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Affinity Publisher review for Mac and PC: the layout of the new era

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The arrival of Affinity Publisher long awaited, since Affinity Photo appeared on the market, also available for iPad, followed closely by Affinity Design and customers have wondered when it would be time to think of a basic App triptych for graphics that could compete with Adobe's untouchable suite.

It must be said that the market does not lack alternatives, such as the presence of QuarkXPress or several other apps for drawing or photo editing, but Affinity has distinguished itself in recent years in proposing an effective, very powerful and integrated solution, so as to make us doubt even the most convinced in the Adobe solution.

After the reviews of Photo and Design, the time has come to test ourselves with Affinity Publisher, a very delicate operation because, like InDesign, the App that serves as the fulcrum and the final output solution: we have been pleasantly impressed even in presence of some small shortcomings that do not damage the valuable final work of a brand that is growing in an incredible way.

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete realityThe Affinity Publisher interface in a simple project: the differences with the most famous competitors are there but they are assimilated in a short time

Affinity Publisher, the review

In the shadow of the giant

Affinity Publisher owes its genesis largely to the work of a team of developers who really has the prodigious if you think that the App at the time of this review is not even one year old but already for the most part able to rival Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress, from which it is clearly inspired (more to the first than to the second to tell the truth) but which does not disdain to maintain a priori a degree of originality that pleases once you have entered the mechanisms of the application.

The single-window App offers a fairly classic interface: tools on the left, panels on the right with dynamic shortcuts on the top, a high (very high) compliance with the macOS guidelines (although considering that it is a professional Application) and a extreme softness in the use of all the tools, well designed and with a classic but decisive style.

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete realityAll Affinity Publisher documents (shown here in orange) show the first page preview directly in the Finder (here on macOS 10.15)

The installer is the first example, which solved by a simple drag & drop: at the first start there is the possibility to try it for a few days (while we are writing these lines the trial period has been extended to ninety days, together with other apps in the suite) thus being able to choose the purchase with complete peace of mind.

A purchase that, we remember it because it is an integral part of the final evaluation, of 54.99 Euros (one-off, no subscription) but which in this period has a discount of 27.99 Euros, an absolutely competitive price that sends a strong signal especially to Adobe .

Immediately productive

The use of Affinity Publisher must be refined, but anyone who has ever used Adobe InDesign or QuarkXpress will be able to move on their own after no more than a couple of hours of testing. The idea of ​​the panels and tools is slightly different, and shows that touch of originality that pleases above all because there is courage in finding not only particular solutions, but also forms of workflow and approach to software different from the usual.

For example, each object a layer and an image an object box that masks the real original object (which can be seen from the Layers panel, an idea that resembles that of Adobe Illustrator). Even the management of the page is a bit particular, because to change the page it is necessary to act in the Pages panel, Publisher sees the page as a priority concept over the whole.

The overlay guides work very well, the management of fonts and colors, in general all the interaction with the panels appears robust and punctual, much more than the competitors (which suggests that the use of the system API is more intimate here compared to the competition, which probably has a lot of much older code).

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete realityExcellent use of dynamic overlay guides, never intrusive, always precise

Come on and go

Great importance was given within the App to its role in the market: it is clear that in the face of a dominant position by Adobe, the climb is far from simple, but an important step has been taken.

The App can open InDisign documents both in native .indd and in exchange .idml format, although it is not able to export in the same format. From the App it is possible to save in native .afpub format, print and export to the most common graphic formats such as PDF (in various types, including PDF / X 1 to 4), PNG, JPEG, TIFF, PSD, SVG, EPS, EXR, HDR and TGA.

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete realitythe export window, which includes all graphic formats plus speakers

So no electronic formats like HTML5 or ePub, which maybe will come later but which for now could be a problem for some publishing houses, to which we suggest the excellent Hype and Vellum.

that once converted a document from InDesign to Affinity Publisher there is no way to go back after the changes, which is not a real problem given the slim cost of the App (no compatibility with QuarkXPress instead, too bad), but also possible export it to many other formats.

Being still the first version we have not been given what future policies will be, we hope that they will adopt a softer system than we are used to, with formats that survive the version or with versions that can save even on older formats.

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete reality

Considerations

The first impression one has when starting the adventure with this Affinity Publisher that it is an extremely mature product and aware of the role it has to play: no tool, no detail appears imprecise with extreme solidity even in the most crucial steps.

There is not everything (because for example the lack of ePub and HTML5 are important) but there is the most important detail (compatibility with incoming InDesign) and full synergy with the other Affinity Photo and Affinity Design Apps for all the details of the project (however no one forbids using Photoshop or Illustrator, formats imported correctly.

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete realityThe use of typography, essential, not yet at the level of InDesign or QuarkXPress but correct for more than 80% of the works

For the rest, the classic rules of the interface alternate with original solutions that must be tried with a critical eye but also with the desire to get involved, because maybe the Serif guys have found some changes that in the long run are better than others, after years of perhaps excessive servility.

All this at a truly incredible cost, without a subscription: to date in fact with less than 100 Euros it is possible to use a professional suite perfectly suited to the world of printing andin the future, also to that of electronic publishing, extremely elastic and promising.

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete reality

If we say that Publisher is less than a year old, we have to ask ourselves how to grow in the next five or ten, if in fact the wind is changing (again) and if the period of (almost) absolute dominance is really under discussion. We still have to evaluate the topic of third-party collaboration, of all that range of extensions and plug-ins developed also ad hoc: for these Publishers still too young and who are a brake for the change of platform for many professionals: on this we will see that what to do Serif (the parent company) and how to move the market.

So is Affinity Publisher worth considering as a primary resource for graphics? In our opinion, the answer is yes, but we advise every professional to evaluate a test, perhaps taking advantage of the offer of the moment that at half an already incredible price allows you to get one of the most significant emerging software in circulation.

Affinity Publisher Review, the new one that advances a concrete reality

Pro:

Solid and mature interface already in the first version Manages the InDesign format at the entrance Some original solutions are interesting Full compatibility with the most common graphic formats Incredible price / performance ratio

Versus:

It takes a few hours to understand the main dynamics It does not manage the QuarkXPress format At the moment no electronic formats

Price:

54.99 Euros (27.99 Euros on offer during this period) for Mac and Windows

Affinity Publisher downloadable through the parent company website or directly through the Mac App Store. The trial period of a few days has been extended to 90 days for a limited time.