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Layer states added to Designer and Publisher plus changes to functionality


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  • Staff

Apps: Designer and Publisher (+ some changes to the existing feature in Photo)
Platforms: Windows and macOS

We have now added the States panel to Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher which previously only existed in Affinity Photo. Layer states allows you to either:

  • Capture the current visibility states of your layers across your document
  • Create queries based on various criteria to use to make a selection or toggle visibility of layers

This feature is particularly useful to manage different variations of your work. As an example, one of the social ad campaigns for our recent Black Friday promotion was created in Affinity Designer across multiple artboards. Each artboard had 4 variants for English, Japanese, German and French language.

 image.png

Previously if you wanted to toggle between the English and French version for example you would need to toggle the visibility of the appropriate layers on each artboard separately - not particularly workable when you have many artboards / spreads. The new states panel gives you a new way to work with designs like this. 

In this case I could set up a query with criteria which captures all my Japanese layers. From the states panel click "New Query" at the bottom, I called the query "JA" and set up my criteria to be "All Art Text and Frame Text layers that have a layer name which ends in JA" as below:

image.png

Because on each artboard we had used the consistent naming convention that all Japanese text has a layer name ending in JA, all English text has a layer name ending in EN, etc. it made it easy to then set up 4 queries for each of the languages. We could alternatively have used a convention like all French variants are tagged yellow, English tagged Red, etc. 

So now to switch from English to Japanese across all artboards I can just turn off everything that fulfils my EN query, and turn on everything which fulfils my JP query using the visibility on/off buttons next to the queries in the states panel - so in two clicks end up with the below:

image.png

 

While this example is only including text, of course I may have had different imagery for each locale and could have included those in the same queries to still have one button to toggle text and images of each language on and off. Also, as it's set up a query like this, should I add additional Japanese specific layers to any of the artboards and name them ending in "...JA" my JA query will automatically pick them up.

In Publisher the same principles apply giving the ability to globally toggle different layers on and off across all spreads in your document which match the criteria you have specified. While building complex expressions is easy, you may also find you wish to have a query for something simple like "Layer Type is Images" giving you an instant way to turn all images on and off across your whole document.

Additional Notes

  • As well as toggling visibility of queries there is an additional button to make a selection of all layers which fulfil the criteria specified in the query. This is also a new function not previously available in Affinity Photo.
  • For those who used the States panel in Affinity Photo you will notice we have changed the name of what were previously called "Smart States" to "Queries". This reason for this is in the future we anticipate adding a new feature to this which would be better described as a Smart State (this will be something you can build from multiple queries). This will be something which we add in a future update.

There is other new functionality we plan to bring to this in the future - namely ability to create presets and some level of integration with export options - but again that will be something for a future update.

 

Managing Director

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MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021) / Apple M1 Max / 64GB / macOS 12.0.1

iPad Pro 11-inch 3rd Gen / iPadOS 16.2

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Known Issues in this feature
A list of unresolved 2.4 issues for this feature, reported by users

  • AF-1452 - States Panel: Scope is white in Light UI mode and hard to read
  • AF-1461 - Layer states > Expand arrow not clearly visible - Light UI
  • AF-1739 - Layer States > New State / Delete State buttons are incorrectly coloured in Light UI
  • AF-1740 - Layer States > Show captured state's 'Play' button is white in Light UI
  • AF-1741 - Layer States > General Query/Captured State buttons are too light in Light UI
  • AF-1742 - Layer States > Selected item's highlight should cover the entire item
  • AF-1841 - Redraw issue when used on symbols with show/hide others ticked
  • AF-1758 - Layer states Select and Mask icons are hard to see due to small size

Released Fixes
A list of issues for this feature, available in the current beta build

  • AF-1710 - [macOS] Layer states not working in Pixel Persona [Cannot Reproduce (fixed?)]
  • AF-1745 - Layer States: Inherited tags are not considered by the query [Fixed]
  • AF-1857 - [Win] Layer states not working in Pixel Persona [Fixed]
  • AF-1762 - Layer states > Add "Layer" container to Layer type list [Fixed]
  • AF-1725 - Layer States Panel queries text are different sizes [Fixed]
  • AF-1519 - Layer states > Scope : selection doesn't work [Fixed]

Upcoming Fixes
A list of issues for this feature, which will be available in a forthcoming build

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YES! I've had to deal with the exact issue and this is a HUGE workflow improvement, specially the inclusion of live filtering/search criteria!

2021 16” Macbook Pro w/ M1 Max 10c cpu /24c gpu, 32 GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Sonoma 14.4.1

2018 11" iPad Pro w/ A12X cpu/gpu, 256 GB, iPadOS 17

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I must admit, Mr. Ash, that this version management solution looks very well thought out and looks great.

But does the "And show/hide others" option in the States panel works fine?
I ask because there is a redraw bug when you use "show/hide other" layers commands [AF-1445].
Or am I wrong and these commands are not the same comparing to States panel?

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It looks really great!

Just one question: shouldn't the user be able to move states from file to file or be able to set some of them as a default?
I have already imagined how I would make some ready-made scripts for quick control of all locked objects or, for example, I will make a mnemonic rule for myself that I will start all auxiliary layers with tilde and then it will be easy to hide them all at once. 

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The Scope pulldown for the States panel in Designer (Windows) shows Document, Spread, and Selection. Spread seems appropriate for Publisher, but odd for Designer in a document without Pages.

Edit: On the other hand, I see this is also true in Photo 2.3.1, so it's not new with the Beta. Still seems odd, though, for both Photo and Designer.

image.png.dd7862880fba9350e5d145b23a379c19.png

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
PC:
    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 17.5, Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard 
Mac:  2023 M2 MacBook Air 15", 16GB memory, macOS Sonoma 14.5

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40 minutes ago, n_shcherbakov said:

Just one question: shouldn't the user be able to move states from file to file or be able to set some of them as a default?
I have already imagined how I would make some ready-made scripts for quick control of all locked objects or, for example, I will make a mnemonic rule for myself that I will start all auxiliary layers with tilde and then it will be easy to hide them all at once.

Yes agreed - I noted briefly on the post but we do intend to add the ability to save presets in a future update (but that will be after 2.4 release). Also to set up more complex rules based on multiple queries (e.g. in the example I gave in the OP you could set up a smart state which says "Turn all layers which fulfils EN query on AND turn all layers which fulfil DE query off AND turn all layers which fulfil JA query off". i.e. so in a single click you could get to your English version.

Managing Director

Help make our apps better by joining our beta program!


MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021) / Apple M1 Max / 64GB / macOS 12.0.1

iPad Pro 11-inch 3rd Gen / iPadOS 16.2

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This is great, thanks!

2 minutes ago, walt.farrell said:

The Scope pulldown for the States panel in Designer (Windows) shows Document, Spread, and Selection. Spread seems appropriate for Publisher, but odd for Designer in a document without Pages.

It's this way in Photo, too, because all of the apps can edit multi-page docs.

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4 minutes ago, MikeTO said:

It's this way in Photo, too, because all of the apps can edit multi-page docs.

Thanks. And I see it is addressed in the Photo Help for 2.3:

image.png.1c5f6e568bfcc9ff391ee594c21e1eba.png

I guess I was just expecting it to be more substantive, with choices for Artboard rather than Spread when in an Artboard-based document, or Layer (when Layers are present), and to only include relevant options.

-- Walt
Designer, Photo, and Publisher V1 and V2 at latest retail and beta releases
PC:
    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 17.5, Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard 
Mac:  2023 M2 MacBook Air 15", 16GB memory, macOS Sonoma 14.5

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Not related to the functionality of this feature, but more the usability/stability, I've noticed that when checking the "and show / hide others" option you get a flicker which isn't present on other check boxes:

 

 

 

2021 14" M1 Pro Macbook Pro, 16GB RAM
2024 M4 iPad Pro 11 inch

Affinity Designer 2.5.3 | Affinity Photo 2.5.3 | Affinity Publisher 2.5.3 | Current Beta versions.

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Bug:
The States panel cannot be activated in ADe in Pixel persona, and in APu in Designer persona.

MacBook Air 15" M2, Ventura 13.6.3

MacBookAir 15": MacOS Ventura > Affinity v1, v2, v2 beta // MacBookPro 15" mid-2012: MacOS El Capitan > Affinity v1 / MacOS Catalina > Affinity v1, v2, v2 beta // iPad 8th: iPadOS 16 > Affinity v2

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24 minutes ago, aleale1 said:

Does it work for multipage document in AP?

It should do!

Managing Director

Help make our apps better by joining our beta program!


MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021) / Apple M1 Max / 64GB / macOS 12.0.1

iPad Pro 11-inch 3rd Gen / iPadOS 16.2

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A powerful way of managing conditions. I hope it can be applied both at document level (to deal with chapters in different languages), and at book level, overriding the document query (for multilingual documents, where some language or variants may appear or not on a global scale).

Paolo

 

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  • Panel background seems dark compared to other panels in the Light Theme.
  • "Scope" label is in white, on light grey in the Light Theme.
  • There is no way to rename a Query.
  • Could the Layer Type be collapsible? Takes a lot of space if you aren't using the options.
  • No confirmation for deleting Queries.

Win10 Home x64   |   AMD Ryzen 7 2700X @ 3.7GHz   |   48 GB RAM   |   1TB SSD   |   nVidia GTX 1660   |   Wacom Intuos Pro

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36 minutes ago, Aammppaa said:
  • Panel background seems dark compared to other panels in the Light Theme.
  • "Scope" label is in white, on light grey in the Light Theme.
  • There is no way to rename a Query.
  • Could the Layer Type be collapsible? Takes a lot of space if you aren't using the options.
  • No confirmation for deleting Queries.

The user interface is very coarse-grained and the font is very large here on Mac.

But yes, there is a lack of confirmation, which is extra bad because the action cannot be undone with undo either.

Just early enough it entered beta, but nothing that can't be salvaged. 🙂.

I simply no longer believe that there are any professional graphic designers here. Everything follows suit. Just everything.

 

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Add me to the list of users for whom Layer states will be useful their workflow. Thanks!

What I do: Document design/typesetting; Stock photo images; Digital art | Apps I use: Publisher, Photo, Designer | My PC: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U; 16.0GB RAM; Win 10 Home (21H2)

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Seems to work OK, but with regard to Ash's description, the button that probably should be labeled Add New Query in the tool tip is actually labeled "Add New Smart State"image.png.535fae98e3f61bfdf3c305fc1ea6d76c.png

The follow up windows for name and so on reference Query, as in Ash's description.

MacOS, fwiw

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5 hours ago, Benfischer said:

Seems to work OK, but with regard to Ash's description, the button that probably should be labeled Add New Query in the tool tip is actually labeled "Add New Smart State"image.png.535fae98e3f61bfdf3c305fc1ea6d76c.png

The follow up windows for name and so on reference Query, as in Ash's description.

MacOS, fwiw

Are you using English US? If so, it's just a "translation" issue. Not all labels have gone through the translation process yet (even though they mainly the same for English US, they still go through a different process)

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Is there a need for both the show and hide icons, would one togglable icon not suffice in the same way it does for Password Protection in the PDF Export settings to either show or hide the password? This would make it much easier to determine the state of any Query especially as currently there is no visual feedback in the States Panel to indicate when a Query is shown or hidden (other than looking at the canvas itself)...

Perhaps white icons in dark mode and dark grey in light move for consistency and simple ease of viewing...

StatesPanel.png.d498f8ea04de21863f14b8d99b1a7fd2.png

A definite need, again as mentioned earlier in the thread, to be able to rename Queries...

Affinity Designer 2.5.3 | Affinity Photo 2.5.3 | Affinity Publisher 2.5.3
MacBook Pro M3 Max, 36 GB Unified Memory, macOS Sonoma 14.5, Magic Mouse

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The Captured States thumbnails fail to update when clicking the 'Update' icon. The thumbnails only update when a new Captured State is either added or deleted...

Affinity Designer 2.5.3 | Affinity Photo 2.5.3 | Affinity Publisher 2.5.3
MacBook Pro M3 Max, 36 GB Unified Memory, macOS Sonoma 14.5, Magic Mouse

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I'd like to test changing words/terms within a larger portion of copy based on selected state.

How would I do this without duplicating the entire text frame, which is also connected to a flow of further text frames, if visibility is decided only on the level of layers?

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