See Also: The Michael Doyle Interview
Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: August 4th 2001
Last Updated: February 25th 2009
Now, we come to the most interesting and interactive part of this review. I'm starting with an existing PowerPoint presentation I created for a city administration software. This presentation has a dark collaged background, with white text laid on semi-transparent black AutoShapes. This is definitely not one of the conventional adhere-to-slide-master presentations - in fact, it flouts every rule PowerPoint ever made! And before I forget, the presentation also includes a looping background score introduced as a transition sound apart from vertical text (basically horizontal text, rotated at 90 degrees).
So, I just dragged this presentation from Windows Explorer and dropped it on the Impatica icon on my desktop - lo and behold, my Impaticized show was ready to preview.
And it did run rather well apart from a few glitches. For instance, the sound did not loop, the AutoShapes with text never appeared and all the vertical text became horizontal halfway out of the scope of the screen. I'm sure this does not sound like a very happy experience but what's really important here is that everything else reproduced perfectly and I was not viewing the presentation on PowerPoint itself - but on a browser - even the file size had come down drastically. What more can one want? Actually, a lot more - but suppose we harp more on the benefits and give Impatica its due? In essence, this means that I should spend 5 minutes on housekeeping the presentation before Impaticizing it.
I Impaticized the same presentation with the updated version of Impatica - all problems except the semi-transparent black AutoShapes translated perfectly. In fact, the people at Impatica mailed me to take a look at the update since it resolved many of the problems highlighted earlier on this very review!
The Impatica manual may be a good stop to learn more about these workarounds - for instance, it offers three ways in which you can include a sound which lives through its metamorphosis to an Impatica incarnation. Unfortunately, all three ways fail in looping a sound - which means background scores cannot loop in Impatica. This is another issue resolved since the update.
The manual offers very detailed information on all aspects concerning the PowerPoint-Impatica translation.
In a way, reading the manual from cover to cover may alleviate many problems in Impaticizing your PowerPoint presentations. On the other hand, nobody actually reads an entire manual - and many of us have existing PowerPoint presentations we need to convert for web delivery. I just wonder how many people will create tailor-made-for-Impatica presentations within PowerPoint - ironically I did just that.
One of the advantages of reviewing an existing software is that you need not depend on beta testers for user experiences. Many users of Impatica came through as utterly satisfied with its capabilities.
Among the advocates of Impatica is Richard Repucci of Hewlett Packard who says:
"Until now, converting PowerPoint training materials to a Web-based delivery format was expensive and complex, Impatica for PowerPoint not only retains PowerPoint's rich media functionality, but also compresses the file by as much as 95%. In addition to online delivery of traditional PowerPoint presentations, Impatica for PowerPoint is the simplest and most efficient way to add rich streaming media to web sites and e-mail content."
That was quite a glowing remark - although it pales into being conservative compared to what Vincent Rosetta of Nino, Inc. had to put in a few words:
"When I called Microsoft's Customer Support hotline, they recommended Impatica as the most effective way to deliver my large narrated PowerPoint presentation over the Internet. They were right! Thanks for the great product."
I am sure there are a lot of people there who find Impatica a great solution for web presentations - even I believe Impatica is a fantastic product - at one time I would have classified Impatica as rather evolutionary than revolutionary. Through various updates, Impatica has matured to become a very attractive proposition if you need to distribute presentations online.
I guess that something like this is best heard from the team behind Impatica. Here's a direct excerpt from the writings of Paul Noah, Sales Director of Impatica, reproduced with his permission:
"Impatica's founders were originally in the business of developing CD-ROM based training materials. As they migrated to online training delivery, they found it difficult to retain the same rich learning experience that had been available with CD-ROMs, within the practical constraints of the Internet. Specifically they sought to deliver narrated, animated, interactive content at low bandwidth to essentially any Internet connected device, regardless of the hardware, OS or browser.
"Since most of their CD-ROM content had been developed using Macromedia Director, they naturally preferred a means of delivering Director content over the Internet. Shockwave was evaluated and rejected as it failed the criteria of low bandwidth, audio synchronization and platform independence.
"A promising solution was found within a small NJ based company, but needed enhancement and refinement to fully satisfy their requirements. In due course, the founders decided to shift their focus from training development to the creation of software tools for streaming content development. The base technology was purchased, refined still further and became Impatica's first product - Impatica for Director.
"With increasing experience, the company realized that the time, cost and complexity of creating online training materials was a major impediment to widespread adoption. Although Macromedia Director had the power to create highly sophisticated content, it was costly and complex to use and overkill for a significant proportion of training content. That realization lead to the development of Impatica for PowerPoint.
"Impatica for PowerPoint takes narrated, animated, interactive content developed in PowerPoint and transforms it into a compressed streaming file format that can be delivered to essentially any Internet connected device at low bandwidth. Using Impatica's products, content produced in Director and PowerPoint can be combined and intermixed, thereby offering content developers the awesome power of Director and the intuitive simplicity of PowerPoint within a common delivery environment."
Thank you Paul.