Canva Acquires the Affinity Suite of Professional Design Apps

Originally published at: Canva Acquires the Affinity Suite of Professional Design Apps - TidBITS

Canva specializes in easy-to-use online design tools with collaborative features, whereas the Affinity apps offer a powerful but inexpensive alternative to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. The acquisition could bring more collaborative capabilities to the Affinity suite and give Canva more design power.

2 minor points: I bought Affinity Photo 2 and Publisher 2 last year. I didn’t know they were available free to non-profits (I run one), but the cost is not a deal-breaker, by any means, especially on sale. If I ever upgrade to a higher version, I’ll check that out. Secondly, just so you’re not surprised when you pay for it, don’t be surprised if you get a foreign transaction fee tacked on to your credit card if your bank charges them. Again, even less of a deal breaker, but a surprise, nevertheless!

I really hope they don’t destroy Affinity, as often happens in these acquisitions….

I’m with you! The Affinity Suite has been great for me since I came over from the Adobe suite.

This is terrific news in my book.

To clarify a possible misconception, Affinity Photo was never free for non-profits or students, they did generously offer six month free trials to students during the pandemic which was key in my student uptake of the suite.

Now with Canva offering hopefully full versions of the suite for free as well as a set of their collaboration tools, I am thrilled. I have to maintain two variants of a module I teach, one is fully online and the students there use a set of licensed Affinity apps which I manage. The others are in person and they use the Adobe suite, it has meant two sets of lesson plans, two sets of tutorials, two variants of templates etc. None of these students are design majors, Affinity more than answers their needs. If it’s free the IT Dept won’t have an issue installing.

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I’ve been an Affinity user for years now, from the very first version of Designer, and they hold their own against their Adobe equivalents in most use cases, in my experience. I must admit that I had misgivings about the news of their acquisition by Canva, but both sides seem committed to doing right by customers, and frankly moving to a subscription model would be bonkers, as it would remove a key advantage over Creative Cloud. Speaking of which, I’m very glad to no longer be paying that monthly tithe to Adobe — for me, Creative Cloud brought more disruption than innovation, and I’m particularly irked that they folded the formerly separate (and cheaper) TypeKit fonts service into CC several years ago. I’m cautiously hopeful that Canva and Affinity provide more competition to Adobe in the long term. :crossed_fingers:

Sorry if I implied that. Canva provides a free subscription for nonprofits, and among the pledges that Canva and Serif make is one that suggests Affinity will also become free to nonprofits in the future.

I still run the perpetual version of Adobe Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CS6 – but I also have Affinity Photo. Photo is a good/great replace for Photoshop. I’m still waiting for them to develop a digital asset manager/RAW photo converter that is a replacement for Lightroom.

I’m really not sure about this announcement. The body language, choice of language, and delivery in the video (the original unedited version is on YouTube) was worrying. There’s obviously a lot that wasn’t being said.

Also, I had somewhat lost faith in Affinity for a couple of reasons:

  1. workflow breaking bugs have gone unaddressed for multiple years (see my posts on their support forum)

  2. they sell the same app three times with artificial limits on what can be created in which app

(you can only create tables in Publisher, as it’s the only one to have that toolbar button, but once created you can edit a table in either of the other apps. this can be seen another way by inspecting the contents of each app package, where the vast majority of the files inside are the same, including a ~1GB library/framework file which seems to be their drawing engine)

If your workload includes sending stuff out for CMYK color image setting, spot color, die cuts, etc., etc. it’s very likely you are in for a world of hurt, and a very, very, very expensive disaster, if you are not using Adobe. My experience is very different from yours.

There’s no question that, particularly when it comes to actual print pieces for commercial production that you are better off sticking with Adobe, for now. You are entering a workflow with existing practices all built largely around their software, interfacing with individuals and companies, too easy to have things break.

But creatively, there’s equally no question that the Affinity suite have made leaps and bounds in terms of features and likely meets a majority of users needs. If your production is small scale and largely in your own hands, I recommend it. If the team focus on a better and fault free export to Adobe formats then maybe this will change. I wonder if this Canva acquisition will shift that focus.


Another thing to consider is Canva’s momentum. There’s no question that Adobe remains the standard for professional production standards, but it has been amazing to watch Canva capture the attention of college students. I do a lot of volunteer work at my alma mater, and Canva is everywhere on campus, while Adobe apps have almost disappeared, except for when they are required for coursework. Students really seem to have embraced Canva.

Of course, I’m nervous about the long-term implications, but Affinity getting acquired by Canva leaves me in a more optimistic place than I can imagine with any other potential acquirer.


Very true, Jose, the uptake with students is remarkable, being free helps! If they keep that price for students with Affinity it’ll spur uptake for sure.

I think Adobe have been very difficult for colleges, at least in my experience. Comparing their approach during the pandemic (we had labs shut and students learning remotely having to dial in to run Adobe software on servers, frustrating, slow and unreliable). Adobe refused to grant us the ability to issue licenses temporarily to students given the closed labs, instead they gave a huge quote, not going to fly. Affinity? They issued free six month licenses, followed by a half-price sale. I took my chances with the Photo app and found it surprisingly good, the students did great with it. The College picked up fifty licenses and I manage those with my creative writing students. Depending on the student and their major I recommend the Affinity suite if possible for personal use and for after graduation. But this new development will have its own momentum I bet.


IMHO Adobe tends to be very difficult with many, many businesses in general. One of the reasons Apple has prospered is because they developed competitive products, including Final Cut Pro for TV and film production. Apple also started giving FCP totally free for college students and professors. Not very long after, Adobe bought Avid, and not long after they dropped the price to $199 a year for a rather dumbed down academic subscription.

And remember what Steve Jobs did to Adobe Flash?

Adobe doesn’t own Avid and I don’t think they ever have.

We’ve been tied to Adobe since InDesign v2 - must be 20 or more years.

Affinity gives us a glimmer of hope we can move away but the sticking point is scripting. We’re deeply invested in automation and without extensive scripting support we simply can’t consider a change. They’re working on it - and I’ve had some constructive discussions with their scripting team - but it’s been over 5 years since it was requested and even basic scripting still seems at least a major version away.

It would be nice to think Canva could give an injection of funds to help it along.

If they play their cards right I see no reason why Canva/Affinity couldn’t do to Adobe what Adobe did to Quark. Adobe has certainly become as arrogant as Quark were.

Sorry, I jumped the gun on this! Adobe was seriously sniffing around to buy Avid, but did not come up with the dough.

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If they play their cards right I see no reason why Canva/Affinity couldn’t do to Adobe what Adobe did to Quark. Adobe has certainly become as arrogant as Quark were.

IMHO Quark was just plain old stupid. Quark’s powers that be refused to develop Xpress for OS 10. They threw in all their development to Microsoft.

At just around the same time, working closely with Steve Jobs, Adobe debuted Illustrator and InDesign for Mac. They quickly and easily murdered the crash ridden, slow moving Quark. No more crawling under your desk to restart your Mac multitude times a day.

To be fair (and I hate Quark), at the time it was probably a reasonable bet - Apple were on the ropes and the future didn’t look good - but they definitely should have been smarter and covered both bases.

InDesign v1 was horrible. We tried it, along with our parent company, and it was deemed unusable. V2 was the turning point, it wasn’t great but it worked well enough to start developing the backend structure to use it.

I certainly remember the days of the 'three finger salute" to restart a hung machine. It wasn’t only Quark though, pretty much anything could crash OS9.

And Quark was everywhere. I wonder if the Canva/Affinity team are studying that transition. Lessons there I am sure, part of which was the Photoshop juggernaut already on all those designers machines.