PowerPoint and Presenting Stuff

Presentation Deployer: Conversation with Damian McDonald

Damian McDonald is the founder of Visual Newmedia and has over 15 years’ experience in developing communication solutions for a number of leading global brands. Visual Newmedia just released Presentation Deployer, a program that lets you export PowerPoint presentations to CD that self-runs presentations on computers with or without PowerPoint installed.

Damian discusses Presentation Deployer in this conversation.

Geetesh: What need does your new Presentation Deployer product fulfill?

Damian: Presentation Deployer was designed to overcome some limitations we saw in PowerPoint 2010. For some reason Microsoft decided to remove the ability to include the viewer with exported presentations. In addition, they changed the functionality that automatically ran the presentation when an exported CD was inserted into a CD drive — this now shows the user an HTML page with the presentation or presentations in a clickable list with a button to download the PowerPoint 2010 Viewer.

We had two issues with this.

  1. This is a presentation you are giving someone. Ideally it should be a positive experience, not a hit and miss experience. If you click on the presentation on the HTML page, it asks you if you want to open the presentation or save it locally. If you select open, and you have a compatible version of PowerPoint registered, it just opens the presentation in a window, you still need to run the presentation. If you have PowerPoint 2010 functionality in your presentation and the client has PowerPoint 2003 with the compatibility pack or PowerPoint 2007 you are going to get different results due to version compatibility issues with things like drop shadows on bulleted text, videos inserted with PowerPoint 2010 with effects etc. Not a particularly professional look when you want to distribute your presentations to clients.
  2. The second issue is that if the client has to install the PowerPoint Viewer, they are forced to download it from the internet with a 65MB download. Even when the installer is finally downloaded and installed, assuming they have internet access at the time, they then need to re-select the presentation on the HTML page which then opens the presentation in slide show mode in a window rather than full screen.

It seems such a shame that Microsoft have put great effort in improving the functionality of what PowerPoint can offer but have ignored the reality of how presentations are distributed and the slow adoption rate of businesses upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Office.

Presentation Deployer is designed to overcome these issues. It allows you to create an exportable presentation folder that can run from a CD or other media. You are able to target the version of PowerPoint you would ideally want to use to minimize version compatibility issues. The exported CD includes the PowerPoint 2010 Viewer Installer locally on the disk for installation only if required. We have focused very much on the user experience. When the exported CD is inserted into the client machine it searches for the target version of the PowerPoint application or Viewer, including checking for the Compatibility Pack. If it finds a suitable version, it selects that application and automatically runs your presentation in full screen mode. If your folder includes a presentation playlist it runs the list automatically. If you are targeting PowerPoint 2010, you have the option of running the presentation automatically as with previous versions of PowerPoint, or showing the client a form with the playlist. We decided to replace the Microsoft HTML form with a more intelligent solution that gives the user the ability to select a presentation which then automatically runs full screen in slideshow mode. If a compatible version of PowerPoint is installed it also shows a note icon next to the playlist so the user has the option to open the presentation in PowerPoint for printing, saving etc. At any point during the checking process, if Presentation Deployer recognizes that the 2010 Viewer is required, the Microsoft license is presented to the user and on acceptance the Viewer is automatically installed in the background then the presentation is automatically run.

A far more elegant solution I think.

Geetesh: Can you share scenarios in which Presentation Deployer can help, and what inspired you to create this product?

Damian: I think Presentation Deployer is applicable to any company that wishes to take advantage of the new functionality of PowerPoint 2010 and be able to distribute their presentations in PowerPoint with confidence.

We had a situation recently where we created a presentation for a client that was using PowerPoint 2010 for a major product launch; we struck this issue when they requested for CD’s to be created for distribution to clients and channel partners. The video effects of PowerPoint 2010 really improved the quality of the presentation so they were reluctant to save to an earlier version of PowerPoint and sacrifice quality. We ended up writing some rough code to get around the issue and then decided to enhance the solution for other clients that might have been having the same issue. Presentation Deployer became the final result of this thinking.

Presentation Deployer is applicable to presentation companies wishing to give clients a deployable presentation option in PowerPoint 2010 and companies using PowerPoint 2010.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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