Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
Last Updated: February 27th 2009
This review was written sometime in 2001 - since then Presedia has been acquired by Macromedia. The new incarnation of this product is now called Macromedia Breeze. You'll find a full review of Breeze on this site. Read here.
This page is being retained as an archive of a product no longer available - some links from this page may not work.
A few months ago, I was scouring the Internet for whatever information I could find on using PowerPoint and Flash together. Well, there were so many pages which showed you how to incorporate Flash movies in a PowerPoint presentation. On the other hand, there was precious little information available on the other way round - getting your PowerPoint content into the Flash format.
There's a reason behind this state of affairs - porting PowerPoint content into Flash is a specialized affair - I wondered if there was a tool which would do it automatically for me. And then I found Presedia Publisher - at first Presedia seemed too good to be true. Yet, there it was, and presently we're going to take Presedia Publisher on a rollercoaster ride to ascertain whether it delivers whatever it promises.
Keith Kitani is the Chief Operating Officer of Presedia, a company which functions from Sunnyvale, California. He's been coordinating with me on this review. Since Presedia Publisher is so much different from other PowerPoint add-ins, I thought it would be eminently more interesting if this review was written in an interactive fashion.
There are reasons behind this decision, primarily the fact that Presedia is a product as well as a service. Unlike other PowerPoint add-ins, which you can buy off the shelf or through ESD, Presedia cannot be used in a conventional fashion. Your PowerPoint presentations need to be uploaded to Presedia servers for them to be web enabled as Flash movies, which can be thereafter delivered online or through CD-ROM as multimedia presentations.
What led to Presedia? That's the question I put up to Keith - and his answer makes very interesting reading.
The idea started when Kevin and I were at a sales meeting - the typical event with hundreds of salespeople viewing 20 presentations in 3 days. We felt there had to be a better way to deliver this type of presentation information. We decided to develop a solution so the typical business person could produce high quality web presentations in minutes.
Presentations - specifically PowerPoint - are the most common method for delivering business information. Yet, effective presentations are designed to be accompanied by audio. Slides alone do not provide the complete message.
The web is an ideal way to deliver business presentations with audio, yet no one had developed a good solution for delivering presentations with audio over the web. There were a few solutions available, but each had drawbacks, including the solution within PowerPoint.
Our solution needed to make it easy to create a multimedia presentation. We wanted the typical PowerPoint user to be able to create the web presentation - not just the multimedia designer.
We wanted the presentation output to have some of the following characteristics: high quality output, cross platform support, bandwidth efficient, animation and multimedia support, powerful viewing controls, and easy to deliver (no server software). Flash was an ideal solution.
Keith set up a Presedia trial account for me, the next step was to download the Presedia Producer Add-in, a 4 MB download from the Presedia site.
A word about Presedia accounts, they are basically of two types: there's one where you can host your presentations on Presedia servers; the other option is to host your presentations on your own servers. Naturally, every customer may make their own choice regarding the hosting, but the Presdedia hosted solutions cost more.
All accounts are per presentation.
In addition - the Presedia solution itself is available in two flavours - Presedia Publisher is the solution we're covering in this review; its sibling - Presedia Publisher Pro adds other niceties like the ability to use prerecorded audio and edit animation timings.
Installing the Presedia Producer add-in is quick and uncomplicated - however installing the add-in into PowerPoint is only half the story, as we shall examine later in this review.
As of now, the installation creates a Presedia menu within PowerPoint. On my system, with both PowerPoint 2000 and PowerPoint 2002/XP installed, I had no problem in accessing the Presedia menu in both versions.
A word of caution here: although Presedia does function within PowerPoint 2002/XP, you must use only PowerPoint features accessible in PowerPoint 97/2000, since the new features may be still unsupported by Presedia's server technologies. An overview of new PowerPoint 2002/XP features is available at:
Since this is an interactive review, I'm sharing all my stops, brakes and accelerations with you here. My first stop, was the Presedia Publisher help file - an excellent resource written in a lucid style. Apart from guiding you about the capabilities and functions of Presedia Publisher, the help file also provides useful tips on utilization of graphics to create smaller sized presentations, which could be ultimately more bandwidth friendly on non-broadband Internet connections. The help file also provides tips on using your microphone properly - in fact there's a whole section devoted to microphones.
You may of course avoid the help file altogether and instead choose to run the Presedia Producer Wizard straightaway. Nevertheless, going through the help documentation may help you in the long run.
First things first - before anything else, you need a presentation to play...er, work with! So, I decide to create a presentation which discusses the scope of Indezine, this site.
Time to think. I want to try Presedia to the extremes, yet I know the limitations of a dialup Internet connection. A great level of balance is required here, so I finally settle for an original PresentationPro design in a pleasing light blue shade. The typeface used throughout is Trebuchet, which is a fairly standard typeface.
On the first slide, let's just put some text - that way at least our first slide will be available instantly. We'll leave the graphics and animations for the inner slides, so that they have enough time for streaming and buffering.
All in all, I've ended up with 10 slides with no images or animations - of course, if your audience is broadband enabled - you can forget all the dialup woes and go in for the full killing.