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tariq

mini-review of Publisher - and comment on Affinity dev process

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That was one issue that I was working on myself.  I would think that for a document, you would create the master pages, lay out the text flow, then apply the master page to the body pages, and they would inherit the text flow. Maybe my expectation for AF Publisher is wrong, but if yo have to draw the text flows on the body pages and link them there it will be a real challenge to pick up another writer's document to enhance and maintain.  My office mate and I each had a set of docs we were responsible for, about 7,000 pages total.  We had defined a set of master pages, with text flows, and used them as a template for every new chapter that we added to the doc set.  There were about 10 or so master pages in each template based on the needs across the doc set:  First page,  Left Page, Right Page, Landscape Page Left, Landscape Page Right, Index, TOC, Chapter TOC, List of Figures, List of Tables, Copyright page that also contained legal verbiage about the warranty of the doc.  We were based in the US, but we had customers in countries that use an A4 format, so we had a set of template Masterpages to reflow the document to A4 specs.  We also integrated the training materials into the user docs, so we also had master pages for when we generated the training guides and instructor guides.  Everything was controlled through the master pages.  The Paragraph and Character styles were also set up based on the design of the master pages for indents and spacing on the text flows on the page.  The document setup also controlled how the initial page started (always on a right page), and so if text ended on a right page, the software would automatically add a blank left page so that the next chapter would start on the right side of the book.  I had a hard enough time getting my writers to not create their own tweaks to the paragraph styles, let alone having to make sure that they laid out the text frame that as exactly correct on each type of page. 

But maybe my expectation for the use of this product is incorrect and the target market is for small brochures or marketing documents and not a technical documentation like the stuff I had to create and maintain.  

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57 minutes ago, Michael117 said:

But maybe my expectation for the use of this product is incorrect and the target market is for small brochures or marketing documents and not a technical documentation like the stuff I had to create and maintain.  

I agree with you.

And "brochures and marketing"... Designer can do that already. Which is why I kept telling them not to make a Designer with extra pages...

 

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@tariq

I was not expecting to see a review of APub so soon but I read yours and it does highlight some significant shortcomings of the software.

And, as you say, Affinity Publisher (v1.7) is effectively Designer with Pages

My thoughts on the current status are as follows.

Only 25% of those evaluating the product are expected to be happy with the initial release (due end of 2018) and to purchase it but that 25% will provide Serif with the ongoing revenue needed to keep any business running.

Once Affinity Photo and Designer are upgraded to version 1.7, Publisher will become a bit more functional by being able to tap into some of the features it currently lacks but APub version 1.x will never be the full-blown publishing software that a lot of users want/need/expected.  For those users, you are going to have to wait, but for others, like me, a Designer with Pages app will be a somewhat, lacklustre but welcome addition to AP and AD at the price it is expected to retail at.

This Beta release is mainly for bug identification and fixes to existing bugs.  Stuff that should have been considered for the Alpha release will never be rewritten in time for the current planned release date at the end of the year and the hundreds of Feature Requests/Changes already logged will never make it into the first release.  Maybe a few easily implemented ones but that will be it.

Will Affinity survive? No, not without ongoing revenue, so it's clear that there will have to be paid releases of it's software that are far from perfect for a lot of users but for the 25% that do buy the software hopefully that extra revenue earned will be enough to further enhance the software with each new release. But expect a long and bumpy road.

With Affinity Software we can all shout "Viva la Revolution" but it's becoming clear that that revolution is not an overnight thing. You need to be thinking in terms of years rather than days, weeks or months until "la revolution" affects the masses.

PS I also agree that Serif can come across as arrogant at times and have previously mentioned it in this forum. That really does need to change.

 

TL;DR

Affinity Publisher (v1.7)
Full blown Publishing Application - Expect major disappointment
Designer with Pages - Works for me. When can I buy it?


Due to the ongoing Brexit negotiations, punctuation, spelling and grammar will be used sparingly until further notice.

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They'll have to work on the "Symbols" feature, for frames to be modified without altering the Master pages,.

For now it's possible with some (nasty) tricks:

 

The workflow 'll have to be easier since it's too confusing for a few pages, I can't imagine doing this on a long document…

We need to be able to select page items from Master page and detach them without going to the layer panel that's too confusing (layers with same name and no reference for the page number, for example), and those detached items should be selected and modified without having to unlock the layer.

This doesn't sound as dramatic at it was yesterday when I thought there was no way it was possible.

2018-09-02_085554.thumb.png.288a20a58016af66d907646638410051.png

 

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@carl123, please don't take my comment as being unhappy with the version we are evaluating.  I'm actually very impressed with where they are and I agree that basing this release off of the 1.7 platform was good.  I've worked in software development for over 30 years and I understand the evolution that happens with an application from it's earlier releases through it's maturity.  I really like the way that they are approaching this market and I hope that they can make another product that can provide a robust set of features at a very affordable price, and one that makes them a profit to continue making those products.  Along those 30 years, I've spent time working in Product Management, Quality Testing, Customer support, and Documentation and Training, with the largest part in the Technical Documentation area.  I wrote and have managed teams of writers who used FrameMaker, and sometimes Word, to write that documentation.  I've lived using a tool like Publisher day-in and day-out to turn out thousands of pages of documentation and I see this application being able to grow into a tool that can be part of that market.  What Technical Documentation Manager wouldn't seriously consider moving to a tool that  comes in at the price point Affinity has (assuming that Publisher is comparable to Photo and Designer) and provides the features that get the job done.

I started my comment off, saying that I may need to adjust my expectations and that this application is intended to solve a different set of problems from what I wanted it to solve.  The Affinity/Serif team have provided two great products that I use almost every day which provides enough functionality to allow me to leave Adobe and become dedicated to Photo and Designer.  I'm hoping they do that again with Publisher.  My feedback was intended for Product Management to point out how important it is to control the layout of the document you are creating.   It all starts with the layout. 

In another topic on this forum, I asked the Affinity team to post a list of the features that are still being worked on, or that are planned for the gold master release so that we could see what is coming.  Being able to see that list would help those of us reviewing the Beta from repeatedly commenting on stuff we don't see but may be coming.

I've never felt that the Affinity team were arrogant, at least based on my interaction on this forum.

TL;DR

Affinity Publisher (1.7 Beta)
Really solid Desktop Publishing product for a first release of a product - could be a disruptive market changer like Photo and Designer
How can my real world experience help make it better?
Where can I buy it?

 

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34 minutes ago, Wosven said:
Quote

 

They'll have to work on the "Symbols" feature, for frames to be modified without altering the Master pages,.


 

YIKES! Altering Master pages from changes on the Body pages is no bueno. 

 

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2 hours ago, Michael117 said:

YIKES! Altering Master pages from changes on the Body pages is no bueno. 

Master pages have 2 purposes : having static parts like decorative ones and number page, that should stay as it is mostly in a document.
And they help you create new pages with text frames and picture frames positionned, for not having to copy-paste them from page to page.
But those are not décor, you need to be able to "detach" them from the master page to modify the content.

ID and QXP have 2 different approches about those last ones:

  • ID permit you to detach them, but they are no part anymore of the master pages, if you modify them in the master pages, this won't apply to the related pages
  • QXP permit you to sort of detach and modify their content, and for the text frames, if you only modify their length to adjust to their content, you can modify them on the master pages (styles, background color, etc.), and the modifications will apply to the frames on your pages.

I think QXD got it right, and I hope APub will use a similar approach. I don't want to go back to the old days when you had to copy paste title/body/whatever frames from a page to another since the master pages are mainly for décor.

Same problem with long document with different left and right pages frames position. QXD was smart about the positioning of frames when you had to switch a page from left to right. 

Edited by Wosven
Typos, as usual!

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10 hours ago, Michael117 said:

@carl123I've never felt that the Affinity team were arrogant, at least based on my interaction on this forum.

TL;DR

Affinity Publisher (1.7 Beta)
Really solid Desktop Publishing product for a first release of a product - could be a disruptive market changer like Photo and Designer
How can my real world experience help make it better?
Where can I buy it?

 

Arrogant?  I don't think so.  Seems to me that the Affinities are highly-intelligent people with a sometimes very dry (and very funny) sense of humor.  They appear to me to be really responsive to suggestions and comments coming in thick and fast.  It must be rather disheartening for them to have come this far with this lovely beta, after all the howling and yowling about "when is it COMING" and then have a flood of "this isn't a finished product!!"   I think we should be honored that they care this much about what we are finding.     


21.5 iMAC Retina 4K display. MacOS Sierra v. 10.12.6 (which I am not changing).  3.1 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6 GHz.  Memory 8 GB 1867 MHz LPDDR3.  1TB Fusion Drive.  Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 1536 MB.      iPad Pro 12.9, iOS v. 12.3.1, Apple Pencil.  Affinity Publisher 1.7 (pre-ordered); Publisher beta v. 1.7.0.384; Affinity Photo 1.7 and Photo Beta 1.7.1.138;  Affinity Designer 1.7. 

Magic mouse.9_9

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A lot of the "when is it coming" questions would be solved if they had posted an article on what is still being worked on for the first gold master release and what features are on the roadmap. I wasn't a customer of theirs when Photo and Designer first came out and don't know if they posted Public Beta versions like they did with Publisher, so they may have been through this before.  I also see the "when is it coming" postings as people really wanting this application and wanting it to succeed.  

 I also agree with you about the dry sense of humor. 

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Like many people, here I was very excited to see Publisher beta finally arrive.  I had been creating multi-artboard documents with Affinity Designer and that was a pain but also joy.  A pain because I didn't have the advantage of creating columns.  I had to hand place the text and manually break up paragraphs.  Also when I added new artboards (which were document pages) to the document I had to move the artboards around and fit in the new artboards between other artboards, and then check the order of the artboards on the layers panel.  A joy because I could layout object like a designer and mask, create sophisticated gradients and blends that went well above a glorified word processing program.

Still, why would anyone do things this way, you might ask?  Having spent years with InDesign, I found blending layers with the right kind of effects, masks or graphical editing really limiting. And layers in InDesign - well let's not get into that.  I would give up often and end up creating the whole image in Photoshop and then pasting the Photoshop file - which really slowed down InDesign sometimes to a crawl.  Other times I just created multipage documents (with layer groups) in Photoshop because it gave me the desired graphical result even though it was a tremendous chore outputting each page at a time and then pasting the pages together with Acrobat.

I mention all this because the ability to have a sophisticated design software with pages is something that I've dreamed about for a long time.  So if it's Designer with Pages for now, I'll take it and with a smile. Columns and widow/orphan control - great.  Real image and text boxes, awesome. Yes I realize that the Designer and Photo links are dead right now but I can edit the embedded Designer asset just by clicking on it, just like Designer.

I spent some time converting an entire multi-artboard Designer document to Publisher - and not a single crash - other times there was a crash just starting the program. So it's still a bit buggy but surprisingly not on the big document once I got going.  Yes I realize it's early days.  No hyperlinks on text - would be nice sometime soon.  Or, fixing the master page issue that was discussed above (but honestly just cut and paste layouts for now - not that big a deal comparatively).  But as soon as this gets to be a solid 1.0 release then that's my main design tool.  Thank you Serif.  I'm a full blown Affinity fanboy and can't wait for the new features, and also with Designer (maybe mesh warp?????).

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The problem these days is the enormous range of things published -- from greeting cards, novels, textbooks, to multi-volume encyclopaedias. This is compounded by print and digital versions. Therefore developing a program that functions ideally for everyone's work is always going to be difficult if not impossible. The features felt to be necessary will vary with each publisher and user.

My initial download copy was obviously buggy and I now realise it wasn't functioning as it should. Once I realised this and re downloaded it, all became clear. To my mind, I think of the Master pages as they currently are to be more like templates. Once you have created a template you can insert this into a page. These 'set-up' pages can then be used like masters and duplicated. If for example you are setting up a 12 chapter book, you can duplicate the pages for the chapter opening page and body pages and simply fill in the text boxes as you go. All opening pages for example will be set out exactly the same. 

Over all, this is good for a beta  entry and is workable especially I think for short documents such as magazines or booklets but perhaps not so ideal if you were publishing a set of 20 illustrated encyclopaedias! Hopefully, when other features are live and newer ones added this will be great.

I hope they add autoflow with pages and text boxes inserted to accommodate overflowing text, a preflight and the ability to import doc or docx and pdf files. I notice the 'place' feature is there but not operational at present. 

 

 

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On 9/3/2018 at 10:01 PM, Roger H said:

To my mind, I think of the Master pages as they currently are to be more like templates. Once you have created a template you can insert this into a page. These 'set-up' pages can then be used like masters and duplicated. If for example you are setting up a 12 chapter book, you can duplicate the pages for the chapter opening page and body pages and simply fill in the text boxes as you go. All opening pages for example will be set out exactly the same

Hu… and when you need to modify or add something to your first page you need to go to each one and copy-paste something or make changes manually to 50 chapters???
Not my workflow to use copy where elements are not linked to a master page to ease modifications.

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It must be tough being a software developer to create a forum to engage with it's user base and them being told it does not listen to them. These kinds of threads and reviews must hurt.

This is the first beta, and things are not perfect yet, and stuff is missing which needs to be added to be a stronger product. BUT this is only the beginning and I think theyve already shown they can come up with well working solutions to problems that are better than the competition. The products are very accessible and work well for the most part. Designer and Photo have really give us some options beyond Adobe, which I highly appreciate. However they are not simple copies, and people will always complain about things they know from their workflow in other programs. Sometimes however these methods are not even the best way to do things, but it is the way it is done by most because the software dictates this workflow. If I wanted to add raster elements and multiple effects to a vector drawing I had to abandon Illustrator and jump to Photoshop. Designer has created a much more streamlined workflow for this. I hope Publisher will streamline parts of my workflow too, but these changes sometimes take some time and getting used to.

I think Affinity/Serif have shown enough to give them the time and patience to develop the app to its full potential. I also wish for a credible alternative to indesign (my most used program) because I don't like paying so much for the subscription. I have tested Quark but that is such a mess of a program, that Publisher actually suits my workflow much better already in its first beta, which is really nice! I will happily pay for a software like this.

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On 9/1/2018 at 6:53 PM, Ania said:

Your point is well taken that text frames on a master page are not live on the actual page. What's the point of a master page then?

Not much different than the InDesign implementation.  InDesign allows master element overrides, but otherwise it works fundamentally the same as Publisher.

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5 minutes ago, LAViking said:

Not much different than the InDesign implementation.  InDesign allows master element overrides, but otherwise it works fundamentally the same as Publisher.

No, they (master pages) are completely different between the two applications. 


My computer is a nothing-special Toshiba laptop with unremarkable specs running Windows 10 64-bit.

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On 9/1/2018 at 6:53 PM, Ania said:

Your point is well taken that text frames on a master page are not live on the actual page. What's the point of a master page then?

Not much different than the InDesign implementation.  InDesign allows master element overrides, but otherwise it works fundamentally the same as Publisher.

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5 minutes ago, MikeW said:

No, they (master pages) are completely different between the two applications. 

Not compared to the ID CS4 version I have running on my Mac.  Maybe the CC versions have made some changes since.

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I don't think there are/have been changes as to how master pages work in ID since CS6.

I don't remember how CS4 handled master pages. But even with CS4, you have a primary text frame. APub doesn't. Isn't that enough of a difference for you?


My computer is a nothing-special Toshiba laptop with unremarkable specs running Windows 10 64-bit.

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On 9/2/2018 at 9:02 AM, tariq said:

Perhaps a blog or tutorial by Affinity on how we should be creating 500 page textbooks would be helpful..perhaps were all going about it wrong and Affinity have a new better way?

Is Publisher intended for laying out long structured documents? Reports, novels, textbooks and the like. If so, it would seem there must be some easy way to manipulate hundreds of frames at a time. I favour the master page approach. Master page text frames populate frames on content pages. Change the master, change all dependent frames on content pages. But that feature isn't in the beta, is it?

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