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InDesign: a bad choice for a dictionary?

Apr 6, 2012 8:17 AM

InDesign gets used more and more by people to create interactive PDFs, Flash buttons, eBooks, and even complete websites with. My standard advice to those people comes down to this: InDesign is primarily a tool to design books with. Printed matter. Everything else is a bonus, and you should not expect top notch performance, optimised output, or additional functions for any of these "side-products". It's a good choice for making pages, nothing else.

 

So I used InDesign CS4 to do the layout for a large dictionary; >650 pages, two columns, small font, about 6600 characters per page. Three "main" paragraph styles, indicating Main Entry, Subentry, Additional information. About 15 additional character styles: main entry word, usual bold and italics for emphasis, but also a custom arrow, a custom small space, custom backgrounds for sub-entry indications, and custom superscripts -- plus a few GREP styles to prevent bad breaks between a couple of frequently occuring marker combinations. Every single paragraph of 2 to 8 lines contains at least 10 different character styles.

I was wise enough not to put everything into a single large document; this is 20 separate files, one for each letter. File sizes range from about 3MB up to 10MB -- and all of it is all text, no graphics.

 

Now the text corrections came in, I'm having second thoughts. Was InDesign the proper choice for this? Here is the problem:

 

Every single mouse click, page turn, scroll, or deletion or insertion of a single character costs at least 10, and sometimes as much as 20 seconds.

 

I've created large books before with this very same version, even processing up to 500 pages of text (prior to splitting them up into chapter-sized files, just for added convenience); but I've never seen this kind of infuriating/teeth gnashing/immensely frustrating behavior before. Sure, I am a reasonable guy and it's to be expected that ID gets slower with ever more complex layouts and text formatting. But really: click in a word, wait 10 seconds, press Delete, wait 10 seconds?

 

By the way, the reason I am still sticking to CS4 instead of upgrading to one of the newer versions is because those run yet even slower (it's really funny: I've found that ID CS5.5 is already feeling sluggish when there is nothing on your screen but a blank document -- har, har, har ...). I can't imagine "upgrading" would suddenly make these files whiz about my screen.

 

Perhaps I should downgrade the docs to CS3, do my corrections with that, then re-load them into CS4?

 

Frustratingly yours,

[Jongware]

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 6, 2012 8:29 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    This kind of performance is typical of books with cross-file cross-references when the target file is not also open. Try opeing all the files and see if it gets better.

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 8:40 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    did you make a new Book form the local files? The old one is still looking at the network....

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 8:42 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    And since when are dictionaries forbidden to have cross references? Most of the ones I've used were full of See... or See also...

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 8:45 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    For what it's worth, I did a book in CS4 of about 11 documents, 438 pages, text and photos with a few charts, but not quite as complex as your dictionary and never saw any slowdown at all, and I used find/change across all docs several times.

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 8:55 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    [Jongware] wrote:

     

    Peter Spier wrote:

     

    did you make a new Book form the local files? The old one is still looking at the network....

     

    Nope. I don't even need the Book file to make text corrections. When these are done, I simply copy the files back onto the server.

    Well that's reasonable if you aren't trying to access them through the book panel.

     

    I don't think I'm any more brilliant about this than you are, and we've covered the obvious oversights that I would make working in a hurry with no sleep, which is your habit, If I recall....

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 9:34 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    Do you see any improvement if you (temporarily) change your GREP style to apply a character that isn't affecting the breaks?

     
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    Apr 6, 2012 10:26 AM   in reply to Mary Posner

    My gut feeling is that Mary might be correct, Mr. Ware. I've made dictionaries in InDesign (two! that means I get to use the plural!) that came off just fine, and I never experienced any serious performace issues. All long-doc performance problems I've experienced in ID, dictionary or no, have boiled down to  stuff where ID would parse the entire n times ten to the third pages of the dictionary constantly, as it would need to for live xrefs, GREP styles, and the like.

     
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    Apr 9, 2012 10:34 AM   in reply to [Jongware]

    @Jongware – sorry to say, but there are some people reporting a massive slowdown in text composition using GREP styles with InDesign CS4:

    http://www.hilfdirselbst.ch/gforum/gforum.cgi?post=394166#394166

    http://www.hilfdirselbst.ch/gforum/gforum.cgi?post=384665#384665

     

    http://www.hilfdirselbst.ch/gforum/gforum.cgi?post=402361#402361

    http://www.hilfdirselbst.ch/gforum/gforum.cgi?post=402422#402422

     

    Could be that your GREPs are fairly complex…
    Maybe you can ask Martin Fischer over at hilfdirselbst, if he can contribute to a solution.

     

    Uwe

     
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