Tinderbox Forum

How many images is "too much"?

I do not use images in Tinderbox documents very frequently, but I’m considering doing a few projects with Tinderbox that will involve more images. “More” is probably 20 or 30 PNGs around 200x300 – roughly. Could be more or less. I usually do these kinds of projects in Curio, but the lack of user-definable attributes for text notes is a problem for these new projects, which need more intelligence.

So, before going down this path, I want to avoid investing in a document that then begins to perform poorly.

Which leads to the headline question: how many images (in a Tinderbox document) are too many for good performance? Is there a rule of thumb?

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In Tinderbox Six, I’ve begun to use images fairly freely without any obvious bad consequences. Note that large images will increase file size substantially, but loading times remain quite reasonable even with a number of images.

In context, it might be useful to note for this thread:

  • Supported image formats: PNG or JPEG bitmaps.
  • Where in a document may images be added:
    ** (a) inline in note text or
    ** (b) as picture adornments in Map view.
  • Which of the above can be exported: only (a)
  • Where are images stored: in the TBX file’s XML
    ** Note images are stored as part of the Rich Text (<rtfd>) data. This is nothing in the XML to indicate how many images exist. The plain text <text> data has no markers for images.
    ** Picture adornments store image data in an <image> tag. Format unknown (base 64?).

To a 53 Kb TBX with one one and one adornment, I added two images (7kb, 11kb) to the note and replaced the adornment with a picture adornment (picture 5kb). The saved size of the file was 3.2Mb but, importantly, unless you’re short on disk space or need to move/synch files on slow bandwidth, I don’t see the additional sizes as problematic.

As MB notes, the files open quickly. Unless you use very big images, notes with large amounts of text are likely to affect performance more and those only when in focus. I’d assume - not tested - a large map with many large embedded images might be less sprightly in opening but not noticeably slow.

[I suggest MB do an admin edit on the above if I’ve got anything wrong.]

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Howard Oakley’s articles on Storyspace (see this thread) include useful discussion of the issues of using images. As Tinderbox and Storyspace use the same underlying code for this tasks, the articles are pertinent to image handling in both apps.

I just did a test, figuring it would slow down save times massively… and while it’s noticeably slower, I had about 50 iPhone images in there and it only took a second or two to save (the .tbx file is 182 MB).

I did notice something weird though and I think it might have to do with export preview… it looks like Tinderbox export all of the images right next to the .tbx file itself! (unless that’s just normally how it handles images).

I had a note called “a bunch of images”, and now there are files named a_bunch_of_images.jpg, a_bunch_of_images1.jpg etc in the same directory as the .tbx file. Not really sure what happened there.

And when I exported the note, it made an HTML file with broken image refs, because it didn’t export the images along with the HTML file.

I’m intrigued about the possibility of using images in my tinderbox files, but it seems like something is still off at this point…

If you do HTML Export from Tinderbox, image files are created alongside the HTML files. That’s certainly what I’d expect.

This created the image files on disk before I did export, alongside the Tinderbox file itself. When I exported HTML from Tinderbox, it did not create image files alongside the HTML.

Final file structure:

  • my.tbx
  • image1.jpg
  • image2.jpg
  • exported
    • note1.html

where note1.html had broken image references to image1 and image2.

Aside from export, Tinderbox does not create image files outside the Tinderbox document.

Here’s a video demonstration of Tinderbox creating an image outside of the document, without me running an export.

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Naturally when you preview, Tinderbox needs to export images from the previewed page so people will see the images they expect.

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So, unless that (part of the) document has been exported to HTML at least once, so as to make the folder structure, any images needed in preview are perforce placed in the root export folder (default - where the TBX is?). I only ask for documentation purposes.

I’m not entirely sure I understand what the default export folder in a fresh install is; I’d not anticipated this scenario. To complicate matters further, the Tinderbox Preferences file in ~/Library/Preferences is consulted in the process, and many up-to-date Tinderbox users will have Preferences files created long ago in a galaxy far away.

We’ll investigate further…

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