Serif's Affinity apps – Affinity Publisher, Photo and Designer – have quickly become popular among creatives, and a just-released version 1.8 update has made all three apps even more attractive.
We've long been fans of the Affinity range; its apps offer comparable functionality to Adobe's Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign CC, without tying you into a monthly subscription. There's always the lurking worry, though, that if you switch over you might lose a vital feature or be unable to access your old work, and this new update addresses some of those concerns.
What Serif's most excited about is the updated version of one of the best InDesign alternatives, Affinity Publisher, which now offers InDesign file import – after a fashion. Sadly it's not full-on INDD support; rather, Publisher 1.8 supports IDML, the less-loved InDesign file format that's built for cross-version compatibility.
It's definitely a step in the right direction, and if you've been considering switching to Publisher but have a large back catalogue of InDesign documents that you still need to be able to work with, this will ease the process.
Reinforcing its credentials as a serious option for professional print workflows, Publisher 1.8 also provides live preflight checking, with a preflight panel that'll instantly alert you to possible errors in your documents. So rather than find out about things like missing or low-res images, overflowing text and bleed problems when your work comes back from the printer, you can spot and fix them before you send off your finished documents.
Publisher 1.8 also enables you to merge multiple documents into a single file and to import spreadsheet data from XLSX files, plus smart master pages and a host of other fixes and improvements. And to make your life even easier, you can now save your documents as template files that can be re-used as many times as you want. It's not just Affinity Publisher that's getting template support; it's also been added to Affinity Designer and Photo, and templates can be shared across all the Affinity apps.
While Publisher's getting the spotlight with this 1.8 update, there are some great new additions to Designer and Photo on top of the template support. Affinity Photo now allows you to import PSD smart objects as embedded documents and edit their layers, and it also supports an expanded range of plugins, including the brilliant Nik Collection 2.5 from DxO, making it an even better option for photo editing. It also has better lens correction, improved metadata handling and support for Canon's CR3 RAW format.
Meanwhile Affinity Designer has a new Stock panel to make it easier to add royalty free imagery to your work, and it also features improved expand stroke functionality that gives you accurate results with fewer nodes.
One last upgrade that should delight anyone using Affinity Designer and Photo on iPad is the addition of customisable keyboard shortcuts. If you have a keyboard attachment, you can now speed things right up by creating your own shortcuts (and if you don't have a keyboard, check out our selection of the best smart keyboard deals).
There are plenty more improvements and additions rolled out today across the Affinity range; you can find out all the details here.