pharus53 software solutions GmbH, a company based out of Hamburg, Germany creates ActiveSlide, a simple Flash authoring solution that uses the slide metaphor rather than the conventional stage metaphor that other Flash authoring systems use — thus making it a natural fit for PowerPoint users.
In this exclusive conversation, Tobias Windbrake of pharus53 discusses ActiveSlide including the different versions available — and how they integrate with PowerPoint.
Geetesh: Tell us more about ActiveSlide and its different editions.
Tobias: ActiveSlide is a program to easily create interactive content. The software is not a PowerPoint add-in, but a powerful, stand-alone authoring tool. You can use it for your presentations as well as for e-learning courses and even websites.
The main advantage of this product is its ease of use. You can work with ActiveSlide as you would do with PowerPoint: You have slides (and a master slide) where you can place text, images and shapes on. In a second step, you can visually assign interactivity patterns to your slide elements. If desired, this step is completely supported by helpful wizards. One basic interactivity pattern is that elements can be dragged. Advanced patterns allow you to use an element as a carrier (that can transport other elements), or to synchronize the movement of two elements. As interactivity patterns can be combined, there is an unlimited number of possibilities.
The product is available in two editions, Thunder and Professional. The Thunder Edition is the “little brother” of the Professional one. While Thunder is perfect for PowerPoint users, content developers for e-learning courses normally prefer the Professional Edition. The latter provides additional functionality, e.g. a full-featured scripting language and an export option for Java Applets.
Geetesh: How do you position ActiveSlide Thunder in the world of PowerPoint.
Tobias: Let’s put it in one sentence: With ActiveSlide you can touch your PowerPoint slides! The software allows you to easily create dynamic slides where you can drag and drop images, shapes and even text objects. That may sound like a breathtaking effect. Well, that’s true! But interactive slides can do much more for a presenter and his audience. I will give you a few examples:
- When presenting a complex chart you can use a virtual pointer to focus the relevant part of that chart. You can drag and drop this focus element step by step, to point at the subarea you are talking about. Doing so, your audience is able to follow you all the time.
- You want to have a surprising intro for your product launch? Draw a curtain to uncover the title of your new product.
- You have to present complex tables? No problem any more! Use a yellow, semi-transparent rectangle to highlight the row you are currently talking about. This visual aid makes it easier for your audience to concentrate on the relevant numbers.
- When presenting the new layout of your clients’ business card, you can construct different options, instead of just showing them. Move the logo, name, title and address block to any position desired. This will not only impress your client, it will involve him.
As you can see from the examples, there are many different possibilities where interactivity can have a great benefit, for you and your audience. So, how is it done technically? You can export your ActiveSlide project as a Flash movie. After that, add-ins like the Flash Toolbar (reviewed at Indezine) make it very easy to place ActiveSlide movies on any PowerPoint slide. In this context, please allow me to announce another product of the ActiveSlide family: Shortly we will offer ActiveSlide Thunder for PowerPoint, a special product that bundles ActiveSlide Thunder and the Flash Toolbar mentioned above.