in Internet Services

PowerPoint, meet HTML Slidy

I can’t claim to be the first one to think that maybe PowerPoint is far too heavyweight of a tool for making presentations. In fact, Edward Tufte has said this before and in fact argues that PowerPoint makes people dumber. Having been at the receiving end of many sleep-inducing PowerPoint-driven presentations, I can heartily agree.

From a technical perspective, though, PowerPoint really is a bloated product for a task that should be fairly mundane. Into the breach steps HTML Slidy, which comprises two simple pieces: a CSS stylesheet, and a bunch of Javascript, to make a PowerPoint slide-show workalike in XHTML. Each slide is contained in a <div class="slide"> tag, and the Javascript lets you use the familiar PowerPoint navigation to get through the slideshow (forward and back arrows, clicking the slide for the next one, etc.) The only downside — and one that is easily solved with custom editor plugins for any XML editor, in my view — is that one must code all the slides by hand. Some may argue that this may be a good thing (having to hand-bomb everything forces one to think about the content more carefully).

The other interesting presentation-related product I saw recently was TeamSlide. This is a YAW2 AJAX-fronted application (a PHP program) simulating the parts of Microsoft Live Communication Server or WebEx that allow you to share a presentation with other participants. Advantage of TeamSlide: it’s only USD $99, and you don’t need any fancy browser plugins or a thick client. The disadvantage is that it’s basically a distributed slideshow application; you can’t share your desktop or other windows with the other participants, or do anything fancy that you wouldn’t be able to do outside of a PowerPoint framework.

Still, I think there is promise for the World After PowerPoint. Thanks to John Udell for writing about these technologies.

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