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It has recently become popular to have colour schemes that lean toward darker tones. My favourite pet example of how it shouldn't be done is Pixelmator, where the combination of low contrast and rather smallish UI elements makes the experience a rather painful one (I'm 55, which might have something do to with it, your mileage may vary with age). I like the programme very much, but it's just too tiring to use for longer stretches of time.

 

The UI in Affinity Designer isn't as bad as the one in Pixelmator, but I really would like to implore you to at least give us a selection of UI colour schemes. It is a well established fact that darker colours on a lighter background provide better contrast and therefore faster recognition and less fatigue. I hope you will be able to give us the same choices of interface colours that Adobe is providing in more recent versions of their Creative Suite.

 

The beta is very impressive and I look forward to further betas and a well-rounded release version later on!

 

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Hello!

 

The only real problem with allowing a dark and light UI in the same program, is that your icons have to be able to work on both light and dark shades... So you either end up with icons that don't work very well on both shades, or two sets of icons. We are only supporting the darker shade at present (with adjustable UI gamma to brighten things up - available via Preferences->User Interface->UI Gamma) but certainly won't rule out looking at this in the future :)

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Deja Vue! You'll get this request a lot I'm afraid, Matt. I can see your point and I don't think there's any way round it but to have two sets of icons.

 

Dagklingstedt: I don't beleive it's anything to do with age... glasses sort that out don't they if you think about it.

 

Matt: It's looking quite a neat app, I think you've all good reason to be proud, it could well be a winner though there's a little way to go still - but you all know this.

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Paul,

 

There is no PC version :) 

 

Affinity is not a DrawPlus port - it is completely new code. Using both products for a while will hopefully make that apparent.

 

We have taken the "light UI" under consideration - it would entail two sets of icons, which would take some time. We are still not happy with our current set of Tool / Toolbar icons for "dark UI"..

 

So it's a "watch this space", I'm afraid..

 

Thanks,

 

AndyS

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The UI for Affinity is TOO Dark. I can't use this app just because it slows me down looking for content controls because I have to have my art board white and the contrast between Dark UI and white art board makes it even harder to read which slows entire process. 

 

Give the user the ability to set the UI elements to a liter value instead of Dark black or slightly less Dark grey. Right now it's too stark if the art background is white. 

 

To say it would take longer due to icon sets is just lazy. All those icons should be created to port out in a few minutes if done properly and should be designed to work on any background.

 

This is a basic user preference feature that needs to be part of the app otherwise I can't use it.

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> To say it would take longer due to icon sets is just lazy.

Wo there tiger. Lazy? Building these apps from the ground up is no small feat and while the icons might very well 'port in a few minutes', it's the 'done properly' that takes the time. There's a list of stuff to do to this thing to make it usable that's longer than any arm I've ever seen... I think you're a bit keen to have this thing huh?

 

I'm not employed by Affinity btw. No connection other than my presence in here.

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I'm having a problem with the dark GUI as well. At 67, and with the usual vision problems of folks my age, I'm finding the lack of contrast between the dark background of the GUI and the tool icons problematic. The icons are also too small on my 27" iMac.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Von, welcome. You can adjust the UI gamma and the background grey level in the preferences > user interface tab... the background grey level goes all the way to white.

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The UI for Affinity is TOO Dark. I can't use this app just because it slows me down looking for content controls because I have to have my art board white and the contrast between Dark UI and white art board makes it even harder to read which slows entire process.

 

Yea, I agree. It's really disappoitning. The contrast just isnt sharp enough. I don't know what is with designers and loving low contrast type, but it's unfortunate. (Heck, even the search box on this site has way too little contrast between the white background and 15% grey text.) I wanted to replace illustrator, but until there is a light UI with enough contrast to actally read tab names this app just isn't going to work.

 

All the best luck to the Affinity team, but the dark UI is a non-starter for my professional work. I am only 35 and I can't handle the squinting required (or zooming on my 13inch Macbook Pro). Here is hoping this is feature is at the top of the priority list.

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Deja Vue! You'll get this request a lot I'm afraid, Matt. I can see your point and I don't think there's any way round it but to have two sets of icons.

 

Dagklingstedt: I don't beleive it's anything to do with age... glasses sort that out don't they if you think about it.

 

Matt: It's looking quite a neat app, I think you've all good reason to be proud, it could well be a winner though there's a little way to go still - but you all know this.

 

I think both Designer and Photo are amazing applications, but I find I'm using them only sparingly because of the UI colour scheme issue. 

 

designerUK: The problem is aggravated with age (if you haven't noticed how your body changes with age, then I have to assume you are still a young person), but it's basically a scientifically proven thing that text and symbols with certain colour combinations are more difficult to comprehend than others, and this is regardless of age. There's a reason why (at least some) designers study this. If you want something to be read or understood easily and quickly, you try to make it as easy as possible for a majority of the users.

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An icon and UI contest amongst existing users?

 

in 3 different sizes. 1x, 2x and 3x... so anyone with any resolution screen, eyes, distance etc can sort it to their likings.

 

Users keen on lighter UIs (and, let's face it, if you're working on bright content, you need a bright UI) do that, and those keen on dark UIs can have a crack at that.

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I get a strong impression Affinity is a programmer lead initiative. 

 

UI considerations rationalised rather than instinctively understood matters, and they're shaped with a focus on development ease/effort rather than user consideration.

 

Not that there's anything wrong with that ;)

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That wasn't the meaning of my comment. I'm in no way deriding the processes of communication and subsequent iteration.

 

But it is obvious some fairly major decisions regarding usability were made with near zero consideration of their usability. 

 

There's almost no chance that a designer lead initiative would create and justify some of the choices that have been made in terms of user experience and usability. 

 

Some examples:

 

Lack of keyboard shortcut customisation. Put a designer in charge of creation of these apps and he'd have walked out of any meeting that suggested this wasn't part of launch. It's almost as important as Undo/Redo.

 

Pasteboards not showing their content, but actually containing that content.

 

N for Node tool, instead of the traditional A for subsection editing.

 

V was (at some point) being used for panning the view, from the looks of the documentation. 

 

The colour picker, eyedropper tool's use processes. They're spectacularly odd. 

 

An app that has the ability to create Personas doesn't use utilise this feature for an AI transition Persona that replicates all shortcuts and paradigms of AI for ease of use and instant acclimation. 

 

There's no preview of the export quality in the Export Persona (unless I'm missing something) so I can't see the quality of various different quality settings in the jpeg preferences until I export and then open the file.

 

The lack of a structure for immediate reversal of the UI to a bright UI for creating bright content.

 

The icons themselves for the tools are a rather clear indication that any designers involved have little say in the processes of designing the UI.

 

The Paragraph and Character "Windows"

 

How fonts are handled, in general. 

 

There's no doubt these guys are fantastic programmers, top shelf performance but the usability has been an afterthought and the process of thought, rather than an instinctually understood component shaped by someone with an inmate and empathetic understanding of users, use cases, workflows and the nature of various types of digital creativity. 

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MONOCHROME icons would work well in both dark and light, specially if we can choose the color

 

I think there's a post floating around with some monochrome UI sketches... ;)

 

 

Hello!

 

The only real problem with allowing a dark and light UI in the same program, is that your icons have to be able to work on both light and dark shades... So you either end up with icons that don't work very well on both shades, or two sets of icons. We are only supporting the darker shade at present (with adjustable UI gamma to brighten things up - available via Preferences->User Interface->UI Gamma) but certainly won't rule out looking at this in the future :)

2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS Big Sur 11.1

2018 11" iPad Pro 256 GB, latest iPadOS public beta

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That wasn't the meaning of my comment. I'm in no way deriding the processes of communication and subsequent iteration.

 

But it is obvious some fairly major decisions regarding usability were made with near zero consideration of their usability.

 

There's almost no chance that a designer lead initiative would create and justify some of the choices that have been made in terms of user experience and usability.

 

 

There's no doubt these guys are fantastic programmers, top shelf performance but the usability has been an afterthought and the process of thought, rather than an instinctually understood component shaped by someone with an inmate and empathetic understanding of users, use cases, workflows and the nature of various types of digital creativity. 

 

 

I think these guys probably really are fantastic programmers. Everything else: assumptions.

 

It's better to release something that's almost there and then improve it (iteratively and through communicating with the users), as opposed to waiting until it's perfect and never release anything.

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I agree with DrPocter; I enjoy having access to "almost" perfect tools NOW + direct feedback to the developers, who are here listening and improving everything, than to have to wait until the devs think it's "perfect"....

2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS Big Sur 11.1

2018 11" iPad Pro 256 GB, latest iPadOS public beta

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Again... with this "wait until it's perfect..." argument, as if that's what I'm saying.

 

Please, that's not what I'm saying, either.

 

Their are fundamental considerations, most of which are common sense, that haven't been made, with regards the user experience.

 

It's developers, and only developers, that are able to rationalise such inconsideration. They have taken shortcuts in areas where others would have built in the capabilities, even if they hadn't fleshed them out.

 

Developers ALWAYS take shortcuts, and those shortcuts ALWAYS come back to bite them on the arse.

 

But the lack of consideration given to the need for a bright, high contrast UI is indicative of a failure to consider this design application from a designers POV, also.

 

Therefore, this is clearly a developer lead initiative.

 

If a designer had been deeply involved he'd have said this:

 

"Don't hardcode UI. We'll work on a dark one now, and just the one for speed of development, but make sure all Icons, backgrounds and elements, panels, panes and their colours and all their attributes are surfaced to a plist, and that the entire plist can be switched out for another, later, when we want to create a light UI."

 

He'd have also said:

 

"Don't hardcode the Shortcuts. And make sure every single operation can have a shortcut, and point that at a plist on loading, and make that entire plist swappable."

 

plists are the most wonderful aspect about developing for Mac or iOS.

They're like an XML file in which any property can be stored, and easily, instantly be accessed and altered by anyone with even a vague understanding of properties.

 

And they're lightning fast because they're super lightweight and utterly incorporated into how Xcode and Mac/iOS apps work.

 

Sort of like .ini files on Windows, but sexier.

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Agreed, @deeds, I would also love to be able to customize the UI, iconography, background colors, highlight colors, highlight style (FX) etc. I've posted some rough monochrome UI alternatives in a thread title UI Considerations. I think having a user accessible AD file that was read by the app upon startup would be ideal...

 

On a different note, I would love to see and Affinity version of the value field UI as implemented by Adobe. I think it's one of the features that keeps me coming back... It lets you change values in three different ways, works with mouse, tablet and keyboard, and is compact and stores presets!

 

post-1105-0-03540900-1424868644_thumb.jpg

2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS Big Sur 11.1

2018 11" iPad Pro 256 GB, latest iPadOS public beta

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Did you ever use or see an app called XSI? A 3D app.

 

It had the best value input thingies I've ever seen. Was otherwise a bit of a pig, but the UI was fantastic. Sexy in a way that we can appreciate still today, despite being quite old now.

 

Here's a search of google images for its UI if you're unfamiliar with it:

 

xsi interface

 

To your point, I think it's possible to improve on AI's Value Fields, too.

 

Where AD has gone wrong is setting "select all for typed input" to the value descriptor, and instantly placing a cursor within the text, at the click point for insertion editing on a single click in the value. In some ways this has its strong points.

 

BUT, the weak point is that this is unique to AD.

 

Every other app in the world does "Single click on value selects whole value for replacement editing", "second click on value places cursor at click point for insertion editing".

 

Try it in your browser address bar, right now. Every single app works like this.  Has done for years.

 

To jump out of this mindset just for AD is a tall order, considering how many apps we use everyday that follow the existing convention for value editing.

 

Further, there's some wonderful code in the UI components of Mac OS X (and iOS) that focus on where the mouse is released.

 

So every single value field can be a "virtual slider". Click and drag from the value to change the value instantly, via an invisible, whole screen slider. There's not even any need to provide any UI graphics for this, it can just "be" because we live in the touch age and we're all used to sliders, now.

 

UP and RIGHT = increase value

DOWN and LEFT = decrease value

 

Shift and Drag = Drag and Snap at a "preferences determined" set of values pertinent to the value being edited

 

Command and Drag = increase rate of value change by 10x for slide distance (can be combined with Shift for snapping at these higher values)

 

Alt and Drag = decrease rate of change by 10x for slide distance (can be combined with Shift for snapping at these lesser values)

 

 

// and add the clickers you like so much on the left, and the value presets on the right. And that's it. Best of all worlds. 

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@deeds, yeah Adobe Photoshop has that "virtual slider" when you click and drag on the label of most fields, and it's one of my favorite parts of it's UI, cause I can use it with my tablet without having to switch to mouse or keyboard!

2017 15" MacBook Pro 14,3 w/ Intel 4 Core i7 @ 2.8 GHz, 16 GB RAM, AMD 455 @ 2 GB, 512 GB SSD, macOS Big Sur 11.1

2018 11" iPad Pro 256 GB, latest iPadOS public beta

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