Todd Sharp (pictured to the right) is the creator of SlideSix.com, an online presentation sharing community site. He has been programming in ColdFusion since mid 2004 and blogs regularly about ColdFusion and Ajax at his site cfsilence. Todd provides ColdFusion/Ajax development and consulting services through his company Sharp Interactive, LLC.
In this discussion, Todd discusses his SlideSix site.
Geetesh: Tell us more about SlideSix, and how it evolved.
Todd: Just over a year ago, in December of 2007 I decided to experiment with ColdFusion’s dynamic presentation capabilities by integrating them with a well known Java API called Apache POI which allows you to read and extract text and objects from PowerPoint 97/2000/XP files. Using the Java API was extremely simple by leveraging ColdFusion’s ability to easily integrate with Java.
I created a few test cases and was very excited about the potential for creating dynamic, Flash based presentations. So through that experimentation the idea for SlideSix was born. Over the next six months I set out to create a presentation sharing community and finally launched it on May 1, 2008.
The initial launch lead to the realization that Apache POI wasn’t quite ‘ready for prime time’. It was fun to experiment with, but the presentation conversion simply would not be sufficent to handle anything more then a simple presentation with very little formatting. I quickly realized that I would need to utilize a different conversion engine and switched to utilizing OpenOffice to convert the presentations. Using OpenOffice gave me the added advantage of being able to support a wider array of presentation formats like the OpenOffice format (ODP, SXI) as well as MS PowerPoint (PPT, PPS). There are other techniques I use to support the conversion of additional formats such as Adobe Acrobat (PDF), QuickTime (MOV) and PowerPoint 2007 (PPTX).
In addition to the conversion engine, there have been numerous enhancements to the user interface. For example, our presentation viewer and user management console are both newer additions that are build with Adobe Flex.
Since the launch I have been constantly looking to improve and enhance the site to become one of the world’s premier online presentation sharing communities.
Geetesh: How is SlideSix different from other online slide and presentation sharing sites, and what is SlideSix’s best feature according to you?
Todd: SlideSix has many features that differentiate it from other presentation sharing communities. First and foremost we try to keep our site extremely simple. Some other sites put too much focus on being a social network. We focus on being a mutlitmedia enabled presentation sharing community. In other words, we realize the focus of the site is our users’ presentations, and we try to empower our users to create a unique identity for themselves. The most powerful feature that we offer to help our users create that identity is the ability to record video or audio directly within our management console. Once recorded, the media becomes embedded directly within the presentation. We also offer the ability to embed supporting documentation directly within your presentation (by uploading data in ZIP format), and embedded slide notes. Other familiar features are also available such as RSS feeds, groups, favorites, tagging, ranking and much more.
Our About page contains a comprehensive overview of our features and even has a sample multimedia presentation.