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Layers scrambled after merging two documents


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It’s been one step forward and two steps back at every turn, and it’s driving me to distraction. I’ve been working with a very large file (1065 pages) and working on some final edits for a digital publication. Since Affinity was bugging out in the process of making these edits and since I was more than halfway through, I split the file to apply the rest of the edits with a different method (suggested to me here after I posted the aforementioned bug) that involved adding picture frames to the master pages and dragging my PDF image layers into the picture frame layers. I **finally** finished making the image adjustments and just tried to rejoin the documents via Add Pages from File. And now the layers on literally every spread are mixed up and not where I put them. This is a problem because I have dark rectangle background layers so the page edges won’t be white. These background rectangle layers have been moved up and are sitting on top of the content layers and obscuring them. Hundreds of pages with layers I already manually arranged now need to be rearranged manually again? It’s maddening having to repeatedly do the same work again and again.

I triple checked the help page and there’s nothing that says anything about preserving layers. I tried various combinations of checking and unchecking the two options, but the result is always the same. https://affinity.help/publisher/en-US.lproj/index.html?page=pages/Advanced/mergeDocument.html?title=Merge documents

Editing to add that I tried merging the documents both ways, meaning I first added the pages from the second to the first document after the last page, and then added the pages from the first to the second document before the first page. In each case, the layers on all the spreads of the second document were jumbled up.

2020 iPad Pro 11” 1TB 6GB RAM iPadOS 16.1.1 | 2019 MacBook Pro 16” 2.3GHz Intel i9-9880H, 64GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB macOS Monterey 12.6.1

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Sorry, I have no ideas what's causing your problem.

However, as you're using Publisher 2, you might try the Book feature, and treat each of your files as a Chapter in the Book file. This way you keep them separate, but produce a single output file. (But yes, it's one more piece of the technology to learn, which may come with its own issues for you to resolve.)

-- Walt

Desktop:  Windows 11 Home, version 21H2 (22000.613) 64GB memory, AMD Ryzen 9 5900 12-Core @ 3.00 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 
Laptop:  Windows 10 Home, version 21H2 (19044.1706) 32GB memory, Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.60GHz, Intel UHD Graphics Comet Lake GT2 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.
        Affinity Photo 1.10.6 (.1665) and 2.0..3  and 2.0.3.1670 beta/ Affinity Designer 1.10.6 (.1665)  and 2.0.3 and 2.0.3.1670 beta / Affinity Publisher 1.10.6 (.1665)  and 2.0.3 and 2.0.3.1670 beta
iPad Pro M1, 12.9", iPadOS 16.3, Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard

      Affinity Photo 1.10.6 and 2.0.3 / Affinity Designer 1.10.6 and 2.0.3 / Affinity Publisher 2.0.3

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The problem is compounding. I had the idea to check the master pages, and those were still correct, so I tried to reapply the master pages to the document—nothing happened. Now resigned that I must manually reposition every layer on the final hundreds of pages, I begin—except I cannot. The program will not permit any layer to be repositioned. No, none of the layers are locked. The entire program crashed on me in my attempt to move any layer. Also, I cannot hide/unhide any layers either. 

2020 iPad Pro 11” 1TB 6GB RAM iPadOS 16.1.1 | 2019 MacBook Pro 16” 2.3GHz Intel i9-9880H, 64GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB macOS Monterey 12.6.1

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15 hours ago, walt.farrell said:

Sorry, I have no ideas what's causing your problem.

However, as you're using Publisher 2, you might try the Book feature, and treat each of your files as a Chapter in the Book file. This way you keep them separate, but produce a single output file. (But yes, it's one more piece of the technology to learn, which may come with its own issues for you to resolve.)

How would that work as far as the TOC is concerned? Would it automatically create an erroneous chapter entry at the file split? 

 

This is all so frustrating. In spite of the friendly and supportive community of members here, Serif’s perpetual silence makes posting feel rather like talking into the void. If my project wasn’t of deep sentimental importance, I’d’ve given up by now. 

2020 iPad Pro 11” 1TB 6GB RAM iPadOS 16.1.1 | 2019 MacBook Pro 16” 2.3GHz Intel i9-9880H, 64GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB macOS Monterey 12.6.1

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Hi, Serif will reply but it may take time and you posted this just over 24 hours ago.

I tried but failed to reproduce your problem and I think more information is required for Serif or anybody else to figure this out. You're saying that the background rectangles which you created to avoid white page edges are being moved up and obscuring the page content. Are these background rectangles on the master page and you're saying that the master page layers are being moved above content on the actual pages? Or did you place a copy of these rectangles on every page?

If they're on the master, are the background rectangles above the content on every page?

Do you have more than one master applied to a page?

Could you please reduce your document to just a couple of pages for file 1 and a couple of pages for file 2 that still manages to demonstrate the problem? And then would you be able to share that publicly here so we could take a look at it? If not you'll need to wait for Serif so they can provide a private upload link if they require that.

One very important thing to note is that there's a feature of Add Pages from File that is rather confusing when using facing pages documents. The Pages field is the page number after or before which the second document's pages will be added. It defaults to the current page. For example, if first document has just 3 pages, you might expect this to default to 3 but if you're viewing page 1 it defaults to 1. Fair enough, a lot of programs work this way. So you double click on pages 2-3 spread and then choose Add Pages from File - the field now defaults to page 2, not page 3. It uses the value of the left page in the spread so what happens is the second document will be inserted before the last page in the first document. So always check this field's value before adding another document.

Good luck!

1861287451_Screenshot2022-12-03at8_48_47AM.thumb.png.6a8a96d75795ba1134d0adc6ac86b625.png

Affinity Publisher/Designer/Photo 2 for macOS Ventura 13.2, MacBook Pro 14" (M1 Pro)

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10 hours ago, ogdredweary said:

How would that work as far as the TOC is concerned? Would it automatically create an erroneous chapter entry at the file split? 

No.

-- Walt

Desktop:  Windows 11 Home, version 21H2 (22000.613) 64GB memory, AMD Ryzen 9 5900 12-Core @ 3.00 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 
Laptop:  Windows 10 Home, version 21H2 (19044.1706) 32GB memory, Intel Core i7-10750H @ 2.60GHz, Intel UHD Graphics Comet Lake GT2 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.
        Affinity Photo 1.10.6 (.1665) and 2.0..3  and 2.0.3.1670 beta/ Affinity Designer 1.10.6 (.1665)  and 2.0.3 and 2.0.3.1670 beta / Affinity Publisher 1.10.6 (.1665)  and 2.0.3 and 2.0.3.1670 beta
iPad Pro M1, 12.9", iPadOS 16.3, Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard

      Affinity Photo 1.10.6 and 2.0.3 / Affinity Designer 1.10.6 and 2.0.3 / Affinity Publisher 2.0.3

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On 12/3/2022 at 8:55 AM, MikeTO said:

Hi, Serif will reply but it may take time and you posted this just over 24 hours ago.

This post was new, yes, but my first of several bug reports was 2 weeks ago. I do see the notice at the top of every page that their response time is longer than usual, and I was merely commenting that it has been difficult to cope with the slow response time in the face of so many issues. I am still grateful for the help from community members such as yourself.

Quote

I tried but failed to reproduce your problem and I think more information is required for Serif or anybody else to figure this out. You're saying that the background rectangles which you created to avoid white page edges are being moved up and obscuring the page content. Are these background rectangles on the master page and you're saying that the master page layers are being moved above content on the actual pages? Or did you place a copy of these rectangles on every page?

If they're on the master, are the background rectangles above the content on every page?

Do you have more than one master applied to a page?

Could you please reduce your document to just a couple of pages for file 1 and a couple of pages for file 2 that still manages to demonstrate the problem? And then would you be able to share that publicly here so we could take a look at it? If not you'll need to wait for Serif so they can provide a private upload link if they require that.

Fortunately for me but unfortunately for posterity, I managed to find a sort of solution for this after having to step away from the project for a short while. The background rectangles were on the master pages, yes, as the bottom-most layers. All the content was above the background rectangles in the original file and both subsequent files after the split. The background rectangles moved up, above and obscuring the content after rejoining the two files once my edits were complete. The rejoined document had two sets of master pages; however, no page should have had more than one master applied to it—if it did, it was not by my doing. 

I have made a screen recording of what I can. I'm afraid I have since deleted the black rectangles because I found that I could apply a dark background colour to the picture frames I wound up using, but the layer scrambling still occurs (albeit slightly less dramatically). First, I start with the second file (the one with picture frames on the master pages) and append the first file (the one that had only background rectangles and no picture frames because I made all the edits manually). Then, I start with the first file and append the second. The result is the same: superfluous picture frames have been added to every spread from the second file. (When the background rectangles were still in the files, they shifted up from the bottom-most layer position on every spread in both files to being above half the content on every spread that had been in the second file. The visual result of which is identical to is in the screen recording.)

 
Quote

One very important thing to note is that there's a feature of Add Pages from File that is rather confusing when using facing pages documents. The Pages field is the page number after or before which the second document's pages will be added. It defaults to the current page. For example, if first document has just 3 pages, you might expect this to default to 3 but if you're viewing page 1 it defaults to 1. Fair enough, a lot of programs work this way. So you double click on pages 2-3 spread and then choose Add Pages from File - the field now defaults to page 2, not page 3. It uses the value of the left page in the spread so what happens is the second document will be inserted before the last page in the first document. So always check this field's value before adding another document.

I don't believe that this was a factor in this case, but please correct me if I'm mistaken.

 

As for the quasi-solution I was able to wrangle, I don't know which of the steps I performed actually helped. I can't even remember everything I tried now, but I do remember being so utterly distraught that I very nearly scrapped everything and started the entire project over again from scratch in V1. What I can remember is that it was around this time that I deleted the background rectangles and applied an opaque background colour to the picture frames (and enabling Show Fill with Content). I also deleted the extra set of master pages (from the first file with only the rectangles and no picture frames) and simply applied the new streamlined master pages (with coloured picture frames only) to all the pages in the document. At this point I remember that the problem had still not been resolved, but I kept clicking on things out of desperation—these are the steps I do not recall, and it's somewhere in here that (seemingly) magically all the pages righted themselves with the content on top and the background on bottom...that is, all but one page. And this is maybe the weirdest thing of this whole ordeal: the first page of the second file's document still showed a picture frame instead of content when every single other page was correct. Upon further investigation, I found that the actual content for that page was missing—just gone. It was definitely present and correct in the second file before the rejoining process. It was definitely there before I started tinkering with the master pages. And I definitely didn't delete any content layers in the course of my tinkering. I was too apprehensive about losing what progress I had made, so I opted to manually correct that one page by readding the content again instead of trying to figure out what had happened and why. 

I hope the screen recording is helpful. If not, though, I'm sure I can add the rectangles back again and get the same results as before. Although, a currently misbehaving TOC is my biggest concern and cause for anxiety and frustration.

2020 iPad Pro 11” 1TB 6GB RAM iPadOS 16.1.1 | 2019 MacBook Pro 16” 2.3GHz Intel i9-9880H, 64GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB macOS Monterey 12.6.1

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Hi @ogdredweary,

Could you possibly provide me with the original files you had the issue with before you merged them together via add pages from file so we can investigate further? I've provided a private dropbox link below. If you could save both as packaged files via File > Save as package and then compress the folders before uploading them that would be great.

https://www.dropbox.com/request/yeiIBmM8GHP1yNcpjyXa

Many thanks in advance!

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2 hours ago, NathanC said:

Hi @ogdredweary,

Could you possibly provide me with the original files you had the issue with before you merged them together via add pages from file so we can investigate further? I've provided a private dropbox link below. If you could save both as packaged files via File > Save as package and then compress the folders before uploading them that would be great.

https://www.dropbox.com/request/yeiIBmM8GHP1yNcpjyXa

Many thanks in advance!

Done! (Or rather, doing...the upload looks like it's going to take a while). Both files are there as they are in their current state, but I also included the second half of the document with the rectangles added back in. I then tested the rejoin again and the behaviour is the same as before—layers are jumbled up and the rectangles end up on top of the picture frames/content even though the master pages dictate the rectangles should be on the bottom.742928701_Screenshot2022-12-09at09_55_47.thumb.png.4b76a7fc6c20467101febce2e99de23a.png

2020 iPad Pro 11” 1TB 6GB RAM iPadOS 16.1.1 | 2019 MacBook Pro 16” 2.3GHz Intel i9-9880H, 64GB RAM, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M 8GB macOS Monterey 12.6.1

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