STAMP: Conversation with Jim Hunter

Wednesday, August 3, 2011
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:30 AM IST



Jim HunterJim Hunter is the practice lead for the Enterprise Applications team at Intergen. Jim brings energy and humor to his role and has a strong focus on delivering solutions to the many clients that Intergen delivers to. Intergen is an award winning Microsoft solutions partner that delivers solutions on the Microsoft platform; always striving to achieve their goal: That everyone, every day is touched positively by the things we do.

Intergen has been responsible for creating STAMP, the Subtitling Add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint — Jim discusses this add-in in this conversation.

Geetesh: Tell us more about STAMP, and how this evolved.

Jim: I think “evolved” is the perfect word! Its fun to think about where STAMP (Subtitling Add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint) began and where we are today – and it’s a great example of how software does indeed evolve.

We had a rather modest objective at the start: create a TTML* importer to add captions to video and audio files in PowerPoint. Pure and simple… if you had a TTML file, then you could import it and presto – captions! The full TTML standard is impressive, and we chose to support the ‘standard’ font formatting (such as bold; italic; color) initially.

Create Captions option selectedIt’s fair to say that everyone in the discussions saw a gem of an idea that could grow into something more, and everyone involved agreed that we needed to add a caption editor.

So, our next objective was to add a simple editor. We kept saying ‘simple’, and when we released our beta in mid-March we had the simple editor – which in a classic development sense was perfectly to spec but probably met the “simple” a little too literally… but we were able to create captions.

The beta was incredibly well received, and we were stunned by the number of downloads in the first two months. When we started I thought maybe 200 total downloads would be pretty awesome… so two thousand is amazing!

From there we had a strong desire to make the formatting available in the editor match the capability of the import, so we added those and gave the editor some love and now… hey presto… a caption editor!

Geetesh: How has the feedback been, and do you have any user experience stories to share?

Jim: Everything to date has been extremely positive but we’d love even more feedback.

It turned out there was an amazing twist where two parts of the Office training team were both looking at captioning, although for very different reasons. The first Office team was focusing on captioning for accessibility and the second training team was focusing on localization of training material into different languages. STAMP was a great fit for both!

Thankfully for us, using .NET and VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for Office) meant that we ‘supported’ the multiple languages for the training team and with the ability to easily import or add captions to audio and video in PowerPoint meant that we delivered all of the original goals (and more!).

We received a lot of feedback from the beta version, and were able to incorporate (nearly) all in the release candidate version available now. We look forward to even more great feedback on the release version—this input is vital to setting future direction and driving continuous improvement.

It’s been a blast seeing STAMP evolve to where it is today, and I’m already excited about where it will go tomorrow!

*TTML is “Timed Text Mark-up Language” and as defined on the site: “…is a content type that represents timed text media for the purpose of interchange among authoring systems. Timed text is textual information that is intrinsically or extrinsically associated with timing information.”

Categories: accessibility, add-in, interviews, powerpoint_2010

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