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slow AI... do I need more RAM or what?

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#1
natcase

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So... I'm embarking on a new and exciting task, rebuilding some of our really big map bases in Illustrator?we've migrated about a dozen bases from Freehand already, but they are mostly relatively small maps. In the process, we're tweaking and re-building some of the underlying linework.

Is it my imagination, or is AI a memory hog? I currently have 1.5MB RAM on my Mac G5, and when I imported a few urban counties worth of TIGER road lines (with MaPublisher), it took 27 hours and now when I open that file, everything slows way down. Similarly, for another project, I applied a raster effect to a whole lot of linework (an opacity mask to create a vignette effect) and suddenly I was scrolling through thick mud. I partially fixed that by taking all but the objects that actually were ghosting from the opaaue mask, but it's still sluggish.

Sounds like I need more RAM, but how much?

Are there settings in AI I can reduce dependence on Virtual memory?

Does stripping out geodata by moving it to non-map layers help? It didn't do much with the TIGER files.


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#2
supercooper

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In my experiences with MP and AI, with big datasets, it does help some to strip out unneeded data from the attribute tables. I use XTools DeleteMultiField tool in ArcMap to do this sometimes. I routinely work with point datasets of 10's of thousands of points, and MP and AI on my XP box with 3GB of ram tends to bog down.

#3
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By far, I am not an Illustrator guru.

Overall Illustrator is sluggish.
A few suggestions:
Work in wireframe (outline via the view menu) for large files.
Do not save your file with the pdf option (create pdf compatible file).
Do not save with compression. (larger file but faster to load)
Check your scratch disk settings (make it a local drive).
Also if you have plugins you don't use move them to a different directory (backup). Plugins take up memory.
As for importing via MP being slow. (Maybe ask Avenza ... they might have suggestions).
Chart

#4
BEAVER

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Just like others said, MP is very slow when it comes to large files or medium size files. I always use some other GIS to edit the file before bringing it into MP. Most of the the time I will use Manifold to simplify the lines and joined them together. I also filter out all the fields in the tables to the bare minimum that I need in Mapublisher. I can open the entire NY state 2005 tiger data (60 counties) and work with it without any problems in Global Mapper where Mapublisher will choke after only three counties loaded.

#5
frax

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for raster effects, it can help by turning down the resolution for the rasterization before you are finished (just don't forget to crank it back up to print quality!)

I think it also helps to have multiple, defragmented, scratch disks
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#6
ELeFevre

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Nat,

I recommend more RAM. Anything less than 2gb is not enough for large maps in Illustrator IMO. I've found that you can also significantly improve Illy performance by linking many of the common elements in your map i.e. the legend, insets, images and tables. Doing this allows you to work with a much lighter file through most of the time consuming tasks like labeling. When I'm a day or so away from printing I will insert all of the linked components into the final layout.

Any live Illustrator effects like gaussian blurs or outer-glows used to create a vignette should be applied at the very end of the project as well. Live effects are memory intensive. You can even take this one step further and place these as a light-weight transparent GIFs or PNGs.

A couple of months ago I started using a dedicated scratch disk as well. I'm not sure how much a difference this has made, but it certaintly didn't slow things down. Adobe recommends using a dedicated scratch disk, but it might be a good idea consult a hard-ware expert on the best way to set it up, or you could cause more harm than good.

One last thing, and I don't have an explanation for this, but it seems like when you work solely from one drive and you don't move files between drives, Illustrator performs much better.

One more tip and perhaps the most important: Illustrator files corrupt easily and sometimes you won't know it's corrupt until you try and open the file after working on it all day. The best way to recognize a corrupt Illustrator file is by looking at the file size. If suddenly your file size is in kilobytes... your in trouble. I always check my file size right after I save. That way you don't save corrupt files over your back-ups which will happen if your not careful.



#7
Cartisan Maps

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A bulk of the issue could be MaPublisher. Whenever I've tested MP I've always thought it ran too slow/cumbersome to ween myself away from ESRI products. The less plugins, the better speed.

As long as it doesn't break the bank, adding RAM is never a bad idea. Although, it is rare that I'm working on a project massive enough to demonstrate that 3GB is better than 2GB - it has to be real huge. I haven't checked on the latest versions of Illy, but can it there a maximum amount of ram that it can take advantage of?

Scratch disks definitely help, but it has been a long while since I had a dedicated scratch disk. If things have been hectic, my first indication that I am running low on hard drive space is that Illy slows down.

Document raster effects settings can dramatically slow things down. I keep mine at 72dpi for general work, and then crank it up to something appropriate for design tinkering and printing.

And then there is always Outline Mode, which I often use even when it is not needed. Speed greatly increases.

Two other features I've noticed slow down processing in Illy are the Navigator Palette (which I avoid) and the thumbnails in the Layers Palette (which I set to not display). Alright, so I'm not entirely positive that the thumbnails have an effect, but Isince Illy 9 I've at least pretend that they do and so turning them off is the first thing I do in a new document.

Also, it was touched upon by Erin, linking images helps out a bunch. This circumvents any speed decreases caused by document raster effects. I also prefer using Photoshop for the raster process, for increased control. You can then link two versions of the raster file, a low res and a hi res one. Its failing my thoughts now, but I believe there is a way to link a hi-res file and then have it display at a lower res. Maybe it is an option with EPS or PSD files, but I can't recall.
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#8
Mike H

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One more tip and perhaps the most important: Illustrator files corrupt easily and sometimes you won't know it's corrupt until you try and open the file after working on it all day.



YES - this is a substantial problem - I encourage everyone to duplicate (or save as) the file on a daily basis. That way the most you lose is a days work. I keep a folder of old files, using a version number: streetmapV3.ai so on a large project I'll have streetmapv78 or so... good peace of mind to insure you don't end up with a corrupt project file or save a major mistake.

And illy with Mapublisher is really slow - no doubt about that. Buy more ram for starters.

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#9
mike

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2GB or more will definitely help. I also find linking helpful when there is a need to add alot of surrounding map elements. turning off layers that you don't need at the moment will also help redraw times.

#10
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Re: Backups

Nick S. talked about the use of Version Cue to maintain backups. (versions). Maybe something to look into...

As for importing with MapPublisher I never really experience slow imports (thus far). (Version 7.1 with CS1).

(one of my daughters just walk up being me and found Mike`s icon funny....I told her he was a Cartographer)
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#11
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Re: Backups

As for importing with MapPublisher I never really experience slow imports (thus far). (Version 7.1 with CS1).



The only time I've had really slow imports is when I've imported features with a lot of attached data. Stripping out any unnecessary data before import will usually solve the problem. If you find that you stripped something you need you can always join the data later on.



#12
frax

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I have a useful script that I call "final save" that I use at the end of the day, or before showing things to (internal and external) partners - it saves the current document as eps,png and pdf (with preserved editing capabilities, so they are backups too, in a way!) and creates a lower resolution jpg as well - and it also saves a (dated) backup of the file in my temp folder. I have actually experienced very little file corruption with Illy lately, so it is not a big problem for me - it might be a MP issue.

Maybe I should modify that script to set the resolution to 300 dpi before exporting as well - if the dpi is set to 72...
(and don't do anything if it is set to something non-72 for instance)
Hugo Ahlenius
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#13
mike

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I have a useful script that I call "final save" that I use at the end of the day, or before showing things to (internal and external) partners - it saves the current document as eps,png and pdf (with preserved editing capabilities, so they are backups too, in a way!) and creates a lower resolution jpg as well - and it also saves a (dated) backup of the file in my temp folder. I have actually experienced very little file corruption with Illy lately, so it is not a big problem for me - it might be a MP issue.

Maybe I should modify that script to set the resolution to 300 dpi before exporting as well - if the dpi is set to 72...
(and don't do anything if it is set to something non-72 for instance)


Hugo, where can we find this script?

#14
Hans van der Maarel

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Hugo, where can we find this script?


I was going to ask the same thing...
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#15
Nick Springer

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Yes, post the script! :)

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