affinity 2.4.2 for macOS Sonoma 14.4.1, MacBook Pro 14" (M1 Pro)

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@MikeTO, you've omitted the scenario where you want to split an existing frame, not just unlink two frames.

Yes, this can all be done the hard way.  But the existence of some hard way is not a good justification to omit an easy way.

It is true that this is a rather low frequency thing to do.  But it has come up several times on the forums in the past, so not a purely hypothetical situation.

I did not make any suggestion about the UI for the requested feature.  Tieing it to the text frame link/unlink cursor is just one of several possibilities, and I'm content to let Serif sort it out.


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  • 5 months later...

Thanks to sfreedberg for re-raising the issue and the excellent description. My case: I have a 550 page beautiful text book on art theory, and now I need to split a text flow because I "forgot" to start one of the middle of the twenty chapters at a new frame. Aaaagh! 

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56 minutes ago, AffB said:

and now I need to split a text flow because I "forgot" to start one of the middle of the twenty chapters at a new frame. Aaaagh! 

Do you need it to start in a frame that's not linked to the prior one, or simply start in a new frame? 

If the latter, you can submit insert a frame break before the chapter, or assign a Paragraph Text Style that says to start on a new page.

If the former: if you just forgot for that chapter, but you remembered for the next one, you should have only one chapter to worry about. Put the text cursor just in front of it, and select from there to the end. On Windows, for example, Ctrl+Shift+End. Then Cut. Then insert your new page, and new frame, and Paste. Then Shift+Click on the linking triangle to flow the text onto additional new pages. 

(There will be additional complications if you're using Facing Pages. And yes, this is more complex than it should need to be. We should have something simpler.)

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
    Desktop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 64GB memory, AMD Ryzen 9 5900 12-Core @ 3.00 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 

    Laptop:  Windows 11 Pro, version 23H2, 32GB memory, Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.60GHz, Intel UHD Graphics Comet Lake GT2 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.
iPad:  iPad Pro M1, 12.9": iPadOS 17.4.1, Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard 
Mac:  2023 M2 MacBook Air 15", 16GB memory, macOS Sonoma 14.4.1

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Thank you walt.farrell: indeed I use facing pages, two independent frames per page, wrap-around of inset figures, ... all the nice features of Publisher. And yes, luckily it was only the ONE chapter and now it is (re)done as you and others described. But I still would like to kindly ask the Affinity developers to put this feature higher on their list. 

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  • 1 year later...

+1 for this feature request.

Yes, I know there is a manual work-around, but when dealing with large amounts of text (scores of linked text frames), it is easy to make mistakes. One then has to review everything closely, after the fact, to check for any mistakes. Very tedious work. An auto-split would be better. Thanks for considering.

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  • 3 weeks later...

If I understood right, with my bad english, I have same problem. Few hundred pages almost ready, want to brake those, so that text wont flow any more and I can do independent edit to pages, that it wont mess the following pages. Annoying, but I cant find way to do it. Copy Paste is too much work and it possible to do mistakes.

Indesign has that feature, but dont have it anymore, just one command and you have independent pages. 

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