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I used to be against embedding but realized recently that it's possible to disembed and retain the original data (layers, etc.). Here are the pros and cons I already came up with. I'm interested to hear what this community has to say.

Pros:

  • Easier to transfer (reworded from "less files to transfer")
  • No broken links

Cons:

  • Heavier InDesign file
  • Cannot see all the information in the links panel (resolution, etc.) without disembedding
  • If one image is corrupt, may corrupt the whole InDesign file

What else could be added to this list?

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    As an aside, I am not at all sure users with a 4k reputation should have a close vote levelled against them when asking for peer advise because its "opinion based". Quote me the rules if you like, but its just not on. – mayersdesign Mar 27 '18 at 14:02
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    @mayersdesign I don't think opinion based would be applicable here anyways, I do want to draw from various experiences but I'm looking for objective pros and cons. I think that's just some people being a bit trigger happy on the close votes. – Emilie Mar 27 '18 at 15:31
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    @mayersdesign: I'm not saying anything about whether the question is opinion-based, but whether a question should be closed has nothing to do with the number of imaginary internet points the questioner has accumulated. Questions should be judged on their own merits. – user2357112 Mar 27 '18 at 18:03
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    @user2357112 I do see where you're coming from. But do we not in the real word treat experts in their field with somewhat greater respect - within that field - than we do those we can't readily evaluate? I am just saying that if a question exists in a "grey area", then benefit of the doubt might be more reasonably and fairly applied to someone that has demonstrably helped many other people in the same forum. – mayersdesign Mar 27 '18 at 18:31
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    @mayersdesign On the other hand, both here and in the real world, we have higher expectations of an expert to know and follow the guidelines. You might give a newbie a benefit of the doubt that an expert would not be afforded. (Not that I think this is opinion-based either; I don’t.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 27 '18 at 23:06
5

Regarding Cons: embed files and save as imdl.
Also it's hard to count this as a con as you still would need to send the links to the final file (be it zip or indd) are similar in weight.

For me Pros:

  • Easy file sharing among different contributors. Sometimes I get packages that lack some files. Happened to me, created a package and 50% of the files were missing.
  • Save final file from external changes. Say your file contains a linked Excel file. After a certain amount of time you can shut the links off from the source so any change won't affect your work. Helpful where there are many contributors (sometimes machines that create data dumps at 23:59) to source files and someone quack up.
  • Helpful in marking stages. Let's say the deadline is Friday at 5PM. At 4:59 you create a pdf and embed all the files. On Wednesday somebody has an issue with an outdated photo, wrong diagram or something. You can easily track where was the mistake or lift the blame off you.
  • Easily created master files. Just create the master, embed files and voila: a fully functioning single file for later use.

Cons:

  • Takes a lot of time to find and copy and relink files that cannot be embedded.

  • People will embed EVERY file they ever linked. And you end up with 500 instances of the same 25MB logo on your already cluttered disc.

  • Can you elaborate on "files that cannot be embedded"? – Emilie Mar 27 '18 at 16:56
  • 500*25 MB = 12 GB which totally wasted – joojaa Mar 28 '18 at 7:17
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    @Emilie As a frequent user of files with embedded link (around 20 a day) I noticed that sometimes when selecting links the "embed" is grayed out. Then I need to manually go to each link and see which one is he culprit. Then I need to copy it to new place, change name place in indd as new and relink it's instances again. Happen on CS5.5 and CS6. Both Win XP,7 and 10. – SZCZERZO KŁY Mar 28 '18 at 8:07
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The biggest con I know of is that it ruins the dynamic nature of you indd library. By that, I mean that if you refresh your brand by updating a logo or photos, you have to replace it manually wherever it appears in each document if you have embedded them. If the other cons weren't enough, this one is a deal breaker for me, especially when working on accounts that have hundreds of branded documents.

  • Actually my understanding is that you could disembed the image and then you can relink as usual without tweaking everything. And it also seems that you can relink without unembedding (indesignsecrets.com/…) but I have not tried this. – Emilie Mar 27 '18 at 16:53
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    @Emilie yes but youd still be doing this for each file separately. If you dont embed ever then all of this just works right now. – joojaa Mar 28 '18 at 6:28
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Pros

Easier to transfer (reworded from "less files to transfer")

A zip file is one file. Is it really more files to transfer. Assuming package works properly its the right thing to do.

But obviously this is simpler if you don't consider your workflow that important. Which is a boon to casual users.

Not really a pro or con really, just a social issue.

No broken links

Here however is have to say that technical people deal with these kinds of things all the time. So even if inDesign does not allways succed in packaging there should be no reason why it would be a big deal to handle packaging yourself.

I mean i have lots of game/media programming projects that have files in the 10,000's (mostly sound, video and sprite assets) and have never had any problems with ensuring all files are moved correctly between computers (and less work and file overhead than using something like zip files). There are good solutions that are magnitudes more robust than what inDesign gives you. They will even handle the transfer of files over to your client without any extra effort on your part.

Cons

Heavier InDesign file

Not only that, but you now have same file on disk multiple times for every version you save. The files logical connection with any workflow is broken and can no longer be updated in isolation or by third parties. It makes it harder for several people to work on separate elements simultaneously.

This may mean that a simple update is now changing 20 things in several separate files. So you need to weigh in if the benefits over the costs of checking and rechecking. It is also a burden to your backing up and versioning of files. But then on the other hand now you are isolated form mistakes in change management (did you consider that all these files were affected?). A bit of a mixed issue not really a pro or con.

SO this may be a Pro or a Con depending on your workflow. Though you can also do this kind if insulation with separate files too. But this is really just a symptom of inadequate version control. Which admittedly is typical to graphic designers because there is not many industry specific solutions for this and thus many haven't heard of such things.

Cannot see all the information in the links panel (resolution, etc.) without dis-embedding

Yeah that's just stupid design on Adobes part. You could easily fix this for your workflow with a scripted panel. Quite minor thing

If one image is corrupt, may corrupt the whole InDesign file

Again a symptom of inadequate version control. But yeah likelyhood of file corruption ofcourse increases with file size.

2

"Less files to transfer" is not a "pro", because every file you are embedding will increase the INDD so much, you could easily end up with a 1GB or more file and good luck uploading that to your contributors, especially if working with multiple versions of the INDD.

"No broken links" appears to be the only valid argument, but that's not reason enough to start embedding files. If the project is packaged properly by the initial designer (File → Package), there will not be any broken links.

And what if your contributor deletes an embedded photo, saves the file, then the client wants the photo back, and surprise, nobody knows where we took that from.

I would never embed anything. We have online storage now with sync and share like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. I would work in a shared folder (read-only access if you have to) and use InDesign the way it was meant to be used.

  • "And what if your contributor deletes an embedded photo, saves the file, then the client wants the photo back, and surprise, nobody knows where we took that from." I'm trying to understand how having a package would give a different outcome in this situation? – Emilie Mar 27 '18 at 15:28
  • Well, if you have all the links put together in a folder, whatever you remove from the INDD is still left in the folder. So, you remove it from the INDD but you still have the file. Also, if the file disappears but is still linked in INDD, you can at least see what the file was called and which folder it was linked from. – Lucian Mar 27 '18 at 15:32
  • Ah I see, so considering the point of view of someone who is working in a pre-packaged InDesign but who would not have access to the original file somewhere else (e.g. in an email attachment or something of the sort) – Emilie Mar 27 '18 at 15:37
  • I'm also from the "I would never embed anything" school but after reading on InDesign Secrets thoughts from Anne-Marie Concepcion and speaking to my printer about it yesterday, it seems like there is a bit of a shift in thinking on this issue. – Emilie Mar 27 '18 at 15:39
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    @Lucian If you’re transferring files of this magnitude, file size will always be an issue, though at least with linked files it’ll be spread out over many files. Even with linked files, the INDD file itself was about 150 MB, and the Links folder was about 15GB (plus the missing 200+ images, which were an additional 12 GB, I think). But no, I wasn’t suggesting that embedding the files in such a huge project would be a good idea—it would probably kill InDesign quite thoroughly—just pointing out that packaging the project doesn’t always work very well either. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 28 '18 at 9:04

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