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How to speed up PDF generation in InDesign

New Here ,
Oct 31, 2022 Oct 31, 2022

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One of the main tasks that we do in our office is:

 

A.  Merging an original InDesign file (approx 7.5Mb) with a CSV file;

B.  Exporting that resulting merged document into a PDF file

 

During export, we've tried different Adobe PDF Presets:  (High Quality Print, Press Quality, Smallest File Size, PDF/X-4, etc.)   The "Smallest File Size" preset seems to be the fastest although not by much.  It generally takes 3-5 minutes to create the merged document which seems a bit slow.  

 

But the real sluggishness is when we export that merged document into PDF format.  It takes anywhere from 4-8 minutes and the resulting PDF is only about 2.3Mb in size. 

 

We've tried this on multiple machines.  One is an iMac 3.5Ghz Quad Core i7 processor with 32Gb of 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM.  The other is a Macbook Pro with 2.6 Ghz 6-core i7 processor and 16Gb 2400 Mhz DDR4 RAM.  There's not really thimble's worth of difference in the export time.  They pretty much run neck and neck and, when they don't, either one might outperform the other.

 

Anyway, I have two questions:

 

A.  Is there anything I can do to speed up this process?  It takes HOURS of our day for one staff member to create these PDFs.  And most of that time is spent just waiting for the machine.

 

B.  What part of the computer is most integral to this kind of task?  In other words, if I choose to get a new Mac before the end of the year -- and had to choose -- would I want to go with the fastest processor...or the most RAM?  Which would give us the biggest boost in speed for this kind of work?

 

Thanks in advance.  I appreciate your help and would be happy to provide more information if it will help give a better answer.

TOPICS
Import and export , Performance

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Community Expert ,
Oct 31, 2022 Oct 31, 2022

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It depends on the content of the data being created into a PDF.

A plain text file of 2 pages could take nanoseconds. A 1000 pages could take minutes.

A file with 2 pages of vector heavy content could take 10 minute. A file with 1000 pages of raster images could take the same time. 

 

How is the merge taking place?
Are you creating an InDesign first from the Merge resulting in a 1000's of pages of an InDesign File?
Are you going directly to PDF from the Data Merge Panel?

 

Does it work faster if you split the merge in 2 or into 4 or into 6 or 10 different merges?

 

It's very hard to direct without any visuals or a clear workflow of what you're doing 🙂

 

Any more clues for us 😄 

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Community Expert ,
Nov 03, 2022 Nov 03, 2022

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I don't know enough about the merge process, but is what you see in ID a finished merge, or is the merge operation repeated at the time of print or export? If ID is having to update or re/generate those pages on the fly, several minutes to export is to be expected.

 

Is it possible to save a merged document as a static one, export from that, and thus bypass that second merging/validation process?

 


| Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Pro Guide (Amazon)

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Valorous Hero ,
Nov 01, 2022 Nov 01, 2022

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To second @Eugene Tyson PDF generation delays take the time it takes depending both the complexity of the file and the capacity of the machine. If there was a "magical" way to speed up the pdf generation, it's likely Adobe would have implemented it by default.

A possibility though is avoiding network ressources, if you have links on your network and a low bandwith, it may be that InDesign struggles to retrieve data from the network. if so, you may try to use local resources and it should reduce generation delays.

Once that said, you may try though scripting with an invisible document and no refresh on screen (see enableRedraw property of script preferences) or through InDesign Server but I don't think you will save that much.

A last resort would either be to sequence PDF exports (page ranges) or to use a Plugin such as DesignMerge from Meadows Publishing. They propose PDF/VT export options which can be helpful for large merging jobs.

FWIW

Loic

 

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Advisor ,
Nov 01, 2022 Nov 01, 2022

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Like already suggested - if you link your files over network - move to local drive.

Memory - never enough 😉

Local drive - do you have SSD or HDD? With enough extra RAM you could create RamDisk - 100s times quicker than fastest SSD 😉 

If your data is prepared perfectly - maybe you could do it overnight or during the day on a separate machine - batch processing with scripting? 

Can automate anything - as long as it doesn't require A.I.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 03, 2022 Nov 03, 2022

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@tonyrush have you had any improvements or updates?

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