PDF file too large...X Object Forms?

Community Beginner ,
Aug 20, 2019 Aug 20, 2019

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My InDesign file is 5mb.  When I export it to a PDF, it becomes 80mb.  Compressing the file didn't work because it is too large.  I don't think it is the images in the document--when I used the Optimized PDF function with Adobe, much of the issue was "x object forms" (taking up 90% of the file size).  Any thoughts?

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Enthusiast ,
Aug 20, 2019 Aug 20, 2019

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More information and a few screen shots would be helpful to allow us to give you the relevant advice you are looking for.

Is your document full of complex vector art graphics?

Are there placed images? Size? Qty?

What are you exporting? Postcard? 10 foot banner?

Form XObjects are just another kind of page content. They are just named groups of graphical objects within a PDF file.

They are typically (but not only) used for things that appear more than once, to save space.

More info from you will help us define a more specific answer.

Thanks

-Dax

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 20, 2019 Aug 20, 2019

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The document (a magazine) is 73 pages with very few graphics/images.  The images are small. It's mostly text.  It's being exported as a PDF document (8.5x11). Images were imported files.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 20, 2019 Aug 20, 2019

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Are the images embedded in the InDesign file or linked to a local source?

What scale are the images placed as? Just because they are small in the document - InDesign and PDFs treat them as the full expanded size (if compression was used when the image was saved).

If you have deleted all the text and images in the file, what is left in the document? If it's truly empty (check master pages, pasteboard, etc.) then perhaps it's time to move to a new, clean document and recreate there.

Kevin Stohlmeyer Adobe Community Professional/Adobe Certified Instructor

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 20, 2019 Aug 20, 2019

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Also, when  delete all the text and images and save the file, the file size is still large...

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Enthusiast ,
Aug 20, 2019 Aug 20, 2019

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Can you post the file somewhere?

-Dax

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New Here ,
Aug 13, 2020 Aug 13, 2020

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Although this post is one year old, I wonder what you did to reduce the filesize in the end.

 

I myself figured out kind of workaround for the Xobject forms-problem in this way:

- open the PDF with Acrobat (not the reader).

- save as Powerpoint PPTX

- open the PPTX

- in Powerpoint: Export the PPTX via Acrobat-Tab  "Create PDF". Within this you still can do some settings to reduce quality of images - but maybe this is not necessary, because when you audit the newly created PDF in Acrobat you will find the Xobjects gone. The convert-process made images and other objects out of the Xforms which now are easily reduceable in size.

 

This worked well for me. I needed the reduced size PDF of a magazine for our reviewers not for printing.

Cheers!

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Aug 13, 2020 Aug 13, 2020

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Terrible worklfow, it is not to recommend. Stop destroying files.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 13, 2020 Aug 13, 2020

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Agreed, terrible, terrible workflow 😞 

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New Here ,
Sep 21, 2020 Sep 21, 2020

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I managed to fixed my document. First, you will have to inspect and see your link panel, find out all the vector files... Such as AI, EPS etc... Then using their specific programe and export in PNG or JPEG. Relink all the images and export again... This will get rid of all the X-Object Forms in your pdf making it more compressable. 

I did all these... its a dam tedious process as i am used to export use vector files so that my export is crisp and claer for pront. However, due to COVID-19, print menus is no longer a thing, people use eMenu which is like a pdf online and i have to get it to the smallest file available so loading is fast. Managed to down size a 40mb file into just under 12mb.

Hope it works for you. 

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Sep 21, 2020 Sep 21, 2020

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No one,not even one person should ever follow your advice. You are only destrying quality. The best is not to use PNG if you have vector files available. Export as interactive PDF and you will get a smaller file size.

Never make a jpg from a vector file, terrible.

Never use EPS in any way or form in modern days.

If your PDF has 40 MB, other problems in the production workflow are to be expected.

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New Here ,
Jan 02, 2021 Jan 02, 2021

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I think the point of posts like these is to ask for quick, workarounds.  What is your opinion on best practices AND what is the quickest, dirtiest solution for reducing file size?  It's not super useful to hear what shouldn't be done because people want to hear what they can do right now... not necessarily best practice workflow for the future. Maybe I'm wrong.  Even with exporting as interactive, my document is not small enough for uploading.  Oddly, when I save as other... reduce file size, the pdf get marginally larger. I

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jan 02, 2021 Jan 02, 2021

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I gave advice what to do. Use a different file type if you place or import graphics. What is the problem here? You have to follow those steps which are naturally logic. Don't use inadequate file types and fonts.

Of course, you need some basic knowledge. That is missing in your posting.

 

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Jan 02, 2021 Jan 02, 2021

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Don't use EPS in modern days.

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 02, 2021 Jan 02, 2021

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I have been quietly following this thread in the background for a while. There are a number of issues here that really need to be discussed.

 

(1)    The size of a source InDesign file does not necessarily have anything to do with the size of an output file from same, whether that output is PDF, PostScript for printing, ePub, or whatever. The size of a source InDesign file does not take into account any placed content and/or fonts used by text within that source InDesign file. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

 

(2)    You cannot arbitrarily legislate the size of a PDF file exported from InDesign. You can influence the size of such PDF files by virtue of choices made in terms of the export options, but at some point, there is really nothing more you can do.

 

If a significant amount of the content is placed raster images, you can specify export options that reduce the amount of PDF file size used by such images at the cost of image quality, both in terms of image resolution (by downsampling) and loss of detail (by specifying lossy compression using lower quality settings). Remember that these days, typical monitor resolution is often in the range of 150 to over 300dpi; you can't get away with specifying 72dpi lowest quality JPEG for screen display – in fact high quality screen display may indeed require higher resolution graphics than you might need for office printing!!!

 

InDesign (properly) always embeds fonts; there is nothing you can do about that and that's a good thing. “Outlining” text to eliminate embedded fonts is totally counterproductive! The space required for all the polygons generated by the outlining take far more file space than the embedded subsetted fonts. Plus, both output quality and rendering (on screen and print) time can suffer dramatically!

 

Detailed CAD drawings placed as vector (typically PDF or EPS) can indeed be quite bulky in terms of file size (both placed file and contribution to export file size) but converting those to raster images can and most often do turn such content into fuzzy-wuzzy mush in terms of PDF output.

 

Likewise, both flattening of transparency and converting all colors to CMYK can also significantly increase the size of the output PDF file while simultaneously reducing display and/or print quality and performance.

 

(3)    Trying to reduce PDF file size “after the fact” in Acrobat is pretty much like shutting the barn door after the horses have escaped. If you are really going to try reducing file size in Acrobat, use the Save as Other=>Optimized PDF instead of the Reduce File Sizfunction. The former gives you granular choice in terms of what is or is not altered or removed. Even then, there is no guarantee that the resultant file will be smaller. (Hint - For some files, removing XMP metadata can provide some file size reduction, depending upon the original content. XMP metadata in raster images from Photoshop, for example, is passed through InDesign to exported PDF.)

 

(4)    How many of you actually know what a PDF XObject is? There are two flavours of XObjects that might be encountered in export of PDF from InDesign - Image XObject and Forms XObject.

 

An Image XObject is a definition of a raster image that is defined once in a PDF file but can be referenced any number of times (possibly with different scaling, cropping, and size) at different locations within that same PDF file. Thus, if you place the same raster image in multiple locations in your InDesign file, it is only defined once in the resultant PDF file. (Note that this optimization is used by all Adobe PDF generators including PDF export from InDesign, PDF save from Illustrator, PDF generation from Microsoft Office on Windows using Acrobat's PDFMaker, and even PDF generation via conversion of PostScript to PDF via Acrobat Distiller!)

 

Forms XObject is a group of PDF objects including text, vector, and raster images that is defined once in a PDF file but can be referenced any number of times (possibly with different scaling, cropping, and size) at different locations within that same PDF file. (The raster images within a Forms XObject may actually be referencing Image XObjects!) InDesign typically exports a Forms XObject for non-variable content that appears on master pages but is not overridden in any way on the pages based upon same. Thus, if you have a fancy logo, a frame, as well as header and footer information defined on a master page, such content is output once within the PDF file as a Forms XObject and is subsequently referenced by the PDF for each page that was based originally on the master page from which the content was based. (The only other instance of use of Forms XObjects is by some InDesign plugins such as those from XMPie to provide PDF/VT-1 optimization in which case extensive use is made of Forms XObjects.)

 

Both Image XObjects and Forms XObjects not only can dramatically reduce PDF file size but more importantly can dramatically reduce print time on digital presses supporting PDF/VT!

 

I know of no situation in my experience where use of either Image XObjects or Forms XObjects did anything negative in terms of resultant PDF file size. Hacks to eliminate use of them are counterproductive at best!! XObjects are your friends.

 

(5)    EPS - Encapsulated PostScript! I would definitely agree that EPS is a very dated and obsolete file format. It doesn't support ICC color management or live transparency. You should never use it for creation of new content (especially for placement into Microsoft Office documents). That having been said, if you have old content created as EPS from years back and especially if you don't have the original artwork or content from which that artwork or content was derived, other than perhaps making yourself feel good, there is not much if anything to be gained by converting the EPS to PDF (for example) before placing in InDesign. The only exception to this would be if the EPS references fonts that are not embedded in the EPS. You really need to get that problem resolved sooner rather than later, especially if the EPS is referencing non-embedded Type 1 fonts.

 

Questions?  🙂

 

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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New Here ,
Jan 03, 2021 Jan 03, 2021

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Thanks for the clear descriptions. From the last few responses,  it sounds like there isn't really much to do besides changing the content of your document. Is this a fair estimation? 

My issue is that I'm trying to make my portfolio less than 5 mg because of uploading limits. There are CAD drawings and lots of images because I'm in interior architecture. At the moment, it is 30 mg.  My only plan of action right now is to redo portfolio.  I ususally place .ai and .psd into Indesign and not image files. Is this recommended?  PNG vector images are not recommend? What would be an alternative? .SVG?  I place CC library assests a lot through out - is this recommended?  

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 03, 2021 Jan 03, 2021

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Yes, that is a true “estimation” of the situation.

 

That having been said, a 30MB PDF file is not considered particularly large if much of the content is from CAD and or raster images for an interior architecture portfolio. An “uploading limit” of only 5MB sounds like a dumb limit from about 20 years ago. In fact, there are many web pages these days that download much more than 5MB of HTML, CSS, and assets simply to display a single page on screen.

 

.PSD files are for the most part raster image files. .AI files, depending upon the content, can be a combiantion of text, vector, and/or raster content; in general, it is preferred to save a .AI file as a PDF/X-4 file and place that into InDesign!

 

If your original content is vector and/or text, don't convert it to any raster format since it can terribly degrade your quality and may not necessarily give you any PDF file size savings.

 

CC library asset usage is totally irrelvant to this discussion since that only affects where the assets are stored going into the InDesign document, not how the PDF is generated or size of same.

 

The straight truth here is that you need to get that totally unreasonable 5MB upload limit changed by one order of magnitude. 50MB would be much more reasonable for the type of content that you are generating. Otherwise, find another place to upload your content to that doesn't have such antique limitations!  🙂

 

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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New Here ,
Jan 04, 2021 Jan 04, 2021

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I'm not uploading to portfolio publishing website; The job application themselves have the upload limit.  It's kinda weird to ask "questions :)" and then tell me what is relevant or not to this discussion. I asked about best practices. 

 

"thanks" 

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 04, 2021 Jan 04, 2021

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@Lucy5C81,

 

The fact is that you told us that the problem was getting a portfolio to someone via upload to some website that only allows for 5MB file sizes. 5MB is hardly enough to accommodate even one full resolution, full frame JPEG-compressed photo, much less a portfolio of your work. That is why we answered as we did.

 

Unfortunately, “best practices” do no accommodate for impossible constraints as the one that has been provided to you. 

 

Here is another possibility for you. Upload a PDF file that has pointers to the full portfolio that can be downloaded from another location that you can upload that full portfolio to.

 

But please don't shoot the messengers here!

 

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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New Here ,
Jan 17, 2021 Jan 17, 2021

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I am having the same issue with a newsletter I produce. And the cause seems to be the Form X Objects for every individual graphic (used only one time). I tried converting the .ai files to pdf as you suggest... no difference. I compared it to the same newsletter (different graphics, but same workflow) from 2 years ago (with no Form X Objects) and the size was ~30% smaller back then. I compared this black and white 4 page newsletter (56% space was Form X Objects) to a 16 page colour newsletter (2% Form X objects, same workflow) that I also produce... they were equal in size (2.7mb)

I find it very unhelpful to say that the file size limits are the problem. Especially in todays world, I expect my digital newsletters to be extremely slim and efficient for the user. It would be much more helpful to suggest a workflow that doesnt result in all these unnecessary Form X objects.

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 17, 2021 Jan 17, 2021

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Contrary to what you may believe, the Forms XObjects do not add to the size of a PDF file in any significant manner (i.e., a few bytes per Forms . If the content described in a PDF file is not in a Forms XObject, that identical content would simply be placed in the content streams taking essentially the same amount of file space.

 

Since your comparisons are of the same newletter but different graphics, the comparison is not really valid. Depending upon what those graphics happen to be, use of a Forms XObject may be totally appropriate. (It is also possible that you are placing PDF graphics into the newer InDesign document that happent to themselves have Forms XObjects used!) And for what it is worth, there has been no significant change to the manner of InDesign exporting PDF over the last number of releases that would cause more Forms XObjects to be used now than previously, given the identical source InDesign document and placed graphics!

 

Sorry, but without the source InDesign files (including placed graphics and fonts) for the comparison, your assertion can neither be analyzed nor proven.

 

Again, you cannot legislate the size of a PDF file. Given a particular layout and contents, the only ways to significantly reduce PDF file size are (1) putting more non-variable content on shared master pages which in fact will increase use of shared Forms XObjects, (2) reducing the resolution and/or the compression quality of raster images placed in the InDesign document, and/or (3) reducing the amount of content in the InDesign document (including less graphics or less complex graphics, fewer fonts, etc.).

 

Provide the sample files (or even one sample exported PDF file) and we can try to assist you in pinpointing where and why the PDF file size exceeds your expectations.

 

- Dov Isaacs, Principal Scientist, Adobe

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