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Big problem with linked images in Affinity Publisher 1.10.0 up to 10.10.5, file size increases dramatically


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From Affinity Publisher 1.10.0 to 1.10.5 linked images cause the file size to explode. A catalogue with 120 pages and 600 linked images had about 20 MB up to Publisher 1.9.3. However since 1.10.0 the file size increases above 5 GB. All workarounds don't last for long. So I'm stuck to 1.9.3 where the links are still working. I was looking for today's update, but it still has this annoying bug. Please fix it finally. Thank you.

I work with MacBook Air M1 16GB RAM and macOS Big Sur 11.6.4.

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I also noticed a similar issue just recently with APu 1.10.4 on El Capitan. But since I rarely work with linked images, I cannot compare that much. I only remember that some earlier versions had similar problems as well, and that it appeared to have been fixed eventually.

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2 hours ago, _Seb_ said:

From Affinity Publisher 1.10.0 to 1.10.5 linked images cause the file size to explode. A catalogue with 120 pages and 600 linked images had about 20 MB up to Publisher 1.9.3. However since 1.10.0 the file size increases above 5 GB. All workarounds don't last for long. So I'm stuck to 1.9.3 where the links are still working. I was looking for today's update, but it still has this annoying bug. Please fix it finally. Thank you.

We do have an issue logged for large file sizes when using an M1 Mac, so it's likely you are running into this.  To confirm if that is the case, could you upload your afpub file and images.  Best way to do this, create an empty folder on your desktop called Publisher Package, then in Affinity Publisher, click File>Save As Package and make sure Include Images is ticked, click ok and select the Publisher Package folder on your desktop and then click the Package button.  If you could then upload the folder to our Dropbox here and i'll be able to confirm if its the same issue.

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On 3/16/2022 at 2:19 PM, stokerg said:

(...) If you could then upload the folder to our Dropbox here and i'll be able to confirm if its the same issue.

I can't upload customer data, sorry. But you can reproduce this behavior easily to confirm this issue. Just create a Publisher document with multiple pages and place a couple of linked images. The images are shot with an iPhone or a DSLR, all normal sized JPGs about 2 to 10 MB. Maybe at first the document size is as small as it should be with linked images. Then reopen the file and move the images around and save again. As more often you safe, the document size increases. Regardless of whether you add new photos or not.

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6 hours ago, _Seb_ said:

I can't upload customer data, sorry. But you can reproduce this behavior easily to confirm this issue. Just create a Publisher document with multiple pages and place a couple of linked images. The images are shot with an iPhone or a DSLR, all normal sized JPGs about 2 to 10 MB. Maybe at first the document size is as small as it should be with linked images. Then reopen the file and move the images around and save again. As more often you safe, the document size increases. Regardless of whether you add new photos or not.

Serif can give you a private upload link if you're able to share with just them but one other thing you can try is to go to Resource Manager, select all images, click Embed, wait for them to become embedded, and then click Make Linked again. If it's the same bug and you save now, the file size should be reduced to normal, at least until you start playing with it and it slowly creeps back up. If it doesn't get smaller then it's another issue.

Affinity Publisher/Designer/Photo for macOS Monterey 12.6, MacBook Pro 14" (M1 Pro)

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1 hour ago, MikeTO said:

one other thing you can try is to go to Resource Manager, select all images, click Embed, wait for them to become embedded, and then click Make Linked again. If it's the same bug and you save now, the file size should be reduced to normal

I just tested it with APu 1.10.5 on my aforementioned document (created with 1.10.4)  on El Capitan:

  • 1 linked PDF, 1.3 MB
  • 24 linked JPEG photos from iPhone SE 2016 camera, their total size in Finder 68 MB
  • one photo per page
  • every photo has live Curves and HFS adjustment layers applied
  • *.afpub size before the "Embed/Relink Trick": 47.4 MB
  • *.afpub size after the "Embed/Relink Trick": 37.7 MB

What gives?!

(For what it's worth: This was no "mission critical" project at all. I just need to practice and learn 25 jazz tunes on bass guitar for a big band gig where I'll be temporarily replacing their regular bass player. So she shot quick photos of her lead sheets which I've then assembled into this document to print them on my b/w laser printer. No actual graphic art involved here whatsoever… :D But still, the growing APu document size has annoyed me.)

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7 minutes ago, loukash said:
  • *.afpub size before the "Embed/Relink Trick": 47.4 MB
  • *.afpub size after the "Embed/Relink Trick": 37.7 MB

Yours is likely a different issue. I bet you would have gotten the same size by just choosing Save As and not using the embed/relink trick because Save As removes any unnecessary space from the file, it can reduce file size by up to 30%.

When I try to debug a problem like this I try to narrow the focus because even though your document sounds simple there are too many variables. Try this.

  1. Delete the PDF from the file and save under another name. Since you only had one PDF it's worth testing if this is the problem.
  2. Delete half of the pages and save it under another name. Since your photos were all approximately the same size and there was one per page, deleting half the pages should reduce the file size by about 50%. Note that if all of the text frames were linked and the pictures were pinned then you should delete the text to remove the images.
  3. If that doesn't meaningfully reduce the file size, the problem image or images is on the remaining pages. Delete half of them again and save under another name.

This is how I figured out my bloat issue. It took a few hours because I had hundreds of pages and it turned out there were just 8 images out of hundreds that were problems. But doing this allowed me to create a simple one-image test document which increases the likelihood that Serif can fix the bug and just as importantly, I came up with the embed/relink trick which will let me work without an issue until the bug is fixed.

Affinity Publisher/Designer/Photo for macOS Monterey 12.6, MacBook Pro 14" (M1 Pro)

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14 minutes ago, MikeTO said:

I bet you would have gotten the same size by just choosing Save As and not using the embed/relink trick because Save As removes any unnecessary space from the file, it can reduce file size by up to 30%.

Nope, tried that before, to no avail.

14 minutes ago, MikeTO said:

Delete the PDF from the file and save under another name. Since you only had one PDF it's worth testing if this is the problem.

The PDF came as the last link to the document, replacing one of the photos a few days later.
The issue was present before that.

14 minutes ago, MikeTO said:

text frames

No text frames in there whatsoever. Just picture frames and adjustment layers.
I could have as well destructively adjusted the photos in APh but doing it this way is faster, especially since I wanted to export everything as a neat 25-page PDF to store on my iPhone.

14 minutes ago, MikeTO said:

It took a few hours

In this very special case, I'll rather spend those hours actually practicing those tunes on bass, haha… ;) 
(Oh boy, I should have practiced reading sheet music more often since I learned to read notes over 40 years ago. And then it's all written in the bass clef! Argh.)

But thanks anyway. :) 

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1 minute ago, loukash said:

No text frames in there whatsoever. Just picture frames and adjustment layers.

In that case you can debug it in 10 minutes. Do the delete half and save thing and if the file size is not 50% of what it was then you'll know whether the problem is all of your images or just some. Do it a few more times and you'll have it narrowed down to the image since you have only 24 images.

Affinity Publisher/Designer/Photo for macOS Monterey 12.6, MacBook Pro 14" (M1 Pro)

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On 3/18/2022 at 3:27 PM, MikeTO said:

(...) but one other thing you can try is to go to Resource Manager, select all images, click Embed, wait for them to become embedded, and then click Make Linked again. If it's the same bug and you save now, the file size should be reduced to normal, at least until you start playing with it and it slowly creeps back up. If it doesn't get smaller then it's another issue.

This workaround was the first suggestion I found in the forum and of course I tried. Unfortunately it doesn't really work. When I start working in this document again, the bug returns, the document size increases again. So I continue to use Publisher 1.9.3, I don't have this annoying behavior there. Please make it work again in a current version!

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