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PowerPoint and Presenting Blog: June 2008

Thoughts and impressions of whatever is happening in the world of PowerPoint

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NXPowerLite: Conversation with Andrew Molyneux

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 1:24 PM IST

Neuxpower creates NXPowerLite, a popular optimization program for Microsoft Office file formats including PowerPoint -- Andrew Molyneux leads Neuxpower's in-house team of developers -- and in this Indezine exclusive conversation, Andrew gives us detailed responses on the evolution of NXPowerLite, and more.

Geetesh: Tell us more about how NXPowerLite has evolved – all the new features you add, and the acceptance by users.

Andrew: The original idea for NXPowerLite came from a client for whom we had been doing some bespoke development work. He told us that he'd received a very large PowerPoint presentation which he needed to edit and pass on to several other people, but his organisation's outgoing email size limit meant that he couldn't send it out without first reducing the size considerably. He spent hours painstakingly copying the images into Photoshop, scaling them down and then inserting them back into the presentation. He asked us if this process could be automated, and the idea of NXPowerLite was born.

When we released Version 1 of NXPowerLite in late 2001, the response from users was overwhelmingly positive; they were astonished at the huge reduction in the size of their files, the speed with which it could be achieved, and the incredibly simplicity of NXPowerLite.
Over the next few years, we gradually improved NXPowerLite's performance, adding support for new versions of PowerPoint as they were released. The software was also translated into French and German at the request of our increasingly international customer base.

By 2005, we'd reached the limit of what we could accomplish by automating PowerPoint. Optimizing very large presentations could take a long time, and there was a limit to the size reduction that could be achieved using this method. Customers were also increasingly asking for a version of NXPowerLite that could run on servers, which wouldn't have been practical with the automation approach. To address these problems, we obtained documentation on the PowerPoint file format from Microsoft and completely rewrote NXPowerLite's optimization engine. The result was NXPowerLite Version 2, released in late 2005. This offered considerably better compression and was much faster than previous versions. Version 2 also saw the introduction of the Integrated Edition of NXPowerLite, which enabled the software to be easily launched from within PowerPoint itself, or by right-clicking on a PowerPoint file in Windows Explorer.

By the time NXPowerLite 2 was released we had a large and rapidly growing international user community, who gave us a constant supply of ideas for development. In a period of just over a year, in addition to improving the core optimization engine, we added several major features including integration with Microsoft Outlook, batch processing, Spanish and Japanese translations, and a Server Edition, allowing NXPowerLite technology to be integrated with our customers' server-based applications.

Customers had been telling us for some time that they would like to see NXPowerLite's optimization technology applied to other file formats. This led to the release of NXPowerLite Version 3 in early 2007. This added support for Microsoft Word and Excel files. We also included Chinese and Italian translations and began packaging NXPowerLite using Microsoft's Windows Installer (MSI) technology to improve manageability for our larger enterprise customers.

With the addition in version 3.5 of support for Microsoft's new XML-based Office 2007 formats, the number of supported file formats has grown from the original one (PowerPoint 97-2003) to six (PowerPoint, Word and Excel 97-2003 and PowerPoint, Word and Excel 2007). We've also devoted considerable resources to improving NXPowerLite's core optimization technology. Unique features of NXPowerLite's optimization engine, developed as a result of sample files sent to us by our customers, can result in files that are over 25 times smaller than any of our competitors can achieve. These features can be found in NXPowerLite 3.6, released earlier this month as a free update for NXPowerLite 3 users.

Geetesh: What’s your favorite NXPowerLite feature that you believe is not too well known or under-utilized?

Andrew: That's a tough question, because we've carefully designed NXPowerLite to make it as simple as possible to use all of its features.

One feature that will be increasingly important, however, is the ability to optimize files specifically for mobile devices. This is already important for mobile workers using the current generation of Smartphones and PDAs based on Symbian, Windows Mobile and other platforms, but will be even more valuable as the next generation of mobile devices evolves, such as the upcoming iPhone 3G.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 12:45 PM IST

The folks at authorSTREAM have created an easy process through which you can make YouTube movies from your PowerPoint presentations. Rather than explain the entire process, I decided to create a how-to video tutorial on this subject:

Categories: powerpoint, youtube

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Saturday, June 21, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 1:30 PM IST

Wendy Russell is the Guide to Presentation Software -- in her role as a software consultant and teacher, Wendy gives frequent presentations, coaching and offering advice to students, educators and business clientele on how to make the most of presentation software. In this interview, Wendy discusses her role as a guide at, talks about PowerPoint 2007, and shares some trivia.

Wendy Russell

Read the interview here...

Categories: interviews, powerpoint, powerpoint_2007

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Saturday, June 14, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 10:07 AM IST

Although this topic is more of a Mac only thing, it's also relevant if you are a Windows users of Microsoft Office and receive files from iWork users on the Mac who save to Microsoft Office file formats.

I read this article on the MacWorld site that goes into all the details of co-existing in a dual format/platform world -- and understanding the pitfalls and precautions required. I must say that this is probably the best content I have seen on this particular topic, and it is a must read.

PowerPoint users will understand how Keynote imports and exports PowerPoint files -- and that if there are any presentation notes in their original Keynote files, the exported PowerPoint format files won't open in PowerPoint 2008 on the Mac although they should pose no problems in PowerPoint 2004 for the Mac, or PowerPoint 2007 for Windows! I've bookmarked the page -- read it here...

Categories: keynote, office_mac, powerpoint

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Friday, June 13, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 12:49 PM IST

Ross Boucher along with Tom Robinson and Francisco Tolmasky comprise the team at 280North, a company based in Cupertino, United States that creates the 280Slides online presentation program. In this interview, Ross discusses how 280Slides evolved, the interface, input and output formats supported, and the response to the program.

Read the interview here...

Categories: keynote, online_presentations, powerpoint

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Thursday, June 12, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 5:09 PM IST

Neuxpower announced the release of NXPowerLite 3.6, an update to their optimization program for Microsoft Office file formats.

Tommy Powell of Neuxpower says they've "made some big improvements to the optimization engine, resulting in a number of improvements. For example many more EMF and WMF images can now be optimized and we've improved the way image sizes are detected, achieving even better quality on some files, and better compression on many more".

Read my full review on NXPowerLite 3.6 here...

Categories: add-in, powerpoint

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 8:07 PM IST

TechSmith today launched one of their most awaited releases: the new version 9 of SnagIt, their screen capture product that does so much more than just screen capture! SnagIt is an indispensable part of any computer I own, and the new version adds many new features and a cool, new interface.

More details on the TechSmith site...

Categories: techsmith



Saturday, June 07, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 3:09 PM IST

If you belong to the group of users who often used Microsoft Producer to create online content with their PowerPoint presentations, then you must have been not too happy to know that Producer no longer worked with PowerPoint 2007 content.

Now that issue is being addressed -- and Microsoft has announced a public beta of Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007. Yes, that's a long name, and Ric Bretschneider, Senior Program Manager for PowerPoint at Microsoft tells you why he needs to use that long name -- and he also explains how you can join the beta and get a copy of this cool, free product.

Everything is explained on the PowerPoint Team Blog...

Categories: online_presentations, powerpoint

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Friday, June 06, 2008
posted by Geetesh on 2:17 PM IST

Ric Bretschneider, Senior Program Manager for PowerPoint at Microsoft posts often on the PowerPoint Team Blog -- one of his posts provides a quick and easy tip for those who have a dual monitor display so that they can use the larger screen area to edit two presentations at the same time.

This tip works great with PowerPoint 2007 and earlier versions -- check it out here...

Categories: techniques, powerpoint

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posted by Geetesh on 12:45 PM IST

I have been playing with 280 Slides today morning and it looks like a great web application that can create PowerPoint PPTX files online.

First things first: 280 Slides is an online presentation creator and player that looks a lot like Apple Keynote. The similarity is well explained: I found out on the Washington Post site that the creators of this application are ex-Apple employees.

I really like this application -- it loads quickly, works logically, and gives the feel of a real presentation program so that PowerPoint and Keynote users will be creating their presentations in no time. Click on Figure 1 below to see a larger view of how the interface looks like.

280 Slides - Online Presentations
Figure 1: The 280 Slides interface

Once you click the New button to create a new presentation, you need to choose a theme for the new presentation as shown in Figure 2 below. Click the Figure below to see a larger view.

280 Slides New Theme - Online Presentations
Figure 2: Choose a new theme

Thereafter you can add slides, change slide layouts, insert pictures and media (also from YouTube, Flickr, and other sites). The first time you save your presentation, you get to become a member so that you can come back again and find your presentations (see Figures 3 and 4).

280 Slides Login - Online Presentations
Figure 3: Login

280 Slides Register - Online Presentations
Figure 4: Register

There are several other features in 280 Slides -- and while 280 Slides is not a PowerPoint replacement application feature-by-feature, it lets you download your 280 Slides presentations as PowerPoint 2007-2008 presentations with amazing fidelity. Figure 5 shows you how a downloaded PPTX from 280 Slides looks in PowerPoint 2007:

280 Slides PPTX Output - Online Presentations
Figure 5: Exported PPTX opened in PowerPoint 2007

280 Slides also offers direct export to SlideShare from within the application. Strangely though, I found no Help option in the 280 Slides interface. Everything said, this is a great start for an application that's right now in a public beta stage.

Categories: online_presentations, powerpoint

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