Reading the AFX touters’ comments here makes me think they haven’t really put much time into developing a skillset with the Blender Compositor and VSE. If you’re happy with what AFX provides, that’s cool, but don’t expect Blender to be a carbon-copy of AFX, even though it can probably do many of the same same tasks (I’m not that familiar with AFX except by rep), just with a different workflow paradigm.
For example, “node-based & timeline” integration can be done by using the Scene input option in the VSE – if a Compositor node tree in a Scene is enabled for output (Do Composite), then its output can be placed in the VSE like any other strip element, as a “Scene.” The same Scene/Compositor output can even be duplicated and the strips time-shifted relative to one another. Every .blend can have multiple Scenes, and thus multiple Compositor setups, all fed into the VSE for “final assembly” with the VSE’s suite of tools for manipulating the strip blending and transitions between.
Putting the VSE output through the Compositor isn’t possible afaik, but why would you need to, since incorporating any movie or sequences (i.e., the usual “strip” content in the VSE) can be accomplished using the Input/Image node.
By way of an example, all the text overlay effects and a good deal of color manipulation in the final sequences of this montage of scene snippets were accomplished entirely with Blender’s Compositor (including all the scene transitions, which could just as easily have been done in the VSE). In many cases all the elements were incorporated in a single .blend, using multiple Scenes to provide independent rendering environments for the various elements (for example, a perspective camera for the models and an ortho camera for the “flat” text overlays). In the final sequence, the three rows of rotating objects were composited together from three different Scenes, each containing a duplicate of one “master” row but with the timing of the rotations and color shifts modulated, and a single camera linked between Scenes to preserve the perspective in the composite.
The tools are there.