PowerPointLabs: Conversation with Damith Rajapakse

Created: Wednesday, January 29, 2014, posted by at 4:00 am

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Damith RajapakseDamith C. Rajapakse is a faculty member at the School of Computing, National University of Singapore. He has a deep interest, and many years of experience, in presentation design and the craft of software building. He is the project mentor for the PowerPointLabs project and other similar efforts.

In this conversation, Damith discusses the currently free PowerPointLabs add-in for PowerPoint.

Geetesh: Tell us more about your PowerPointLabs add-in for PowerPoint – how did this evolve?

Damith: Out of the box, PowerPoint creates boring slides. Though it’s capable of creating awesome slides that takes much more effort than it should. For example, animating a shape requires you to figure out its path, size, and angle. It’d be a lot easier if you could just specify where the shape should start and where it should end up, then have the animation done automatically for you. That’s the type of thing we want to do with PowerPointLabs: make it really easy to create good, engaging slides.

The PowerPointLabs team is based in the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore, and currently consists of Jerome, Raunak and myself. We aim to help presenters create better slides with less effort.

Geetesh: You already have an add-in available but you did mention that newer features are planned – can you tell us more?

Damith: We have a long list of PowerPoint pain points we want to fix, but we want to take a few steps at a time and perfect what we have before moving on to the next stage. One of the features we’ll be releasing soon is the ability to generate audio narration and captions from slide notes. We hope this will help users get a rough idea of how the presentation will sound to their audience during preparation, and also in creating self-learning materials without actually having to record audio/video.

Something else we’re working on is the ability to simulate zooming in to an area of the slide – just like our existing auto-animate feature, this helps make presentations more dynamic, and also lets the presenter emphasize a certain section of their materials.

Categories: add-in, interviews, powerpoint

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