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FlashPoint and FlashPoint Professional

Reviewed:

Date Created: October 1st 2007
Last Updated: February 25th 2009






Introduction
About FlashPoint
Download and Installation
Using FlashPoint
How FlashPoint Fared
Pricing and Support
Conclusion


Introduction

It's hard to believe now, but there used to be a time when PowerPoint to Flash converters were so expensive, and few are far in between. Some of those products were in fact hosted on the servers of the program vendors, and you had to use your browser to upload and download content all the time.

Nowadays, this capability is available in products that range from free to a hundred dollars whereabouts. And these products work on your desktop, not on some remote server.

FlashPoint is one such application -- and in this review I am going to see how the application performs using our new PowerPoint to Flash benchmark presentation.

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About FlashPoint

FlashPoint is from FlashDemo.NET, a company based in China -- which is into interactive demonstrations, software simulations and e-Learning material, you can learn more and download a trial version of FlashPoint from their site...

The key features of FlashPoint are:

  • Supports most of the animation styles, transitions, effects, 14+ shapes, tables, and charts.
  • Supports WAV to MP3 conversion, which helps reduce the output file size.
  • Supports recording and adding narration for each slide in MP3 file format
  • Turns your PowerPoint presentation into screensaver.
  • Supports multiple files mode, each slide can be exported into individual SWF files, and slide is loaded asynchronously.

In this review, we are looking at both the regular and Professional version of the product. The main difference between both the products is that the Professional version supports linked videos, and WMA audio files. In addition, the Professional version supports adding lyrics to SWFs exported (we did not work with this feature).

My contact at FlashPoint for this review was Chris.W - thank you, Chris.

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Download and Installation

Download the installer from the their site, run the setup routine and follow the instructions.

When installed, the add-in creates an FlashPoint Toolbar within PowerPoint as shown in Figure 1 -- if you don't find it there choose View | Toolbars | FlashPoint Toolbar.

FlashPoint Toolbar
Figure 1: FlashPoint Toolbar

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Using FlashPoint

To see how well this application works -- I used a benchmark, evaluation presentation with slide transition, text, shapes and, picture animations, cliparts, flash SWF file, a video file, background music and a narration.

Follow these steps to convert a PowerPoint file to SWF using FlashPoint.

  1. Open any existing presentation inside PowerPoint.

  2. With the presentation open, click on the FlashPoint button , as shown in Figure 2.

    FlashPoint
    Figure 2: FlashPoint

  3. This will open FlashPoint interface (see Figure 3).

    FlashPoint Interface
    Figure 3: FlashPoint interface

    The interface is a wizard based, the first step is to choose the Publish mode from the three options provided (refer to Figure 3 above). When done, click Next.

  4. This opens the second step of the wizard, see Figure 4.

    Publish Property
    Figure 4: Publish property

    Here you can choose the layout for the output, the play mode, image conversion settings, etc. Click Next to proceed.

  5. The third window of the wizard allows to set global settings such as background sound and delay time, as shown in Figure 5.

    Global Settings
    Figure 5: Global Settings

    Click Next to go to subsequent window.

  6. Here you can customize settings for individual slides (see Figure 6). Click the Next button to proceed.

    Settings for individual slides

    Figure 6: Settings for individual slides

  7. In this step you can choose the output folder, as shown in Figure 7.

    Publish Folder
    Figure 7: Publish Folder

  8. Click on the Next button to start the conversion process.

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How FlashPoint Fared?

This benchmark presentation had 20 slides with content of various types: pictures, clip art, shapes, narration, music, Flash movies, videos, etc. Each slide was given between 0 to 5 points each for a total of 100 points, and 50 extra points were allotted to the program interface, support options, output, PowerPoint 2007 compatibility, and pricing.

FlashPoint scored a total of 104.5 points to get 70% ratings. FlashPoint Professional scored a total of 110 points to get 73.3% ratings.

FlashPoint gained in most areas except support for embedded Flash and linked videos. FlashPoint Professional scored higher in these areas. If you have embedded Flash content in the presentation, you have to reinsert the Flash movie using the options in the FlashPoint menu in PowerPoint -- and that can be troublesome if you already have Flash movies in your slides, and no way to extract them.


Both versions scored less in the sphere of support options, since FlashDemo doesn't even have anything remotely resembling a help page on their site.

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Pricing and Support

FlashPoint costs $120 for the regular version -- they also have a personal version for $49 that's intended for education and non-profit use.The Professional version costs $180

Support is through e-mail.

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Conclusion

FlashPoint is a capable product, and their $49 pricing for education and non-profit use is real value for the buck. If they improve their support options, the product could be a winner.

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