Paul Howson’s Website

Design and Publishing Notebook

Starting the Gradual Move to Affinity

When Adobe decided to go the subscription route for their “Creative Cloud” applications in 2013 they fractured their loyal user base. The Adobe software was so mature by that stage that it already met or exceeded what most people needed for day-to-day work. There was diminishing incentive to adopt every major paid upgrade. Many users, including myself, adopted the “every second upgrade” habit.

The subscription model put an end to that and guaranteed Adobe a reliable income stream — what many have referred to as the “Adobe Tax”. The cost of using the Adobe apps more or less doubled overnight.

I chose not to sign up for a subscription. I didn’t want Adobe holding a dagger over my head, with the threat of essential tools ceasing to function if I could not make the regular payments.

I suspect many others made a similar choice and like me have survived for the past six years on the still functional CS6 versions of the tools. But the writing is on the wall. InDesign CS6 for one is a 32-bit application, so it won’t survive into the era of MacOS Catalina.

Besides, these were mature code bases whose genesis dated back ten, twenty or more years. Sure, they had been modernised and re-engineered, but the fact remained that these apps were showing their age. And they had always been the product of different software teams, sometimes working in different cities, each with their own ideas about how things should work.

Then along came Affinity, the UK company with a graphics app, a photo editing app and now a publishing app all of which are built on a common and modern code base.

I’ve been watching Affinity for a while now, pondering when is the right time to take the plunge and purchase these Adobe alternatives with minimum pain.

This week the decision was made and the Affinity trio of apps were purchased and installed.

I’m not going to dump the Adobe apps straight away. They are familiar friends. Years of regular use has made driving them instinctive. Photoshop in particular will remain in my toolbox for as long as it continues to function. Affinity Photo is an amazing piece of work. In some areas it outshines Photoshop. In others it’s not fully there yet.

The “content-aware” tools in Photoshop CS6 are a case in point. By 2012 when CS6 was released, Photoshop was so mature that Adobe could afford to concentrate on advanced features like this. Affinity Photo still seems to be catching up on some of the basics, but I’m sure they will address these more advanced features eventually.

After some initial work with Affinity Photo, it appears there are also a few subtle user-interface bugs remaining to be quashed.

But overall I’m very impressed with these newcomers and will continue to experiment with them and press them into service on day-to-day design work more and more.