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New WebP import InDesign Max V18 - another missed opportunity

Guide ,
Oct 22, 2022 Oct 22, 2022

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The latest version of InDesign finally allows users to import and place WebP files.

When I read the news I was elated: finally the developers of Adobe InDesign decided to join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Today I found some time testing the WebP import. At best it is half-baked. At worst it is unusable.

Here are the reasons:

  • When an epub file is exported any WebP image is converted to PNG. Huh?
  • When a file is published online any WebP image is converted to PNG. Double huh?!
  • This conversion to PNG blows up the original file size. For example, a 425kb 1920x1080 webp image with transparency exploded into a 1.86mb file.
  • Worse, no control whatsoever is offered to the user to control this conversion from webp to png.
  • When the same wepb image is used more than once on a page and each instance is scaled, InDesign's ePub export and Publish Online option "intelligently" decides that it should generate a new PNG version. The really 'smart' decision here is that each file version is identical, though, needlessly blowing up the file size of the published files.
    In short, the identical asset is needlessly duplicated in your final publication! Neato.
  • Naturally the user then decides to use InDesign's Object Export Options to Use the Existing Image for Graphic Objects, hoping that InDesign will retain the original WebP file and maintain it while publishing.
    That hope is entirely in vain, of course. During epub export the user is confronted by the following exasperating message:

    The "Use Existing Image for Graphic objects" setting has been ignored for the resource: 4

    G:\Projects\mytestfile\testimage.webp
    Which means it is impossible to retain the original assets during export.

  • When publishing online no such message is displayed. It wouldn't do to warn the user that all their prepared WebP imagery is silently converted to huge-sized PNG files in the background, right?
  • Support for animated WebP files is likewise obviously too much to ask for. Just like Animated PNG, Animated WebP files are placed, yet only the very first frame of the animation is displayed and used.
    But at least with animated PNG files the user may retain the original animated PNG image and use the existing source image via the Object Export Options in order for the animation to play in an epub or published online.
    No such luck with Animated WebP files, though. WebP must be converted to PNG. No control whatsoever.

 

WebP (static and animated) is supported both by browsers and epub readers like Thorium. Even without animation the PRIMARY reason to use WebP rather than PNG is its alpha support and the lossy compression which results in considerably smaller file sizes - potentially markedly reducing the overall published file size.

 

And in the case of Publish Online no valid justification can be imagined to convert WebP files to PNG. All browsers have supported WebP for a long time now. Who in their right mind would convert these files to PNG when publising online? It's like shooting yourself in the foot, because it will cost Adobe as a company far more server bandwidth and storage costs.

 

Instead, with the current WebP support implementation the InDesign developer team have somehow managed to cause LARGER published file sizes and LONGER loading times when using WebP files in the user's InDesign digital publication pipeline!

 

The very reason to use WebP in our pipelines is artfully done away with! Amazing effort!

An award is in order for going where no-one has gone before 🙂

Congrats team!

 

awardFP.png

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EPUB , Publish online

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Community Expert , Oct 22, 2022 Oct 22, 2022

Hi @rayek.elfin,

Making a post on https://indesign.uservoice.com would bring this to the notice of the InDesign Engineering team and probably get a response from them as to why it was done this way, and hopeful allow for a discussion that might bear some fruits. Over here this is mainly a peer to peer forum so this post is good to discuss this implementation among fellow users, Adobe staff rarely visits here.

-Manan

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Community Expert ,
Oct 22, 2022 Oct 22, 2022

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Hi @rayek.elfin,

Making a post on https://indesign.uservoice.com would bring this to the notice of the InDesign Engineering team and probably get a response from them as to why it was done this way, and hopeful allow for a discussion that might bear some fruits. Over here this is mainly a peer to peer forum so this post is good to discuss this implementation among fellow users, Adobe staff rarely visits here.

-Manan

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Community Expert ,
Oct 23, 2022 Oct 23, 2022

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I empathise with your post. I realy do. But as @Manan Joshi says - uservoice is the best place to get the attention.

 

I'll just add that InDesign allows the import of such images, and probably not the export of the same image format. 

Much like InDesign can intake PSD files with text layers, they are rasterised to the Photoshop resolution of the document.

 

So yes, you can import the file formats without converting them before placing in InDesign. 

If you need more robust control over image formats - then maybe InDesign is not quite there yet. 

 

Keep pushing for these changes on InDesign user voice. I'll fully support you. 

Post a link to your idea/bug/feature request here and we can upvote it.

 

Best of luck.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 23, 2022 Oct 23, 2022

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Does EPUB support WEBP? That is, do EPUB readers support WEBP?

 

I see lots of tools to convert EPUB to static WEBP images — for some godforsaken reason the ebook community cherishes — but that readers are still working on coping with the later versions of PNG and SVG.

 

ETA: Can't find anything that says Thorium supports it; if it does, it's making the mistake of all the other readers by implementing proprietary actions. EPUB will remain a complete PITA and marginal solution until standards are both brought up to, say, 2020 and reader developers actually respect them.

 

I'm a little down on Thorium right now, anyway, until they fix the font-size issue, which apparently got embedded in some deep primary code a while back and the developer responsible can't be persuaded to make the necessary fixes. It's a sad world when Calibre is the best test reader.

 

 


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

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Community Expert ,
Oct 23, 2022 Oct 23, 2022

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And just on thinking through and doing a little reading... WEBP is JAFF. It's got some marginal advantages over the current slate, nothing earthshaking. And it's optimized for very small images, which are kind of neither here nor there for most EPUB documents.

 

I think I made a snarky comment about all the "problems" that WEBP would drag in when ID started supporting it, because it will multiply the issues of people trying to use web/RGB/tiny images for a desired high-rez, print or CMYK output. I guess we'll see in the next few months to a year.

 

I just gotta say, for someone who usually has very savvy and insightful comments about EPUB issues, you really seem to be overreacting here, given that EPUB support for WEBP is still absent/infancy, brings only incremental changes, and Adobe/ID tends to move in small, trend-driven steps. Not immediately supporting a new format out to the fringes of the design-o-verse doesn't indicate a lack of vision or dedication or whatever, to me.

 


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

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