Autorun CD Project Creator is a great product which resolves all hassles involved in creating autorun CDs for Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Well, that was a short, simple and sweet definition - now let's start looking at the larger picture.
And the canvas is great - where do we start? The warp or the weft - the brush or the paint. Whenever one is faced with a situation like this, it's time to follow the old adage - "Let's start at the very beginning..."
PowerPoint has never had a feature to create self contained presentations - something you could record on a CD or DVD and run straight off the drive. PowerPoint's offered solutions have been to use a PowerPoint Viewer - yet the last PowerPoint Viewer made its debut with the release of PowerPoint 97 - and PowerPoint is at least two generations ahead already with releases of PowerPoint 2000 and PowerPoint XP - that's when you don't count the Mac releases - PowerPoint 98 and 2001. And yet, PowerPoint is the most omnipresent presentation tool available today - it's more than loaded with great features, and it's a standard in the presentation industry.
This distribution vacuum in PowerPoint's coat of armours has been filled in by a whole ancillary industry of add-ins - some of these convert an entire presentation to a Java applet, a Flash movie or a streaming RealMedia or WindowsMedia video file. Yet others use the existing PowerPoint 97 Viewer's abilities to create autorun CDs - the most prominent among these solutions is the Autorun CD Project Creator - the topic of this review.
Since a discussion on the autorun features of CD ROMs is beyond the scope of this review, I've listed a few links under the 'Related Links' section on the next page.
Sonia Coleman is a retired computer professional, with a diverse background in application development and management. She is also an artist who now prefers to work with the digital medium. In addition, Sonia is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and the strength behind a very popular web site.
Visit Sonia's Site (link no longer exists)
Steve Hetrick is a talented developer with extensive technical training and experience. He manages a network at a large U.S. Military facility. He is also the developer of PrezGuard Pro - a solution to password protect your PowerPoint presentations and Slide Converter - a free PowerPoint add-in.
Visit Steve's Site (link no longer exists)
The Autorun CD Project Creator (hereafter, ACDPC) was born of a cooperation between Sonia Coleman and Steve Hetrick - you can read small profiles about both of them earlier in this page.
I asked Sonia about the story behind ACDPC's evolution and her thoughts make interesting reading, reproduced with her permission:
"The Autorun CD Project Creator was the idea of Steve Hetrick when he saw my tutorial, which was published in December, 1999. He wrote to me proposing that we partner on the development of an automated solution. I was anxious to do that, so we worked together and ACDPC v1.0 was released on April 1, 2000. With the growth in the number of ME and Windows 2000 users, we discovered a few incompatibilities. Having accumulated a list of other enhancements we wanted to make "some day", we decided to develop a major new release.
ACDPC V. 2.0, released on March 1, 2001, has an entirely new "look" and a re-written Help File in HTML format....... Our greatest strength has been the full customer service that we provide. After serving 30,000 users of the tutorial, it became clear that the Autorun Project Creator was a better solution for users. It prevents 95% of the human errors and users experience a much higher rate of "first time success". In addition, the Autorun CD Project Creator had proven itself to be very popular, with more than 10,000 users."
Before you do anything with ACDPC, you need to ensure that the PowerPoint Viewer is installed on your system - all activities relating to the transfer of an autorun playing mechanism on a CD ROM require the PowerPoint Viewer.
You can download the PowerPoint Viewer at:
PowerPoint Viewer (PowerPoint Viewer was retired on April 30, 2018. It's no longer available for download.)
And the ACDPC homepage is at:
ACDPC (link no longer exists)
Once you have both the PowerPoint Viewer and ACDPC installed on your system, you're ready to create an autorun CD for your PowerPoint presentation - it would be a good idea to read the detailed Help included with ACDPC now since it includes many helpful guidelines which would avoid problems later. These guidelines include suggestions on storing linked files, a troubleshooting section and basic autorun concepts.
I usually don't ask readers to skim over a Help file - but ACDPC's help file is excellent - it covers a lot more than basics in an eminently readable format. However, you need to have Vector Rendering, a component of Internet Explorer 5 installed to view the graphics in the Help file.
There are two ways to invoke ACDPC - one of them is through the separate, standalone ACDPC application, accessed from the Autorun CD Project Creator group in your Start Menu. The other way is from within PowerPoint - although the ACDPC add-in is not initialized by default automatically. I wish this initialization was taken care of by the setup procedure - but more about that later.
As a standalone application, ACDPC works flawlessly. A series of wizard like interfaces, not unlike those used in PowerPoint (such as the Auto Content Wizard) guide you, giving you the choices to choose simple options. You need to select a predetermined Staging folder - the end result is an image of your destination CD ROM created for you in the Staging folder - all you need to do is to burn it on a CD. Nothing could be simpler!
The ACDPC team of Sonia and Steve have had an excellent tenure of experience during the last version of ACDPC - and this level of maturity shows itself in the functioning and results of this product.