As the VP of Development for SoftArtisans, Sam Haddad leads a team of developers to bring enterprise software to a global customer base. With a degree in Information Technology from Rochester Institute of Technology, Sam’s expertise lies in .NET programming. In the past Sam has worked with both web and desktop applications, ranging from e-commerce sites to Office document processing tools.
In this conversation, Sam discusses PowerPointWriter.
Geetesh: What is PowerPointWriter? Is it a desktop application or is it a code-driven program.
Sam: In its simplest form, PowerPointWriter is a tool that allows you to take data from any data source and integrate it with your PowerPoint files. PowerPointWriter is a .NET library and API. With a little bit of code, it allows you to dynamically populate PowerPoint presentations on the fly from your own applications. You design the presentation in PowerPoint, and then merge data using the PowerPointTemplate object, just like using Word’s mail merge. PowerPointTemplate lets you do a Word mail merge type of behavior without the need to actually have Microsoft Office on your server. Microsoft recommends avoiding automating Office on the server, so this is a great alternative. Since we are designed to run on servers you get great performance and stability.
To help customers gain a better understanding of what this all means, we put together a quick video overview of the product and what it does.
Geetesh: What motivated you to create this product?
Sam: A lot of our customers have their data in several different data sources, such as SQL and Oracle databases, Office Documents, and other existing applications. We wanted to provide an easy way for them to export their data into PowerPoint.
We were currently doing this with our ExcelWriter and WordWriter tools, and so brought that same technology to PowerPoint. We focused on bringing our template model to PowerPoint because that meant customers could get their reports up and running with as little as 5 lines of code. This means less coding and development time, less maintenance of the code, and more time designing your report in an application with which you are already familiar, such as Excel, Word, or in this case PowerPoint.
Overall the final process looks like this:
Geetesh: What’s the profile of a typical PowerPointWriter user? And is there a learning curve?
Sam: PowerPointWriter users are typically those who need to make data-driven PowerPoints on a consistent basis. For instance, say you have a client presentation and need to update your slide deck with the most current numbers from the database minutes before the meeting. PowerPointWriter will provide that capability without much time or effort involved. Often those that use this product are sales representatives, financial analysts, project managers, and any professional who needs a great visual display of data. The best part is the learning curve is short as there are only a few concepts you would need to learn in order to start producing numbers-focused slide decks.