I am very confused.
For the past week this forum has been inundated with demands, in various forms (posts, blogs, videos) that Affinity Publisher have the ability to create a layout as a Master Page, and then make local changes on each page of the document.
I am confused, because Affinity Publisher can already do this!
I am very confused because nobody at Serif has pointed out that Affinity Publisher can already do this!
And no, I am not talking about the workaround of cloning the Master Layer on a Page, turning off the Master and working on the local copy.
Before I elaborate let me say…
Neither the process nor the UI for the current implementation is elegant.
Since Master Pages use Symbols, and Symbols in Affinity are buggy, there are bugs.
The functionality is not feature complete and to be honest not stable enough for retail release.
But the core functionality for basing Pages off a Master Page and making local variation is already working within Affinity Publisher.
Create a new document.
Create a Master Page.
Add a Text Frame to your Master Page.
Apply the Master Frame to Page 1.
Duplicate Page 1 (so that you now have 2 identical pages).
Ensure that you can see both the Layers Panel and the Symbols Panel.
Click the Sync button in the Symbols Panel (to turn off synchronization of symbols).
Go to Page 1 and unlock the Master Layer .
Select the Text Frame and type something.
Note how the text appears on Page 1, but not on Page 2, nor the Master Page.
Unlock the Master Layer on Page 2.
Select the Text Frame and type something different.
Note how Page 1 and 2 now have the same layout but different content.
Click Sync in the Symbols Panel (to re-enable synchronization of symbols).
Go into your Master Page and try moving the Text Frame.
Note how the Text Frames on Pages 1 and 2 also move to the new position.
In the Text Frame Panel change the fill and stroke of the Text Frame. Also resize and rotate the Text Frame on the Master Page.
Note how all these attributes also change on Pages 1 and 2.
Turn off sync, goto Page 1 and uncheck the visibility of the Text Frame.
Note how it is hidden on Page 1 but not the Master or Page 2.
Turn sync back on, go to the Master and add a Picture Frame.
Click Place… and select 3 pictures from your file system.
Apply the first to the Master Page
Note how it appears on Pages 1 and 2.
De-sync, then apply the second picture on Page 1 and the third on Page 2.
Note how every page now shows a different picture.
Re-Sync, and move the Picture Frames on the Master.
Note how the pictures on all pages move.
Things I noticed along the way…
When some attributes are desynced they take others with them. Change the content of text, and you also desync all other attributes of the text (font, font size, colour etc).
Text Frames seem to move an resize more reliably that Picture Frames. The old bug where you end up with a new symbol every pixel when dragging a nested symbol reared its ugly head here.
Right now the only way to see which attributes are in sync is to hover over the item in the layers panel, and read the tooltip. Not friendly.
Although you can reapply the Master to reset everything, we could also do with the ability to re-link selected attributes, on specific objects.
Still, I remain confused as to why Affinity are not actively promoting this feature since it has to be the most talked about issue on the entire forum!