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More information on Serif's direction - Big picture Roadmap


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I wanted to ask if you will make demo videos again of upcoming big features for any of the programs?
Or if there is a way to know what Serif is working on from a more big picture perspective?


I'd really like some more communication about Serif's direction and vision. Thank you very much!

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On 8/2/2021 at 11:53 AM, michacassola said:

I'd really like some more communication about Serif's direction and vision.

You're not alone. While I do appreciate sneak peaks such as the recent performance improvements demoed by Ash, I'm often left wondering where the Affinity product range is going, and whether it is indeed destined to be a modern suite of professional creative design applications (rivalling or surpassing that of Adobe), or whether its destiny lay in simply being the spiritual successor to the previous generation of Serif con/prosumer tools.

While being able to endlessly zoom in on 600,000 objects with zero visual lag is technically very impressive, it's not a problem the vast majority of users have. Instead we continue to look for endless workarounds and speculate when/if the long-standing bug fixes along with all of the missing or incomplete features (contour < offsets, shape builder, live paint, image trace, vector brushes, vector patterns, improved/clean SVG output, outline strokes, excessive nodes/clean-up, variable fonts, footnotes, epub export, tagged/accessible PDFs, cloud sync, automation, scripting, plugins, etc, etc, etc…) we all are waiting for will ever come to be reality.

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48 minutes ago, Ralph said:

Don't forget footnotes Bryan 🙂

Added! If there’s any other long-standing issues or requests that I’ve forgotten let me know and I’ll continue to add them to the list. ;)

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@michacassolaEarly in the life of the Affinity suite, Serif did provide some information about their intentions and roadmap.  However, the user community was so abusive about 1) the relative ordering of features, and 2) any failure to deliver a feature at some tentatively proposed date, that they have deliberately ceased to provide any roadmap information.  You now get an announcement of features when they are released, not earlier.

I can't see Serif changing their minds until substantially all of the user community grows up, which means never.

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The only real way at the moment to see what Serif are planning is to download and participate in the beta rollouts.

Or at the very least, read the beta announcements to see what is in them.

1.10 (just released) was mainly a (massive) performance increase and bug fixes

Maybe, the next round of betas will introduce some of the missing features users have been requesting or maybe just more bug fixes.

We won't know until we start seeing them.

 

Due to the fact that Boris Johnson is now was our Prime Minister, punctuation, spelling and grammar will never be worried about ever again.  We now have far bigger problems to be worried about.

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10 hours ago, sfriedberg said:

…the user community was so abusive about 1) the relative ordering of features, and 2) any failure to deliver a feature at some tentatively proposed date, that they have deliberately ceased to provide any roadmap information.  You now get an announcement of features when they are released, not earlier.

I never understood where the abuse came from. I see many other organizations (Adobe, Unity, Blender, Godot, etc) provide users with various forms of roadmaps (Adobe: coming soon, Unity: quarterly goals, Blender/Godot: release objectives/feature intents. The one thing I have noticed is that commercial entities will always take more heat for missing milestones than open source projects, but I don't tend to see the hostility with other communities that we saw previously with Affinity. I think it really comes down to how you communicate the goals and ideas with the community, ensuring reasonable expectations are set, and regular updates are provided. I think most folks understand that deadlines always slip, and some things just take longer than expected. Providing users with no public roadmap (beyond what's currently in beta) leaves folks speculating about features and intents, often sparking rumours and potentially fanning the flames of uncertainty and doubt. 

9 hours ago, carl123 said:

The only real way at the moment to see what Serif are planning is to download and participate in the beta rollouts.

Participating in betas is great if you've got the time to spare. As it's recommended that you not use the beta releases for actual work (you can't open any files opened with the beta releases in older versions of the apps, stability issues, data loss, format changes, etc) it's really about just providing Serif with some 'free' testing and being able to chime in on new features. Again, lovely if you've got time to spare. Personally, I've stopped running betas of commercial software and only really do so with open source, or notoriously buggy commercial releases as an interim measure. YMMV.

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13 minutes ago, Bryan Rieger said:

it's really about just providing Serif with some 'free' testing and being able to chime in on new features. Again, lovely if you've got time to spare.

Agreed that it's for those who have the time, but it's not just so that Serif can get free testing, it's because even with enough lots of QA staff it's difficult to test on the variety of hardware, software, language, and document configurations necessary for apps as complex as these.

Even with the number of people testing during the beta for 1.10 there were no reports in the final release candidate of the two serious bugs reported in the past few days (crash on opening and the inability to save). If just one of the people who is experiencing those bugs had been in the pool of beta testers those bugs might have been squashed before this release.

I find spending an hour with the Publisher release candidate to ensure my own documents open, compose correctly, print, and save correctly is worth my time, but I know we can't all afford to do that. I do it just with Publisher which is the app I'm most dependent on, leaving the testing of Designer and Photo to others.

Affinity Publisher/Designer/Photo for macOS Monterey, MacBook Pro (M1 Pro)

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7 minutes ago, Bryan Rieger said:

I think it really comes down to how you communicate the goals and ideas with the community, ensuring reasonable expectations are set, and regular updates are provided.

Yes, I agree. Maybe giving an estimated Q1 - 4 would be enough.

I also do not have the time to go treasure hunting for features.

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I'd like to contrast the Affinity user community with the (McNeel Associates) Rhinoceros user community. (Rhino is a highly functional 3D CAD program where a new commercial license costs about US$1000.)  Rhino has a fully open development process, with preview releases through the lengthy development process between major releases.  Rhino generally does not issue formal minor releases, and only the major releases are supported.  During the development process there is a lot of discussion of desired features, experimental features come and go, feedback and bug reporting, and so forth.  That is common with the Affinity experience.

What you do not get in the Rhino forums is people wailing about how their particular wishlist feature is absolutely essential, that McNeel Associates must be stupid for not doing things exactly the way they want and in exactly the order desired, bitching and moaning about how "We been waiting years, decades, centuries, millenia for this. Why can't you give it to me right now?!?!"  You also do not get people flaming about how "this software is an overpriced pile of shit", despite Rhino customers paying 10X what Affinity customers pay for a license.  You also do not get people screaming their heads off because a feature tentatively proposed for year+quarter didn't make it (due to unexpected difficulty or insufficient resources) and you especially do not get people bitching because some feature they didn't want got delivered earlier than some feature they did want.

I'd just like to point at a recent Affinity forum thread title "Is Affinity Designer even developed anymore?"  This is just such a petty, petulant, short-sighted, peevish jab at Serif.  And all too typical of too many forum members. 

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20 hours ago, sfriedberg said:

What you do not get in the Rhino forums is people wailing about how their particular wishlist feature is absolutely essential, that McNeel Associates must be stupid for not doing things exactly the way they want and in exactly the order desired, bitching and moaning about how "We been waiting years, decades, centuries, millenia for this. Why can't you give it to me right now?!?!"

Rhino is a very niche (and unique) application, and is often used in combination with other professional CAD applications. It's very difficult to compare Rhino to anything else on the market—you either known you NEED Rhino or you don't. Nobody compares Rhino to Maya or AutoCAD, they are complementary products. It also has excellent development tools (Grasshopper, Python, etc.) which enables a wide array of 3rd party plugins as well as extensive user scripting.

Affinity on the other hand is marketed as a standalone suite of professional creative design applications, which unfortunately will always be directly compared to the 800lb industry standard gorilla (instead of more consumer oriented tools such as Canva or Procreate—both of which have seen adoption within ‘professional’ communities). As such, users coming to Affinity products often have existing expectations of what a suite of 'professional creative design applications' is, and when those expectations don't match reality they often spark fear, uncertainty and doubt. The fact that there is still no way for users or 3rd parties to fill gaps via plugins and scripts probably leads to much of the moaning, as if a robust ecosystem of extensions and scripts were available folks could customize the Affinity apps to better suit their needs. As it stands we all have to wait for Affinity to meet those needs.

I also wonder if the pricing has something to do with it. When software costs thousands of dollars it attracts a very specific professional audience. When it's available at a reasonable price to everybody it's going to attract a much wider audience with very different expectations (even Adobe has these issues as it's widened its target market beyond the traditional creative professionals). It's how Serif chooses to set and manage those expectations that's the issue.

Abuse however should never be tolerated by either Serif or the community.

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Love your post Bryan! Very insightful and perfectly explained.
Transparency in software development is a must, haters or no haters. Of course the transparency does not have to be absolute, but a brand has to communicate it's vision to keep people engaged. It will enstill trust and keep people in, when they know feature x is around the corner or might be there by the end of Q4 2022. But not knowing compounds uncertainty.

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6 hours ago, michacassola said:

Of course the transparency does not have to be absolute, but a brand has to communicate it's vision to keep people engaged. It will enstill trust and keep people in, when they know feature x is around the corner or might be there by the end of Q4 2022.

That sounds great in theory but the reality is not even Serif knows when a feature they are working on will be actually ready to add to the apps.

There are several reasons for that, all of which have been discussed to death in various forum topics.

Affinity Photo 1.10.5, Affinity Designer 1.10.5, Affinity Publisher 1.10.5;  2020 iMac 27"; 3.8GHz i7, Radeon Pro 5700, 32GB RAM; macOS 10.15.7
Affinity Photo 
1.10.5.280 & Affinity Designer 1.10.5 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 15.0.2

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