Steve Rindsberg has been associated with PowerPoint since the product originated more than two decades ago—his PowerPoint FAQ site is a treasure trove of PowerPoint information. When he’s not updating his site, he’s creating new PowerPoint add-ins that expand possibilities within PowerPoint. Steve’s also into a lot of print technology related stuff.
In this conversation, Steve discusses PPTools Language Selector, his new PowerPoint add-in that changes your proofing languages.
Geetesh: Steve, can you tell more about Language Selector, your PowerPoint add-in. What motivated you to create Language Selector?
Steve: Like many of my other add-ins, the idea arose from assisting other PowerPoint users on help forums like Microsoft’s Answers and discussing the problem with the other PowerPoint MVPs. We’re lucky to have MVPs who routinely produce and translate presentations in multiple languages. They all share a common set of problems.
They complain about The Red Squiggly Underline Problem. If the presentation’s language settings don’t match the language they’re typing in, most of the words get underlined in red, indicating that PowerPoint considers them misspelled. And of course, if you’re handed an English presentation and asked to translate it to, say, French, the presentation is still set to English, so all of your French text gets the Dreaded Red Squigglies.
So not only do you get no spelling (or grammar) help from PowerPoint, your presentation gets littered with Red Squigglies. You may understand why it’s happening, but you certainly don’t want to hand your client a presentation that looks like it’s riddled with errors.
Geetesh: For a typical user who needs to switch between languages in PowerPoint, how useful is Language Selector?
Steve: PowerPoint lets you select and set text shapes to any language you like, but that gets tedious quickly. You can select all the text in the outline and set it all to your target language in one go, but that leaves a lot of text in the original language. There are macros on the web that do a more thorough job, but still don’t get everything. And finally, even if you set every last bit of text to the desired language, you still have a problem: when you hand the presentation over to your client or another user and they add new text, the Red Squigglies are back. PowerPoint still thinks the text is in the original language, so it gets flagged as misspelled.
Language Selector does everything a user could do on their own to set the proper language on shapes and text. Then it goes deeper, into areas that have no user interface, or that a user wouldn’t think to do. It sets the default for each slide and indeed the entire presentation to the chosen language, so even new text added later is automatically set to the correct language. No more Red Squgglies. Unless, of course, the user misspells something, in the correct language.
And of course, Language Selector does its work in seconds, and not many of those, even for large presentations. Typically, it’s done converting an entire presentation in the time it’d take a skilled user to select all of the text on a single slide and find the dialog to change it to the correct language.