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An Interview with James Gordon

In this interview, James talks about PowerPoint for Mac, and his add-in programs.


James Gordon James Gordon has been a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) since 2000 and can be found in the Microsoft Macintosh newsgroups for Excel, PowerPoint and Word. PowerPoint users will recognize Jim as the creator of InsertPicture add-in for Macintosh. He has made other add-ins and templates for Excel, PowerPoint and Word and is knowledgeable about graphs and mail merge. At SUNY University at Buffalo, Jim works helping faculty, staff and instructors with a wide array of technologies for higher education.

Geetesh: Please tell us more about yourself, and your InsertPicture PowerPoint add-in.

James: Although PowerPoint is a program that started off on the Mac and was ported to Windows, each platform offers a different feature set. On the PC version there’s a capability to insert a folder’s worth of pictures all at once. The Mac PowerPoint team never put this capability into PowerPoint, but because Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is supported on both Mac and PC I was able to create an add-in with similar yet enhanced functionality for the Mac.

Geetesh: How does your add-in differ from Windows PowerPoint’s Insert Photo Album feature?

James: I wanted to expand upon the Windows functionality. The InsertPicture Mac add-in allows for a greater choice of sources. You can directly insert pictures from a scanner or camera. The add-in lets you add a random animation to a folder full of pictures, add a border, put all the imported pictures onto a single slide, and can put the file name onto the slide or into the slides notes or slide footer.

Geetesh: Does PowerPoint on the Mac platform integrate well with other Mac programs?

James: In PowerPoint on the Mac, you can use File | Make Movie to save any presentation as a QuickTime movie. The movie file can then be incorporated into iMovie, iDVD, QuickTime Pro, and even Final Cut. Likewise, QuickTime objects can be inserted into PowerPoint slides using the Movie Toolbar (View | Toolbars | Movies).

For example, to turn a presentation into a movie suitable for Google Video or YouTube just use File | Make Movie. A bug in YouTube doesn’t recognize movies made by PowerPoint. To get around this, open the movie in QuickTime Pro, and then export it as a QuickTime movie (I know – it already was a QuickTime movie). YouTube will accept the result this time.

To make a PowerPoint presentation suitable for your cell phone use File | Make Movie. Then open the movie in QuickTime Pro and export in 3g format.

Geetesh: What PowerPoint features you think Mac users would find useful, but are not well known.

James: PowerPoint’s toolbars can easily be customized. (View | Toolbars | Customize Toolbars/Menus). When the Customize window is open, you can add, remove, and move any command to or from any toolbar or menu. You can make totally new toolbars with your own favorites on them. You can also click the Reset button if you think you’ve made a mess and want to start over on the stock toolbars.

When in the Customize window click the Commands button. Here are some of my favorite commands that I drag to my PowerPoint standard toolbars:

  • Project Gallery (Mac only)
  • File Close
  • Send to Mail Recipient as Attachment
  • Animation Preview (Mac only)
  • Cutout (Mac only. Uses the selection tools on PowerPoint’s built-in Picture toolbar, which are also Mac-only)
  • Set up show
  • Slide Show In a Window (plays slideshow in a window instead of taking the entire screen. Lets you run the show while other applications are running).

Geetesh: What have you heard about upcoming PowerPoint 2008?

James: Microsoft announced that the product is in beta testing, which would indicate it will likely be available as promised at MacWorld on January 15. This is a two-week delay from the originally promised delivery date of New Year’s Eve. I guess MacBU decided it's better to have a crowd of enthusiastic Mac heads than a bunch of drunken revelers at the product introduction.

Maybe MacBU will do a better job with the Office 2007 “Ribbon” than the Windows team did. I find the Ribbon and the Task Panes of Windows Office very objectionable. Thankfully, the Macintosh PowerPoint folks never adopted task panes.

Add-ins for Office 2008 will be non-existent, as support for Visual Basic ends in this release. Old add-ins will no longer work. AppleScript is a viable programmability option for Office 2008. The status of RealBasic is unknown at this time.

As was PowerPoint 2007, PowerPoint 2008 is a “port” of old code to a new platform. In the case of 2008, PowerPoint is being converted from PowerPC only to PowerPC/Intel dual platform, which might improve performance on Intel based Macintosh computers because PowerPoint won’t have to use “Rosetta” to emulate a PPC processor.

Geetesh: What can you tell us about the Microsoft MVP Program?

James: People from any walk of life who have done something to help technical communities in a way that is noteworthy and visible are awarded the MVP distinction annually. The MVPs communicate with each other and Microsoft directly. Every once in a while Microsoft throws a huge bash that is incredibly technically oriented as a way to say “thank you” to the MVPs. I am delighted that PowerPoint 2004 was built with a great deal of input from the MVPs.

For information on who the MVPs are and how you can become one visit the Microsoft MVP site.

Geetesh: Where can people find more about your InsertPicture add-in?


Feature List 01 (Layout with Tabs)

The Feature List Layout comprises three sample PowerPoint presentations: one each to create a visual list for 4 features, 5 features, and 6 features. These work great when you have too much information to fit within one slide. This solution lets you use multiple slides, but the visual result is still that of one single slide!

Buy and Download Feature List 01 (Layout with Tabs) for $4.99+ (671 kb)

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