David Cowan is developer of the FlexiPrez add-in for PowerPoint. Although his educational background is in Civil Engineering, he has also worked in Project and Business Management roles including with the Salvation Army in Zambia and Bible College SA in Adelaide, Australia. It was while working in the education field that he developed an interest in making PowerPoint presentations more interactive, particularly for lecturers. This interest eventually led to the development of FlexiPrez.
In this conversation, David discusses FlexiPrez.
Geetesh: Tell us more about FlexiPrez, how this PowerPoint add-in evolved and how everyday users can benefit.
David: This add-in had its origins in 2003 when, while observing lecturers using PowerPoint, I noticed that class interaction could be stifled when a lecturer was reluctant to deviate from the predetermined order of slides. So commenced a personal interest project to see if there was a way to make PowerPoint presentations more interactive and flexible.
Slide hierarchies: The starting point was a consideration of the way slides are arranged in presentations. If text documents were more readable when grouped under headings and sub headings then could a similar arrangement be helpful for PowerPoint presentations?
Initially there was much experimentation to discover a simple means of rearranging slides. The breakthrough came with the arrival of PowerPoint 2007 when new features, together with the .NET Framework, made it possible to group slides under multi-level headings using a graphical user interface.
Slide navigation: It is one thing to group slides under multi-level headings, it is another to navigate them without becoming hopelessly lost!
What was needed was a non-linear method of slide navigation where presenters could still press an arrow key or click a mouse and have the slideshow intuitively advance to the correct slide. In particular, these features were required:
With these features in mind, a Slideshow Control, providing presenters with the tools and feedback necessary for user-friendly non-linear navigation, was developed.
Hyperlinks: With the likelihood that presentations would be larger and contain many more hyperlinks, a more efficient approach to creating and maintaining hyperlinks was necessary. The solution was to give each slide a distinctive name and make the text of any hyperlink pointing to the slide match.
Once this was put in place, it was then possible to develop a special Hyperlink Tool that could quickly create hyperlinks and ensure links were not broken.
Originally commencing as a personal interest project, in recent years the software has been further developed and made ready for release to the public. It will be of interest to educators, executives, salespeople and the like.
Its main benefits can be summarized in this way:
Geetesh: What can an average PowerPoint user accomplish with FlexiPrez in the first 30 minutes of using?
David: For users looking to show non-linear presentations developed by others, 30 minutes is more than enough time to become familiar with the FlexiPrez slideshow control and experiment with showing a presentation. A user manual is available
For users looking to author their own presentations, the first 30 minutes could be used to have a quick look at the sample presentation, work through an introductory tutorial and create a simple non-linear presentation. The 12 minute Introducing FlexiPrez video series is also a useful learning tool. All of these learning aids are available from the Welcome Screen which appears when FlexiPrez is first enabled.
FlexiPrez is quite intuitive and forgiving. Users can try enabling FlexiPrez for one of their own presentations and experimenting. Comprehensive help screens are available.
Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint
April 2003 | May 2003 | December 2003 | January 2004 | February 2004 | March 2004 | April 2004 | May 2004 | June 2004 | July 2004 | August 2004 | September 2004 | October 2004 | November 2004 | December 2004 | January 2005 | February 2005 | March 2005 | April 2005 | May 2005 | June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 | January 2006 | February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | January 2007 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | July 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | January 2011 | February 2011 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | April 2012 | May 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | November 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | May 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | July 2015 | August 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | November 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | April 2016 | May 2016 | June 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 | February 2017 | March 2017 |
Microsoft and the Office logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.