Gil Segal is the creator of ToolsToo and a senior software consultant. Gil is always on the lookout for ways to automate manual tasks in any software he uses and has been a PowerPoint power-user since the mid 90’s.
In this interview, Gil talks about the new ToolsToo v7.2 add-in for PowerPoint.
Geetesh: In ToolsToo 7.2, you introduced 3 UI modes in the Ribbon. Can you tell us more about this change, and other new features in this release?
Gil: The 3 UI modes in the Ribbon, Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert were inspired by some feedback I was getting about the overwhelming number of tools and options in ToolsToo, particularly for new users. The UI modes are my solution to that.
The idea is to present a user first installing ToolsToo with a smaller, simpler set of tools to ease adoption and the learning curve. So, for example, Beginner mode has only one Reference Shape option – the first shape selected – for use with the set of beginner-level shape tools. When the user is comfortable, they can move up to Intermediate mode which adds many more tools, one more Reference Shape option (slide), and the Font and Drawing groups from the Home tab. Expert mode adds the rest of the tools, Reference Shape options, and other options. A user can switch modes – up or down – at any time.
ToolsToo 7.2 Ribbon with UI mode set to Beginner
ToolsToo 7.2 Ribbon with UI mode set to Intermediate
ToolsToo 7.2 Ribbon with UI mode set to Expert
Another significant new feature in version 7.2 is Consolidate Layouts. This feature solves the problem where a slide deck has multiple layouts that essentially do the same thing. This often happens when applying new designs to existing presentations and it manifests in two ways:
- Added layouts with the original name prefixed by a number and underscore (e.g., 1_Title Slide Layout)
- Added master layouts (in this case, each master layout could, for example, have its own Title Slide Layout)
The Consolidate Layouts tools removes all these additional layouts and in case there is a slide that uses one of the removed layouts, the remaining Title Slide Layout (for example) is applied and a comment is added to the slide to flag that it might need manual adjustment.
Geetesh: Can you share some history about ToolsToo? When did you first launch this PowerPoint add-in, and what motivated you at that point in time to create ToolsToo?
Gil: ToolsToo started out as a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro sometime in 2000 with just the 6 basic alignment tools. It was originally called “ByFirstShape” – as that was the only Reference Shape option. It was primarily for my own use, although I did share it with a few colleagues. I was doing a lot of slide work at the time and was looking for better ways to align tools than what was available in PowerPoint. I was particularly frustrated by PowerPoint’s Align Middle and Align Center tools as they – to this day – move all the selected shapes. This is not helpful in most cases and was easily alleviated in the very first version by specifying which shape to use as the basis by which to align.
The next version added some of the Make Same tools and it grew from there. By late 2007 and version 4 it was clear that it could be a commercial product. The search was on for a more marketable name. The first public version of ToolsToo, version 4.2, was released in May 2009.
One other major milestone of note was version 6 when ToolsToo was ported from VBA to Visual Basic .NET (VB.NET) and Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). This port also added 64-bit compatibility and a more robust installer. Along with the port, the product underwent major internal restructuring that prepared the way for the subsequent additions.
Today, ToolsToo V7.2.1 has 66 shape tools, 4 Reference Shape options, and 22 slide tools. Many of the tools in ToolsToo were inspired by customer requests, so send in your ideas!
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