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I am starting to see a few posts asking Serif why Publisher hasn't been released yet. After just completing my first BASIC layout project with Designer and Photo it makes sense to me for at least some of the reasons why Publisher hasn't been released. The two currently available apps are still missing some very basic layout tools so Serif needs to get the basics put in those two apps before moving on to the more complex layout software. I wrote a lengthy piece about this in another thread but it was buried one hundred posts down. I just wanted people to be aware of these points so I am starting a new thread so that they can get more exposure.

 

Original post:

After doing my first layout project on Affinity I can understand why Serif isn't rushing Publisher out (even though I enjoyed using it for layouts.) There are still a number of basic layout features that need to be added to Designer and Photo to even work well as a basic one page layout software. Why rush out complex layout software before you even have the basics working right? This is the list I have come up with that Affinity should complete before moving to a layout program.

 

- Visible bleeds in the program, not just after exporting the file. There was too much work trying to set up bleeds at a half an inch when I could see an object after it was dragged out into the bleed area. I basically had to draw a half inch box and then drag the object to the size of the box and then delete the box after I no longer needed it.

 

- Adding and editing artboards needs to be done in Photo. If Photo let me edit artboards I could have done my entire book cover layout in Photo (I think) and not had to jump back to Designer each time I needed to make a slight revision. For an example the publisher I was working with said that my book spine needed to be .58" rather then what I previously had it set to which was .5". Such a small adjustment should not require me to go to another app.

 

- I consider text wrap to be a basic tool so this needs to be done without having to rely on a workaround. There is also a feature from InDesign where the text follows along the side an object that I find to be very useful but I can't remember what it is called off the top of my head.

 

- I should be able to select a shape that I want to import an object into. I know there is masking from the layers panel but with InDesign I have gotten used to selecting a shape, selecting place and then having an object get imported in. This object could then show up in the layers panel as a masked item.

 

-The first version of Publisher should include some of the features that InDesign users have been clamoring for over the past several years and never get. The goal is not to just make a clone of InDesign but provide functionality it can't do or can't do well.

 

I think Affinity got off to a good start as a basic layout tool but I really believe that all of these basics need to be done before Publisher comes out. Ideally Publisher should be a solid app right from the first version since so much polishing would have been done to layout tools in Designer and Photo already. This way the focus for Publisher can be placed entirely on things like long document features and ebooks rather then adding layout tools that have been available for decades now (those features should already be in Photo and Designer by release.) Another advantage of placing the focus on Designer and Photo is that people will get comfortable using those programs as solid basic editing apps so when Publisher comes out the transition to the more powerful long document tools will feel more natural since it will be so similar to the programs they already use.

 

PS. I noticed as I was typing this that there is a shortcut for adjusting leading. That is a useful idea. Is anyone else getting this to work? It doesn't work for me. That seems like a much better idea then having to type numbers into a leading box.

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I should be able to select a shape that I want to import an object into. I know there is masking from the layers panel but with InDesign I have gotten used to selecting a shape, selecting place and then having an object get imported in. This object could then show up in the layers panel as a masked item.

 

Reasonable points, KipV. I don’t know if you have ever tried the Insert Target buttons on the context toolbar. They work together quite well with the Place … command.  :)

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Great technique A_B_C! Now Serif just needs to make that feature more obvious so people know that it's there.

 

I posted in another thread that Serif should do an entire release that focuses on adding basic layout features. It has some good tools already but if they did even one version that focused in this one area they could get pretty close to the ideal setup. For some users the need to rush out Publisher would diminish because some people spend a lot of their time just doing basic layouts and don't require those complex tools. I have InDesign on hand if I need the complex layout features. The focus for a Serif InDesign competitor should mainly be to offer features that Adobe doesn't provide.

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-The first version of Publisher should include some of the features that InDesign users have been clamoring for over the past several years and never get. The goal is not to just make a clone of InDesign but provide functionality it can't do or can't do well.

 

Thanks for your comments. I have to say that making a clone of InDesign is not our goal; we have our own vision. Also, our plan is to release Publisher as soon as it has enough to be useful to someone. We won't wait until it can do everything InDesign can do and more. As a result, you can expect the first version to be quite basic. In the same way that Designer is still missing things like arrow heads which are crucial to some people, Publisher will be missing features that some of you will need. I don't want you to think we are already sitting on a basic Publisher and not releasing it because we want to add more advanced features first.

 

Publisher is delayed simply because it is taking us longer than we expected. I can't say too much about what we have and haven't done, but here's an example: text styles are a crucial Publisher feature, and the reason they are in Designer 1.5 and not earlier is because they weren't developed earlier. In general, when we have a Publisher feature complete that we think also belongs in Designer, we'll include it in Designer as soon as it is ready. (The caveat is that there are some features we know you'd like to see in Designer, that we don't think belong in it.)

 

I'm sorry it is taking so long, and I'm especially sorry that our past timelines for Publisher were so wildly optimistic. Our original vision of three apps all sharing a file format and a common way of working, was something we were very excited about. That exuberance spilled into some fairly delirious announced schedules. We will get there. We're still excited about the vision and determined to bring it about, just as soon as we can.

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Dan, for the way my workflow is going right now nobody on my team is using a complex layout tool to make the book I just helped put together. The book I just finished yesterday was made only using (as far as I know) Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo, Lightroom, and Word. InDesign or XPress didn't play any role. I would be a lot more interested to see a 1.6 or 1.7 that just entirely focused on getting the basic layout tools available so that I could do things like applying bleeds more elegantly then having to draw a box to represent the bleed so that I know where to drag the bleed to. Probably 95% of the work I do with InDesign doesn't even take advantage of the long document tools it just for doing things like making a mailer or book cover or poster. 

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In general, when we have a Publisher feature complete that we think also belongs in Designer, we'll include it in Designer as soon as it is ready. (The caveat is that there are some features we know you'd like to see in Designer, that we don't think belong in it.)

 

I hope you'll have a rethink about keeping linked text frames out of the Designer feature set.

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I hope we don't. At the price the software sells for, the few people who need that in Designer may have to buy Publisher... but it's not my call.

...if it was available I would

 

But I can see your point

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I hope we don't. At the price the software sells for, the few people who need that in Designer may have to buy Publisher... but it's not my call.

I don't think price should determine whether features make it into Designer. I think the right question should be does it make sense for a short document? I am not sure if I have used text box linking in work like mailers and such. I would think the main use for that feature would be linking body text across columns or pages. If something is complex enough to require pages or columns I would probably rather work in an interface were that clears out most of the non-layout features so the interface doesn't get too cluttered. One of the problems with many Adobe apps is they have too much clutter by trying to do too many different things in a given app. To me the point of the single file format across apps is precisely to allow you to easily pass a file between the apps so that you don't end up with feature bloat (this is also an advantage of the persona feature.) Otherwise you will have to come up with a solution like Adobe's custom workspaces that wasn't the greatest solution. The best way to do this is to leave it out of the app in the first place.

 

Does anyone have an example of a simple layout (mailer, poster, etc) that uses lots of columns? I don't work this way but maybe someone else does. There could be some workflow that I haven't considered.

 

EDIT: I misunderstood what Patrick said in his post. I thought he was saying for the price it should have a bunch of layout tools. I know understand what he was really saying was the software is priced so affordably it isn't too much to ask for Designer users to shell out another $40-$50 to buy text linking and other advanced layout features. I agree with this. 

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While I don't do documents of much length in a vector design application, I have done 32-page brochures in CD, AI & XDP for the simple reason that I needed to turn over the file in those file formats and so needed to use them. And I linked the text.

 

However, even in some 4-page dtuff I'll often use XDP or CD when I don't need to return a specific format because of their more free-form designing capabilities. And I do link the text when appropriate. For the real-estate one-sided fliers? Nope. No linked text. And the same applies to 4-page brochures where the ratio of text to art doesn't make sense for linked text. 

 

I think it is a short-sided view of customers to write what Patrick wrote. I don't think Serif knows at present how their software is being used, nor how it will be used in the future. Which is precisely why threaded text frames came about in those aforementioned software applications.

 

It is Serif's call and these are priced well. If the common file format can be maintained in the long term, there really isn't much reason to do everything in every application. There is and will be crossover functionality. Where the line is drawn for non-crossover capabilities is subjective.

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I know opinions differ on this but regardless of what other apps include, I think of linked text frames is a page layout feature. I believe AD is & should be focused on creating graphic elements that can be used in a page layout app, but cluttering up the UI with page layout features would complicate that relatively straightforward process unnecessarily.

 

For example, if I am creating a logo in AD, I want it to be self-contained, with all its elements contained in a group layer object that doesn't reference any other item in the canvas. That way, I can copy & paste or place it into a page layout app without having to worry about where some linked text element would appear on the page in that app if I change it later on & it no longer fits in the original text frame.

 

I am probably not describing this very well, but basically I want AD to be a tool used to create 'modules' that can be used with other apps for any purpose, be it laying out print or web pages, elements of an animation, or whatever. I do not want it to be a 'jack of all trades, master of none' app like so many others.

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I am one who evidently doesn't fully appreciate the difference between pixel capabilities in AD and the lack of some text handling capabilities such as linked text frames.

 

Would I expect running headers in AD? Nope. That in my view is a layout application's domain. As is TOCs etc.

 

But there are and will be those who desire fuller text handling in AD.

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I don't think price should determine whether features make it into Designer. I think the right question should be does it make sense for a short document? I am not sure if I have used text box linking in work like mailers and such. I would think the main use for that feature would be linking body text across columns or pages. If something is complex enough to require pages or columns I would probably rather work in an interface were that clears out most of the non-layout features so the interface doesn't get too cluttered. One of the problems with many Adobe apps is they have too much clutter by trying to do too many different things in a given app. To me the point of the single file format across apps is precisely to allow you to easily pass a file between the apps so that you don't end up with feature bloat (this is also an advantage of the persona feature.) Otherwise you will have to come up with a solution like Adobe's custom workspaces that wasn't the greatest solution. The best way to do this is to leave it out of the app in the first place.

 

Does anyone have an example of a simple layout (mailer, poster, etc) that uses lots of columns? I don't work this way but maybe someone else does. There could be some workflow that I haven't considered.

What about bus time tables? Is that what you had in mind?

 

Sheffield to Buxton...Nice part of the world!

scan0003.jpg

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What about bus time tables? Is that what you had in mind?

If I was creating that document I would start and end the work in the layout software due to the lack of graphics. To me it seems like if you are creating graphics for a short document the space that the graphics take up and the brevity of the medium would reduce the need for having much text to link. I just did a book cover that had a lot of text on the back but didn't see a need to make more then one text block not to mention text linking between multiple text blocks. The back contained an excerpt about the book and a description on the author (the author part usually goes on the inside somewhere) and yet all I needed to split the two types of info on the back was a wider "paragraph after" number rather then a second text block. Now that I think about it there was a second text block or the author name and a third text block ISBN, price, etc. but none of that needed to be linked. 

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I think it is a short-sided view of customers to write what Patrick wrote. I don't think Serif knows at present how their software is being used, nor how it will be used in the future. Which is precisely why threaded text frames came about in those aforementioned software applications.

 

It is Serif's call and these are priced well. If the common file format can be maintained in the long term, there really isn't much reason to do everything in every application. There is and will be crossover functionality. Where the line is drawn for non-crossover capabilities is subjective.

 

Sometimes software companies have had bad or mediocre justifications for bringing misplaced features into certain apps. FreeHand had master pages probably because Macromedia didn't have a layout tool and they thought they could somewhat compete with layout tools by providing some of those features like master pages and text linking. Was this the best solution possible? No, the best solution would have been for Macromedia to make their own layout tool but it was probably the best option for them in the position that they were in at that time which was to keep their focus as a multimedia company rather then compete in print as well. Unlike Macromedia Serif has a layout tool in the pipeline so it is hard to justify too many (or any) advanced layout features getting brought over to the other programs.

 

The single file format is really a great opportunity to minimize bloat. What is so weird about Creative Cloud to me is that Adobe's big initial selling point was that they could get features out faster but in many cases they just seem to be rushing out bloat to me. Providing a suite where the individual apps are nimble but the suite as a whole is powerful is a much better selling point for the company. A large suite of nimble software would make Serif very competitive with Adobe particularly as some of their apps have been getting a little creaky.

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Does anyone have an example of a simple layout (mailer, poster, etc) that uses lots of columns? I don't work this way but maybe someone else does. There could be some workflow that I haven't considered.

 

In print, multi-columns is standard. In web, single-column is standard (especially wrt new JS frameworks like Knockout). There is a real need to "repurpose" content across multiple channels. However, that is the role of a CMS, not layout tool. So I'd be happy with layout/rendering tools that could (optionally) be driven by XML/JSON. 

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Sometimes software companies have had bad or mediocre justifications for bringing misplaced features into certain apps. FreeHand had master pages probably because Macromedia didn't have a layout tool and they thought they could somewhat compete with layout tools by providing some of those features like master pages and text linking. Was this the best solution possible? No, the best solution would have been for Macromedia to make their own layout tool but it was probably the best option for them in the position that they were in at that time which was to keep their focus as a multimedia company rather then compete in print as well. Unlike Macromedia Serif has a layout tool in the pipeline so it is hard to justify too many (or any) advanced layout features getting brought over to the other programs.

 

The single file format is really a great opportunity to minimize bloat. What is so weird about Creative Cloud to me is that Adobe's big initial selling point was that they could get features out faster but in many cases they just seem to be rushing out bloat to me. Providing a suite where the individual apps are nimble but the suite as a whole is powerful is a much better selling point for the company. A large suite of nimble software would make Serif very competitive with Adobe particularly as some of their apps have been getting a little creaky.

 

As for master pages? I can get behind that versus creating an entirely new software. It takes years to create a reasonably functional piece of software, especially back in the good ol' days. Programming wasn't quite as quick then as now. While I never had need for master pages in FH, it did make sense when one considers there was only a couple designing applications that even had multiple pages. Once one has the ability for true multiple pages, it makes complete sense to then add functionality that multiple pages brings to the table.

 

FH became a fairly well-featured application that remained pretty lean for the diverse client base it had. Would FH had developed along the path it took had they also developed a layout application? That's a tough question to answer. It would be easy to say no, it wouldn't have. Features like master pages would have been withheld. But I think that's too easy of an answer.

 

Like I mentioned above (or in another of these threads), there has to be a feature cut-off instead of feature crossover. I would draw line elsewhere.

 

Mike

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Also, our plan is to release Publisher as soon as it has enough to be useful to someone. 

 

I don't at all agree with the title of this whole discussion. I think that it should be released as soon as possible and I like Dave's pragmatic approach quoted above. 

I also happen to think that an early beta release would put an end to a lot of unnecessary speculations and would allow us to just get on with it as we have with the Designer and Photo. :huh:  

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Would FH had developed along the path it took had they also developed a layout application? That's a tough question to answer. It would be easy to say no, it wouldn't have. Features like master pages would have been withheld. But I think that's too easy of an answer.

 

Like I mentioned above (or in another of these threads), there has to be a feature cut-off instead of feature crossover. I would draw line elsewhere.

 

It's not so much a matter of whether FreeHand would have gone that route it is if they should have gone that way. Just because a lot of people pressure a company into adding features doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. Every time a feature gets added that isn't part of an app's core function it ends of burying the features that are apart of the core function. What Serif leaves out is every bit as important as what they add in. To me the point of starting over with a new graphics suite is to avoid the mistakes that competing software has made instead of repeat them.

 

 

I don't at all agree with the title of this whole discussion. I think that it should be released as soon as possible and I like Dave's pragmatic approach quoted above. 

I also happen to think that an early beta release would put an end to a lot of unnecessary speculations and would allow us to just get on with it as we have with the Designer and Photo. :huh:  

 

Serif has been releasing basic layout features in 1.4 and 1.5 so they are progressing on this front. I would just like to see the progress limited to Designer and Photo rather then releasing a whole layout tool at this point. To start with a lot of people only need basic layout functions (bleeds, text wrap) so getting these tools out first is helpful to those people and I don't have to sit there and wait for a year (or however long it takes) for them to come out with a full layout program. If people desperately need a full layout tool today there are already options available for that. Just use those programs.

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Kip, what you either didn't read or didn't decide to respond to to make your point is that once certain features are added, it does/can make sense to build upon those features.

 

Take something as simple as type. Once one adds the ability to add type to an application, it makes perfect sense to flesh out those capabilities. So for instance, once OpenType became a thing in about 2002, it made perfect sense to begin the process of supporting OT features. Now, if one isn't going to support RTL text, for instance, it makes no sense to include about 20-30 OT tags. Which leaves a 100 or so tags to decide which to support. But which ones? All of them? 50%, 75% of them? Decisions then need to be made.

 

Point being, once FH included multiple pages, it made sense to make decisions about what then to include in order to that would flesh out or enhance multiple pages. That you, I or the man in the moon didn't make use of them or didn't see the importance of them isn't material.

 

Mike

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Point being, once FH included multiple pages, it made sense to make decisions about what then to include in order to that would flesh out or enhance multiple pages. That you, I or the man in the moon didn't make use of them or didn't see the importance of them isn't material.

 

You're going down a slippery slope. There has to be a marker in sand or else Serif will just turn into Adobe. There is no reason to duplicate Adobe, if people feel that Adobe's solution of adding everything is the right way to go then just use Adobe. If Serif keeps their scope limited they could keep Designer focused on advancing 3D illustration tools in a separate persona for an example which doesn't get away from the app's core function. 

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You're going down a slippery slope. 

 

Er, are we talking about why FH did something like Master Pages still? If so, then what and why they added them is just a historical curiosity, but no slippery slope.

 

There has to be a marker in sand or else Serif will just turn into Adobe. 

 

 

I don't think anyone here disagrees. It is simply where the line is.

 

There is no reason to duplicate Adobe...

 

Correct. But there is every reason to improve on AI and other vector design applications.

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I don't think anyone here disagrees. It is simply where the line is.

The line should be drawn at illustration features. The fact that other drawing apps had non-illustration features is not justification for Serif to start loading in every non-illustration feature in the world. Every non-illustration feature slows me down. 

 

"Er, are we talking about why FH did something like Master Pages still? If so, then what and why they added them is just a historical curiosity, but no slippery slope."

We have already watched Adobe fall down this slippery slope. In some way some of the recent apps have become worse because they keep pilling on features that go beyond it's core functionality. 

 

"Correct. But there is every reason to improve on AI and other vector design applications."

​In many ways I don't think they are improving.

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I was referring to Serif improving on what features others have and how they work.

 

Adobe has not made significant improvements in anything as regards print design for many years. When it comes down to it, all they can do is rework how plug-ins have extended AI or ID and roll them into the core application's ability.

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I hope you'll have a rethink about keeping linked text frames out of the Designer feature set.

 

Affinity has tools for the use of long text. So it does not make sense that there will be no needed professional tools for optical margin alignment and “linking text boxes”.

 
Some users don’t have the imagination why linked text boxes could be needed in Affinity Designer. Serif gave us an example in their new workbook:
 
27208135bz.jpg
 
Curious, Serif used Affinity Designer to create more than one text column and Patrick seems to dislike the concept of sharing functionality between all Affinity apps.

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