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Mark Derricutt

"Affinity Writer" - Writing Persona / Linked Text / Markdown Processing idea

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Hey all,

Long time lurker til the last few weeks when I reinstalled the Publisher beta to check up on it - I understand that AFP is predominantly a page layout focussed system (and after reading all the ePub threads I see that's a bug-bear for many people and I suspect "Affinity Writer" might be a good direction/bridge but let's avoid that for now).

I see that we can link/embed images so we can update the visual assets independently of the layout, but I've not seen anything similar for textual assets - which when writing more book/manual type content would be rather useful.

Coming from the tech world (software developer primarily) what I'd love to see is something like the following (that may be doable with simple scripting if/when that comes available):

  1. Write my main content in a .txt file, or .md Markdown file - which is becoming a de facto markup format in the developer world
  2. Processor app/script that takes the markdown, and converts that to a AFP source - mapping the relevant heading 1/2/3, bullet point, body, code styles to AFP styles before including that in an initial text frame.
  3. Content appears in AFP rendered, with styles applied

This would allow me update the .md files independent of page layout, using an editing environment more suited to writing content, running the document thru Grammarly/ProWritingAid.

I guess this could all come under a "Writing" persona.

Is this is a crazy idea, or something worth thinking about?



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A lot of people have been asking for a story editor, where you link the text file so the writer can update the text without you having to reformat it again.

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18 hours ago, Mark Derricutt said:

Hey all,

Long time lurker til the last few weeks when I reinstalled the Publisher beta to check up on it - I understand that AFP is predominantly a page layout focussed system (and after reading all the ePub threads I see that's a bug-bear for many people and I suspect "Affinity Writer" might be a good direction/bridge but let's avoid that for now).

I see that we can link/embed images so we can update the visual assets independently of the layout, but I've not seen anything similar for textual assets - which when writing more book/manual type content would be rather useful.

Coming from the tech world (software developer primarily) what I'd love to see is something like the following (that may be doable with simple scripting if/when that comes available):

  1. Write my main content in a .txt file, or .md Markdown file - which is becoming a de facto markup format in the developer world
  2. Processor app/script that takes the markdown, and converts that to a AFP source - mapping the relevant heading 1/2/3, bullet point, body, code styles to AFP styles before including that in an initial text frame.
  3. Content appears in AFP rendered, with styles applied

This would allow me update the .md files independent of page layout, using an editing environment more suited to writing content, running the document thru Grammarly/ProWritingAid.

I guess this could all come under a "Writing" persona.

Is this is a crazy idea, or something worth thinking about?



Basically I think it is a good idea to have linked text files. I leave it open what format(s) that might be. I have the feeling that markdown is a little too under complex to meet the possibilities of text styles.

I strongly believe that the Affinty Team first wants to build a solid foundation of features. After that they can add features like that on top. There are several options to handle this: a) section manager, b) linked files, c) data merge (not available yet), d) something completely different ;-)

And BTW, welcome to the forum.
d.


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1 minute ago, dominik said:

Basically I think it is a good idea to have linked text files. I leave it open what format(s) that might be. I have the feeling that markdown is a little too under complex to meet the possibilities of text styles.

Thanks for the welcome! I definitely agree with the limitations of markdown (that lack of a proper spec, Common Mark not-withstanding) are a somewhat a blessing and a curse (I'd favour AsciiDoc there, but it also has it's own issues) - I love the control that LaTeX provides me but that's also quite....  the beast to wrangle and understand - I have a long-standing love for the DocBook XML specs as they're (largely) human readable, structured, easily created by code/tooling - and separate from formatting.

If linked text was available, and some form of API for generating AP sub-docs/structural format one could write such things fairly "easy".

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4 minutes ago, Mark Derricutt said:

I have a long-standing love for the DocBook XML specs as they're (largely) human readable, structured, easily created by code/tooling - and separate from formatting.

You are obviously very far ahead of my knowledge in this department :)

This is why I assume you can understand how interesting (but complex) this feature is to be implemented. In the long run I can imagine APub to be a 'hub' for all kinds of sources and output media. But this will take its time.

d.


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And then along comes a goof like me who just pastes a bunch of tagged text in on top of a selection in the aforesaid Writing Persona and I get upset because my headings aren't converted.

Personally I would love a tagged text format for export, be it an existing form or new one. XML has its uses.

Also I am a huge fan of .txt as the way to go for importing text. Everyone can open a plain text file.


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24 minutes ago, Old Bruce said:

And then along comes a goof like me who just pastes a bunch of tagged text in on top of a selection in the aforesaid Writing Persona and I get upset because my headings aren't converted.

Not, that I had you (goof) in mind writing '(but complex)' ;-)

Personally I'd prefer .txt or .rtf as a starting point. At the same point I am very curious about what Serif will come up with eventually.

d.


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Just now, dominik said:

Personally I'd prefer .txt or .rtf as a starting point. At the same point I am very curious about what Serif will come up with eventually..

.rtf would be acceptable I reckon. Using pandoc to convert N-formats into .rtf ( https://pandoc.org - which I see also supports converting to InDesign ICML XML documents - probably just Stories tho) would probably work for anything I'd want - that opens up a "Story Manager" feature.

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2 minutes ago, Mark Derricutt said:

Using pandoc to convert N-formats into .rtf 

Oh! I didn't know about pandoc. Thanks for pointing to this source.

I just can't find .rtf in their matrix?

d.


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6 hours ago, Mark Derricutt said:

It doesn't seem to be mentioned in the matrix, but in the https://pandoc.org/MANUAL.html you'll see "-trtf" as an output format. Doesn't look like it supports it as an input format tho.

Thanks for pointing me there. I found it. An interesting project. It would be worth doing some tests with several formats here: https://pandoc.org/try/ as this live tool offers RTF output as well.

d.


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3 hours ago, dominik said:

Thanks for pointing me there. I found it. An interesting project. It would be worth doing some tests with several formats here: https://pandoc.org/try/ as this live tool offers RTF output as well.

I did some testing with writing out .docx files and dragging them into AFP - worked well, altho pulled in the styles in the doc with some standard I guess styling.  If I changed the styles in the AFP doc to something different, deleted the text content, and dragged the file back into the first text frame - all the contents flowed along nice - but the formatted did get reset to what was in the .docx ( dragging on a .rtf just crashed AFP ).

So that's something at least.

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40 minutes ago, Mark Derricutt said:

I did some testing with writing out .docx files and dragging them into AFP - worked well, altho pulled in the styles in the doc with some standard I guess styling.  If I changed the styles in the AFP doc to something different, deleted the text content, and dragged the file back into the first text frame - all the contents flowed along nice - but the formatted did get reset to what was in the .docx ( dragging on a .rtf just crashed AFP ).

So that's something at least.

Did you try to convert to RTF? I did and the result is some code. But I did not figure out how to turn this into a RTF-file that I can import into APub.

I tried to paste code into a plain text file and saved it. Then changed the extension from txt to rtf. But this didn't work.

d.


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52 minutes ago, dominik said:

Did you try to convert to RTF? I did and the result is some code. But I did not figure out how to turn this into a RTF-file that I can import into APub.

I tried to paste code into a plain text file and saved it. Then changed the extension from txt to rtf. But this didn't work.

d.

In your word processor (MS Word/LibreOffice Writer) choose "save as..." and then choose rtf file format.

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4 minutes ago, toutou123 said:

In your word processor (MS Word/LibreOffice Writer) choose "save as..." and then choose rtf file format.

Thanks for the idea. I think this does not work, though. If I do so it opens the file with the code just as if it were the text of the document. It does not interpret the code as RTF language...

d.

 


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I just bought the final released version and was a bit disappointed that the tool lacks Markdown support.  Exporting a standard document file type to another does not inherently improve the workflow.  Ideally, source text documents can be created and edited edit in the MD, doc, rtf, txt formats in the tool of my choice and import to Publisher - enabling the writer to continue editing the source document for changes. 

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1 hour ago, Jimmod said:

Exporting a standard document file type to another does not inherently improve the workflow.

Unfortunately Markdown still isn't actually a standard format - there is no spec. There is CommonMark, and a handful of common spec patterns ( Github Flavoured Markdown, Multimarkdown etc. ) but would be nice to see some support, somehow.

I get that this isn't necessarily the responsibility of the page layout program, and is probably something you'd want across Designer, Photo, and Publisher - potentially as part of the "SmartLink".

I noticed that in the numbering sections for paragraphs/styles there a "reset after Stories" etc. etc. but that's pretty much the only place I've seen stories mentioned. Hopefully something soon will come out...

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