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PowerPoint and SVG

Learn about PowerPoint and SVG.


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Introduction
SVG Sounds Familiar
Whatever Happened To Flash?
The SVG Viewer
Installing The SVG Viewer
SVG Sample Galleries
Creating Or Converting SVG
Inserting SVG Within PowerPoint
What's ActiveX?

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Introduction

Although this articles addresses the use of SVG with and within PowerPoint - a rather long introduction to SVG preludes the actual content. This is because SVG is not rather widespread as yet - and many readers would benefit from a basic introduction. If you are already SVG-aware, please feel free to skip the introductory paragraphs.

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SVG Sounds Familiar

The term SVG could ring a bell somewhere - or maybe you draw a complete blank. On the other hand, you may also be professionally using this format day in and out - so, what's SVG?

SVG is an abbreviation for Scalable Vector Graphics and also the three letter extension that's given to documents of this calibre.

The main promoter of this format has been Adobe - the kingpin of the graphics application market, with programs like Photoshop and Illustrator under its belt. Adobe is also the force behind two industry standards - EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) and PDF (Portable Document Format). SVG fits in smugly into Adobe's strategical thinking in its vision of extending its standards to the web media.

The SVG format in itself is an open standard - not owned as such by Adobe, although it is certain that without Adobe's continued support for SVG, the format would have been not half as well known! So, it is not surprising that I lead you to Adobe's site in your quest for more information regarding SVG:

Adobe SVG Zone

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a detailed SVG section with links to umpteen SVG related sites:

W3C Overview of SVG

If you need more details, W3C's Graphics Activity Statement may prove interesting:

W3C Graphics Activity Statement

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Whatever Happened To Flash?

With all the praise being showered by W3C on SVG, it would not be out of place to wonder about the fate of that other format: Shockwave Flash. It's no secret that Macromedia's Flash format is the forerunner and inspiration for Adobe's SVG initiative - although even Adobe creates a Flash content creation tool called Adobe LiveMotion. It is widely believed that the next version of LiveMotion will allow SVG output as well.

Capabilities of both the Flash SWF and Adobe SVG formats are similar - yet in many ways they are complementary to each other. A more detailed comparision can be found at:

Moock.org SVG Section

A Neumann's Flash - SVG Comparision

You can learn more about Macromedia Flash at:

Macromedia Flash

Not withstanding the onslaught of SVG, Macromedia's Flash format still reigns supreme. Now an open format controlled by Macromedia, it's a well known fact that Flash has more developers and output routes than ever before.

Although the Flash plug-in or ActiveX control comes preinstalled in a majority of contemporary operating systems and browsing environments, the Macromedia site allows free downloads of the latest version of such a viewer at:

Shockwave Flash Download

Adobe has a similar SVG Viewer available for download from their site. Read on for more details...

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The SVG Viewer

The Adobe SVG Viewer is an application which allows you to view SVG graphics on your system - installing the Viewer also enables your browser to view inline SVG graphics - for all you know the SVG Viewer may be already installed on your system if you installed a recent full or trial version of Adobe Illustrator or GoLive. Adobe's direction with SVG can be gauged from the fact that it is freely distributing the Adobe SVG Viewer with newer releases of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you would like to test your browser for its SVG viewing capabilities, visit the following link:

Adobe SVG Plug-in Test

In my case, the plug-in responded as positive - perhaps due to an earlier installation of Adobe Acrobat Reader 5. In case your plug-in test is not positive (or if you are using an older version), you will be redirected to the relevant page for a free download of the SVG Viewer:

Adobe SVG Viewer Download

The current version of the SVG Viewer (version 3) weighs at around 2.25 megabytes for Windows - a similar viewer is available for the Apple Macintosh as well.

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Installing the SVG Viewer

Although my system tested as SVG positive, I still downloaded the SVG Viewer from the Adobe site to actually experience the installation firsthand. Double-clicking the file in Windows Explorer initiated the installation - it proceeded without requests for any custom installations or anything similar. Surprisingly, the installation created no program groups or shortcuts - it was purely through the merits of my installation monitoring application that I learnt about the creation of an Adobe folder within the Windows/System32 folder.

Within this folder was excellent documentation for the SVG Viewer in the form of a 'Readme' and 'Help' file, as also a sample SVG file. Surprisingly, the installation does not default to creating shortcuts to these documents within the Start Menu.

I also clicked the sample SVG file (SVGAbout.svg) - this opened an Internet Explorer window with an SVG graphic - the bottom part of the graphic contained a credits screen which started to scroll after a while - a single credit for LiveMotion export caught my eye - this does confirm the existence of such a capability in the next version of Adobe LiveMotion.

Just in case you're replicating my observations, just try selecting any text within the SVG graphic and press Ctrl-C on your keyboard. Alternatively, right click your selection and choose 'Copy Selected Text'. Open Notepad and press Ctrl-V to paste - voila - you just extracted text from a graphic!

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SVG Sample Galleries

Now that you have a system equipped to view SVG files, I'm sure you would love to see a few SVGs in action. Thankfully, there are many sites online, including Adobe's own, which sport SVG galleries. Here are just a few links:

The Adobe SVG Zone has cutting edge demos of SVG solutions for various applications - there's even a complete plan of the Adobe headquarters available right down to the room level detail! Including content like this in a PowerPoint presentation opens many possibilities.

The SVG-Spot Gallery has links to breakthrough uses of the SVG format.

PinkJuice has a collection of basic SVG stuff.

The SVG Map Gallery has beautiful maps rendered using SVG.

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Creating Or Converting SVG

You can create your own SVGs using Adobe Illustrator (version 9 upwards) or Jasc WebDraw.

SVG Maker is a printer driver which generates SVG files from most vector drawing applications.

A SWF to SVG converter, currently in beta allows online conversion.

CorelDRAW (version 10 upwards) has a SVG export filter.

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Inserting SVG Within PowerPoint

We're finally here - at the main topic of our discussion. It's amazing that we had to traverse through such a big route to reach here - but then that was essential.

There's no magic filter which allows you to insert SVG graphics within PowerPoint - there are few prerequisites before you can do anything - these requirements are essential for both inserting and viewing SVG content within PowerPoint:

  1. First, of course is the fact that you need to have PowerPoint or the PowerPoint Viewer to view and/or edit your presentation.

  2. Secondly, you need to have Internet Explorer installed on your system - this question of course, is only elementary since all recent versions of the Windows operating system have this component installed.

  3. Finally, the Adobe SVG Viewer needs to be installed on each creation and delivery machine. We've already learnt that this SVG Viewer (which includes a SVG ActiveX control) is freely downloadable from:

    Adobe SVG Viewer Download

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What's ActiveX?

ActiveX is the successor to OLE 1 and OLE 2 - in clear cut unambiguous terms, this means that ActiveX is a technology that allows components, clients or controls to run individually integrated in another application. These other applications are usually web browsers like Microsoft's Internet Explorer -  alternatively they can be any program which has the ability to communicate with an ActiveX control. In our case, this program happens to be Microsoft PowerPoint.

If you want to learn more about ActiveX, you can visit the following link:

Web Developer's Virtual Library has an excellent introduction to ActiveX. They also maintain an ActiveX links page.

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