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Exporting SVG to iCloud Drive destroys the iPad’s Files app

Enthusiast ,
Apr 08, 2024 Apr 08, 2024

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Forgive the flashy title, but that's exactly what happened. 

Last Friday evening I've opened a 20-page PDF on Illustrator for iPad on my 2018 iPad Pro (12.9-inch) running iPadOS 17.4.1. I've exported the whole PDF as separate art boards to SVG format with outlined fonts. The destination was set to the Downloads folder of iCloud Drive.

As soon as I did that, iCloud Drive got crazy and basically stopped working. The Files app froze, crashed, opened as a blank screen. Soon afterwards, all apps that use iCloud Drive started to behave in the same way: locked, frozen, unresponsive, blank. Everything that doesn't use iCloud Drive works fine (I'm writing from Safari on that same iPad—btw why does this forum require that I turn off content blockers?! What are you doing, Adobe?).

 

I've reinstalled iPadOS 17.4.1, deactivated iCloud Drive, forced restarted, logged out of Apple ID. Nothing, it is still broken. The Apple Support advisor (2nd level) told me that my iCloud Drive is full of empty files and that the engineers will try to clean this from the backend. He asked me if I knew anything of that, and the only apps that create temporary files in the same folder of the original file are... Adobe apps! InDesign, Illustrator, they all do this. For very good reasons, of course, but this doesn't seem to work well with non-Adobe cloud storage, and yet, nowhere is advised from Adobe not to use Cloud Storage as file location. 

 

I hope to get this sorted soon, but this was clearly caused by that SVG export from Illustrator. 

I hope Adobe changes something about this, though I'm not positive nor optimist, especially after losing all this time for nothing. I literally cannot use any app, cannot access any file as long as iCloud Drive is turned on. I simply suggest you do not repeat my mistakes. I will certainly move all my Adobe files to local storage and then perform Cloud backups. 

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Bug , Performance , Sync and storage

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Adobe
Adobe Employee ,
Apr 09, 2024 Apr 09, 2024

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Hello @Inélsòre,

We understand that encountering technical issues can be frustrating. Illustrator supports working across networks, removable media, and cloud-synced folders (Google Drive / Dropbox / OneDrive, etc.) and is vigorously tested across multiple configurations. However, not all configurations, including different software, hardware, settings, and access rights, have been tested. Therefore, your configuration can cause errors, crashes, or unexpected behavior. You may learn more about this here: (https://adobe.ly/4aLtr0G).

 

To avoid such problems, we recommend working on your files from a local folder and manually copying them to the removable media, network drive, or the cloud-synced folder.

 

Feel free to reach out if you have more questions or need assistance. We'd be happy to help.

 

Thanks,
Anubhav

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Enthusiast ,
Apr 09, 2024 Apr 09, 2024

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Dear Anubhav,

the link you sent begins with "Is the Illustrator performance impacted". 

This is not what I reported: Illustrator worked perfectly well opening files from iCloud Drive.

What happened is the following: exporting SVG from Illustrator and saving them in iCloud Drive totally broke my iCloud Drive. It took me a whole day with Apple support to find that this was the case, and only a full restore could bring my iPad back to life. I'm now slowly reconfiguring the iPad from scratch... so much time... (not going to risk a backup restore, it could restore the problem as well).

 

There are so many things users are blind about when using apps and devices from big companies such as Adobe and Apple. For example: Adobe app automatically add themselves to iCloud backup upon installation. Who asked for that?

It should be plainly stated somewhere easy to find that working files for Adobe apps should never be on cloud storage, simply because cloud storage doesn't like temporary files, especially hundreds of them with similar names that result in orphaned inodes. Try to analyse a Time Machine snapshot done when you have several Adobe document opens from iCloud Drive, with all the temporary files also in there, and you will see what I mean. 

 

I highly doubt Apple & Adobe will ever do anything to improve this, but one thing is certain: I will never put a single Adobe file on iCloud Drive again. 

In the end, we users can only blame ourselves for trusting the providers of the services we use.

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Community Expert ,
Apr 09, 2024 Apr 09, 2024

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First of all, if you're doing work on an iPad you're almost forced into using cloud-based storage. Apple doesn't make it easy to save and manage files on an iPad in a traditional not-cloud way. The file system is about as basic and minimal as it gets.

 

One positive thing I can say is a USB dongle will allow an iPad to read external storage volumes. They can be USB memory sticks, solid state drives and even high capacity traditional hard discs. The iPad will even read NTFS formatted portable hard discs (which is good in my case since I use Windows-based PCs). An iPad needs to be plugged into a wall outlet via an AC adapter to use bus-powered portable hard discs.

 

What is the nature of the artwork you're trying to export in SVG format? Is the artwork really complex? Why does it have to be saved in SVG format? Is the artwork exported to another application that only opens SVG files? The SVG format is good for some purposes, but not so great for others.

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Enthusiast ,
Apr 10, 2024 Apr 10, 2024

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Thanks Bobby for the kind response.

From iPad Settings it is possible to tell Illustrator to automatically save files locally, since I've found that anything you AirDrop, or send to iPad, or open temporarily, is also temporarily saved to iCloud Drive, messing things up. No wonder I ended up with hundreds of zero-length files (!).

I will use Adobe Cloud for everything I can but, for example, InDesign can't do that (yet?). 

This was a PDF exported from Sibelius sent by a colleague who needed SVGs to be added to a magazine (don't know why PDF wouldn't work). It's music with some Arab-like fonts added to it, 20 pages, nothing fancy, it exported fine. Just... after doing that, my iCloud Drive decided that it was over.

Now I'm back in business after a restore, but my trust level in cloud storage of any kind is severely diminished. 

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Community Expert ,
Apr 10, 2024 Apr 10, 2024

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I can imagine that that kind of file is fancy. There are probably thousands of little text objects or paths or stuff in it. Thousands of things that are difficult for the desktop version of Illustrator to cheew on, but for the iPad version I would dare even trying. 

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Community Expert ,
Apr 11, 2024 Apr 11, 2024

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The project really sounds like it went from a bad situation to worse, especially with it trashing your iPad.

 

It's not great to start off with customer provided artwork that is in the form of a PDF generated by a niche industry application (Sibelius). Such "mystery meat" PDF files can be a pain to open in Illustrator. PDF isn't meant to be an edit-friendly format; it's just for document viewing and printing. But we're often stuck working with whatever we get from customers.

 

The Vector First Aid plugin from Astute Graphics can automatically fix many problems often present in imported PDF artwork. Giving the Sibelius-flavored PDF a pass through Vector First Aid might have fixed a lot of issues. That in turn could have led to a more stable SVG file export process.

 

Did the customer need SVG files for an online magazine, or was it actually meant for print? The SVG format is lousy for print-based work. The format doesn't natively support CMYK and has various other deficiencies. It is pretty common for clients to not know the best kinds of graphics file formats to use for the best purposes. Some people just go into auto-pilot mode and mention the first file format that comes to mind. I would have asked the client what page layout application they were using to lay out the magazine and then provide art files appropriate for that application.

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Enthusiast ,
Apr 11, 2024 Apr 11, 2024

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This was actually just an attempt to help a friend for, yes, an online magazine. I also convert Sibelius/Dorico PDF to SVG when I need to publish to Apple Books, that's the only way to get the EPUB to pass their checks—be my guest for reading my odyssey post on that process on the InDesign forum!—, but I've never had this kind of issue before.

A pity that Vector First Aid is not available as a standalone plugin, but requires the yearly subscription. From what I've seen on the website, it looks like a solid, all-round, helper tool!

 

The iPad itself, while having gone from iPadOS 12 to 17 without a single fresh install, was fine, but iCloud Drive was not, and thus, all apps that made any kind of use of it. All blocked... it happened after that PDF > SVG event, but was it just the last drop, maybe? Apple engineers are true heirs of the Delphi's oracle, and so we'll never truly know. I've browsed a bit of the deeper files in iCloud Drive and found leftovers of every app that I've ever used on all my Apple devices over the years. Orphaned .plist files, empty folders... still, I didn't dare erase them, as they accounted for less than 4 MB of space. Apple engineers blamed those, but why? I will never know. Apple Support advisors have become increasingly aggressive in my experience, and they don't appear to be truly listening to you. I've had to stop the guy asking me to press "Delete all iCloud Drive files"... I couldn't stop him from making me lose local files (recovered through a 3rd party app)... 

 

Now, profiting from this moment of calm after the storm, I begin to wonder: should I just stop (or reduce) using cloud services? Move everything back to local storage and set up a home server? Or is there a cloud storage service that is truly reliable?

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Community Expert ,
Apr 12, 2024 Apr 12, 2024

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From the sounds of it, I'm glad I haven't used iCloud much at all with my iPad Pro. I've usually stuck with using Dropbox (it's more platform agnostic). In other cases I've beamed open Illustrator projects between my iPad and PC directly, but I'm ultimately saving changes on a hard disc connected in/to the PC.

 

Regarding Astute Graphics' subscriptions: several years ago Vector First Aid and all the other Astute Graphics plugins were available as separate items to buy. Individual plugins were priced at a fairly reasonable level, but buying all of them would have added up to considerably more than what the subscription costs. Back then Astute Graphics faced a more complicated software development environment. They had to provide maintenance support for new plugins. Some people would keep using different, older versions of plugins yet expect Astute Graphics to keep doing maintenance updates on them so they would work with a new Illustrator CC release or update. The subscription model does more to keep everyone current. Any technical issues can be addressed much faster.

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