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Scaling line length - Designer as a basic CAD application


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I've been using lots of design software for years (2D & 3D), and let me just say Designer is the best I've ever used.  It's intuitive, smooth and rich. 

The core of my work is architectural & engineering design (so I use a lot of CAD software) and it occurs to me that, if Designer had an option to set scale it would also serve as a nice, simple CAD program.  i.e. you could start an A3 sheet, set the scale to 1:100 and then when you draw a 1000mm line it produced a line 10mm long on the document. 

It's just a thought, I realise CAD is not the target market, and the programmers have got better things to do with their time.

Dan

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I too am an Architect and Landscape Designer and have used FreeHand for years and an now moving over to Affinity Designer but had to compensate for permanent 1:1 scale.
The ability to change scales would be wonderful.
The CAD programs out there are very complex and VERY expensive - programs like Affinity Designer can easily operate as drafting applications - no need for 3D 

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Well, CAD apps are great for design but AD is needed for presentation and making press ready documents. Scale function would be nice as it would take away one headache... when I have a rectangle 83 mm wide it would be in 1:50 scale.... ummm what...? It is not difficult but I always have to check I am not doing 1:200 scale instead... and repeat that with every object..

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Agree. EVERY vector based drawing program should provide for user-defined ruler scales. There is no need for any CAD related "apologies." User-defined drawing scale is just as basic to general-purpose illustration for print, signage design, whatever. I've been saying this for decades.

And it's yet another no-brainer, low-hanging-fruit opportunity to exceed the archaic functionality of Adobe Illustrator.

JET

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This is something we are aware of.

 

Not saying much more than that just now......

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Hi. Just found this thread. Question: Despite the scaling questions in this thread, when using AD to design a floor plan, is there a way to have line lengths and angles automatically display alongside lines and arcs. Of course these would update when the line length is changed.

Thx.

Kurt

(prospective purchaser)

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I would like to strongly support this suggestion. Adding even a couple of drafting tools to AD would be extremely helpful. Drawing to scale and a measurement tool would be my top choices, but calculating perimeter and area are very helpful also. I think this would be a great way to expand your user base, as all the people in the applied arts (architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, decorative arts etc.) need to make drawings that are accurate and look good. This combination is not very easy to find.

Thanks for all your great work so far!

David

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Again, these features need no appeal to CAD, architecture, mechanical drafting, or any other kind of technical illustration. Programs in this class are for 2D general-purpose vector-based (i.e., scalable) illustration. By its very nature, such functionality should be assumed, precisely because there is no telling what kind of use it may be put to. Yet it (and Affinity is certainly not alone in this) fails to emulate some of the most basic intuitions of 2D geometry.

For example, one needs to define a straight line in terms of length and direction whether designing an airplane dashboard layout or making a prop for the high school prom.

That's what happens when too little thought is given to a basic interface that is supposed to be emulating real-world pre-computer drawing, and just off-handedly defaults to whatever is already 'out there' in other drawing programs.

What is more fundamental than drawing a straight line? But who is concerned about having a bounding box around a straight line? That is so annoying, especially on a horizontal or vertical straight line, the height or width of which is (respectively), by definition, zero? So why is it done? Probably just because Illustrator does it. The fact that Illustrator's historic nemesis, FreeHand, didn't do that was one of its many, many advantages. It took many years for both Illustrator and FreeHand to acquire the simple intuitive expedience of directly defining a line in terms of length and direction. (And as I recall, that was done in FH by means of an Xtra; its word for plug-in.) Yeah, you can do it in any program by drawing it vertically or horizontally and then rotating it, (much as in Affinity), but that always feels like a workaround for what is usually needed and intuitively desired.

And who is more concerned about the height and width of a diagonal line than about its length? And who considers a straight line that is initially drawn diagonally to not be rotated, as indicated by infernal persistent omnipresent bounding box?

It's hard to stop there and not stray off topic because interface concepts are so closely related to each other. Speaking of bounding boxes, why does a bounding box need five rotation handles, usually none of which even correspond to any point of interest on the object(s) that I'm rotating? Most of the time, I don't even want to see bounding boxes. The vast majority of the time, when I rotate something, I want to drag that something by a specific point on it and snap that point to points or edges of whatever other object I'm intent on aligning it to. I couldn't care less about bounding boxes in that situation. Yet displaying those infernal bounding boxes is the default behavior. on every selection.

I'm not saying bounding boxes are useless. And it can certainly be advantageous to be able to reset a bounding box to its 'normal' orientation. But we can't permanently reset what orientation we want to be the 'normal' one. Why not? Why can't we press a momentary keyboard modifier to rotate a bounding box without rotating its content? That would enable us to define what orientation of its scale and skew handles should be considered 'normal' for that object or just during the current transformation. That would be an intuitive and efficient interface when I need, for example, to scale an object in the direction of the line it supposedly orbits.

Many metaphors break down and just create confusion when not thought through. Just a couple of examples:

  • In my real world a brush is a tool I hold in my hand. It is not the mark that I can make with it on the page. Those are two entirely different things.
  • In my real world, a page is not a layer. A layer is a transparent overlay on which marks are created in a contiguous order, and which can span all pages.  Neither a page nor a layer is a mere group of objects contiguous in a stack. And an object is not a layer, yet that is how they have become treated in pursuit of a 'convenience' which introduces its own inconveniences and needless tedium, but has been so widely done that now no one things about it and just tolerates it.

These are the real fundamental. Not this or that specific instant-gratification feature that draws-some-particular-dillywhop-just-like-Illustrator-does. It't a 2D drawing program. Why doesn't it enable the user to use 2D geometry in the most thorough, efficient, and intuitive manner? All programs in this class need to lose their infernal pandemic fixation on the horizontal and vertical of the page.

"2D" does not mean "horizontal and vertical". "2D drawing" does not mean drawing everything horizontally or vertically.

JET

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I'm sorry but it looks like your all complaining that AD is missing CAD functionality. It's like complaining how your fridge lacks air-conditioning functionality. 

"It makes stuff cold so why don't they just add the blower in there to get the cold air out?! Unbelievable! It's such a quick win!"...

I can understand how it could be convenient but it's not a CAD tool. Don't expect it to be what it's not.

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On ‎6‎/‎1‎/‎2020 at 9:02 AM, Xzenor said:

I'm sorry…but it's not a CAD tool. Don't expect it to be what it's not.

Nonsense. Since when is merely specifying a line by length and angle or drawing to user-defined scale only for 'CAD tools'? Egads, man, by that kind of logic, no 'CAD tool' should be able to colorize a vector object, either. Do you know why it's called a Bezier curve, and what industry Mr. Bezier was working in?

Mainstream vector drawing programs are very general-purpose. They are not just used for loosey-goosey freehand scribbling in an ill-conceived attempt to emulate 'natural media' on a tiny cell phone screen with a pudgy finger. These programs are routinely used for:

  • Cleaning up and augmenting CAD exports to make them suitable for commercial-quality reproduction
  • Drawing die cuts for commercial collateral and package design
  • Drawing garden plats
  • Maps of all kinds
  • Typeface design
  • Bird's-eye views of theme parks for visitor's brochures
  • Conceptuals and working drawings for commercial signage, storefronts, interior designs, point-of-sale displays, billboards
  • Cutting paths for sign vinyl plotters and routers
  • Architectural concepts
  • Trade show displays and booth sites, both as conceptual renderings and as final working drawings
  • All manner of info graphics
  • And, yes, axonometric drawing (assembly diagrams for everything from colorful pre-school toys to mundane light fixtures)

…I could go on indefinitely. Since the mid-80s I've been using FreeHand, Canvas, Draw, Illustrator, Flash, and most others that have come along in this software category since then to do these kinds of things, all of which are squarely within the real world domain of profitable commercial illustration.

JET

 

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Definitely something that needs to be added.

I've just purchased Designer based on the premise that it's meant to be a replacement for illustrator, but a lot of my vector design is square and mathematical, I heavily rely on the line tool and it's ability to specify length and angle, it's the literal foundation of 90% of my work. I cannot in any reasonable way maintain any form of similar workflow within Designer, it's just not feasible. Until this feature is added I'll not be recommending this product to anyone, purely as I cannot see it as a drop in replacement or a product with even close feature parity when missing such a basic fundamental feature.

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4 hours ago, Ikbosh said:

ability to specify length and angle

  1. create a line with the Pen tool
  2. select it with the Move tool
  3. open the Transform panel
  4. voilà

New since v1.9.0, I think. So if you're still running v1.8.x, make sure to update to 1.9.1

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On 3/4/2021 at 7:24 PM, loukash said:

open the Transform panel

I'll just add (part L— Length)
https://affinity.help/designer/English.lproj/pages/Panels/transformPanel.html

P.S. It is a pity, that both variants are not shown in the picture here, because it can be overlooked in the text unnecessarily.

Edited by Pšenda

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On 3/5/2021 at 2:24 AM, loukash said:
  1. create a line with the Pen tool
  2. select it with the Move tool
  3. open the Transform panel
  4. voilà

New since v1.9.0, I think. So if you're still running v1.8.x, make sure to update to 1.9.1

 

On 3/6/2021 at 7:15 AM, Pšenda said:

I'll just add (part L— Length)
https://affinity.help/designer/English.lproj/pages/Panels/transformPanel.html

P.S. It is a pity, that both variants are not shown in the picture here, because it can be overlooked in the text unnecessarily.

Thank you for your attempt to help, I appreciate this method and recognize it as being suggested above by others. However it seems you may have missed my part about workflow, this is significantly slower than the way I can do it on Illustrator. In order to do it on Illustrator, I click Line Tool, click where I want (can use snapping), then type the length, hit tab, type the angle and enter I'm done. When doing a full blown design piece with 100's if not 1000's of lines based on this workflow, understandably the transform tool is comparatively non-viable. I understand my design workflow is not common as such, but the point others have made stands where the transform method is not a viable solution to their workflow either (I think some say they do CAD like design work in it).

To break it down a bit further, the reason the suggested workflow is not necessarily viable is in the sense that you're doing unnecessary work. Why should one have to create an arbitrary line with one tool, move to another tool, to modify it, and then leverage another section to modify it, and then again start the process of again. It's magnitudes of length longer when scaled out over a typical design. Compared to the simplicity that is one tool (Illustrator) and immediate results, no doubling up of work of having to refine or review the next step.

For now, I have to decide whether I continue investing in Illustrator, or whether I utilize a CAD tool in my workflow.

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1 minute ago, Ikbosh said:

you may have missed my part about workflow, this is significantly slower than the way I can do it on Illustrator. In order to do it on Illustrator, I click Line Tool, click where I want (can use snapping), then type the length, hit tab, type the angle and enter I'm done.

Ah, right, I have missed that part, indeed.
Frankly, this "one-click" behavior has always annoyed me. But everyone has their own preferred workflow, so in Affinity it surely would be a welcome option for many a power user.

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How can it be a "design" program that competes with illustrator without scaling?  I just bought this program on the Apple Mac App store and wasted my money.  It's not a good deal if it doesn't work for you.  I never dreamed it wouldn't even have features equivalent to good old Claris Draw.  When I plan out the arrangement of shipping containers, trailers, design custom modifications to my old WWII Jeep, etc, etc... I need scaling.  I guess my solution is to install an ancient version of OS X and dig out my old Claris Draw program.  That or go back to paying through the nose for Illustrator.  Living without scaling is not an option. 

I had no idea this is just an "Art for desktop publishing" App.  It might be a great product for someone.  Not for me. 

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