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Last post Author Topic: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?  (Read 22121 times)

tsaint

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #25 on: April 26, 2010, 05:31:07 AM »
An interesting relic from the past - way back in Opera 5.x times, they had a thing called "Operashow", aimed at using html markup and css to do presentations with Opera.
It might have been relevant to you, apart from the Opera lockin, but I think the idea was subsequently abandoned. Shame.
 Maybe someone with the knowhow could write a quasi html editor, which uses stylesheets, dhtml etc to produce slides for a browser.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #26 on: April 26, 2010, 06:32:26 AM »
You could take a look at Prezi. I don't have any real experience of it; it is just sitting on my "Cool looking things to take a proper look at" list :)

I haven't tried creating a Prezi yet but it looks fantastic.

The best thing is that it is non-linear and also you can embed SWF, PDF  etc.

My first reaction was that an online tool is not ideal but you can download the prezi when finished and use a standalone player so you don't need to have an internet connection.

It isn't clear whether the desktop software is limited to the license period or whether that is just the length of hosting. It would be nioce to think if you sign up for the Pro version you get to keep the desktop app in perpetuity without the hosting package.

Curt

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2010, 07:39:48 AM »
it was my impression that you'll lose even the value of the desktop version, if you stop paying:

Quote
4) Prezi is sold as a service, which means you pay an annual fee. ... If in the future you decide to cancel your payments, you will not be able to create new or edit existing prezis, but ...
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 07:44:23 AM by Curt »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2010, 07:58:28 AM »
it was my impression that you'll lose even the value of the desktop version, if you stop paying:

Quote
4) Prezi is sold as a service, which means you pay an annual fee. ... If in the future you decide to cancel your payments, you will not be able to create new or edit existing prezis, but ...

Also best to be aware of:

Quote
By submitting User Content ... you hereby do and shall grant to Prezi (and its successors, assigns, and third party service providers) a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, fully paid, sublicensable, and transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and otherwise exploit the content on and in connection with the manufacture, sale, promotion, marketing and distribution of products sold on, or in association with, the Service, or for purposes of providing you with the Service and promoting the same, in any medium and by any means currently existing or yet to be devised.

superboyac

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2010, 08:45:20 AM »
JJ, you said to think out of the box, so here goes:

Back to my pdf idea.  I know it's not exactly great, but hear me out.  I've had to put together a lot of presentations in my job, and a lot of emergency ones at the last minute.  When push came to shove, I've used pdf and it has worked out pretty good.  Especially with a program like Bluebeam to streamline the workflow, I think it's a good idea.  The only thing that it wouldn't be so good for is doing some kind of batch editing to a bunch of pre-existing powerpoint slideshows that you already have.

I don't know, I don't have any good suggestions.  I'm interested if what you're looking for exists, because I can use it as well.

JavaJones

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #30 on: April 26, 2010, 12:57:47 PM »
You're right Curt, that was a fantastic math presentation! And it showed me how cool Prezi is at the same time (that's for the recommendation markan!). However, it's a real shame about their terms of service, as that means I simply can't use it for my job. I might use it for my own purposes though. I'll definitely tinker with it and see what the actual presentation building process is like...

Superboy (or what should I call you? :D), I appreciate the out of the box thinking. PDFs do have some merits. Unfortunately I think the "design enforcement" part of the equation is seriously lacking with any PDF editor, including Bluebeam (though I don't have particular experience with it). As you mentioned the ability to centrally modify the styles for a group of presentation is also lacking.

It occurs to me once again that HTML and CSS are *built* for this, and it only makes sense to try to leverage that. The idea of being able to modify a CSS style and instantly change the picture border color or background of every presentation in our 80+ class curriculum almost makes me giddy! Especially as I am currently looking forward to the prospect of doing them all myself *manually* (along with a bunch of other style changes that CSS would make trivial).

While I don't need yet another project to take on, the fact that there are a number of existing, open source HTML and CSS editors out there that might serve as a basis for the kind of tool I have in mind is rather encouraging. I might just tackle it at some point. If and when I do, you guys will be the first testers, of course. :D

- Oshyan
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 01:01:22 PM by JavaJones »

superboyac

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #31 on: April 26, 2010, 03:05:37 PM »
Keep me in the loop here for whatever you figure out.  I'm pretty interested now, since this thread began.

JavaJones

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #32 on: April 26, 2010, 03:35:10 PM »
Excellent, the more people who are interested, the more motivation there is to do it. I'll definitely keep you updated, probably through this thread until/unless it starts to justify its own app discussion.

- Oshyan

mouser

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2010, 09:41:47 PM »
i like powerpoint. but i thought you might enjoy this article from today's ny times:

Quote
WASHINGTON — Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.

The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession.


http://www.nytimes.c...27powerpoint.html?hp

JavaJones

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #34 on: April 26, 2010, 10:30:56 PM »
Holy crap, and I thought I had it bad! That's really... sad. But an interesting read. Thanks mouser. :D
 
- Oshyan

kfitting

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2010, 05:45:18 AM »
More along the philosophical than practical, dont forget to read some of Edward Tufte's ideas on data presentation.  His critique of Powerpoint (more of a critique on the way it is used) is well worth the read:

Main Site (go to ET Notebooks (the forum)):
http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/

Main Powerpoint essay (but look around the forum for plenty more good discussion):
http://www.edwardtuf...p;topic=Ask+E%2eT%2e

Another good powerpoint thread:
http://www.edwardtuf...p;topic=Ask+E%2eT%2e
« Last Edit: April 27, 2010, 05:49:52 AM by kfitting »

Crush

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2010, 09:03:53 AM »
Softmaker Office has included Softmaker Presentations for something like that. The old SO 2008 is offered for free very often like here.

mouser

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2010, 10:20:59 AM »
very nice links kfitting  :up:

superboyac

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #38 on: April 27, 2010, 03:02:16 PM »
Thanks kfitting.  That was an interesting read.

40hz

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2010, 01:37:50 PM »
While I don't need yet another project to take on, the fact that there are a number of existing, open source HTML and CSS editors out there that might serve as a basis for the kind of tool I have in mind is rather encouraging.

I think you're on the right path with that approach. The one really big advantage web markup has going for it is how versatile it is. I've done quite a few "presentations" using nothing other than web technologies and apps, and I've been very happy with the results.

The biggest advantage to "going web" is that files based on such technologies re-purpose themselves relatively easily. So if you do a slide presentation as a series of HTML/CSS pages, it's a small task to convert them into hardcopy or PDF. And it's only marginally more work to use them to create a standalone e-book or autoplay/interactive media application. You could even dub the presentation's audio onto the individual slides for an instant 'video' of the presentation which could be then be archived, distributed, or streamed.

It also makes the presentation playable on any machine that has a web browser - which basically means all of them. Have USB - Will Travel! Hook a laptop up to a projector and it can be used in a conference room. There are even inexpensive remote control devices that can emulate the old "pickle" controllers from back in the days of carousel slide projectors, so the presenter can have heads-up control of pacing in real time.

Can't get a conference area? Then simply share the presentation over your LAN - or WAN if you need to include remote locations.

There's a good article over at A List Apart (another great site BTW!  :up: ) about doing something similar when creating e-books. Although it's not specifically about presentation graphics, much of what's discussed will apply. (Note: Feel free to ignore the inevitable nod towards the iPad. The article was written back in early March when people didn't know any better! :P ;))

Flip a page...change a slide...the basic mechanics are much the same even if the  content density and presentation goals differ.

Link: http://www.alistapar...cles/ebookstandards/

Quote
Web Standards for E-books
by Joe Clark

 

Web Standards for E-books

The internet did not replace television, which did not replace cinema, which did not replace books. E-books aren’t going to replace books either. E-books are books, merely with a different form.

The electronic book is the latest example of how HTML continues to win out over competing, often nonstandardized, formats. E-books aren’t websites, but E-books are distributed electronically. Now the dominant E-book format is XHTML. Web standards take on a new flavor when rendering literature on the screen, and classic assumptions about typography (or “formatting”) have to be adjusted.

HTML isn’t just for the web


It’s for any text distributed online.

Technology predictions can come back to haunt you, but this one I’m sure about: The fate of non-HTML formats has been sealed by HTML5 and the iPad. People are finally noticing what was staring them in the face all along—HTML is great for expressing words. The web is mostly about expressing words, and HTML works well for it. The same holds true for electronic books.

<more>


Something to think about... :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 01:41:37 PM by 40hz »

JavaJones

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2010, 01:54:57 PM »
Yep, all good points 40hz. I think the idea of an HTML/XHTML and CSS-driven presentation system makes a helluvalot of sense in fact, and I'm surprised it doesn't exist yet. So, wait, *does it*? Anyone?

The simple fact of being able to maintain a common stylesheet separately and make instant global changes is reason enough for me.

- Oshyan

40hz

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2010, 03:44:24 PM »
I think the idea of an HTML/XHTML and CSS-driven presentation system makes a helluvalot of sense in fact, and I'm surprised it doesn't exist yet. So, wait, *does it*? Anyone?

Well, maybe not as a presentation package per se.

But you could easily press the Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Expression Studio offerings into service to create presentations. And there's a lot more you can use if you want to mix and match products from other sources. Especially if you don't insist on working in a WYSIWYG or all-in-one environment. Many excellent tools are even free.

Look at it this way - a slide show, a book, or a web site are all basically the same thing - a collection of dimensioned areas containing text and graphics designed to be presented in some sort of ordered sequence.

Websites have the 'advantage' of being less linear in fundamental structure (hence the hyper reference in HTML). But that is more of a feature than a requirement since many websites (blogs, shopping carts, reference works, forums, magazine sites, webcomics, etc. ) tend towards linear presentation in actual use.

So what's the main difference? Page size - and colors supported.

With print, you can go as high and as colorful as your budget can afford. For web-based technologies, there are some technical limits that are well documented in any web design book you'd care to look at. But basically, anything you design on screen should look good when projected (@1280x1024) so long as you use something like a 1200 wide page with 20 or 24-pt type. Again, it's hard to be specific for all cases so you'll need to do a little experimenting to see what looks best for what you're working with.

Once you've got that worked out, it's a simple matter to create style sheets and a 'design manual' for future work - or rework in your case! ;D

Luck! 8)


JavaJones

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2010, 04:08:55 PM »
Of course the various high-end HTML-ish design systems could be used but, as you said, they're a lot more flexible, and as I've noted a couple times in this thread, for my particular needs flexibility is a *minus*. ;) I *don't* want to mix and match anything from anywhere. We have a very clear, precise need that I'm trying to meet. That the output could then be flexiblty adapted is a bonus, and one for which others might be then more inspired to use any product selection resulting from this discussion. But again for my specific purposes the more limited the better (to a point).

I want the actual language and output to be flexible, but not the tool it's constructed in. For me HTML/CSS is perfect in that regard because I can make a limited tool to create it with WYSWIYG (and WYSIWYG is very important for my users on this project incidentally), and then adjust things to my heart's content globally later with the CSS.

So yeah, I think this is a good approach. But I'm still surprised nobody has made a presentation-oriented tool that is based on HTML/CSS since it'd be so easy to do. I'm not even surprised so much from a "hey, this is a good idea" standpoint as from a "hey, it'd be super easy to make a 'presentation' program with HTML/CSS and cash-in on the biz market. Let's do it!" standpoint. You know what I mean? But maybe it only makes sense to me...

- Oshyan

mouser

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2010, 04:26:26 PM »
maybe someone can make a powerpoint plugin that prevents you from changing the style of a chart and forces you to base it on the single master chart style (or from a set of approved ones).

40hz

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2010, 04:38:33 PM »
But I'm still surprised nobody has made a presentation-oriented tool that is based on HTML/CSS since it'd be so easy to do. I'm not even surprised so much from a "hey, this is a good idea" standpoint as from a "hey, it'd be super easy to make a 'presentation' program with HTML/CSS and cash-in on the biz market. Let's do it!" standpoint.

Yup, it is a great idea.

Unfortunately, Microsoft owns the presentation graphics market.

Even Adobe couldn't wrestle it away from them. That's why they abandoned Persuasion (anybody else remember that horrendous product and originally from Aldus?) and ceded the field to Gates & Co. PowerPoint is now the undisputed standard for business presentations.

"Mother, forgive me!" as the Comedian so aptly said in the movie Watchmen;D

The only other serious competitor was Harvard Presentation Graphics - and that once proud standard of the business world has been reduced to YAVCIW, but (oddly enough) still maintains its existence in a weird sort of 'half-life' arrangement under the Serif software banner:

Link:   http://www.harvardgraphics.com/about.asp

Quote
In 1986, the first version of Harvard Graphics was released (then known as Harvard Presentation Graphics). Harvard Graphics was the first presentation graphics program to include text, graphs and charts in one program. Harvard Graphics made it easy for people to put together presentations with text slides, charts based on numeric data, and graphics drawn with various tools. In the early years of these applications, the results were typically sent to a slide printer or a color plotter to use in making transparencies. Over time, capabilities were added to present slide shows from the program itself.

The first version of Harvard Graphics was a DOS-based application. Over the years, Harvard Graphics has received top honors in numerous reviews of presentation graphics programs for Intel-compatible computers. In 1991, Harvard Graphics was ported to Windows. Reviews through this period often favored Harvard Graphics as being the most powerful.

Harvard Graphics has continued its tradition through the years as the best solution for communicating and presenting your information to the world. As technology has advanced, Harvard Graphics has evolved to meet the demanding needs of the business community. Many professionals, both past and present, depend on Harvard Graphics to provide the cutting edge needed to rise above the competition. Now it's your turn to let Harvard Graphics forge your place at the top.

In 2001, Serif Incorporated acquired the exclusive marketing rights to all Harvard Graphics products. Additionally, Serif Incorporated provides complete support solutions for all Harvard Graphics customers. For more information on Serif Incorporated, please visit our Web site at: http://www.serif.com.

I'm surprised to see you can still buy it...

I'm even more surprised anybody still wants to. ;)

 :Thmbsup:


« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 04:50:24 PM by 40hz »

JavaJones

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #45 on: April 28, 2010, 04:58:07 PM »
Well, yes that's true, except for the exceptions posted in this thread (showing that some people are still trying to innovate), and of course the existence of OpenOffice, SoftmakerOffice, etc. that all feature presentation components (that admittedly are direct clones of Powerpoint, for the most part).

I have a habit of being optimistic when considering the potential market for a product idea of mine, but having seen the dedicated software that is used in the technical documentation industry, I can't help but think there is room for a more flexible, centrally administratable tool than Powerpoint. In fact, wait a minute, aren't Google and Zoho basically already doing this? Hmm...

- Oshyan

40hz

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2010, 06:18:32 PM »
Well...the only real way to find out is to write it.

And I share your optimistic mind set.

I have no patience with cynics.

From The Gospel According to Mung:

We can't afford to be cynical. There's too much at stake!  :)
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 06:20:03 PM by 40hz »

JavaJones

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2010, 08:58:42 PM »
Unfortunately I'm not a coder. :( But I hope I'll be able to find someone to work with on it at some point.

- Oshyan

tsaint

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #48 on: April 29, 2010, 05:34:07 AM »
I'll have another go - have a look at http://philburns.com/quickshow.html to see if it's relevant to the discussion.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?
« Reply #49 on: April 29, 2010, 07:43:50 AM »
?? I looked at the 4 examples listed on the QuickShow website - am I mssing something?

I can't really see what it does apart from produce pretty ugly web pages (the 4th example didn't seem to work at all)

It also looks old and not updated often - the latest supported version of Windows listed is XP, only supports 32-bit and was released in 2004.