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File Format Specification


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3 minutes ago, Radium said:

I agree that the afphoto and afdesign file formats should be an open spec. I can understand keeping it closed during development but once the format is near final, please open it up so that it would be possible to preview affinity images in various ways as well as open in third party software. It will improve your sales, not hinder them. If the logic behind keeping it a closed ecosystem is to prevent a loss of sales, it is not correct.

The staff have mentioned this several times, but the reason given for why the file format is not open spec is because it is considered a proprietary trade secret. As is typical for all such closely held proprietary information, the company's concern is that publicly documenting it would make it easy for other companies competing for the same market to use that info to improve their own products, in effect giving away a key part of their competitive edge for free. Needless to say, this is generally not considered sound business practice!

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/2/2018 at 3:22 PM, R C-R said:

The staff have mentioned this several times, but the reason given for why the file format is not open spec is because it is considered a proprietary trade secret. As is typical for all such closely held proprietary information, the company's concern is that publicly documenting it would make it easy for other companies competing for the same market to use that info to improve their own products, in effect giving away a key part of their competitive edge for free. Needless to say, this is generally not considered sound business practice!

 

Opening the format isn't going to reveal any more than the UI itself already reveals. I don't use affinity designer and affinity photo because of the file format. I use it because of the GUI. Opening the format will not hurt them in any way and if anything opening the format will give them a competitive edge due to the fact that the format will be more prolific and be used far more than it is now, thus spreading the word of the application outside of the affinity community.

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1 hour ago, Radium said:

Opening the format isn't going to reveal any more than the UI itself already reveals.

Serif thinks otherwise & knows more about this than any of us do.

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  • 5 weeks later...
1 hour ago, Radium said:

I have to wholeheartedly disagree that they know more than us.

If Serif don’t know more than you do, what could you possibly gain by their publishing the spec for the file format? o.O

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A bit of an aside, but Serif's previous "Plus" collection of software also used their own file formats, which no-one else supported. Even Serif don't support their own old formats in their new, Affinity, software! (Which is obviously a problem for anyone who saved a number of photos , drawings or documents in them and now wants to move to using new software.)

I for one would not dream of using .afphoto or .afdesign files for anything other than temporary "storage" while working on them. No-one who doesn't have the Affinity products can even view them and who knows how accessible these formats may be in a few years time. 

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7 hours ago, PaulEC said:

Even Serif don't support their own old formats in their new, Affinity, software!

This is unpleasant (for users of previous applications), but expected - Affinity is completely reworked and is different from OldPlus applications.

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5 minutes ago, Pšenda said:

This is unpleasant (for users of previous applications), but expected - Affinity is completely reworked and is different from OldPlus applications.

This is not only expected but unavoidable because the Affinity apps do not support the same feature sets as the Plus ones, so there is no way to preserve everything in the older apps even if they could be imported to the newer ones. The developers have explained this more than once.

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  • 3 months later...
On 10/18/2017 at 9:52 AM, Daniel Geiger said:

I have to maintain two versions of each image, a layered .afphoto, and a placable .tif.

Don't forget the "Continuous" option in the Export persona - you can have Photo automatically update the TIFF each time you save the document.

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I might just step in again....

 

It would be a MASSIVE undertaking to document our file format.  A small number of companies have been legally compelled to do such a thing due to their market share. The majority of other companies do not do this.

 

Firstly, our file format is always changing as we add new features and refine existing ones.

Secondly, our file format is already huge.  It is also more complex than common formats, for reason of speed and data size.  I really don't want to say too much more, because it won't benefit anyone to give partial information.

 

Users that keep stating that other companies open source their file format are generally only thinking about PSD (which is very poorly documented), and even that does not properly document all editable features (some features are still black-boxed).  Other editable file formats, such as Illustrator, InDesign, Quark, etc, etc, are not publicly documented.  All other documented file formats that tend to be open source or public formats are intermediate or end formats - PNG, JPEG, PDF.  These are not editable formats and do not preserve editable features.

 

Access to thumbnails is a different issue to full access to the internal workings of the format.  This is something that may get considered in future.

 

So, to put this to bed.  Do not expect us to document the Affinity file format any time soon.  And, if that is a problem, go ask Adobe for a copy of the Illustrator file format, then come back to us.  I'd also say that anyone who is so paranoid that they don't use afdesign files for storing their editable documents, are really missing the point of using Affinity altogether.  Not sure how we can convince you...

 

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One other note - the link to the afdesign loader library earlier in this thread - don't bother.  They are not even 1% of the way there to understanding the file format, and will never be able to keep up with changes if they are trying to reverse engineer the data.

 

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12 minutes ago, Ben said:

...Other editable file formats, such as Illustrator, InDesign, Quark, etc, etc, are not publicly documented.  All other documented file formats tend to be open source or public formats...

At some such time as Affinity applications support plug-ins (ID) or XTensions (QXP), the application DOM does need exposed. Not quite the same as documenting the file format.

As regards ID, one would need to look at the fully documented IDML format as regards an interchange format and if using the server edition, there is documented formats beyond what is possible in IDML, I believe (but I haven't used it). For QXP, the internal file guts is QXML and one can manipulate, create an entire document, etc., using its documentation. In fact, QXP's JavaScript manipulates the exposed DOM of a document.

I myself am looking forward to being able to extend what y'all are baking into Affinity applications—if that day comes.

Thanks for all your hard work!

Mike

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Ok, IDML... but INDD and AI files?

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2 minutes ago, Ben said:

Ok, IDML... but INDD and AI files?

Nope. Which is why my opening paragraph ends like it does.

But as regards AI, CorelDraw reads and (especially) writes good AI format files. It can be done.

As regards IDML format, it's a good thing it is documented, at least for the future of APub.

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  • 1 year later...
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@VM.Dev

Welcome to the Serif Affinity forums :)

interesting post!

Patrick Connor
Serif Europe Ltd

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man. True nobility lies in being superior to your previous self."  W. L. Sheldon

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

RE: Previews & thumbnails for DAMs

Sorry to dig up this old conversation but I would be very interested to find out if anything has subsequently changed about this policy.

I work on one of the UKs premier DAMs and we have had requests to support your files. Not for reading and writing but for thumbnails & previews. We are able to do this for Adobe files and more recently we added Sketch files.

I do think it would be in your interest to help us pull thumbs and previews out of your files as it would aid the spread and adoption of your software. Even if all you gave us was a command-line tool for Linux that spat out a PNG or JPEG and kept your commercial secrets secret it would of real benefit to companies like ours.

I myself am trying to move away from Adobe Apps to Sketch & Affinity. But without a preview to look at when organising my files I am unlikely yo ever use your software anywhere other than for home projects.

Thanks for your time

Sam Phillips
Head of Design 
https://www.thirdlight.com

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On 5/15/2020 at 2:03 PM, Sam Phillips said:

I do think it would be in your interest to help us pull thumbs and previews out of your files as it would aid the spread and adoption of your software.

There should not be any special trick getting basic system readable preview images out of affinity files. Maybe @Ben can help here.

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A portable command line utility to extract a sensibly-sized preview from proprietary Affinity* files would be helpful for many users and many software products which handle or manage files produced with Affinity software.

Under Windows, the shell thumbnail handler installed by Designer etc. works, but produces only small thumbnails. The longest edge is apparently limited 512 pixels, which is probably a limitation in Windows thumbnail handlers.

I would like to see at least a screen-sized preview (say, 1920px) of my Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo files in other applications.

I get frequent complaints from IMatch users, but I can only tell them that Affinity file formats are proprietary, that there is no WIC codec and that the maximum size IMatch can extract is 512 pixels. Which is not much, assuming a 300 DPI A4 Designer file.

Mario M. Westphal
Author of IMatch
https://www.photools.com

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5 hours ago, Fixx said:

There should not be any special trick getting basic system readable preview images out of affinity files.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "basic system readable preview images," but the developers have mentioned that the native Affinity file format uses a proprietary form of data serialization to improve performance, so an up-to-date deserialized version of an image may not exist in those files. Since operating systems know nothing about that or how to deserialize images in those files, it does seem likely that some 'special trick' might have to be built into the apps for that to be feasible.

There may be a small thumbnail version of the image embedded in the file, but only if the option to save thumbnails with documents has been enabled in Preferences > General. The Mac versions include a Quick Look Generator that can create thumbnail previews on-the-fly, but that is a Mac-only thing. I am not sure of their size vs. the embedded thumbnails. They are larger but apparently not full sized versions -- there is an option to display them at the full screen size but typically they are quite noticeably pixelated f I do that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

File format is not an issue. It is possible to deserialize any metadata information from the files. It is also possible to extract any raster layer. But in order to combine all layers and produce image, you need to write your own renderer.

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  • 6 months later...

Photo Mechanic ( Camera Bits) refers me back to this thread as a reason why they can't show afphoto thumb images in PhotoMechanic

which basically is a browser.

Maybe someone can explain why ACDsee, NeoFinder and Photo Supreme (IDimager), to name three, have no problem

displaying afphoto thumb images and Photo Mechanic can't?

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1 hour ago, TomM1 said:

... displaying afphoto thumb images and Photo Mechanic can't?

Ask their developers! - Probably (a guess here) they don't make use of the related MacOS quickinfo service routines to extract the Affinity thumb images, where in contrast the others might do so.

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I really don't understand their ( Camera Bits) attitude.

They seem to think Affinity is holding back some special information.

And yet ACDsee, NeoFinder, Photo Supreme and others  have unraveled these esoteric formulas.

I speculate that Affinity users don't fit into their world view of photo journalists and sports photographers so

 anyone that has .afphoto files can just go F themselves.

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4 hours ago, TomM1 said:

They seem to think Affinity is holding back some special information.

What they are at least right with here is, that there are no by Affinity published informations for third party developers (there is no mini code API + doc) on how to extract thumb images directly out of Affinity files. - So third parties have to use OS related service routines here in order to extract thumb images from Affinity files. The later do OS related differ and aren't the fastest direct way to read/get the thumb data out of files.

☛ Affinity Designer 1.10.5 ◆ Affinity Photo 1.10.5 ◆ OSX El Capitan

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