Problems with publishing large book in Indesign

Community Beginner ,
Jul 16, 2021 Jul 16, 2021

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Hi All,

 

A relative Indesign newbie here, trying to learn the package by working on a long document. I have some experience in Framemaker, so learning Indesign’s book features was relatively easy.

To learn Indesign, I convert a large Excel table into a book. This is my first real project – of gargantuan size!

My Indesign book contains:

  • 285 files (chapters, section separators, introduction etc.)
  • Table of content
  • PDF bookmarks
  • Word index
  • Estimated page count of around 1050 pages
  • Referenced images in some files and the cover pages.

My 10 year old computer’s specs:

  • Core i3-2100 CPU @ 3.10GHz
  • 16.0 GB RAM
  • 250 GB SSD (100 Gb free)
  • 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce GF 610 video card
  • 64 bit Win 10 with the latest updates
  • Indesign 2021 version 16.3 x64 downloaded from the Adobe website.

Observations and problems:

  • My large Indesign book synchronizes and preflights without any error.
  • The TOC of the large book builds without error.
  • The book’s files have around 18000 index markers. Indesign crashes every time I try to update the index for all the files in the book.
  • An index built with only 100 out of the 285 files from the book does not crash the Indesign.
  • I can save the book as an interactive PDF without the index file.
  • However, even with the partially complete index of 100 files, the book does not save as a PDF with bookmarks and hyperlinks – Indesign crashes every time.
  • The book with a partial index file can be saved as an ordinary PDF without hyperlinks or bookmarks.    

Need your suggestions:

  • Is my computer too old/weak to handle such as large Indesign job?
  • Will upgrading the computer or adding more RAM allow me to publish such a large book.
  • Is Indesign the correct tool for doing these large jobs?
  • Why does a partial index file with just 3500 index entries have an 8 Mb size?
  • Why are Indesign files so large? Even a blank 1 A4 Indesign file sizes at 800 Kb, while an equivalent blank MS Word document is only 11 Kb.
  • How do I get Adobe to suggest a solution to my large document problem? I have sent them a crash report every time it has occurred. As expected, there’s been no response.
  • Is there an online service that publishes large documents out of Indesign files? I believe such online services exist for CAD files that need high-end computers for rendering etc.

I have worked on this project for the last 3 months and not being able to produce the complete book with all the designed features is confusing and unsettling.

Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.

I am willing to share/show my files with anyone who has the kindness to help me with the above issues.


Regards,

 

Apurva

 

TOPICS
How to, Performance, Print

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correct answers 1 Correct Answer

Adobe Community Professional , Jul 16, 2021 Jul 16, 2021
How are you "updating" your index? If you're checking the Replace Existing Index option in the Generate Index dialog box, and hoping to replace a huge existing index with a huge, updated index, that's going to be problematic. It's a false conomy. I'd suggest you first try to generate a new, second index report by first un-checking the Replace Existing Index option, then creating the second index text without replacing the existing one. It may take a while for your system to chug along and ge...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 16, 2021 Jul 16, 2021

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Before plunging into your masterwork, I suggest you create a couple of practice documents first, otherwise, you may set your book up with some problems. LinkedIn Learning www.linkedin.com/ have some great introductory InDesign step-by-step video courses. (You can get 30-days free access.)

But come back to this friendly forum with specific questions of course.

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 20, 2021 Jul 20, 2021

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Hi Derek,

 

Thanks for your kind reply. Having previously authored several 2000 + page technical manuals in Framemaker, I did not think making a 1000+ page book in Indesign could be so much of trouble. In any case, I did proceed logically, with smaller documents, and got success, before investing time into the large job.

 

The good news is that the project got completed and the 1156 page Indesign book is ready. However, I had to split the index in 4 parts, covering the 4 sections, as my computer is too feeble to handle the 20000 index entries in one file.

 

The experience has taught me a lot, including the hard disk running out of 120 GB of free space due to Indesign's temporary files.

Regards,

 

Apurva

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 16, 2021 Jul 16, 2021

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How are you "updating" your index?

 

If you're checking the Replace Existing Index option in the Generate Index dialog box, and hoping to replace a huge existing index with a huge, updated index, that's going to be problematic. It's a false conomy.

 

I'd suggest you first try to generate a new, second index report by first un-checking the Replace Existing Index option, then creating the second index text without replacing the existing one. It may take a while for your system to chug along and generate the second index, and you'll have to re-apply any custom text formatting you did to make your existing index text look right, but this often fixes issues like you're experiencing right now.

Which brings up another question: Did you create your index entries by hand within InDesign? Or are you trying to translate your index from MSWord into InDesign, then convert that into PDF bookmarks? Because that's fraught with peril. PDF bookmarks relate, with InDesign terms, to Table of Contents entries. Which are a whole 'nother thing.

 

Please try first creating a second, discrete Index text, and place it separately, to see if that will work for you. You're really pushing the capabilities of the software and especially your hardware to churn out a job like this. InDesign files are much larger — and more complex — because they account for page geometry, typographic capabilities and element placement which is more capable and more complex than simple word processing files, which offer more rudimentary tools to do essentially the same thing not as well.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Randy

 

 

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 20, 2021 Jul 20, 2021

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Hi Randy,

 

Thank you for a detailed and helpful reply. I appreciate your tip about not replacing the existing index with the new one, instead creating a new index first. Happily, the 1156 page Indesign book is complete, although the index is split in 4 parts due to the limitation of my computer's capabilities. After much consideration, having a single volume with a unified table of content but 4 different indices was a better option than having 4 separate volumes. This is due to the large number of cross-references that will break if the linked data was on another volume. 

My large book in Indesign takes in data from a detailed Excel file. This is a railway guide containing thousands of station names over hundreds of routers. I separated the Excel file data into separate logical chapters and used the paragraph styles to generate the table of content. I used the text anchor to link cross-references and added index markers by hand to individual station names - around 20000 entries. 

 

Some queries:

  • While this was a job done to learn Indesign's large book capabilities, what should be the computer specifications for doing this type of work (like a scientific document consisting of a hundreds of cross-referenced tables) on a professional basis? I searched for the minimum hardware specification for using Indesign and my computer should have been adequate, but it isn't.
  • Is Indesign the correct tool for generating large documents with 1000s of pages? I know Framemaker is, but it lacks the finesse that Indesign offers.
  • Every time I build the document, a small number of cross-references do not connect correctly - instead pointing to the 'P0,' which is the first page of the PDF. Is this normal? I am able to correct the anomalies by editing the output PDF, but is there any way to ensure that the automation works 100%, every single time?

 I would be happy to discuss my experience of working on a large book, including the numerous mistakes and errors made by yours truly.

 

Regards,

Apurva

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 21, 2021 Jul 21, 2021

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First, congratulations on pulling your big job off. You're certainly describing a massive undertaking, and you're to be commended for bringing it across the line.

 

St. Thomas Aquinas once said "the obstacle strengthens the will."

 

You, my friend, have proven you have quite strong will.

 

Adobe Systems stated specifications for InDesign are targeted for running the program efficiently while creating "typical documents." Your jobs are far more demanding than said typical documents. So all I can offer is a nominally informed opinion about what may make your jobs run more smoothly.

 

There will be areas where improving hardware performance will make your job easier. There may also be areas where no matter what hardware you have, you will be limited by the capabilities of your software. And quite possibly, exceed the capabilities of both your hardware and software. So please take my recommendations with about a pillar's worth of salt.

 

Yes, your current system is woefully inadequate for the job. If you're really going to be crunching data like this job, even one more time, you need to specify a powerful system from ground (system board, really) up.

 

  • A high performance system board with provisions for late generation Intel i5/i7 or recent AMD Ryzen 5/7/9 processors, at least 64GB of RAM (more is better/possibly necessary), and two m.2 blade type SSD drives. I'd normally offer this as opportunity to "future proof" your next system, but you're going to need to use much of these capabilities immediately.
  • As much current- or recent-generation processor as you can afford. Massive improvements have been made to PC processors over the last two to three years. Not only when it comes to computing power, but also in power (and its byproduct, heat) management. Both are very important when you're crunching the numbers to produce data-intensive documents.
  • As much RAM as you can afford. I would say for this type of work, 64GB is entirely necessary. This is the engine that will drive your publishing efforts. Speed and efficiency counts here too. More processing memory means less time reaching back into the storage memory and swapping information back and forth.
  • Provisions for two NVMe m.2 blade-type SSDs. One, smaller one for your OS and programs. One large one for file storage. Small=speed for the OS and programs; large=capacity+error protection for your critical data files. Compared to spinning-disk HDDs, a SATA 2.5" format SSD is on the order of 10-12 times faster. On a motherboard that fully supports them, using NVMe blade drives plugged directly into the system board is 4-5 times faster still.
  • InDesign is not a real video memory hog. So just about any quality video card with 4-8GB of VRAM and onboard cooling will serve the purpose. This is probably the only area where your desired setup would vary from your typical high-end gaming system, simply because Adobe design apps aren't all that demanding. Though if you want to do video work too, you'll want to boost the specs here as well.
  • A large, high-resolution monitor. A 27-inch or so 1080p monitor is the minimum you want to consider here. Your eyes will thank you for this — and maybe your eye doctor too. 
  • Adequate cooling/thermal management. This often gets overlooked. You want a large case with plenty of open space to dissipate heat, and multiple cooling fans/filters to keep clean air moving into, through and out of your system. Heat is your enemy. And even if it doesn't get to the point where it crashes/kills your system, heat reduces performance. Especially when doing data-intensive work, where the processor and RAM loads approach 100% for many minutes (or worse, hours) at a time. It also needs to be in a space where there's a lot of air circulating outside the case. Stuffing it the solid side of your desk and a trash can keeps it out of the way, but it's not going to help the performance or the life of your system.

 

These will get you the kind of system that can best serve your demanding duties. But as I mentioned above, hardware may not be your only limitation here. You're pushing the envelope here, in test pilot terms. And the best hardware setup on Earth may not get you everything you need. Because you're pushing the boundaries of what your software can do, too. I've done a lot of long documentation, and I've done some serious data-intensive publishing. Truthfully, you're pushing the boundaries of Adobe InDesign past anything I've ever done with it.

 

As to whether InDesign is the best tool for doing this? I don't know. If you find InDesign is your preferred tool to do this, and you can work your way around the limitations, I'd say you know you can do this, and an improved spec for your computer will make doing this much easier. Certainly there are solutions tailored for doing this type of work, with FrameMaker as a prime example, which could make your task easier. How much easier, I can't say. You'd have to be the judge of that.

 

Regarding your dead cross-references, I can't offer you a perfect solution. It could be software related, it could be hardware limitations, or it could be a workflow issue. And again, since you're pushing the system so hard it's going to be hard to find someone else who may be experiencing the problem, much less able to offer you a solution. If you know you're doing it right, and you're still experiencing the issue on an relatively rare and random basis, I think you may have to chalk it up as another obstacle you have to overcome. One, fortunately, you have the skill — and the will — to conquer.

 

Hope I haven't bored you with this little novella. But this is the best I can offer you based on the information you've shared.

 

Good luck,

 

Randy

 

 

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jul 21, 2021 Jul 21, 2021

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Thank you Randy, I will use your recommendation for the new computer that I wish to have. Didn't know about the performance benefits of blade type SSDs, until your reply.

 

Future sees - a lot of serious expenses...


Regards,

 

Apurva

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