Wishes for "Image Linked to File..."

I use “Insert…Image Linked to File…” extensively and would appreciate a few minor additions in a future release:

  1. When the source image is replaced (rt-click Reload From Original Image), it would be nice if the new image kept the scaling of the old, as my originals are almost always huge when imported and I have to use rt-click Scale Image… to get them to a reasonable size.

  2. It would be a great convenience if the source file name and path would show up upon mouse-over. I insert png files made from Adobe Illustrator files, and commonly can’t remember the filename and have to rt-click Reveal in Finder, which opens a Finder window.

  3. A REAL convenience that would eliminate the need for #2 would be if one could use Image Linked to File with Illustrator files (Scrivener would pull in the pdf from the .ai file, ideally scalable). With my current workflow I have to continually make new pngs as I edit the files, doubling the number of files and adding to bookkeeping issues.

One alternative that we recommend for projects with lots of images is to replace them wholesale.

See the manual for full details, but the idea is that all of the linked images reside in a folder (outside the project). While you’re focusing on the text, that folder contains lower resolution “thumbnails.” Meanwhile, use Illustrator to develop an entirely separate folder of high quality images that you’ll want to use in your final output document. When you’re ready, simply swap the two folders.

Among other things, Illustrator is a better image editing and scaling tool than Scrivener will ever be.

That is more or less what I do, but these are figures that change a lot–graphs, maps, and so on that get edited as often as the text does, and when I edit the text I see something on the figure that needs changing, so there is a lot of replacing. If they were just static photos they wouldn’t change as much.

I would say my suggestion is even more applicable with figures that change often. If the linked (external) version is already sized correctly, then there’s no need to re-scale after reloading.

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To clarify on the design:

  1. It is very much intentional for the image scaling and aspect ratio to be reset when reloading an image. That is the principal purpose of that command, in essence. One can certainly use it to rebuild the thumbnail for aesthetic purposes, without reloading the project and presuming the image is correctly sized, but that’s not why that command exists. It exists for cases where the image has physically changed dimensions and you do not want to have to delete the image entirely and then re-import it to fix it (I suppose one could maybe use the sliders to fix a broken image scaling issue, but that would be torture).

    As kewms notes, it is almost always better to have a properly sized image rather than using the DPI setting in Scrivener to correct for an improperly sized image. Chances are you’ll then end up with an incorrect DPI setting for your print setup anyway, by doing that. It should be a simple matter to set up your original .ai files to have the correct print settings from the start, so the PNGs look right to begin with, and then you can use the reload command all you want.

  2. You’ll find the full path to the image by double-clicking on it. The path can be copied from the text label here. A tooltip isn’t a bad idea, less utility overall than the copyable text, but if its possible to add a tooltip to an image in the first place, that wouldn’t hurt.

  3. It wouldn’t be a practical use of time to reverse engineer .ai to the level you would expect it to be functional. Even dedicated graphic design software often does not do that, and depends upon you to export from Illustrator to a common format like SVG before it can be imported into another program—and even then you’ll often find a loss of design features (gradient settings and such). Speaking of SVG though, you might try experimenting with that as your core format, if AI can edit them natively. Definitely test compiling to make sure you get what you want though, and even more so than with raster images, it is imperative the illustration is properly sized since Scrivener doesn’t have the code to resize vector (neither PDF nor SVG) on the fly.