Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
Last Updated: February 25th 2009
Around 30 million PowerPoint presentations are created everyday. Probably, a small proportion of them need to be re-purposed as online rich media content that can be delivered and managed. Let us assume that this proportion is as miniscule as 2% - that translates to a market of 600,000 presentations each working day. Consider the phenomenal amount of potential already available in this nascent area - and you won't be surprised to discover at least 10 major players in the market. Many of these players are going through a consolidation process that involves mergers, takeovers and relaunches.
Our product for review - iCreate has been through it all. It started as a PowerPoint to Flash conversion tool from Wanadu, a company that was later acquired by Latitude, the leading provider of integrated web and voice applications for the enterprise. Latitude's award-winning MeetingPlace solution that enables real-time collaborative meetings through web browsers, groupware applications and telephones (PBX, cellular as well as IP phones) is particularly well-placed to harness synergies emanating from using the iCreate product within their broad concept.
Not surprisingly, Latitude has integrated the iCreate product within its MeetingPlace framework to provide a complete value-added solution that might strengthen the already firm existence that MeetingPlace has in the web and voice conferencing market. That's all the more significant since Microsoft acquired its chief competitor PlaceWare a few months ago (PlaceWare has since been relaunched as Microsoft Office Live Meeting).
For the rest of this review, we'll focus entirely on iCreate rather than the full MeetingPlace spectrum. For more info on MeetingPlace, please visit their website:
More info about iCreate can be found at:
My contacts for this review were Michael Kaye of Latitude Comminications and Lora Lee of Connecting Point Communications - I wish to thank them for helping me with this.
Before anything else, you'll need to register as a new user at:
http://tryicreate.mymeetingplace.net (see screenshot)
You can either login using an existing account or register for a free trial account. Once you opt to register, you'll need to fill a profile form with info such as name, username, password, email address, etc.
In due course, you can expect to receive an account activation email in your inbox which confirms that your MeetingPlace iCreate account has been enabled. Thereafter, you can login with your username and password.
Probably the first thing you should do after registration is to download the iCreate PowerPoint add-in. This download weighs around 7 mb currently - however, you'll need to have Sun's Java Runtime Engine (later than version 1.3) installed on a computer that will author iCreate content. Fortunately, MeetingPlace provides an alternative download of the iCreate PowerPoint add-in that includes the JRE. This download weighs around 21 mb.
The iCreate PowerPoint add-in only functions on Windows NT (with Service Pack 4 or later), Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Surprisingly, the installation routine proceeds with an installation on Windows 98 as well - also, MeetingPlace provides no info about compatible operating systems on the add-in download page.
PowerPoint versions 2000, 2002 and 2003 on Windows are supported by the iCreate add-in.
Installation is a quick affair - once the setup routine has been through, you can expect to find a new MeetingPlace menu within your PowerPoint interface (see screenshots below).
As you can see in the Publish to Flash sub-menu, you can output content both locally and online. In most of iCreate's competing programs, you can either publish to Flash locally or on a server - iCreate is probably the only program that allows you both options.
My first test presentation is a beginner's look at Learning Management Systems - it's a simple presentation that spans a few slides - one of these slides includes several text boxes that have transparency values ranging from 20% to 100%. Also, it uses Type 1, TrueType and OpenType fonts - although all except one of the fonts are standard Windows fonts that are included as part of the OS. The non-standard font used is ITC Officina Sans - but that's also part of Adobe Type Manager Lite's installation.
Publishing this presentation through iCreate's online component did not render the fonts properly - the local conversion on the desktop performed flawlessly though. I asked Michael about this - here is his response:
The trial server is a standard Windows 2000 Server.
iCreate will convert only those fonts that are installed on the server
otherwise it does a closest fit. Generally, we sell the iCreate to a
department or enterprise in which case the buyer has the responsibility
to install the fonts that its' users are using. So, typefaces do convert
as you would expect as long as they are installed on the server. As you
probably have noticed, the typfaces convert well when you do local conversion
since you have the fonts installed. In either case, you can get a report
that lists fonts that were not converted (i.e. installed).
A PowerPoint converted locally is identical to PowerPoints converted on the server. However, locally converted presentations are watermarked until the user purchases a license.
I thereafter replaced ITC Officina Sans with Trebuchet MS and the conversion to rich media Flash performed flawlessly - you can see the repurposed presentation here (opens in a separate window):