Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
Date Created: June 27th 2009
Last Updated: June 27th 2009
Out of the box, Microsoft builds little or no integration or relationships within PowerPoint to other Microsoft Office applications. To provide a quick example, PowerPoint users have nothing close to the mail merge options in Word or Outlook that can access data from an Excel or database source. And that's sort of sad, since PowerPoint is one application that can act as a glue to all sorts of content -- from text to pictures, and movies to charts! Our review product, PPT Merge does try to cover this vacuum -- does it succeed? Read more to find out.
PPT Merge is from PPTools, a set of PowerPoint add-ins created by Steve Rindsberg, a PowerPoint MVP based out of Cincinnati, USA. His other add-ins include the Starter Set and its Plus variant, FixLinks, Image Export, PPT2HTML, and tons more stuff.
My contact for this review was Steve Rindsberg -
thank you, Steve.
Run the PPT Merge setup file that you download from the PPTools site, and you'll find instructions to change the security level of macros in your copy of PowerPoint. PPT Merge works with almost all versions of PowerPoint for Windows back up to PowerPoint 97. In PowerPoint 2007, Merge won't show as a toolbar (see Figure 1) like in older versions -- but it ends up having its place in the Add-ins tab of the Ribbon (see Figure 2).
Figure 1: PPT Merge toolbar PowerPoint 2003
Figure 2: PPT Merge in PowerPoint 2007
I could do a walkthrough of PPT Merge with you, but Steve already has this great walkthrough that covers it all -- here's the page you need to look...
PPT Merge is one of the easiest programs to use -- and very useful too. I could set up a PowerPoint slide that acts as a certificate and gets its data from an Excel sheet in within minutes. You could take that further and work with pictures, movie files, sounds, etc. This can be hours of fun but remember you also end up saving hours doing this sort of work using PPT Merge rather than doing it manually.
Figure 3 shows how Steve got pictures of his cats onto a slide using PPT Merge -- naturally, I have space to just show you one slide here but Steve may have imported tons of photos of all his favorite cats.
This review explored Slides mode very well, but Merge also includes a Presentations mode that enables users to customize entire presentations with merged data, rather than creating a single multi-slide presentation the way Slides mode does. Steve adds: "That (Presentations mode) seems to be how half the customers use it most".
So what do users create with this add-in? The answer spans this list:
- Awards presentations
- Real estate presentations
- Language learning (Flash cards, for example -- Merge also handles non-Roman text)
Steve adds: "And I think I'm going to work out a Jeopardy-style PowerPoint game where all the categories, questions and answers are Merge placeholders, so the whole game can be re-created with new content in minutes". That's something we all look forward to!
I know of PowerPoint and database integration products that cost northwards of $1000 -- so I was surprised to learn that PPT Merge costs just $69.95
Support is amazing -- just look at the support page for Merge on the PP Tools site to see what sort of problems are being solved. There's also a contact form at the PPTools site for support issues, and suggestions and feature requests. Steve adds that "I'm continually adding new features to Merge and the other PPTools add-ins. My best ideas for new features come from customers."
For what it does, PPT Merge is an amazing product that could pay you back in one project alone. I like that it's a simple and clean product that does just one thing, and does it exceedingly well.