Consider Switching from Creative Cloud to Affinity V2

Originally published at: Consider Switching from Creative Cloud to Affinity V2 - TidBITS

Serif launched the next generation of its Affinity layout, design, and photo apps in conjunction with a 40%-off sale through 14 December 2022 that drops the one-time price of all three to just $99.99, less than the cost of two months of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Adam Engst encourages those who aren’t sure why they’re paying for Creative Cloud to give Affinity a try.

The Affinity suite are definitely worth a try but come up short in some areas. They also have a ‘quirky’ interface where long time InDesign users will be constantly searching for fairly basic things. Yes, it’s just a matter of learning new ways, but it’s almost like they went out of their way to make it hard to learn.

The key failure for me is (lack of) scripting. Without it there’s no way we could change - we are incredibly reliant on automation to get work done. There’s talk it’s coming but they said that 4 years ago…

At the discounted price for the universal license it’s a steal.

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I switched from Photoship CS6 (v13.0.6) to Affinity Photo a year or so ago when going from OS10 to OS12 broke PShop Cs6.

As soon as Affinity released Photo 2.0 in early November, I upgraded. I found the transition from from PS to AP quite easy. So far, I’ve found Affinity Photo able to do just about anything I was doing with Photoshop.

I have not tried either of the other two members of the Affinity trinity but Affinity Publisher may come in handy for a future project.

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I wholeheartedly endorse the Affinity suite. Being unable to continue using CS6 on upgrading to a newer Mac, even within Parallels (Adobe decided my legitimate licence was a copy), I decided to abandon Adobe and switched to Affinity 1. It’s clearly very powerful, but finding tools or finding out how to do a task that used to be clear in CS6 can be a challenge. Some features I need (such as flowing tables over multiple pages in Publisher) are still lacking in Affinity 2, though I suspect they’ll be added over time. But the results I can produce are excellent, and the price (and lack of a subscription) is a bargain.

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Thanks for the mention of this package @ace Adam! I have a similarly dysfunctional relationship with Adobe that stretches back decades, when I purchased my first scanner and found it was bundled with Photoshop. Prior to that, I was happily using the usual suspects—PageMaker, FreeHand, and whatever photo utility I could scrounge. I did a sidegrade for InDesign when it first came out around the turn of the century (!), and considered myself at expert level. I used Photoshop often, and hated-but-used Illustrator. I had the CS6 bundle, but unlike you did not subscribe when Adobe went down that road.

The Affinity suite is much closer in concept to the professional-level tools of the Creative Cloud suite. What it’s missing seems due more to the unwillingness of Serif to invest in areas that would only benefit a niche segment of their user base. (I especially dislike that I can’t script Publisher or take advantage of the wide range of import filters that InDesign provides, but them’s the breaks.) What I like is that the Affinity teams don’t seem to be at war amongst themselves about a common interface. I laugh until I’m ready to throw up when I hear Adobe talking about the “common interface” shared by Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign—their teams have never been able to agree about anything from menu elements to keyboard shortcuts, and it is cringey to me that in 2022 Illustrator still uses a slew of vector tools where FreeHand used one to accomplish the same task.

I’ve been using the Affinity 2 suite since it was made available, and it appears that Serif continues to respond to the many requests it receives for enhancements and refinements. It is well worth the bundle price for the introductory universal license.

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I have the Adobe subscription for Lightroom and Photoshop. They have me captive as I started with iPhoto, then transferred my library to Aperture and then to Lightroom. Each time I lost most or all of the editing. I don’t want to do it again, so I basically need something that converts from Lightroom and I don’t think there is. I really don’t use Photoshop, but there is a plan, then I will be totally captive by Adobe. At least the subscription for those two isn’t that expensive.

Photo is a great substitute for Photoshop. Publisher we are tying in the office as we are changing all PCs to Macs. No Microsoft Publisher for Macs., of course.

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Affinity Photo and Designer are great apps. Scripting and exporting are very basic, though. As developer I need to export practically all files in 2 sizes. I have a very clunky RetroBatch script for the task. I also want to export multiple layers at once.

Unfortunately, the new versions of the apps have zero improvements for scripting/exporting.

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The fundamental shortcoming of Designer for me has always been the lack of vector pattern fills. This is a fundamental capability and it is shocking to me that such a major upgrade has not remedied this omission.

There is no good way of having hatched areas and the like without vector fills, and for things like building design and mapping you need this capability.

There is an immensely long post on their forum about the lack of this basic feature but it is still missing! Crazy…

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There are more problems with Adobe and InDesign than just the price. I use it since 20 years or so and I’m rather dissatisfied. I’m glad that Affinity came along.

The latest Adobe annoyance is that they drop support for Type 1 fonts. What is the need for that?

Freehand was a great product.

Affinity Publisher does not have cross references I think. The only thing that bothers me a little.

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Ken, I was in the same boat as you, but I made the jump. There are three hurdles to get over:

  1. Your old photos. I chose to assume I had made all the edits I would want to do and exported all of them as full-size high quality JPGs. An alternative would be to keep them in LR and rely on Adobe’s promise that you can always access them, but cannot edit further. I actually wanted all Adobe stuff off my machine as it was hogging the CPU and making things hot with some versions. Plus, if I stopped paying the monthly ransome, would I be able to update to new versions to stay compatible with Apple’s OS changes? I didn’t want to risk it. Nothing to stop you doing both things though.
  2. You need a DAM, and Affinity doesn’t seem interested in making one. I worked with NeoFinder for a bit, and it does support Affinity’s layered files (.afphoto, like PS’s .psd). But I found it clunky and ended up doing something a bit crazy - using Photos! There is no support for .afphoto files, but I never used to save .psd files either when I had LR and PS. Photos happily ingests all kinds of RAW photos, but mostly all I want is big TIFFs that I get from scanning negatives, the ability to adjust them and the ability to export them for printing, mailing, web posts etc. I can do a lot of basic editing in Photos, and it does support the Nik collection. The tricky bit is the next bit
  3. Those clever things that LR lets you do with next to no effort? You begin to understand how clever they are when you have to do all the steps yourself in Affinity Photo (‘AP’). Local adjustments, gradients, even dust spotting - all possible, but you will have to learn some basic skills with layers and masks. I learned most of it from a YT channel called Affinity Revolution, and even bought one of their video courses. It’s pretty much the same as using PS. Having done what I can in AP, I save a copy in Photos as a large JPG. I can keep the original file, or discard it to save space if I’m sure I won’t want to do a different version.

I have no regrets about making the change, and have updated to v2 of AP.

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Ken,

Not related to Affinity, but ON1 Photo RAW has a nice Lightroom Migration Assistant.

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If you are working on something to be handed off to be printed on an imagesetter, you could be courting a major, and very expensive, disaster. Unless things have drastically changed, Affinity’s preflighting isn’t in the same ballpark as Adobe’s. If you are just printing from a desktop, there probably won’t be a problem.

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As others have noted, the way things are done in the Affinity programs are often frustratingly different from the way they’re done in the corresponding Adobe programs. So switching requires some relearning. I bought Affinity Photo when my nonsubscription Photoshop finally stopped working. After decades of being rather a Photoshop whiz it took some time to get used to Photo, but I’ve been happy with it. (I no longer have the kind of work that can justify maintaining the Adobe subscriptions. I still use CS6 Indesign (still clinging to Mojave) for most of my publishing work and subscribe for a newer version only as needed.)

One preference to turn OFF in Affinity Photo: “Enable canvas rotation with ⌘+scroll wheel”. Otherwise the rotation easily occurs by accident, and it can’t be undone or reset.

I also have Affinity Designer, which I delved into recently for a big job. Again, very satisfied. I had quoted the cost of an Illustrator subscription but found that I didn’t need it.

No experience with Publisher, which I fear would come up short for complex book work. When I have to upgrade from Mojave, I will definitely buy the package of all 3 version 2’s.

In the QuarkXPress Facebook group, VectorStyler, Inkscape, and Pixelmator Pro have been praised as well.

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Now they just need to add a practical replacement for Acrobat Pro and I’ll remove the last Adobe subscription.

I’ve tried others (PDFpen, PDF Expert) but when I have a funky PDF, need to do some redaction on that funky PDF or need to compress one down without an apparent loss of quality, the alternatives leave a bit (sometimes much) to be desired.

Cheers,
Jon

I think you can buy a nonsubscription copy of Acrobat Pro.

Loving these comments, folks, and they confirm my belief that everyone’s needs are quite different. Scripting has never been an issue for me, for instance, but it clearly is for others.

I’m hesitant to criticize Affinity for how the apps are different from Creative Cloud apps because some things are annoying and others are better. For instance, I dislike how you have to double-click on pages in the navigator in Affinity Publisher to switch to them—a single click selects but doesn’t bring it into view. I can’t check in InDesign anymore, but I think it’s far more fluid there.

In contrast, I really like the export capabilities in Affinity Designer—I found Illustrator completely obtuse and annoying, whereas the interact is much easier in Affinity Designer. (I use Affinity Designer to create the banner ads for the TidBITS site so I’m always exporting.)

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Image compression in PDF can be done very easily and to any degree you want, with all sorts of colour accuracy, rendering intent etc., by using ColorSync Utility to make a Quartz Filter, then simply running it as a Finder Service, via Automator. Once done, it’s a 2-finger tap away from one or batch files. (If you’d like to know more, let me know).

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I tried switching from Illustrator to Affinity last year and it was a disaster. It was like trying to use Numbers instead of Excel. Converted files weren’t editable or didn’t display properly. And features that I used regularly weren’t available (others have commented on issues with object fills).

The Affinity apps are probably fine if you’re starting a new project from scratch, but I wouldn’t rely on them to be able to edit older files made with the Adobe suite.

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A good description of why I walked away, when Adobe introduced their subscription service. It was written on the wall.

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