July Meeting Recap – Hey, You! Get Off of the Cloud!

July’s CDPUG meeting was quite an eye-opener, as our panel discussed non-subscription options for graphics applications to the tune of the Rolling Stones song “Get Off Of My Cloud!”

Spike Radway, Director of Programming and panel moderator, thought the timing was perfect for the topic of alternatives to the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription model, especially with the recent release of Affinity Publisher. Spike was thrilled to be able to use a rock song as the title of a program!

Many of us have been resistant to or uncomfortable about Adobe going to a subscription program. I certainly preferred to purchase my software and upgrades once and not have the continual nibbling expense of the subscription. 

Henry Lee provides a walk through the Affinity Punisher’s interface. Pictured
from left to right are Spike Radway, Henry Lee, Chris Woodman and Ron Skoczen.
Photos by Christine Kaminski

CDPUG members Henry Lee, Copy King; Chris Woodman, Woodman Design; and Ron Skoczen, Skoczen Studios shared some of their alternative software knowledge and experiences with over 30 members. The panel covered page layout, image editing and vector application alternatives and answered questions from the audience.

The biggest set of alternatives come from the Affinity product suite, from Serif, a European company. Serif is bringing competition to a market that has been dominated by Adobe. The Affinity product suite consists of Affinity Designer, a vector drawing application; Affinity Photo, an image editing application; and now Affinity Publisher, a page layout application.

Much of our discussion focused on page layout, as the newest release from Serif, Affinity Publisher has been making headlines since mid June.  Henry Lee enthusiastically provided a walk through the interface and pointed out some of the key or different features. He’s been working with it since the Beta version came out last August and started to incorporate it into his prepress workflow about a month ago. He estimates that he’s using it about 25% of the time currently.

Interested CDPUG members listen to the presentation.

One nice overall feature about the Affinity product suite is that it offers seamless movement between the 3 applications. The applications also don’t carry a lot of baggage or plug-ins and therefore boot up and work faster. 

Affinity Publisher builds layers as you add elements to your layout, much like Adobe Illustrator. It supports print work well, though it does have issues with spot colors. One other thing to note, is that Affinity is geared toward European sizes and measurements, but you can set preferences to inches, etc.

Henry has compiled a useful set of  keyboard shortcuts (see link below) for Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. There is also a link to the panel’s meeting outline.

Affinity Designer.Photo_KeyBdCheatSheet.pdf

Hey You_GetOffTheCloud_ProgramOutline072019.pdf

Each Affinity application is available for Mac and Windows and each can be purchased for $49.99. So, you can get the entire suite for about $150.00! There are also free trials and Ron Skoczen said there are additional savings when the company has special offers.

As an aside, Henry also mentioned Unsplash.com as a little known source for free, hi-res images, which can be used for commercial and noncommercial purposes.

Chris Woodman then gave us an overview of Apple’s Pages app as another alternative for page layout. Often thought of as a Mac OS equivalent to MS Word, it does more than just word processing and it’s free! It can be used for simple documents, is quick, and provides templates for ebooks, fliers, postcards, etc. 

Chris Woodman (standing) discusses Pages as Spike Radway,
Director of Programming listens.

Chris gave a tour of the interface. He demonstrated how it is more flexible than Word. When files are used with iCloud’s file sharing capabilities and saved out of Pages as a Word file, it provides cross platform access to files. Also, files saved to iCloud can be accessed on all devices.

Chris also talked about how to create interactive ebooks with not only Pages but also using the unknown Mac app, iBooks Author. Chris has used the app to successfully design and publish seven books to Apple’s iBook Store. Below are links to his books if you’re interested. Two of his books are FREE, so you can download them on your iPad, Mac, or iPhone to see these interactive books in action.

Links to Chris Woodman’s eBooks.

iPhone & iPad Tips & Tricks: 10 Essential Tips (FREE)
iPhone & iPad Tips & Tricks: Book 1 ($4.99)
iPhone & iPad Tips & Tricks: Book 2 ($4.99)
iPhone & iPad Tips & Tricks: Book 3 ($4.99)
30 Romantic Getaways (FREE)
Discover HDR Photography ($4.99)
How to Create Realistic HDR Photos ($3.99)

Ron Skoczen talked about how he uses all the Affinity products and answered further questions about using them. He also suggested negotiating for better rates on Adobe CC subscriptions. If you turn off the autorenewal for Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe may make some discounted offers.

Unfortunately, our panel was unable to cover all applications depth. Two more worth mentioningCanva is a free open source page layout app available through your browser. CorelDraw is similar to Adobe Illustrator and is popular overseas. It is works on Mac or Windows and is available as a free trial, a 1 year subscription of $198.00 billed monthly for $16.50, or a one-time purchase of $499.00. 

Thanks to Mary Resnick, we have obtained raffle versions of the applications from Serif. Stay tuned for opportunities to win Affinity applications in raffles at future meetings!

I hope this discussion made you more aware of the graphics applications that are out there.  I know I’ll be checking out a few! Please make sure to test compatibility in your own work flow as you try these new options.

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