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Getting PowerPoint Into Director

Learn how to get PowerPoint content into Director.


Product/Version: PowerPoint

Learn PowerPoint

Solve this problem: Click, and all my text becomes white or disappears!

See Also: PowerPoint And Director

Using PowerPoint Shows In Director
The PowerPoint Viewer Method
The PowerPoint Application Method
Xtras>Import PowerPoint File.
A Couple Of Caveats

Using PowerPoint Shows In Director

Since the launch of Macromedia Director 6.5, you can import a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation in three ways:

  • As an OLE object (you trigger the PowerPoint Viewer to play the file).
  • Same as above, but using a local installation of Microsoft PowerPoint rather than the Viewer.
  • Using the Import PowerPoint Xtra (Xtras>Import PowerPoint File...) to import each slide and its objects/text to manipulate in Director.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these methods, as outlined below:


The PowerPoint Viewer Method

The PowerPoint Viewer is a free program to view PowerPoint presentations on systems without PowerPoint installed. You can download it from:

Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer

Be aware that the PowerPoint Viewer is basically a runtime engine for PowerPoint 97. Therefore, you will be unable to view all cool animations and transitions included in newer versions through the Viewer. Also, the Viewer does not support VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). Having said that, one might add the fact that PowerPoint 2000 and 97 have minor differences; thus the actual differences will be more obvious only if you use PowerPoint 2002.

On the other hand, using the PowerPoint Viewer means you can use PowerPoint 97/2000 to create your presentation and make amendments, rather than the slightly more complex Director.

You might want to do the entire thing in Director itself in order to have greater flexibility with animations, etc. We discuss more of that later. As of now, you are limited by what you can achieve in PowerPoint compared to Director.

Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer

The process for importing PowerPoint files into Director is straightforward enough. First of all, copy your PowerPoint presentation to the same folder as your Director movie. Assemble the PowerPoint Viewer and associated files in a subfolder of this folder, called ppview. You'll find more details on the actual associated files to copy from this PDF document:

PPViewer Technote

Then, on either a button or a frame in Director depending on your purpose, you will need to add a simple script. For our example, we'll create a text sprite in Director with the words 'Run Presentation'.

Run Presentation

Right-click the sprite, and choose the Edit Cast Member option from the resultant flyout menu.

Edit Cast Member

Doing so will open the cast member in a separate window. Click the Cast Member Script button.

Cast Member Script

In the resultant Script window, type the following code:

Open "presentation.ppt" with "ppview/ppview32.exe"

resultant Script window

where presentation.ppt is the name of your PowerPoint file (it can be a .ppt or .pps). This will launch the PowerPoint Viewer through the appropriate action in your Director movie, and return to the movie at the end of the presentation.

This approach can also be used to create a Director based autorun splash front end for running multiple PowerPoint presentations off a CD-ROM or hard disk.


The PowerPoint Application Method

If you are sure that the intended audience has a full version of PowerPoint installed on their systems, you can use PowerPoint itself to play your presentation when you click a link from a Director projector. The advantages are manifold:

  1. All your presentations would play as they were intended to.
  2. You'll be able to view all the cool Powerpoint 2002 animations and transitions if that version is available on a system.

The basic steps actually replicate whatever we did for the PowerPoint Viewer method, but with two subtle changes. Let's explore:

  1. Firstly, rename your presentation file's PPT file extension to PPS. Both PPT and PPS are valid PowerPoint extensions. It is just that a presentation with a PPS extension opens directly in Show mode rather than the Edit mode which is associated with PowerPoint's PPT extension. Read our PPT vs. PPS page to learn more.
  2. Secondly, we'll need a shell execution utility like shelexec.exe. You can download it free from:
  3. The Code Project - ShelExec
  4. Place shelexec.exe in the same folder as your PPS presentation and the Director movie. Thereafter, when we add a script to a Director sprite, insert the following code:
  5. Open "presentation.pps" with "shelexec.exe"
  6. The PowerPoint Application Method

That's all.


Xtras>Import PowerPoint File...

By choosing this third method you can take advantage of Macromedia Director's advanced animation capabilities and more. The pitfall here is you have to save your PowerPoint presentation as a version 4 file, since that is the only version of PowerPoint which Director imports in this way. There are several associated problems with this state of affairs. PowerPoint 4 doesn't support multimedia of any kind (ideal for importing into a multimedia package, then) and does not handle bitmaps as efficiently as the newer versions.

If you've designed your PowerPoint presentation in a later version (which presumably you have) you'll probably be disappointed to find that saving back to version 4 does downgrade your work. If you're using PowerPoint 2002 (XP) then you won't even have the option to save a version 4 show so you may have to find someone who has an older version for you to borrow.

PowerPoint Import Into Director

We're now finished with the bad news. The good news is that you can add the multimedia elements in Director and the Import PowerPoint Xtra assembles a cast with your backgrounds and text/objects and a score with your slides and their animations, with markers for each slide, so you can tweak to your heart's content.

You can add interactivity, Flash animations (which work seamlessly in Director —fair enough I suppose as it's a Macromedia product) and web functionality that PowerPoint just can't achieve. Once your elements are there you can even edit your text in Director if that's easier.

Finally, Director's distribution options are so much better. You can create a standalone EXE file or a Shockwave DCR file to view on the internet.


A Couple of Caveats

  • If you haven't got PowerPoint 4 you won't be able to check exactly what you are sending to Director. Although you can open a version 4 file in PowerPoint 97 and above, there are usually inconsistencies with mapping animations etc. so you might think all your text wipes right but when it gets to Director it does weird things. You can change animations in Director.
  • You will notice that vector images come in as Flash assets. As such they are not editable in Director so you must make sure you are happy with them before you import.
  • Also Director calculates your movie size using 72dpi so if your PowerPoint is set up at the default 10x7.5" it will import at 720x540. Adjust your PowerPoint page size if you need a bigger movie.
  • The biggest problem you'll have is bitmap quality. If you have the time and patience you may find yourself replacing the cast members with the original bitmaps to maximise quality.

I should add that depending on what you're trying to do, it can sometimes be better/easier to work the other way round. This entails placing a Director projector into a PowerPoint show using the Insert | Object option, or a Shockwave DCR movie using the Control Toolbox.



This is just an experiment. No support can be provided for the techniques listed here. Also, I don't suppose either Microsoft or Macromedia would offer support on this subject.

However, both Microsoft and Macromedia newsgroups are well visited and intelligent interactions are possible on both forums.


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