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Features I would need for my workflow (and would love to see implemented)


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Hey everybody,

As an hobby I write and publish material for TTRPGs, working mostly on my own. I usually prepare my publications using the Adobe suit, or sometimes Latex — which I use a lot, but mostly for other stuff — but some time ago I decided to give Affinity a chance, and bought Photo, Designer and Publisher.

The suit would be perfect for my workflow: I do digital paintings and vector graphics and I like to be able to use them easily in my text editor of choice. What I have seen since of the softwares is really great. I especially love the consistency and integration between the three softwares. I would like to move my workflow from the Adobe suit to the Affinity one.

However, there are some features that I use a lot in InDesign that aren't implemented in Publisher and that I wasn't able to replace with consistent and comfortable features of Publisher. I think that as a whole the three softwares still cannot replace my workflow — jet — even if they are amazing. I would like to suggest here some of the features that I would like to see implemented, that I believe would be a great improvement — at least for how I work.

  • Copywriting persona: The ability to work on text passages in isolation is of the utmost importance in my opinion. If I am working on a complex layout I need to be able to work on the text alone, and only on it. It would also be useful to be able to control the single passages of text, like if they were layers; import and export them, work on the single sections and move them around. This, imho, would improve significantly the ease of use of the software.
    • Link text and md files: As an addition to the previous point. I often write my texts outside the program I use to layout, and I would love to be able to import the text as a resource, keep working on it, and have the changes done in Publisher also in the original file. I work a lot using markdown, which I usually then have to convert to paragraph styles semi-manually, and support for it would be a great feature.
  • "Nested Styles" and GREP styles: Here I am using the Adobe names for it, but I use this feature all the time. I use them to create dynamic paragraph styles — that, I will admit , are more relevant in my field of publishing. I especially use them to give specific character styles to some parts of text, either using specific separators/end characters, or searching for specific bits/tags. It is very handy to be able to control and change them and apply them to all the text automatically.
  • "Object Styles": I think this is another feature I miss a lot in Publisher. The ability to assign settings to an object, be it a text frame, picture, table etc. and update them for all assigned objects. I use it a lot for pictures wrapped with text, because I am not going to know right away how much space in between I want. I may change my mind while working and having to go back to every single picture is a nightmare. Sure, Styles in Affinity sort-of do the trick, but they are not linked to the objects and it is not possible to modify them directly. I think it would be great to be able to do so. Having a collection of all setting related to an object. It would also be great to be able to treat them as text styles, and have base styles, and styles based on that.

This are my thoughts right now on the suite. I still think I am going to try and work more with Affinity, because there are many many things to love. I have worked a bit with Designer, and found it very good. I like Photo for digital painting but I wouldn't mind paying extra for a dedicated "Affinity Painter" if it were to push out better features than PS for digital drawing. I decided to buy the softwares even if I may not use them as my main tools because I saw potential in them, and wanted to support this developing company.

I can't wait to see were the next updates will lead them.

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Hey Jocarnail,

The point Copywriting Persona is interesting but I don't get it what you mean. It might be too simple but if I got it correct then I suggest a text editor window related to the active text frame. This is the way of the open source dtp Scribus. You can enter the text directly or edit in the Story editor. You have the option to load or save text files, set paragraph  styles and so on. It would be possible to add these external documents to the ressource mangement, that keeps track of used images. Therefore it should be easy to add office documents. If Affinity can import them right away then why not store them as ressources to update its contents? But take that idea a step further: Database publishing, collaboration, several people edit different parts of the same file simultaneously. Think big and think content!

I've never heard of GREP styles before but they seem to be nice. In Affinity exist nested styles already as well as the possibility to copy object styles. The easiest way to copy them is by saving that object in Assets. Object styles (styles)and text styles can be used in Designer as well and vice versa.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have never used Scribus, but the Story editor should be similar to what I intended. The last part of your first paragraph also would be interesting to have.

On 7/6/2021 at 2:43 PM, Jochen Damm said:

I've never heard of GREP styles before but they seem to be nice. In Affinity exist nested styles already as well as the possibility to copy object styles. The easiest way to copy them is by saving that object in Assets. Object styles (styles)and text styles can be used in Designer as well and vice versa.

I am not aware of Affinity having nested styles, could you provide a link to them? I think you are conceptualizing nested styles as a style based on another style, but that is not what they are in InDesign. They are a paragraph style that apply different character style to sections of text based on some elements found in the text. For example a Bold style from start to the first ":", then normal test, and then another character style lets say after a tab. They are really useful for texts that have a complex-yet-regular formatting.

Here is another more in-depth discussion on nested styles specifically.

As for object styles: having to manually copy the style of an object every time I need to change the padding for text wrapping doesn't make the work easier. I may have to repeat this operations hundred of times while working, sometimes just to discover that the adjustment wasn't right.

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How should I put it? I'm using Affinity for about a year now but localized in German. Therefore I can't really be precise with the english phrases used.

You're right: There are paragraph and character styles. But there is the third one called group style. With them you can define styles that nest them into another with hierarchy. You have a Base style predefined. Under this style are some other predefined styles that are used commonly. If you define or edit a style you can define what style is its template. If you have a sub-style then all values have the entry [no changes] or the specific changes that are made manually. So, each style can inherit other values.

Official point under affinity.help, and the official presentation on Youtube

please contact me if I didn't understand you what you meant.

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Nest styles havr nothing to do with the parent-children way paragraph styles can be created.

They are properties of a paragraph  style. It's some sort of simple GREP styles (also properties of a paragraph style).

Nested styles are conditions to apply a character style to part of a sentence, the same way you can apply a character style to a drop vaps or the first words of a paragraph.

For example, you have different dropdown list to chose from:

• Apply [choose a character style] to [enter a number] [characters/words/lines ]

The options can vary:

• Apply [choose character style] until [insert a character]

...

A GREP style will work with a regular expression:

• Apply [choose a character style] to [enter/write a regular expression]

The interesting part is thay you can have many of those in a paragraph style (I once reach the limit of GREP styles in a paragraph style but can't remember how much it is).

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1 hour ago, Jochen Damm said:

How should I put it? I'm using Affinity for about a year now but localized in German. Therefore I can't really be precise with the english phrases used.

You're right: There are paragraph and character styles. But there is the third one called group style. With them you can define styles that nest them into another with hierarchy. You have a Base style predefined. Under this style are some other predefined styles that are used commonly. If you define or edit a style you can define what style is its template. If you have a sub-style then all values have the entry [no changes] or the specific changes that are made manually. So, each style can inherit other values.

Official point under affinity.help, and the official presentation on Youtube

please contact me if I didn't understand you what you meant.

This is not what Nested styles are. They are not about style hierarchy, but about automatic formatting. They are basically a form of GREP style.

The most similar thing in Affinity is Initial words, that however do not have the same amount of control that is paramount to nested styles. For example you can only apply one character style. 

I don't think I can explain it better than with a link. 

 

Here is a site explaining what they do.

And here on adobe site

And here is a video on the argument

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51 minutes ago, Wosven said:

The interesting part is thay you can have many of those in a paragraph style (I once reach the limit of GREP styles in a paragraph style but can't remember how much it is).

Well that is definitely a lot of GREP 😆

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2 hours ago, Jocarnail said:

Well that is definitely a lot of GREP

Yes! But that sort of a calendar book, with details about each day's celebration. 

A script will use regular expressions to apply the right paragraph style to each paragraph, and GREP will apply the needed character styles inside. 

It needed a little thinking to find all the reccuring patterns, but once done, I could use it each year with just few updates (you can't get all the patterns right looking at one year book only, since it's on 4 years rotation, but I learnt this later), but it's fine and simple enough that another coworker was able to do it by himself without difficulties -- from what I heard! -- this year with just a step by step "how to".

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  • 1 month later...
9 minutes ago, Mark Martino said:

I'm missing nested styles too. I've tried to recreate a drop-cap opening paragraph, which apart from the drop cap included the first line of type in caps, and haven't found any easy way of doing so.

It isn't just a missing nested styles problem for your use case. There is currently no way for Publisher to know when the one line of text (AKA the paragraph) has wrapped to another (and another and another) line in the text frame. Until it starts reporting this we can forget about the first line being easily styled.

The closest I can come to is to make a Drop Cap Character Style (not actually necessary) and an Initial Words Character style and apply them both to the Paragraph the tricky part is the number of words to use in the Initial Words setting of what ever you have called your Paragraph Style.

Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 12.7.2 
Affinity Designer 2.3.1 | Affinity Photo 2.3.1 | Affinity Publisher 2.3.1 | Beta versions as they appear.

I have never mastered color management, period, so I cannot help with that.

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