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Freehand Users' Requests


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Like myself, most Freehand users are still running very old copies of Freehand on some very old Apple Macs… and still earning a living.

It's not because of some stick-in-the-mud attitude to change, but simply because it's still a superior tool in comparison to AI.

I personally have been hanging on for something more intuitive than AI to come along for over 10 years - I think this is probably the best I've seen yet. After using the Beta for a few hours I'm about to start my next project using it and see how far I get.


Most FH users started with Freehand back in the 80s/90s at agencies across the globe.

They're now a hugely experienced, influential bunch as this now famous thread will attest: http://www.creativereview.co.uk/back-issues/creative-review/2009/march-20091/freehand-anonymous

It would be more than worth your while engaging with them.


We don't necessarily want a Freehand "Clone" but some familiar features and workflow would help ease the transition - and it wouldn't take much to ease the transition as Adobe have now almost pulled the shutter down on all Macromedia products.


The Freehand requests seem to be all over the shop and perhaps a specific area on the Forum where we can place them all would be an idea. It would also help cultivate a FH community that you can engage with.





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A quick 10 ideas after a few hours tinkering.

I realise these feature may already be staring me in the face but I'll jot them down anyhow.


1. Multiple sized documents on the same pasteboard:

The ability to have a business card, flyer, booklet or web page/facebook banner/twitter icon all on the one pasteboard is an incredibly intuitive feature. As traditional as cut and paste - Freehands killer feature. An entire job on one pasteboard gives you an incredible overview of a single project. Though judging by the size of the Pasteboard with Affinity - this is a future feature?


2. Find & Replace:

Not just text but specifically colours.


3. Export selected.

Select an object(s) on the pasteboard - File > Export Selected. Much more intuitive/easier than the Slice tool.


4. Bezigon tool:

The vector tool to rule them all. Killer tool when tracing outlines.

Haven't used a pen tool in 15 years.


5. Drag and drop Eyedropper:

Drag a colour from one object - drop it into another


6. Strokes:

Add multiple strokes/fills to an object.

Stroke text (just found it)

Expand stroke.


7. Colours

​Display names of colours (Pantone/CMYK/RGB values). Custom names for colours. (show/hide names)

Freehand italicized RGB colour names in the palette to differentiate from CMYK).

Pantone swatches.

Remove unused colours - quickly cleans up a pallete.


8. Text:
Columns with proper text flow controls.

Drop caps etc etc


9. Tool Toggling:

Being able to use various key strokes to avoid the endless trip to the toolbar.

We've got the scroll on the Spacebar but we need Select tool on the CMD especially working with text.


10. Layers

Click on an object and top level layer lights up without having to expand the layers below.

Guide layer - all guides on a layer. Also, move any outline/path to the Guide layer turns it into a guide - such a great feature.


10a. Shortcut Preferences

Drop  menu down to select shortcut preferences for people migrating from other applications - namely Freehand.


Loads more, but that's a start.


Fantastic BETA - I'll be sticking with it. Congratulations.

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  • Staff

We had a look at the Bezigon tool in Gravit, and we pretty much do it already with our Pen tool.


Our Pen tool has three placement modes: Pen mode, Smart mode and Line mode.  Currently, you can place a cusp point while in Smart mode by holding Alt.  We have just realised that this conflicts with using Alt for cancelling snapping, so there is a chance we will change this to Crtl.


A small tweak to the Line mode and it should work exactly as the Gravit Bezigon tool (except we will use Ctrl instead of Alt) - pressing Ctrl will allow you to place a Smart point.  It's probably worth everyone waiting to see how this works in practice before we get everyone offering an opinion on whether it's not as good as Gravit or Freehand.  There are other considerations to make when choosing which modifier key to use.

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In Pen tool, select the Mode from one of the three icons.


The first mode, "Pen Mode" can create cusp or smoothed points (like conventional pen tools) - click for a cusp point, click and drag to create smoothed points.

The second mode, "Smart Mode", places smart point which auto-smooth (like a Bezigon tool).

The third mode, "Line Mode", only places cusp points and so only creates straight lines.


The vector brush tool only creates smoothed flowing curves.

SerifLabs team - Affinity Developer
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  • MacBook (Early 2015), 1.3GHz Core M, Intel HD 5300
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OK - just found the "Smart Mode" on the pen tool.

It's behaving very like the Bezigon tool in Freehand - in fact it's almost identical.

It might be an idea to call it 'Bezigon' mode instead of "smart" as it'll be a feature most migrants will be looking for.



The 'Character' and 'Paragraph' option in 2 separate pop-up windows is a bit of a pain.

Freehand had an 'Object' palette - basically a very small but very smart palette that displayed the properties of the object selected.

Select a piece of TEXT on the page and it displayed all character & paragraph ready for editing.

Select a VECTOR shape and stroke/fill etc was displayed ready for editing.

And so on…

It de-cluttered the interface brilliantly cutting down on pop-up windows and trips to the menus.



Freehand-HangingPunctuation.png  vectorgraphics14.gif


Been working almost exclusively in Affinity for a week now with only 1 trip to  Freehand.

Colours are infuriating, but looking forward to the launch tomorrow.



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We've got a few things coming very soon which will help you out 10on12..


1.) We're making the swatches palette able to show colours in a list, so you can easily see the names. New colours will go to the top of the list.

2.) There will be a "special" swatch, which is tied to the current document and saves / loads with it.

3.) We'll be tweaking the pen tool so it can behave *exactly* like the bezigon tool.


Remove unused colours is very interesting - we'll give that some thought..


A little later on, we'll have linked colours and find / replace colours, etc.


I think we'll also end up with dockable palettes for font / paragraph - we tried to avoid needing them by having modeless floating panels, but I think the general consensus is that we'll just do both things and let the user decide which setup they like.





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Also, can we get a way to fit the text box to the text?

It is quite disturbing to try to align a text box to another object and the text, if sticking out from below or not reaching the end of the box, doesn't get aligned.

In FreeHand we just had to double click the bottom middle handle to fit the bottom of the text box to the text. And double click the right middle handle to fit the box horizontally to the text.

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I purchased the app this afternoon; couldn't wait for the upcoming trial version. :)


I didn't manage a deep exploration yet but why can't we have a simple and complete transform menu (like in freehand) providing move distance, scaling, skewing, rotation and flipping in one simple box ?

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Keep the suggestions coming - we're constantly scribbling things on bits of paper for when we have a quiet afternoon! :)


We certainly intend to make Affinity as intuitive and powerful as possible, so all of these things which you've found useful over time are very much welcome additions to our feature list :)

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I would love to have a button for closing the palettes  —  the way into the menu (view — studio  —  untick) is very cumbersome. To save screen estate, you could implement "close palette" in the little menu that every palette has in the upper right corner or add to to a menu popping up when right-clicking onto the name tab of each palette.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'd love to see Freehand's 'Reflect' tool integrated into Affinity Designer. Much more intuitive and powerful than Ai's lame attempt. With Ai you have to work out the maths in your head and type in the numbers to get what you want. In Freehand you simply selected how many reflections you wanted then dragged the tool. Instant live preview. Let go off the mouse and boom. Done. Very simple, but very powerful.

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