Affinity Suite and Dorico

The current beta of Affinity Publisher is (finally) focusing on PDF import. So if anyone has examples of PDF files that don’t import, please do consider getting involved.

You can join the beta program just by downloading the beta app and then reporting on the forum.

Thanks, Ben. I was planning on buying into the Affinity Trinity in the next 24 hours so this is great timing!

Ben and Leo (and others), please keep us posted on how it goes. I have my eye on Affinity Publisher, but I can’t afford the time to switch from InDesign if it’s not 100% compatible. Thanks.

Currently, it works “All of the time, 70% of the time”. Ligatures in text, like fi, are not understood – which means Figurato is out because it uses the ligature system to create the symbols.

I’m also seeing a weird thing where re-saving a PDF from Dorico in Preview, or other MacOS PDF utility, completely borks the results in Affinity. (Which means all my PDF manipulation scripts…)

That is weird! Why? Are they not importing text “semantically” and then rendering it with their own engine? They must have top-notch support for OpenType!

Out of curiosity, does Figurato work if you use it directly in Publisher?

God knows exactly what they’ve done, but they seem to have concentrated on importing PDF as editable documents – which is great if you want to import an entire book, with all the text frames and images. But as a result, you can’t always rely on it getting the correct OT variant.

Consequently, you can’t place a PDF on a Publisher page as an imported ‘image’; you can’t open it in Designer for drawing; and you can’t even raster it in Photo without text being not quite right.

Thanks for your insights, Ben.

Well that sounds like it’s still pretty much unusable for music publishers. You can’t expect them to double check everything. What a shame! I really like both Designer and Photo, though I don’t use them at all for music notation. Fantastic software!

As it turns out, Affinity imports EPS files perfectly – because it outlines every object! I’m trying to persuade them to include a checkbox in the PDF import dialog, to turn on outlining, as this would solve all the problems at a stroke. (or fill).

They’ve admitted that ‘pass-through’ PDF (i.e. PDF as a placed image, whose data is incorporated into the output) is probably not going to appear until version 2.0.

Did someone check the newest update? They promise better pdf import.

Better is a comparative adjective. :laughing:

Even a title page made in Affinity Publisher comes back in from PDF with Small Caps missing, and letter spacing all over the place.

If you have any text that uses ligatures, like fi, fl – you’ll see a question mark or Unicode ‘missing’ glyph in its place.

PDFs directly from Dorico will often import ‘reasonably well’, but weirdly, if you rinse the PDF through MacOS, i.e. combine with pages from another PDF, rotate a page, resave in Preview, etc: then that completely destroys the document. (See Screenshot)

In short: Affinity Suite still cannot be relied upon to import PDFs with fonts in, unless you outline the fonts first (so the computer just understand the character as a ‘shape’, not a text item’); or use EPS or SVG.

Thanks, Ben!
So we have to carry on outlining the fonts before importing pdfs into AP. AFAIK, SVG import is not perfect too.

The PDF Passthrough function will be implemented in the next version (beta already available):

That’s useful for putting music pages in an Affinity document, but still not useful for editing the contents of a Dorico page with more graphical work. But I’ll do some testing.

I’ve been consistently disappointed with AP so far— at least insofar as importing Dorico PDFs are concerned. The EPS route works for me, although even that doesn’t always seem to render correct font weights. Sometimes my boxed text is wrong and I have to fix it. Still oodles better than PDFs. The frustrating thing is that EPSs don’t have multiple pages in one document, so adding custom markings is very tedious when you have to do it page by exported page. sigh. One day we’ll get there.

You should be able to automate the creation of all the EPS pages from a PDF, and the re-combining back into a PDF afterwards. But yes, it’s a faff.

From testing their latest beta, and comments on their forum, Affinity have chosen a bizarre implementation for placed PDFs on a Publisher page. The PDF will still display on screen as Affinity’s ‘interpretation’ of a PDF document, but will output in its original form. So what you see on the screen is not necessarily what you get.

sigh. then what’s the point.

I find this particularly baffling. PDF readers are a dime a dozen these days. Long-gone are the days when adobe had a vice-grip monopoly on pdf readers. Thus I find it exceedingly odd that this very advanced program cannot properly render a pdf, editing aside.