Using the Chains Feature in ToolsToo v10: Conversation with Gil Segal

Using the Chains Feature in ToolsToo v10: Conversation with Gil Segal

Created: Monday, February 28, 2022 posted by at 9:30 am

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And I want to know more about your new Chains feature that you have in ToolsToo for PowerPoint. Can you tell us more?
Using the Chains feature in ToolsToo v10: Conversation with Gil Segal

Geetesh: Hi, Gil. How are you today?

Gil: Hi, Geetesh. I’m doing great. How are you?

Geetesh: I’m doing great. And I want to know more about your new Chains feature that you have in ToolsToo for PowerPoint. Can you tell us more?

Gil: Sure, absolutely. I’d love to. So, the Chains feature is a new feature in ToolsToo version 10. In fact, it’s the main feature in ToolsToo version 10. What it lets you do is record a series of steps, a series of ToolsToo tools that you want to use together. So you set it up once and then at the click of a button, you can run it again and again and again. And there’s an even neater feature where you can run the Chain on a series of selected slides. So you can use that for things like global search and replace across those selected slides, which is very powerful. And you can use that for things like changing fonts, changing the appearance of certain types of shapes that you might have on certain slides and just scanning through an entire deck and doing that all with one click. It’s very powerful.

Geetesh: So that’s really awesome. Gil, can you share your screen and show us a small demo of using the Chains feature?

Gil: Sure, I’d love to, Geetesh. So here we are in PowerPoint on the ToolsToo Ribbon. The new Chains feature is a group within the Expert mode of the ToolsToo Ribbon. As you might know, ToolsToo has three different UI modes. So, in the Expert mode–here, I’ll go back to the Intermediate mode. You see it’s not there. If I go to Expert mode, the Chains feature appears right here in the Ribbon. And so the way we use it is by interacting with the Chains through this drop-down and these buttons here. And I’ll show that through some examples.

So, the first example, we’re going to build a simple Chain to do these three actions you see listed here, these three tools. So Chains allows you to put together sequences of ToolsToo tools. Here, we have the three tools we’re going to use. So, turn the Preserve Ratio off, Make Same Width, and Align Center and Middle.

So, we’ll create a new Chain by hitting the Plus sign. We will name it; let’s just call it Example One. You can name it, of course, whatever you want.

And you just assemble the tools you want, in the order you want them by using this editor, this visual editor very similar to the Ribbon Editor, directly in PowerPoint. So, you can pick your tools. Turn Preserve Ratio off would be in the Reference Shape group. So, we’ll go ahead and select the Reference Ratio off, then Make Same Width. So, that’s going to be in the Sizing group, Make Same Width, and then Align Center is going to be in the Alignment group. So we’ll grab that and we have our tools just like that, you can easily remove tools, add more tools, change the order if you wish by simply clicking the arrows. And that’s it. Once you do that, you can click. OK.

So, now we have our tool, and to use it, we simply select shapes in the normal way we do in the rest of ToolsToo. And we can run our Chain; like so. And, then we can do it again here. Just select our shapes, and you can see how easy that is. And, now we have a set of repeatable steps that at any time we can just anytime we need this particular functionality, we can just do that really easily, anywhere, anytime with one click. That’s example one.

Example two is a little bit more complex.

So, here we’re going to use ToolsToo to replace an image. We’re going to use the Chain features of ToolsToo to replace an image. So that’s something you actually can do in PowerPoint directly. PowerPoint has a built-in feature that does this. The problem with the built-in feature is you have no control over what it does. And, so what if you want to control what it does? So this sample Chain here and this Chain is also in the User Guide because I think it is a very useful example. This will do basically the same thing that the built-in PowerPoint Change Picture feature does, except you now have control and can set how you want your new image to appear.

So, what this does is it basically pastes what you have in the clipboard. We set some settings just to set the ToolsToo mode, if you will. Then, we paste a picture, Make Same Scale, Make Same Format. So, we copy all the formatting, align it center and middle. And, I bolded these two because these are ones you might want to change, depending on what you want to do. You might want to make the same width or make same height rather than same scale.

Instead of aligning center, middle, you might want to align to top or to left or both. So, these are things you would typically change. It then copies the animation, It puts the animation in the same sequence and it preserves the Z-order as well.

So, the net result is it does exactly the same thing and then deletes the original shape. So the net result is the picture that’s left replaces the original ones in the same place, with the same animation, and looks the same, but sized and aligned, I guess, the way you want.

So, let’s see that in action. So I’m just going to go over here to the ToolsToo website and just use the Snip and Sketch tool to just grab a section of my screen just so we have an image to work with on the Clipboard. And then, we’ll go back to PowerPoint. Now, if I use the built-in feature, we can just right-click there, Change Picture, and do From Clipboard, and PowerPoint does that. And I have no say over what that looks like. That’s probably not what I wanted. Let’s undo and instead let’s run this tool. So, I already have this tool defined. This is one I use all the time, actually. So I already have this tool defined. I call it Replace Picture, Same Scale. And let’s go look at the tool. We’ll edit it. So, here you can see the exact same steps we listed on the slide.

And we can run it. So now, let’s go ahead and run it. And you see it made it look like that. It looks a little bigger. What if I want to do it a little differently? So, we can undo all the steps it did. There we go. So, back to there. And, if I want to edit the Chain, instead of doing the Same Scale, let’s do Same Width or Same Height. Same Height will be more obvious; that’s different. So, we’ll go here, Make Same Scale is right there. We’ll change that. So we’ll add the Make Same Width. Actually, we set the Same Height. We’ll remove the Make Same Scale. So now this says Make Same Height, and we’ll run it again. Select the picture, run it again, and you see that’s now the same height, which this one kind of looks like what the built-in one did. But I’m not sure exactly what the built-in one does. So, this lets you control exactly how you want it to look.

Geetesh: This is something that probably would have taken several minutes, is done in just a moment.

Gil: Sure. Doing this manually, you would have had to literally go through all of these steps and get them exactly right. And I found myself doing that a lot just in my day job. And so I created Chains in part to solve that because I was getting sick of doing exactly these series of steps manually every time. So, that was maybe one of the main drivers for the Chains feature for exactly this use.

And the next example I’m going to show is the driver for this next feature, which is the ability to run Chains on multiple slides. So, in this example, what we’re going to do is; let me skip ahead here. You notice this picture has a lot of red arrows on it, and the next one has a bunch of red arrows on it. And what happens if you’re looking at the stack and somebody comes back and says, well, I don’t want red arrows, I want thicker blue arrows or whatever the changes. So, basically, you want to go from that to that. And sure, you could go through manually clicking through them and do it. Let’s say you have not two slides, but you have 100 slides, which was actually the use case I had when I created that tool – 118 slides.

The other thing to notice here is these are all in groups, so you can’t even select them and do them at once. These are actually groups within groups so that one’s not a group. So you’d have to do each group separately because PowerPoint doesn’t let you select multiple groups at once. So pretty painful, if you wanted to do it manually. So now you don’t have to do it manually. All you need to do is set up a simple Chain. So I’ve created the Chain already. So the first step is what you want to do. So Select Same Shape, Select Same Line Color, Make Same Format. So, I’m using the Select Same tools here to pick up only the shapes I’m interested in. So, this will pick all the lines, and then this will pick all the lines that are red. And then I used the Make Same Format to change all of those, all of the now selected shapes to the new shape. So, that’s the tool we’ll go ahead and see it here. So that’s example three. And as you can see, we have those exact three tools. Then the next thing we do is we use the Pick up tool, this tool right here to pick up both the From and the To.

So, that’s a new capability in ToolsToo 10 where we have the ability to pick up two shapes and we can use the From for the Select Same actions. And if we have a second shape, it will be used for the Make Same actions. So the Select Sames will use the red part, the Make Same will use the blue shape. So I will pick those two up and then, moving on to slide next slide, I’ll set the Reference shape mode to Pick up shape. You can put this step, you can put it in the Chain if you wish. So, to make sure you’re in the right mode, you don’t have to do that. If you don’t, you have to remember to do it manually. You select the slides you want to work on. So, we’ll select these two slides and then we’ll run the Chain. When you do that, you get this warning because you’re running it on multiple slides. You could be changing a lot of things over a lot of slides. So the Undo feature will not save you here. Because if you do discover you did something wrong, you have no way to back out. So, this reminds you; highly recommended that you save your deck at this point before you proceed. So, it detects if the deck has been changed. It automatically detects if the deck has been changed since the last time you saved it. If it has been saved, it won’t show you this. And then you say OK, and notice that it changed all the red arrows on both slides.

Geetesh: Wow.

Gil: Imagine that you’re using this to change anything like a font or so, the two use cases I had when I first created this was actually very similar to this one. I was changing a dashed red arrow to a thicker dashed red arrow across 118 slides. That was very tedious to do manually because I didn’t have this at the time. So I said, “Hmm, I need to do this better.” So that took about an hour and now I can do it in about two minutes or a minute.

Geetesh: Wow.

Gil: And then in the same deck, I discovered… I use a lot of screenshots in my work So I wanted to change all of the… the appearance of all the screenshots so all the images; they needed to have a certain kind of shadow behind them. And so I created the From and the To and again in two minutes was able to change all 118 slides as opposed to doing it manually one by one.

Geetesh: This is phenomenal. It’s going to save a lot of time. When someone goes and invests time working on these Chains, there will be people within the same organization who’ll want to get the same Chains to work with themselves, without having to set them up because they just find it easier to take it from someone and use it. What do you do in a scenario like that?

Gil: Sure. So, you have two options, really. One is to just send them a screenshot of your Chain. Chains are so simple to set up. So you just do edit here. Just pick the Chain, send them a screenshot of that and they can easily implement it themselves; option one. Option two: in the User Guide which is included in the button right here. In the User Guide, there is a description of how to find where the Chains are saved on your machine. And so you can easily just share that file with someone else or you can look at just a text file. You can look inside and grab the relevant line and share that with your colleague.

Geetesh: That’s so good. It’s like you started to create a small ecosystem here within PowerPoint where you can take all the amazing commands that you have in ToolsToo and get them together to create something special. This is really cool.

Gil: Thank you. I thought so. I use it all the time.

Geetesh: That’s the best part because when you use it yourself, you know how useful it can be. OK. Thank you, Gil. This has been awesome and I look forward to connecting with you again and learning more tricks for using ToolsToo. Thanks again for doing this demo, and have a wonderful day.

Gil: Thank you. You too.

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