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As much as I love it, the incredibly low price for Serif products is the only thing that worries me. It will (and has) help them break into the market. It also has the potential to pick up business from freelancers and small operations that cannot justify Adobe's subscription price.
I've no comment on the enterprise issues, but I've been a designer long enough to remember when Adobe gave away InDesign for free with a new Mac tower in its early days, trying to break apart Quark XPress's dominance. Maybe the first CS?

That's when I got my first InDesign version. I didn't play with it much then, as my main textbook publishing client was firmly entrenched with QXP. They are now equally entrenched with InDesign CC.

I've been toying with dumping the whole suite in favor of a single-app subscription for just InDesign and using Affinity's software for my Illustrator/Photoshop needs to save costs; I'm just a solo designer. Acrobat is the kicker though. I need that, too. Any ideas from the group? Acrobat has some press refinements (CMYK > grayscale, etc.) that aren't replaced with a run of the mill PDF program.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Acrobat is the kicker though. I need that, too. Any ideas from the group? Acrobat has some press refinements (CMYK > grayscale, etc.) that aren't replaced with a run of the mill PDF program.
Affinity Publisher seems very PDF-capable. Could that possibly replace Acrobat?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm a developer with Markzware, so I can clarify the issue. IDMarkz (the current version available) does export IDML, which can be opened in Affinity Publisher v1.8 (currently in beta) or greater.
Thanks for joining the discussion here, Eddie. Just to clarify: IDMarkz can open native InDesign files (INDD) and convert those into IDML without needing InDesign itself?
 


Affinity Publisher seems very PDF-capable. Could that possibly replace Acrobat?
Publisher's PDF export functionality looks to be quite good:
Professional Printing
  • Full CMYK handling and ICC profiles
  • Spot colors
  • Overprint controls
  • Trim, bleed and crop marks
  • Bleed preview with bleed setup directly from new document
  • K-only grayscale images on CMYK output
  • Create CMYK PDF/X files for pro printing
  • Compatible with PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3, and PDF/X-4
ClaireSN could weigh in on some of their Acrobat-specific requirements, but, assuming that there aren't any real issues with the PDF/X-xx specs, Publisher should work for the type of books I've done. (Given some of the issues I've had, I will proof the crap out anything done with any app.) Acrobat does have some very specific options for different press types and screening, although I do believe that ID does a lot of that now.

One thing that people haven't mentioned (or I've missed) is scripting. I use ID scripts or the built-in grep all the time to perform tons of text- and layout-specific tasks. Those two things — and the extensive customization aspects of the ID user interface — are a big reason why I stick with ID, and there is a huge community of scripters feeding the ID market. It would be pretty important for some customers to have a path forward there, in my opinion.

I'm in no way trying to throw shade on Publisher, especially since there are plenty of bugs inside ID that get in the way when I'm working.

It is funny to think that, from the 90s through 2001-2002, Adobe was the underdog in the publishing market. They blew it with PageMaker, and ended up giving ID away to big publishers — with support — to try and wrest market share away from Quark. Those first couple of ID revisions were pretty bad, as I recall, but they got better quickly. Having the Photoshop/Illustrator/ID combo definitely helped Adobe, and it could do the same for Serif.

Hopefully, Serif is doing well enough that they can keep pushing in this space. I looked at the first rev when it came out, but I'm feeling like I need to play with it again. This has been a good discussion.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Hopefully, Serif is doing well enough that they can keep pushing in this space. I looked at the first rev when it came out, but I'm feeling like I need to play with it again.
I haven't spent much time with Affinity Publisher, but I can tell you that Affinity Photo improved dramatically in subsequent releases, with major performance improvements vs. the first version.
 


Does anyone know if any of the three Affinity products are multi-threaded to take advantage of multiple CPUs? If so, how many CPUs are supported in each program?

Looking to upgrade to a new laptop and desktop in the near future.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Does anyone know if any of the three Affinity products are multi-threaded to take advantage of multiple CPUs?
Affinity Publisher specs specifically note multicore optimization, and Affinity Photo can even use multiple GPUs (which may be in play with the 2019 Mac Pro, as well as eGPUs).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
One thing that people haven't mentioned (or I've missed) is scripting. I use ID scripts or the built-in grep all the time to perform tons of text- and layout-specific tasks. Those two things — and the extensive customization aspects of the ID user interface — are a big reason why I stick with ID, and there is a huge community of scripters feeding the ID market. It would be pretty important for some customers to have a path forward there, in my opinion.
It's not there yet, but I think they're working on it. It seems to involve a thorny mess of issues:
Affinity Forum said:
There are "macros" at least in Affinity Photo, though I know this doesn't address the issue you're talking about.
Affinity Forum said:
 


It's not there yet, but I think they're working on it. It seems to involve a thorny mess of issues...
That Scripting thread in the Affinity forums is interesting, if a bit wonky. The original poster (mid-2018) was spot on in terms of what many people needed for scripting, but the whole thing turned into a long, hot mess of "Javascript vs AppleScript vs Python" et al. And I didn't see any real response from Serif in that thread. There are links in other forum messages about an Affinity 'roadmap,' but the links are all dead, at least as far as I can see. That might be a good thing for them to keep updated, if even on a more 'big picture' scale.

One positive thing I found when poking around with Publisher today was that they do include regular expression searches. That's good. (I don't recall seeing it in those first versions, but it might have been.) I'll play around with that a bit to see how deep it goes.

The Photo macros appear to be similar in intent to Photoshop Actions, although I can't comment on whether they're full-featured or not. (Other than purchasing it to take a look at the basics, and running it from time to time, I don't really use Photo on macOS. The performance does seem to have gotten better with time, though. I'm actually more intrigued with Photo on the iPad -- I think it's a pretty good app over there.)
 


Thanks for joining the discussion here, Eddie. Just to clarify: IDMarkz can open native InDesign files (INDD) and convert those into IDML without needing InDesign itself?
Yes, Ric, IDMarkz can take a native INDD file and convert it to IDML, without InDesign. It can also convert to PDF, EPS, PNG, JPG, and GIF.

Of course, a user could use InDesign to convert an INDD to IDML, but there are some other cool features in IDMarkz. The target market is people who have moved away or never owned InDesign who have or receive InDesign files. IDMarkz gives users an option for handling INDD files without InDesign.

I know that many people who are using Affinity Publisher are still using InDesign; they're using Publisher because it's cool and new and to check it out. Those same people may find IDMarkz interesting enough to purchase. If not, there is always the IDMarkz freebie (previews without conversions) to give a try.
 


They blew it with PageMaker, and ended up giving ID away to big publishers — with support — to try and wrest market share away from Quark. Those first couple of ID revisions were pretty bad, as I recall, but they got better quickly.
One thing that Pagemaker and subsequently InDesign always did better than Quark was to provide support for other languages than English. Our needs were pretty simple, but we often produced materials in foreign languages. Fairly early on you could buy add-on language dictionary support for Pagemaker, for a modest cost; a version or two after that they included those dictionaries. And of course that capability was in ID from the get-go. Quark wanted Quark users to shell out an obscene amount of money for Quark Passport just to have the foreign language support that Aldus and Adobe were including.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
One positive thing I found when poking around with Publisher today was that they do include regular expression searches.
I'm clueless about what you or Trilo or others need for scripting, but I idly wondered if some sort of "scripting" might be possible by exporting IDML, hacking that with text-processing scripts (e.g. in BBEdit) then re-importing.
 


The original poster (mid-2018) was spot on in terms of what many people needed for scripting
I'll take that as a compliment, as I was the original poster.

I'd love to hear from Affinity regarding their plans. Nothing would be more frustrating than to have them suddenly dump some form of scripting that widely missed the mark of what production environments require. I really hope they pre-emptively talk to people who are active in scripting the Adobe apps to see what sort of thing is required.

Let's face it, most serious scripting is done in multi-artist organisations where the benefits will greatly outlay the time and cost of creating the scripts. I doubt many single users have the time, or perhaps expertise, to create complex scripts.

My two greatest concerns are:
1) they won't do it at all, or​
2) they make it so application-specific that it can't communicate with anything else (databases, mail, FTP servers, shell, etc.).​

Whilst I certainly understand the shortcomings of AppleScript, as a general purpose language for tying multiple, dissimilar applications together, it's hard to beat.
 


I'm a developer with Markzware, so I can clarify the issue. IDMarkz (the current version available) does export IDML, which can be opened in Affinity Publisher v1.8 (currently in beta) or greater.

IDMarkz also has an "Open in Publisher" feature, which automates the conversion and opening (just to simplify the process).

At the time of the IDMarkz release, Affinity hadn't released the v1.8 beta with the IDML import feature, so IDMarkz relied on the PDF importing of Publisher. We have since built a prerelease version that will export to IDML (rather than PDF) and open that in Publisher, if v1.8 or greater is installed.

The current release would also work, but rather than using the "Open in Publisher" feature, you would need to export the IDML then manually open that in Publisher v1.8 or greater.

We expect to have the prerelease out as a general release next week. But in the meantime, for anyone who might have purchased or intends to purchase, here is a link to the prerelease which doesn't require the work around. If you have any issues, please feel free to reach out to me.

IDMarkz v1.3.1 is now available as a free update. For those who have previously purchased, you can download the IDMarkz updater, and install it. Among other things, this update adds the ability to convert INDD to IDML and open in Publisher, in a single step.

View the IDMarkz Release Notes for a full list of new features, improvements, and bug fixes.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Whilst I certainly understand the shortcomings of AppleScript, as a general purpose language for tying multiple, dissimilar applications together, it's hard to beat.
But AppleScript is Mac-only (and is even being deprecated by Apple), while Affinity’s suite has to support Windows as well. On the other hand, Affinity does use Apple’s proprietary programming libraries (e.g. Metal). Is Adobe’s scripting based on Lua? Oh, it looks like Adobe supports multiple means of scripting...
Adobe said:
 


Long-time InDesign scripter here (and hi to Rick – long time, no see). Unlike (almost) every other Adobe product, InDesign was crafted from the ground up to support a very rich scripting model. They did that by separating the core application code from the user interface code, in such a way that you could even run a "headless" version of InDesign; that's what InDesign Server is, the InDesign engine without the UI.

In architecting it this way, Adobe paved the way for both prosumer and enterprise-level script development. InDesign's scripting was easy enough to learn for individual AppleScripters, yet powerful enough for professional JavaScript people to write huge libraries of complex scripts. You'd be surprised how many publishing operations (and web-to-print websites) use complex systems based on InDesign and JavaScript.

A big problem for both newbie and experienced InDesign scripters is the richness of its object model: everything in InDesign, from a single character up to an entire document, is accessible as an object with its own set of properties and methods. This makes it extremely powerful, but it's often difficult to find what you're looking for in the extensive documentation. This is an excellent architecture, and one that stands head and shoulders above any other Adobe product, especially Photoshop and Illustrator.

I can only hope that Affinity has learned something from the way InDesign is put together, because it would be great if they had the same kind of scripting support that InDesign has.

That being said, I don't think AppleScript should be a long-term goal for Affinity, because the handwriting has been on the wall ever since Sal Soghoian (AppleScript product manager and all-around great guy) was let go from Apple. As good as AppleScript was and is, Apple is not interested in keeping it alive; AppleScript has been on life support for a number of years now.

Having spent many hours in various trade show booths demonstrating AppleScript+Quark+FileMaker (and later, AppleScript+InDesign+FileMaker) solutions back in the day, I can say confidently that those days are pretty much over. Any modern language (Python and JavaScript come to mind as both easy and feature-complete) would be a better choice for Affinity to latch onto for their scripting support.

Anyway, sorry for the overly long rant. I miss the days of Big Publishing and people obsessing over kerning.
 


My two greatest concerns are:
1) they won't do it at all, or​
2) they make it so application-specific that it can't communicate with anything else (databases, mail, FTP servers, shell, etc.).​
Whilst I certainly understand the shortcomings of AppleScript, as a general purpose language for tying multiple, dissimilar applications together, it's hard to beat.
The choice they make will go directly to the foundation of the applications, and that isn't an easy choice to make.

Python is a popular choice in the entertainment media industry (3D, special effects, etc), and it is reasonably accessible to non-programmers, but it is still somewhat of an odd language, and there really isn't a great, complete Python tool out there that does everything (which is fine for most pro programmers). If languages were political parties, Python would probably be Libertarian.

JavaScript, though, is much more broadly used, and there are some popular development platforms that have built in support for it. If Serif used Qt, for example, they have a very good JavaScript engine built right in. That's one of the reasons why we chose it for scripting reports in our Valentina Reports-related products.

In either case, the developer has to commit to very deep support and structure of their application, so it doesn't become a support nightmare for them that quickly.
 


I'm clueless about what you or Trilo or others need for scripting, but I idly wondered if some sort of "scripting" might be possible by exporting IDML, hacking that with text-processing scripts (e.g. in BBEdit) then re-importing.
I'm a big BBEdit user, but importing/exporting between BBEdit and InDesign isn't something I want to do, especially via IDML. I do prep a lot of text before putting it into InDesign, but most authors use Word or Pages (which has to be converted to Word format for import), and doing the text-massaging inside InDesign is usually the easiest way to go.

InDesign's grep is pretty awesome. I'd love it if it had BBEdit's most recent UI extensions to regex, but it does the trick for me.

InDesign's scripting is, as Chuck noted, quite extensive, and used for everything from data-driven publishing to layout adjustment, font management, hyperlink treatments and more. Regex and scripts really are two separate things in the InDesign world, although some of the scripts I have use regular expressions as part of their operations. One of my favorite sessions at the Creative Pro conference is the scripting one; people do some amazing things with JavaScript in InDesign. (Search for 'free InDesign scripts' to get an idea of what's out there.)

One side note on InDesign, saving files, and IDML: When I finish a project, I use InDesign's Package command to save a final version of the document, complete with a PDF and IDML files. This gives me a folder with all of the InDesign's files, the linked graphics, fonts and the aforementioned PDF and IDML files. That folder then gets backed up in a couple of places. If I were planning on giving up on Adobe, I'd at least have files that could potentially be used again with an app like Publisher.

I tried the PDF open option in Publisher today (from an InDesign package folder), and wasn't too impressed. It did mostly work on a 65-page book, but I would have needed to do a lot of work on it to get it into a form that would let me build a major revision. Direct IDML import would hopefully be an improvement there, especially if it supported threaded text frames and linked graphics. I'll be interested to see it when Serif has it out of beta.
 


Many of our fears and experiences are the same as Rick's and C.Weger's.

We started with InDesign at Version 2 around 2005. At the time, we had a very close association with Adobe, as they were desperately trying to break the Quark stranglehold in the publishing industry. Our parent company had several hundred seats and was seen as a clear target to get some credibiity in the industry.

I spoke with our Adobe contact about scripting support, and based on that simple conversation, they arranged a scripting workshop at their Sydney office with Shane Stanley (who many will recognise as one of the master Adobe scripters). If only Adobe were so open nowadays...

The language choice is difficult. As we use AppleScript to talk with so many different apps and servers, our desire is something that has similar hooks to AppleScript. We need to do OS-level integration - at the very least, things like writing files, creating folder hierarchies, copying and moving files around etc - but also integration with FileMaker, MySQL, WordPress, Mail, FTP and more. Clearly, these might become an issue as Apple continues down the path of locking down the system to prevent users from doing what they wish to do.

When Sal departed, which if I recall correctly, was around the time Swift was initially announced, I thought there may have been plans for Swift to include a modernised replacement AppleScript. Who knows, maybe there still are.

As for Serif, if they choose not to do AppleScript, it could be seen as a sign there is little future in AppleScript. Hopefully, they have communication with Apple [about] the future of AppleScript. A real tragedy would be if Serif spent a huge amount of time creating an Adobe-like AppleScript Object Model only to have Apple pull the rug from under them and have to start again.

Hopefully someone at Apple can see the value of AppleScript. Right now, it's the sole reason we are still on macOS.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
When Sal departed, which if I recall correctly, was around the time Swift was initially announced, I thought there may have been plans for Swift to include a modernised replacement AppleScript. Who knows, maybe there still are.
I could be missing something, but it looks to me like Apple is moving to "Siri Shortcuts" for automation.
 



Affinity Publisher specs specifically note multicore optimization, and Affinity Photo can even use multiple GPUs (which may be in play with the 2019 Mac Pro, as well as eGPUs).
In fact, Affinity is the only commercial developer I've found that uses my Mac Pro (late 2013) second GPU.
 


I believe the problem is that the MarkzTools license you have is a subscription license, so it'll only let you upgrade to the subscription license of IDMarkz.

The IDMarkzLaunch promo has been extended through the end of the year (2019).
Aha! Yes, when I last bought MarkzTools for InDesign I was forced to purchase a 1-yr subscription, which I didn't need after a month or two of usage. Hence questioning if I need a subscription. But you're right about the subscription costing less. Thanks for extending the promo.
 


Serif/Affinity is having a 30%-off sale on all its already inexpensive products, so it's a good opportunity to grab one/some, if you haven't yet – $35 for a truly professional Mac (or Windows) product is hard to beat.
A belated "thank you" for sharing the news about the Affinity sale: I already owned a license to Publisher, and now I have licenses to Designer and Photo. I also bought the very impressive hardcover Designer and Photo Workbooks before the sale ended. I haven't been this excited to sit down to learn new software tools methodically in quite a while. I assume there will be bumps and glitches as I dive more deeply into the material, but I feel a nostalgic hint of how I felt when I first laid hands on early versions of Freehand and Photoshop.
 


Just another data point to add to the conversation. I use InDesign CS6 to produce a 16-page newspaper for our county's annual Fall Festival. I just tried the freebie version of IDMarkz to see if it would work for migrating to Affinity Publisher, and it did not translate well - bits and pieces were missing or in the wrong place. On a whim, I tried using Publisher to directly open a print-ready PDF exported from InDesign, and it actually seems to have come in fairly complete and correct.
 


I haven't been this excited to sit down to learn new software tools methodically in quite a while. ...I feel a nostalgic hint of how I felt when I first laid hands on early versions of Freehand and Photoshop.
This pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about Affinity, both in terms of their software and their approach to user education. Now if they would only make the workbook for Publisher. They told me it was coming. I just hope it's still on track – and doesn't take as long as Publisher itself. There's a spot on my bookshelf longing to be filled!
 


Just another data point to add to the conversation. I use InDesign CS6 to produce a 16-page newspaper for our county's annual Fall Festival. I just tried the freebie version of IDMarkz to see if it would work for migrating to Affinity Publisher, and it did not translate well - bits and pieces were missing or in the wrong place. On a whim, I tried using Publisher to directly open a print-ready PDF exported from InDesign, and it actually seems to have come in fairly complete and correct.
The freebie version of IDMarkz does not convert to IDML, but it does generate a preview. The IDML conversion is superior to the generated previews, however. The non-IDML conversions (PDF, EPS, PNG, JPG, GIF) generate their output from the previews, so those outputs are the same as the preview. But, the IDML conversion bypasses the preview and is generated directly from the source file.

The IDML conversion engine is the same as used in MarkzTools2, which was released in 2016. We've had 4 years of user feedback to improve conversions from INDD to IDML. Even being 4 years old, we still do get reports of issues that we work to fix promptly.

On the other hand, this is the first release of the preview engine. So, consequently, we are still finding some more obvious preview errors, which we are fixing as we get reports and example files.

Stembridge, I can do a sample conversion for you if you want to supply me with an InDesign file that is representative of your work. I'd also appreciate it if you could supply us with any files that are having preview issues, so we can resolve those problems right away.

You can upload to Trouble Ticket – put a note about talking to Eddie Aguirre about getting a sample conversion done.
 


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