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JGD

Tabbing between UI controls & fields severely lacking/buggy across Affinity suite & Mac/Windows

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Since I've already expanded a lot on the subject on my last post, I'll keep it short and to the point:

Affinity apps almost completely disregard the macOS system-wide option “Full Keyboard Access: In windows and dialogues, press Tab to move keyboard focus between: All controls”, in the Keyboard prefpane. In fact, they don't even honour the alternative and default “Text boxes and lists only” on all places, which would include the very useful input fields on many different palettes.

There are issues on important dialog boxes such as “New Document”, and the only palettes where fields are properly addressable via tabbing are, AFAIK, the Transform palette, and only partially so. Some allow for tabbing between one or two items, and all of them, regardless of the number of fields, drop the user into the “Tab to hide the Studio” behaviour, instead of cycling back to the first field like in Adobe CC.

This behaviour is, for lack of a nicer term, undesirable and unintuitive, and I could also reproduce it in the Windows beta of Publisher; seeing how I can also reproduce it in the MAS versions of Photo and Designer, I'm willing to bet that it's also reproducible in the release-quality Windows versions of those as well. I also noticed input field and UI control ordering inconsistencies between the Mac and the Windows versions of Publisher.

I am aware that fixing this would require an overhaul (or at least an internal review process) of six different codebases across two different OSes (though the fact that some palettes and dialogues are rather similar across apps, so there should at least be some economies of scale at work there), and introduce further overhead in your development process from now on (because it does indeed require a change in philosophy, as tabbing has up until now been added just as an afterthought and only in the places where we specifically asked for it, instead of everywhere, organically and by default, following a predictable scheme and behaviour), but this is yet another thing which I believe you also must do in order to be taken seriously by design professionals who actually use your apps for UI and UX work; you must lead by example, because many of your users will know a lot about that very subject.

For the same reason, Adobe was the butt of all jokes for the better part of a decade on account of their lack of polish and consistency (there's even a Tumblr page called “Adobe Gripes” [formerly “Adobe UI Gripes”] dedicated to their misgivings: https://adobegripes.tumblr.com ), but even they got their act somewhat together as of late (there are still inconsistencies between different apps of their suite, but at least most of these nitty-gritty UX issues are pretty much solved by now). Seeing how you're still in the beginning of your expansion in the market, and only have 3 apps in two platforms to contend with, please take the opportunity to polish all of them before the arguably momentous 1.7 release, which will mark the completeness of the originally announced Affinity 1.x suite. All eyes will be, then and once more, on you, and some reviewers will possibly go through all those details (maybe even making brand-new reviews of the original first two apps), and call them all unpolished or unfinished. I know I would, because that's the way they feel, at least on this major point in particular.

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Actually, two of the apps are on three platforms - there are the iOS versions also... though I'm not sure how iOS deals with tabs when there is a keyboard attached?

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What issues are there with the new document window or the transform studio specifically? Everything works fine for me, except for not being able to focus the Layout|Colour|Margins|Bleed tabs and the aspect ratio lock button in the transform studio. I'm not experiencing the 'Hide Studio' problem.

I do have issues in other places, like the Character and Paragraph studios (tab not working), some drop-downs/popup views (ESC to close not working), inside text objects (help menu shortcut not working, and standard text editing shortcuts not working even when Affinity's shortcuts are disabled). Also, it would be nice to be able to script the UI with AppleScript (currently only the menu bar items are exposed), but that's a minor thing.

Back to you, though... it sounds like you're seeing different behavior than I am, so it could be a macOS version-specific issue. I'm on 10.9, and you?


Complete Affinity suite; Mac 10.9; kbd & mouse; casual user since 2014.

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12 hours ago, JGD said:

...This behaviour is, for lack of a nicer term, undesirable and unintuitive, ...

That is a very polite term compared to my term which I will omit.


MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012) Mac OS 10.12.6 || Mac Pro (Late 2013) Mac OS 10.14.5

Affinity Designer 1.7.2 | Affinity Photo 1.7.2 | Affinity Publisher 1.7.2 | Affinity Designer Beta 1.7.2.2 | Affinity Photo Beta 1.7.2.151 | Affinity Publisher Beta 1.7.2.458

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