Huge Files
September 2, 2004 2:52 PM   Subscribe

i've got a client that is doing private investiations of insurance fraud cases, and has been writing up reports in MS Word and embedding photos of the casework into those .doc files. the problem is that he needs to email these files to his clients so they can be proofread and modified (i had suggested .PDF files until i realized the clients needed to be able to modify the reports). Unfortunately, these .doc files with images embeded end up roughly 15 MB in size each, and become too large to email. they're not technically astute enough to resize the images to be smaller, however .PDF files nicely package that same 15 MB .doc file into a 250 KB .pdf file. do any of you have any ideas of a common document format that i can recommend to them that will take care of the image size for them?

posted by quadrinary to Education (12 answers total)
It would be a pretty major left turn, but you could do this as a wiki in a password-protected directory.

Also: if you've got the right software, PDFs can be annotated. Of course, that means everyone needs to go out and buy Acrobat.
posted by adamrice at 2:59 PM on September 2, 2004

Two options:

(1) Attach the pictures as separate files. Instead of one big word file attachment, cite the pictures in the text as exhibits, and give the files corresponding names.

(2) The image toolbar in word has a button for compressing all or selected images. Clicking on it will give options for changing the resolution of the images, including a setting for "web/screen" at 96 dpi. After completing the document, simply click the button, select all images and and the appropriate screen resolution, and poof, you're done. I'm not sure how much this will help, but it could reduce filesize at least some.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:11 PM on September 2, 2004

Response by poster: yea... we're trying to avoid requiring the clients to buy acrobat. the wiki idea isn't too terrible, except for the fact that the SDSL available in their area is only 40 KBps, and for them to upload files that size is pretty problematic anyway. the only other option is a T1, but they can't afford that yet.
posted by quadrinary at 3:14 PM on September 2, 2004

I'm afraid any other file format introduces more tech problems to an already tech wary client. It is probably best to work within the realm he knows (or close to it as possible). Thus:

Zip it.

Failing that, it is in your client's best interest to produce the best product, so he should make an effort to slim down his Word doc. Then zip it.

Failing that, FedEx.
posted by pedantic at 3:39 PM on September 2, 2004

I'd supply the word document without the images, and a PDF file with images, if you want them to see the design of it.

Simply annotate the PDF with bookmarks so that para A in Word goes to para A in acrobat. When we work on long reports in the graphic studio (ie Annual Reports, etc), we commonly work with Word or similar for wholesale type changes from the client, and acrobat to give everyone a good look at the design.

Acrobat is useless for text editing. Very minor mistakes can be dealt with, but that's it. So getting your clients acrobat won't solve the problem.

quadrinary, how many images are you talking about? If it's a few, I'd suggest rasterizing the images for screen only before inserting in the word document. Photo editing software will do a much better job of compression than word and should bring your file sizes down quite a bit.

My email is on profile if you want to get more specific.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:43 PM on September 2, 2004

I've run into this exact problem before, and learned that the word processor in OpenOffice allows you to save as a PDF, which I believe can also later be modified if opened in OpenOffice. Should give you a much smaller file size than Word.
posted by biscotti at 3:51 PM on September 2, 2004

1. put the images on a webserver (sorry, third party intervention required here - gotta convert 'em!).

2. replace the images with hotlinks to the served images.

3. send "web service fee" adjustment from invoice to me.

4. Profit!!!
posted by mwhybark at 4:34 PM on September 2, 2004

How technically astute does your client need to be to open their images in whatever program they have, and save it as a jpeg? Just give them a simplified, step by step procedure for saving their images (or draft copies of images, or whatever.)
posted by xammerboy at 5:45 PM on September 2, 2004

xammerboy: depending on the version of Word, it'll save it in it's own internal format that's no longer a jpeg and bloat out the file size. I've had a 100KB word file, a 50KB image, and the two combined were over a meg.
posted by holloway at 5:47 PM on September 2, 2004

I just realized that the images probably have to be accessed in a secured environment, making this somewhat more of a PITA for a webby solution. I doubt .htaccess meets security expectations for these if they're to be up for more than a day or two.

Maybe .htaccess on an IP-only server? hm...

Good luck!
posted by mwhybark at 6:45 PM on September 2, 2004

There are different possibilities that would be a whole lot more fun and useful (from our point of view), but given that the stumbling block here is that manually resizing images is too complicated, I would say just find some sort of very easy image management software that can do batch resizing. Picasa might be able to do it, for instance. I googled and found this and this., for example.

It seems that in this situation, this will be the easiest way to get from point A to point B, in that nobody involved has to learn new skills or concepts, with the exception of your guy, who, will only need to deal with a few simple clicks to handle a whole folder of images.
posted by taz at 11:35 PM on September 2, 2004

A friend of mine and I have used Dropload in the past to exchange files too big for email.
posted by zztzed at 5:13 AM on September 3, 2004

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