Mac page design app Affinity Publisher comes out of beta

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 20
The long-awaited page layout app Affinity Publisher has launched after an extended public beta period. Alongside its own design tools, the app leverages its sister Affinity products to create a publishing workflow.

Affinity Photo has come out of its extended beta
Affinity Publisher has come out of its extended beta


Shortly after updating its Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer apps to work with the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, Serif has released Affinity Publisher.

Affinity Publisher is a page-layout design tool that has been well-received during its extended beta period. It's intended for producing documents where you need fine control, such as single-sheet flyers, magazines, or entire books.

Inevitably, it's going to be compared to Adobe InDesign. We'll need to test it thoroughly before we can say how it compares in the details, but the very fact that on first appearance it appears similar is a bonus. Affinity Publisher can't open InDesign's .indd files directly, but users of the Adobe app will find this alternative familiar and easy to use.

The devil is in the details, but at first glance Affinity Publisher will feel very familiar for InDesign users
The devil is in the details, but at first glance Affinity Publisher will feel very familiar for InDesign users


They'll also find that it's cheaper. Where InDesign is a subscription app, Affinity Publisher is a single purchase. It's on a launch sale for $40. AppleInsider will be evaluating Affinity Publisher, and comparing it to other offerings in the near future.

Even though Adobe users will be looking at it, and even though publications will evaluate it as an alternative, it's still not fair to label Affinity Publisher as simply an InDesign or Pages clone. It's a strong publication app in its own right.

And alongside its own page-layout features, Publisher also brings a way of leveraging other Affinity apps you may have. If you've got Affinity Photo or Affinity Designer installed on your Mac, you can use all of the tools from those apps directly within Publisher. You don't have to round-trip your document out to those apps and back again.

Affinity Publisher is a Mac app, but the makers say that an iPad version is coming -- and that will be a significant release as there is no Adobe InDesign for iPad yet. Serif also says that in the meantime, current iPad versions of Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer will be able to work with Publisher documents.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    rain22rain22 Posts: 46member
    Will have to check it out. Although, anyone using an app like this is most likely sending it to a printer - so unless you are adept in pre-press and have your PDF files perfect, your printer will have to have it as well. 
    Will have to see if industry embraces it. 
    Almost every designer has a love/hate relationship with Adobe. 
    sportyguy209SpamSandwich
  • Reply 2 of 24
    Affinity has knocked it out of the park! This is what many Adobe users (and former users) have been looking for. Not only excellent stand alone software that can be purchased, but the workflow is incredible! I wonder how long it will take Adobe to implement a similar concept into their software.

    I own all three of Affinity's programs: Photo, Designer, and Publisher. This is a strong software trilogy to compete against Adobe's Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign for those who don't like, or accept, their rental model.
    edited June 19
  • Reply 3 of 24
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 703member
    rain22 said:
    Will have to check it out. Although, anyone using an app like this is most likely sending it to a printer - so unless you are adept in pre-press and have your PDF files perfect, your printer will have to have it as well. 
    Will have to see if industry embraces it. 
    Almost every designer has a love/hate relationship with Adobe. 
    @ $40 a pop, printers would be foolish not to purchase it for their production staff. More flexibility = more profits for them. Kind of a no brainer. 
    gutengelrob53fotoformatcincytee
  • Reply 4 of 24

    rain22 said:
    Will have to check it out. Although, anyone using an app like this is most likely sending it to a printer - so unless you are adept in pre-press and have your PDF files perfect, your printer will have to have it as well. 
    Will have to see if industry embraces it. 
    Almost every designer has a love/hate relationship with Adobe. 
    At a cost of < $150 for all three Affinity programs (Designer, Photo, and Publisher), depending on discounts (currently $120), I don't know of any printer that wouldn't be able to afford/support them.
    edited June 19
  • Reply 5 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,411member
    Hope to see an in-depth review from someone who works in a print production environment and is professionally familiar with InDesign (or even Quark XPress). A production environment requires tools which perform reliably across a workflow in a team setting and with many specialized pieces of hardware and equipment (scanners, film negative and printing plate machines, etc.). The real test comes from doing the work.
    DAalseth
  • Reply 6 of 24
    gutengelgutengel Posts: 332member
    I purchased the app with pre-sale discount. I haven't had time to mess up with it, but it looks awesome. I'm trying to switch my workflow from Adobe CS6 to Affinity because of affordability and compatibility with the iPad Pro. These app keep getting better and better.
    sportyguy209arthurbaneteru1920
  • Reply 7 of 24
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,807member
    rain22 said:
    Will have to check it out. Although, anyone using an app like this is most likely sending it to a printer - so unless you are adept in pre-press and have your PDF files perfect, your printer will have to have it as well. 
    Will have to see if industry embraces it.

    The industry does not need to embrace it. This isn't 1998.

    There's this cool thing called a Press-Ready PDF file, which is how everybody in the industry sends their work to a printer.
    arthurbachasmneteru1920
  • Reply 8 of 24
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,901member
    I suppose now I’ll have to try it and see just how well it brings a true publishing workflow. Up to now, Adobe has been the only company that has a product line that could be called commercially viable. All the competition has fallen to the wayside.

    even if this works well, it will have a long haul to be accepted in the industry.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 9 of 24
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,901member
    frank777 said:
    rain22 said:
    Will have to check it out. Although, anyone using an app like this is most likely sending it to a printer - so unless you are adept in pre-press and have your PDF files perfect, your printer will have to have it as well. 
    Will have to see if industry embraces it.

    The industry does not need to embrace it. This isn't 1998.

    There's this cool thing called a Press-Ready PDF file, which is how everybody in the industry sends their work to a printer.
    That’s somewhat simplistic. Having that feature doesn’t mean that it will work well. The files still have to comport themselves well, and support all the features. It’s not a simple thing to do. And yes, the industry does have to embrace it. There will be a lot of teething pains here. Quite frankly, so far, their other programs have a long way to go before Adobe can be discarded. And Adobe had their best year ever, with a 25% sales lift. The idea that they’re being abandoned is ludicrous.
    SpamSandwichcamc
  • Reply 10 of 24
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,086member
    melgross said:
    I suppose now I’ll have to try it and see just how well it brings a true publishing workflow. Up to now, Adobe has been the only company that has a product line that could be called commercially viable. All the competition has fallen to the wayside.

    even if this works well, it will have a long haul to be accepted in the industry.
    Sounds to me like you're saying (admitting) it's a monopoly. There are other ways to do what Adobe's products do but for whatever reason, they've been able to knock out every other challenger. Now they can charge whatever they want and people/companies/government/etc. will have to pay it. Sounds like what Microsoft was caught doing. 
  • Reply 11 of 24
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,807member
    melgross said:
    That’s somewhat simplistic. Having that feature doesn’t mean that it will work well. The files still have to comport themselves well, and support all the features. It’s not a simple thing to do. And yes, the industry does have to embrace it. There will be a lot of teething pains here. Quite frankly, so far, their other programs have a long way to go before Adobe can be discarded. And Adobe had their best year ever, with a 25% sales lift. The idea that they’re being abandoned is ludicrous.

    I don't expect that Affinity Publisher will be ready for our needs for at least 18-24 months. And that's fine. I certainly haven't claimed Adobe will be immediately abandoned. But my comment was focused solely on the idea that for pro purposes, print shops will need to embrace it.

    And that's false. Unless there's a serious problem (involving colour separations etc.) printers do not need and do not get the entire publishing document anymore. This is not a controversial idea. Sending an InDesign document and hoping your fonts and images make the journey is far more tedious than creating a Press Ready PDF. And if Affinity has spent years producing a Page Layout app, I'm presuming they will have sorted out PDF creation. It's not an optional feature for publishers of any size.

    The only people who always send full open files to their printer are the ones likely using Microsoft Word.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,807member
    Affinity has knocked it out of the park! This is what many Adobe users (and former users) have been looking for. Not only excellent stand alone software that can be purchased, but the workflow is incredible! I wonder how long it will take Adobe to implement a similar concept into their software.

    I own all three of Affinity's programs: Photo, Designer, and Publisher. This is a strong software trilogy to compete against Adobe's Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign for those who don't like, or accept, their rental model.
    I bought Photo, though I liked Pixelmator's UI better. But Pixelmator's team has had a decade and can't seem to get CMYK up and running.
    Affinity got it right, but I still haven't left Photoshop because I've had issues adjusting to Photo's UI.

    As it moves forward, this trilogy should become a real contender.

    The team I can't figure out is Quark. They had all the pieces necessary to build a low-cost entry-level family of apps to get people interested again, and they kept banging their heads against the same brick wall for decades. This is what Jobs meant when he said Apple needed to accept the loss to Windows and move on to the Next Big Thing. The results speak for themselves.
    sportyguy209tmayneteru1920
  • Reply 13 of 24
    jabohnjabohn Posts: 539member
    Hope to see an in-depth review from someone who works in a print production environment and is professionally familiar with InDesign (or even Quark XPress). A production environment requires tools which perform reliably across a workflow in a team setting and with many specialized pieces of hardware and equipment (scanners, film negative and printing plate machines, etc.). The real test comes from doing the work.
    Not in depth, but I've been beta testing the app for months and my day job is in print production. Publisher is nowhere close to being ready for that type of work. It contains little-to-no professional print output controls (just compare their print dialog to InDesign or QuarkXpress). It doesn't manage swatches and spot colors properly (you can delete a used swatch from the palette and the app won't even complain nor ask if you want to replace it with another swatch). Layers are not really layers but actually objects, and they are page-specific (each page will have different layers - Affinity is apparently working on this, called Global Layers). Some of these stem from the fact that the file format is rooted in their other apps, so over time they'll have to make changes to accommodate what's expected in professional design. Then of course the UI at time can feel like it's lacking polish. For instance, their Paragraph panel contains so many things and is so long, my 27 inch monitor can't even display it entirely. And to top it all off, Serif decided to remove scroll wheel support from that panel.

    P.S. I'm going by the beta. I haven't downloaded the final release yet so some of this could have changed.

    However, I did purchase a copy for home and the occasional "hobbyist" job.
    pscooter63
  • Reply 14 of 24
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,086member
    frank777 said:
    melgross said:
    That’s somewhat simplistic. Having that feature doesn’t mean that it will work well. The files still have to comport themselves well, and support all the features. It’s not a simple thing to do. And yes, the industry does have to embrace it. There will be a lot of teething pains here. Quite frankly, so far, their other programs have a long way to go before Adobe can be discarded. And Adobe had their best year ever, with a 25% sales lift. The idea that they’re being abandoned is ludicrous.

    I don't expect that Affinity Publisher will be ready for our needs for at least 18-24 months. And that's fine. I certainly haven't claimed Adobe will be immediately abandoned. But my comment was focused solely on the idea that for pro purposes, print shops will need to embrace it.

    And that's false. Unless there's a serious problem (involving colour separations etc.) printers do not need and do not get the entire publishing document anymore. This is not a controversial idea. Sending an InDesign document and hoping your fonts and images make the journey is far more tedious than creating a Press Ready PDF. And if Affinity has spent years producing a Page Layout app, I'm presuming they will have sorted out PDF creation. It's not an optional feature for publishers of any size.

    The only people who always send full open files to their printer are the ones likely using Microsoft Word.
    I agree. We quit accepting non-PDF files for direct-to-plate output over a decade ago. Of course, we were only printing limited distribution 4-color documents not specialized, high-end advertising type printing.
    neteru1920
  • Reply 15 of 24
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,671member
    rob53 said:
    melgross said:
    I suppose now I’ll have to try it and see just how well it brings a true publishing workflow. Up to now, Adobe has been the only company that has a product line that could be called commercially viable. All the competition has fallen to the wayside.

    even if this works well, it will have a long haul to be accepted in the industry.
    Sounds to me like you're saying (admitting) it's a monopoly. There are other ways to do what Adobe's products do but for whatever reason, they've been able to knock out every other challenger. Now they can charge whatever they want and people/companies/government/etc. will have to pay it. Sounds like what Microsoft was caught doing. 
    A. That’s not what he’s saying. I’m not sure you know what a monopoly is.

    B. I’m very excited for Affinity Publisher and the future of that product, but $50/month for the entire Adobe Suite is actually cheaper than the suite was in the CS days ($1899, just for reference, with new versions at half-price for current owners every two or three years. Do the math). I would love to be wrong, but I have a feeling that Affinity Publisher will do well among the dabblers/amateurs/occasional users, and Adobe will go right on rolling along with their $600/year more powerful, more supported, and more diverse suite of CC apps, because if you’re not making back the $50/month cost in one billable hour or less, you ain’t a player (to put it mildly).

    Oh, and C. (Responding to another comment) I’ve sent out literally hundreds of press jobs using press-ready PDF before I retired from graphic arts, and every single one came back perfectly unless the printer screwed up. To be fair, I checked them carefully not casually, but if the printer did something wrong I just resent them the exact same PDF and bob’s yer uncle.
    edited June 19 neteru1920
  • Reply 16 of 24
    For me, the big omission in this release is the fact that there is no automation. No applescript support, no javascript. Where page layout programs like Indesign can really save you time is when you can automate the process by scripting… Hope they get around to this soon. Who wants to keep doing repetitive tasks over and over manually? "Nobody"
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 17 of 24
    Article title correction:

    "Mac & Windows page design app Affinity Publisher comes out of beta"

    Serif (originally a Windows shop - though Affinity Photo was Mac-first) are part of a larger trend in content creation apps to migrate from being Mac-only, and relying on Apple technologies, to doing their own tech stack, and releasing cross-platform.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    Honestly Serif's 1.0 releases have often been missing one or two big things in the past, though I think this is also the first time they had a public beta. I think they realized that they needed to get this right out of the gate.

    As far as quality issues, I find the Affinity apps LESS buggy than Adobe's. Heck I figured when I got my new 2018 MacBook Pro that I'd trial the current version of Photoshop CC, because I hadn't had a computer powerful enough to run a bloated current gen version of Photoshop in a while. And it CHUGGED! My Wacom intuos 4 was clunky and jittery, and it felt worse than I remembered CS2 feeling on my old Core Duo MacBook. I messed with the settings a bit until I finally gave up. (I haven't needed to do any real graphic work lately though I do have a good bit of experience.

    I won't claim that the Affinity Apps are always perfect. Last time I was drawing a lot on my iPad Pro I found Procreate had better default settings for the Apple Pencil than either of the Affinity apps. (Though it's been a while, I should try again.) But for what I use them for, Affinity's apps are bloody powerful and in many cases superior to Adobe's. Especially from a design perspective. When I'm designing logos or characters, I often don't know exactly what I want it to look like and experiment with a lot of ideas. What I found when I switched over to Designer was that my work got SO much better than in Illustrator. Now to be honest I will say at the time the brush tool in Illustrator felt better than the one in Designer in terms of smoothness (I think they've now added enough tweakable options for you to be able to refine to pressure curve on the pen and smooth things out if the defaults don't work well for you). But Designer's UI really encourages you to play/experiment. You can try something, decide you don't like it and do something else way quicker than you can in illustrator.

    Also since the code base is SOOOO much newer, there's a lot of things that I remember thinking, "I wish I knew exactly what this filter will look like," whereas because Affinity does everything with live (now Metal accelerated) previews, you don't have to guess and then undo if it doesn't look right.

    If you're coming in with having used Adobe's products a ton, yeah there's going to be things you're not used to, and there's going to be things you're used to using that aren't there. But if you could take two grade 10 versions of me (the age I was when I was introduced to Photoshop) and you give one Photoshop and Illustrator, and you give the other Photo and Designer. I can PROMISE YOU, that the version of me that you give the Affinity Apps is going to blow the other version of me out of the water in a couple years after they've had time to get used to them.

    Serif and their investors are playing a VERY smart game against Adobe. They may 'only' have two million users worldwide, but a lot of those users are going to be kids who can actually legally afford their products. When those kids go to university or college to learn graphic design, they might HAVE to learn Adobe, but they'll already KNOW Affinity. They'll hand in work that they do in their Affinity apps, and their professor won't even understand how they did it in Photoshop, because all they can see is a PSD file. But when that student gets a job, they're going to only use Adobe products if their work is paying for them, if they do their own freelancing, they'll just use the less expensive full featured apps they own. Heck sometimes at work they'll cheat and use Affinity then export to PSD or PDF and nobody will be the wiser.

    600 bucks a year isn't a lot to pay if you're making thousands upon thousands with Adobe's products every year. But for more casual freelancers, or for employees who handle graphic art duties for a church, or non-profit, Affinity's suite is an awesome choice. Those customers will keep them in business, and as they keep going Affinity will eventually have every important feature that Creative Cloud has for most users.

    Ideally Adobe stays in business, but I suspect they'll eventually start making much less money.
    chasmGG1neteru1920
  • Reply 19 of 24
    frank777 said:
    And that's false. Unless there's a serious problem (involving colour separations etc.) printers do not need and do not get the entire publishing document anymore. This is not a controversial idea. Sending an InDesign document and hoping your fonts and images make the journey is far more tedious than creating a Press Ready PDF. And if Affinity has spent years producing a Page Layout app, I'm presuming they will have sorted out PDF creation. It's not an optional feature for publishers of any size.

    The only people who always send full open files to their printer are the ones likely using Microsoft Word.

    Nope, sorry, THAT's false. I work in prepress; while we do get in some work as PDFs, the vast majority of our clients send us InDesign files, for one simple reason: quality. Most of the PDFs we get in are for low-end stuff like newsletters. The problem with press-ready PDFs for higher end work is that it puts the onus entirely on the client to get everything right, and very few clients have the expertise. By sending us native files, we can make sure that all colors are set up correctly, nothing causes rip errors, and everything is optimized for the press and the paper stock the piece will be printing on -- including doing extensive color work to placed photos. (In fairness, I am talking about high-end sheetfed printing with an 18-micron stochastic screen that produces images that look continuous tone to the naked eye, so it takes a little extra effort.)

    So far I haven't been impressed with what I've seen of Affinity's products, but I hope that changes. Adobe needs to be knocked down a peg or two. But I'm skeptical that Affinity will be able to make much of an impact on high-end print work when they're up against over 30 years of constant development. But hopefully they can take enough of the lower-end market to at least force Adobe to lower their prices a bit.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    markbvtmarkbvt Posts: 6member
    rob53 said:
    Sounds to me like you're saying (admitting) it's a monopoly. There are other ways to do what Adobe's products do but for whatever reason, they've been able to knock out every other challenger. Now they can charge whatever they want and people/companies/government/etc. will have to pay it. Sounds like what Microsoft was caught doing. 

    It's not a monopoly; QuarkXPress is still hanging on in certain segments. But the reason for Adobe's dominance in the market is the fact that no one else has come up with a product that's as good (admittedly, InDesign's takeover of most of the page layout segment also had a lot to do with its being bundled with Illustrator and Photoshop back in the first few versions of Creative Suite -- so when smaller design studios, etc, bought Illustrator and Photoshop, they got InDesign along with it, and therefore felt no great need to keep paying Quark for updates).

    At this point Adobe is the 800lb gorilla -- but there's a good reason for it. They've been constantly developing an excellent product that gives professionals from graphic design through prepress the tools they need to get their work done. As of yet, all the challengers I've seen have been unable to match the capabilities of Adobe's products. If Affinity can do it, I applaud them and wish them well -- but I'm skeptical. 

    What I have no doubt of, though, is that some more casual users will find the pricing a lot more attractive than Adobe's, and we're going to start receiving files produced by Affinity Publisher and will soon see whether they present issues or not.
    SpamSandwich
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