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Author Topic: Powerpoint sucks - what to use instead?  (Read 16842 times)
tsaint
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« Reply #50 on: April 29, 2010, 08:12:12 AM »

I guess I was trying to point towards an attempt from some time back to develop ideas similar to some of those proposed here, in case a read of the site I pointed to stimulated ideas from someone with some programming talent. It wasn't intended to be a "look, here's the final solution to your problem" post.
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40hz
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« Reply #51 on: April 29, 2010, 09:12:09 AM »

@tsaint- You have my sympathies.

I've felt in the same boat at times.

There's a big difference between an FYI and a personal recommendation. Why do people tend to believe that whatever gets offered for consideration is automatically being recommended?

Such is life I suppose... Grin

« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 09:15:10 AM by 40hz » Logged

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JavaJones
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« Reply #52 on: April 29, 2010, 01:32:31 PM »

Interesting, it does appear that this has been tried before, albeit not (apparently) that well done, and no longer updated. I'm thinking one of the modern open source HTML editors really might make a great basis for this. Having pre-built CSS layouts with empty divs would be a good way of making fairly rigid templates, too...

- Oshyan
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superboyac
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« Reply #53 on: April 29, 2010, 02:34:33 PM »

@tsaint- You have my sympathies.

I've felt in the same boat at times.

There's a big difference between an FYI and a personal recommendation. Why do people tend to believe that whatever gets offered for consideration is automatically being recommended?

Such is life I suppose... Grin
Reminds of a quote in one of Stephen Fry's America documentaries.  He's talking with a Harvard prof, and the prof explains how it's a very American thing to want all answers in black and white.  Very simple, short, definitive answers.  What's the best?  Is this right or wrong?  When, in fact, the world operates mostly in shades of gray.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #54 on: April 29, 2010, 07:14:18 PM »

@tsaint- You have my sympathies.

I've felt in the same boat at times.

There's a big difference between an FYI and a personal recommendation. Why do people tend to believe that whatever gets offered for consideration is automatically being recommended?

Such is life I suppose... Grin



I wasn't quite suggesting that it was being offered as a full solution (just commenting on the fact it dated back half a decade).

My comment was more that having read the rest of this thread I couldn't really see any way that the app mentioned approached any sort of solution (in fact I couldn't really see what problem it was 'designed' to solve - even in the 'demonstrations' suggested as an illustration).
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tsaint
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« Reply #55 on: April 30, 2010, 12:44:07 AM »

If you do visit the link I gave and then want to view the example pages, use opera to do so if you have it (the 4th example does work by the way)
 
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JavaJones
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« Reply #56 on: April 30, 2010, 01:01:53 AM »

Ohhh! Yeah they look/work totally different with Opera. Interesting. The backgrounds and general formatting still suck, but you get the idea.

- Oshyan
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Jabberwock
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« Reply #57 on: May 07, 2010, 08:26:14 PM »

How about good old MS Word?

I suppose it is not that nice presentation-wise (although I bet you could fool quite a few people with fullscreen print preview), but you do have much more control over the style vs. content. As long as there is no "manual" formatting used, you have some of the things you ask for... Namely, use of a template allows you to give an underlining style structure, it can be updated after the presentations are created, etc.

Other things you mentioned could be done as well (such photo sizing, cropping, aligning), but that would require writing several macros. However, once you have them, they can be attached to the same template so the users can apply them as required.

Edit: jumped in from the newsletter, didn't noticed it's quite old...
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JavaJones
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« Reply #58 on: May 07, 2010, 11:07:24 PM »

Thanks for the reply Jabberwock. Late April is too old? cheesy Well I'm still looking for a solution, so input continues to be appreciated.

While you make some interesting points about Word, I'm not aware of it being able to truly lock down formatting in the way that I want. It's funny actually, because it's rare that I actually want to impose *more* limits on an application, but in this case it's really best to avoid the ability for content authors to "get creative" with layout and design. I've seen first hand that the end results are seldom better than a simple, generic layout. The trick is enforcing layout and design standards. Also does Word have the ability to easily update the style across multiple documents? For example if we later decide we want to change our font from Arial to Times, could we do this to 50 Word documents without opening and applying a style to each one? Think of how this would work with CSS - I would change the single CSS file that every document references, and viola! It's done.

Anyway, as you can probably see, I'm still thinking an HTML and CSS based solution may be the ticket. But no progress on developing that thus far on my end...

- Oshyan
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Jabberwock
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« Reply #59 on: May 08, 2010, 05:01:10 AM »

The "lock down" depends on how obedient the users are smiley Templates allow you to reassign key shortcuts, menus and toolbars (at least in 2003, I'm not sure about 2007), so in a way that takes away ability to mess up the document manually, but it is not that difficult to circumvent (so some user discipline is required). Instead, you could give them large buttons titled e.g. "Main heading", "Bullet point" etc. that would be linked to particular styles.

If a document is tied to a template, it should update automatically to the changes in the template whenever it is opened. Unfortunately, it is rather easy to modify the formatting (so it shows up as "Style + Arial", for example) - then of course manual overrides remain, even if the template is changed. Still, you could have a macro that reapplies the styles if needed (based on this tip):

http://www.elharo.com/blo...-tip-1-reapplying-styles/

Another option is to link documents in a master document - this allows to modify all of them at the same time without opening each inidividual document. The disadvantage is that each document has to be linked to the master manually, which might get tedious. Also, with a large number of documents this might become unwieldy.
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dallee
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« Reply #60 on: May 08, 2010, 06:33:16 AM »

Mouser, at post 33 in this thread on page 2, mentions a New York Times article, entitled "We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint," which has a main take-away that a slide analysis can give an illusory sense that complexities have been mastered.  The article looks at military uses (apparently at epidemic levels).  Here is one quote from the article:  “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”  

For the purposes of this thread, particularly useful reflections on Powerpoint are in two follow-on Times posts.  First, there is a lesson plan based on this article for using it as a basis for discussing Powerpoint itself, adaptable to any group discussion.  Second, more generalized observations and comments appear in this article addressing improving educational presentations, with tips for graphic and quotable source material (and the author also likes Prezi.

Hope this adds to this thread ...

           Dallee  Thmbsup




« Last Edit: May 08, 2010, 06:41:48 AM by dallee » Logged
cranioscopical
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« Reply #61 on: May 08, 2010, 06:39:02 AM »

Quote
Hope this adds to this thread ...

Thanks for the input.
Apparently there's little truth to the rumour that the army might be running out of bullets!
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Chris
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« Reply #62 on: May 08, 2010, 06:42:59 AM »

Chris,

That was a good one!   Cool

Thanks for brightening my day ...

         Dallee
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daver
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« Reply #63 on: May 09, 2010, 01:24:15 PM »

   It is surprising that no one in here has mentioned Presentation, part of OpenOffice 3.x.  With its wizards, extensive help files, easy learning curve and  plethora of formatted templates (more downloadable), it's a "natural", and best of all, it is FREE! Thmbsup
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JavaJones
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« Reply #64 on: May 09, 2010, 09:39:01 PM »

Hi daver, thanks for jumping in! I'm pretty familiar with Presenter having converted my whole company to OpenOffice a couple years ago (and recently, back to Office 2k3 Sad ). But it has the same problems as Powerpoint, and - in my experience - the templating is even harder to modify, apply, and restrict. It's a fantastic free replacement for Powerpoint, but I don't think it quite fits my needs in this case. Indeed, we had been using OOo and Presenter to do our presentations initially, but found even the normal styling functions to be challenging to actually use consistently. Even Office 2k7 was an improvement, though I don't appreciate everything about it to be sure.

- Oshyan
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CheckUserFirst
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« Reply #65 on: May 10, 2010, 11:17:46 AM »

What about creating a Google Docs Presentation Template and then have your users create presentations based on that template?

(This is just an idea for your problem. I didn't test it)
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JavaJones
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« Reply #66 on: May 10, 2010, 04:04:27 PM »

I did check out Google Docs, but I couldn't see a way to create templates. Do you know how? I did see they have several pre-defined, very simplistic templates, which might work to keep things simple in content creation. Unfortunately no way to lock down what tools can be used, so while it's not as full-featured as Powerpoint, you can do just as much damage with the tools available. Wink

- Oshyan
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« Reply #67 on: May 11, 2010, 12:12:47 PM »

You can create a template by creating a presentation, saving it and then Create New, From template, My templates, Submit a template and select the previously created presentation.

But maybe you have already found a solution: HTML and CSS and in the end export as PDF. I think it solves most of your problems...
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JavaJones
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« Reply #68 on: May 11, 2010, 01:09:51 PM »

Ah, thanks for that info about template creation. This doesn't work quite as I was hoping however. There is a template selection for an individual slide layout that you get whenever you create a new slide ("two columns", "title", "caption", "blank", etc.). I want to be able to edit *those* so that new ones can appear in that prompt. I doubt Google allows that though, it seems like a rather hard-coded function.

I agree that HTML + CSS is probably the best approach. So now the trick is finding a good authoring tool for my users. cheesy

- Oshyan
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Jabberwock
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« Reply #69 on: May 11, 2010, 01:53:20 PM »

This might be a very long shot, but did you have a look at XML + XSL-FO?

The burden on the users would probably be the same as with HTML-CSS (or less, as you could abstract the XML structure so that it directly reflects the presentation structure), but you would have much more work... Still, it might be worth it, as it would be much more presentable (if I recall correctly, there even XML-FO to PowerPoint converters).
« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 03:05:37 PM by Jabberwock » Logged
JavaJones
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« Reply #70 on: May 11, 2010, 04:43:04 PM »

I assume you mean XSL-FO. It's an interesting system, but it would be a whole new system to learn, and I don't really see the advantage over CSS and HTML really (for my purposes). It does support some fancier stuff like text orientation and whatnot, but explicitly want to avoid most fancy formatting.

Still, a cool tech to know about, and I appreciate the suggestion. smiley

- Oshyan
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« Reply #71 on: December 19, 2010, 06:37:12 PM »

The only thing is, it looks like Prezi requires a subscription.
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« Reply #72 on: December 21, 2010, 06:31:55 PM »

Hey, thanks for reminding me about this project. Gotta put it in my project manager for future reference. I still think this could be useful, although with the increasing prevalence of web-based everything maybe it should be a web service...

- Oshyan
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JavaJones
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« Reply #73 on: November 11, 2011, 12:33:52 PM »

Reviving this one as I just randomly ran across a couple of interesting related projects.

S5 is an HTML, CSS, and Javascript slide show system that appears to be a descendant of Opera's early slide show concept: http://meyerweb.com/eric/tools/s5/

HTML Slidey seems to be in a similar vein and I'm not yet sure what sets it apart from S5: http://www.w3.org/Talks/Tools/Slidy2/#(1)

Slideous is the project that made me aware of the other two so is presumably more advanced, though I'm not entirely sure how yet: http://goessner.net/articles/slideous/

None of these include full-on authoring tools, which would be necessary for my original needs (which actually still exist!), but at least they define a standard way to represent slide shows in HTML and CSS such that perhaps an open source HTML authoring tool could be made to create this stuff...

- Oshyan
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