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PowerPoint and Presentation News - Issue 031

Issue 031 of PowerPoint and Presentation Stuff newsletter.

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Product/Version: PowerPoint


Focus on Articulate
The Dennis Ricks Interview
Quick News
Interlink RemotePoint Navigator
Take-off DataPoint brings databases to PowerPoint
Events and Seminars

Focus on Articulate

Articulate is a New York based company that creates products that allow the non-technical user to author Flash content in PowerPoint. The products also allow you to manage how this content is delivered - detailed reports show actual viewings and provide much more control. I spoke to Adam Schwartz, President of Articulate about the company and their products:

Geetesh: Where do you believe Articulate fits in within the online rich media market? How is Articulate different?

Adam: Articulate is the leader in rapid learning and communications. When we talk about rapid, we're referring to the speed and ease at which one can create and distribute rich-media content. Rich-media content development is difficult for non-technical users. We put it in the hands of anybody with the knowledge and need to communicate.

Articulate differentiates itself by offering a suite of integrated products that address the entire range of customer needs. Our Articulate Presenter™ product is a great fit for the individual or department that wants to rapidly develop Flash presentations for communication or training. Our Articulate Server™ product meets the needs of the enterprise looking for an end-to-end solution to deliver, track and manage all of their content or deploy a knowledge portal.

Thank you, Adam.

Look out for a full Articulate review at Indezine soon. You can learn more about the company and their products at the Articulate web site.


The Dennis Ricks Interview

Dennis Ricks Dennis Ricks (pictured right) is the President and CEO of CrystalGraphics, the largest vendor of PowerPoint add-ins. In this exclusive interview for Indezine, Dennis discusses his company, products and more. Here are some excerpts:

Geetesh: Tell me something about CrystalGraphics and how you are placed in the PowerPoint add-ins market.

Dennis: I founded CrystalGraphics in 1986 with the idea of developing the world’s easiest-to-use 3D animation software for people to use for all kinds of 3D animation projects, from movies to television commercials to architectural walk-throughs to business presentations. Our first product was called TOPAS and it was very successful in the marketplace and loved by both professional and casual animators.

As the market for 3D animation software became more crowded, we eventually decided in 1996 that it was time to narrow our focus onto just one market. We chose the business presentation market or, to be more precise, the Microsoft PowerPoint market. We made that choice because we were most interested in bringing easy-to-use 3D animation tools to a very broad audience, where we could potentially help tens of thousands of business presenters create more interesting presentations rather than just helping a few hundred professional animators create ever-more-complex 3D animations for movies or television. Coincidentally, the potentially vast business presentation market was also where we saw the most business growth opportunity, as well.

The first product we released with this new market focus in mind was PowerPlugs: Transitions, which adds TV-style 3D animated transition effects to PowerPoint presentations. This was followed by PowerPlugs: 3D Titles which adds customized, animated 3D titles to PowerPoint presentations. It is especially popular for adding an eye-catching intro slide to start a presentation off with a truly professional look. Both of these products come with synchronized sound effects and music. That marked the beginning of the PowerPlugs product line that we develop and market today.

As we learned to master the challenges of this new market focus, and our sales grew, we soon discovered an opportunity to expand our PowerPoint plug-in offerings to satisfy a range of graphical and other needs related to creating better and more interesting presentations. For example, we added a really powerful 3D charting plug-in for PowerPoint, 2D animation plug-ins for PowerPoint, and a huge line of over 20,000 reasonably priced business and other photos, over 30,000 beautiful PowerPoint templates, over 40,000 famous quotations and much more. We even added some PowerPoint enhancing products such as remote controls and projectors. Most recently we added a plug-in that lets you turn any PowerPoint presentation into a screensaver, which can be a very cost effective marketing tool.

Simply put, we offer more products for enhancing PowerPoint than any other company. And they are all top-quality, easy-to-use and affordable. At this point, we believe that the PowerPlugs name is very well known and that CrystalGraphics is the virtually undisputed leader in the PowerPoint add-ins market. And we are clearly not the only ones that think so. Presentations magazine, for example, has honored us 3 years out of the last four with their annual “Standing Ovation Award” for “Best PowerPoint Plugins” and “Best PowerPoint Templates”. We appreciate the recognition. But we aren’t stopping there. We are working hard every day to develop even more graphical tools for enhancing PowerPoint. In fact, we have some very cool things in the works!

Geetesh: How would you typically use PowerPoint - and what's your opinion about the program?

Dennis: Personally, I use PowerPoint quite a bit and for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons include: for company presentations about past successes and goals for the company, for business presentations to investors, for meeting presentations (to help keep meetings on track), for training, for product demonstrations to press and customers, and most recently for creating personal screensavers with our newest product, PowerPlugs: Screensaver Creator.

I think PowerPoint is very easy to use and very stable. Of course, some of its ease of use comes from the fact that it doesn’t try to be all things to all people, passing up on some of the potentially most advanced features that power users may want. This, in turn, creates opportunity for people like us to fill in some of the holes that the PowerPoint development team misses, whether by choice or oversight.

Read the full interview here.


Quick News

Macromedia has acquired eHelp Corporation, best known for their RoboHelp authoring tool and RoboDemo, a Flash SWF based demo tool. Some time ago, eHelp announced RoboPresenter, a PowerPoint to online rich media converter. Macromedia already creates Breeze, a similar tool. More info about the merger here.

PresentationPro is giving away free copies of Hemera's BizArt collection of stock photos, vector clipart and Photo-Objects to those who buy their PowerPoint Templates and Designs collection for a limited time. More info here (link no longer exists).

Anystream, who create Agility Presenter announced that their product is integrated with PowerPoint 2003 - Anystream is also a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner and an Office System Partner Solution Builder Grand Prize Winner based on its application of Office 2003 and Windows Server 2003 technologies. More info here (link no longer exists).

Canto has announced a new version of their Cumulus DAM software - the new version 6 offers several new features and will be available end November. Among other formats, Cumulus can also catalog PowerPoint presentations. Learn more here.

CrystalGraphics has expanded their PowerPictures range - over 20,000 professional photos are now available for searching, previewing and buying online at their site. Learn more here.

The PowerPoint Live site now contains a picture gallery of the event held at Tucson, AZ, USA from October 12 to 15, 2003. View here.

LearnKey, publisher of self-paced training courseware, announced training support for Microsoft Producer for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003, available on DVD. More info here (link no longer exists).


Interlink RemotePoint Navigator

Donna Atkins of Interlink Electronics sent me some of their remote presenting tools to take a look at. One of them is the RemotePoint Navigator. Interlink Electronics is based in Camarillo, California, USA and they create several hardware products for various market segments including remote control devices for presenters.

The RemotePoint Navigator was the Editor's Choice product for Laptop magazine's roundup of presentation controllers. Navigator can function up to a range of 50 feet (15 meters) and weighs less than 5 ounces (140 grams). Powered by two AAA batteries, it interfaces your laptop or system through a USB-connected receiver.

Interlink Remotepoint Navigator

In my tests with the product, it works exactly as specified - it's light enough to maneuver through the hand and should work well for both left and right handed presenters. The control itself is superimposed by a round four direction button - the left and right buttons take you to the next and previous slides in a PowerPoint presentation. The top button allows the Navigator to perform as a laser pointer, through which you can guide your audience to a specific focal point. Finally, the bottom button acts like PowerPoint's blank screen function that hides the active presentation from view - click again to restore the presentation view.

For more info, visit the Interlink site - you can also go directly to their RemotePoint Navigator page, although that gets you there outside their frame-based layout.


Take-off DataPoint brings databases to PowerPoint

Take-off is a Belgium based company founded in 1998 with its main goal set to build products for the international aviation market, focusing more on airports than airlines. Their new add-in for PowerPoint is called DataPoint and it enables you to use PowerPoint as a dynamic data display tool. Data can also be sourced from text and Excel files apart from databases. Kurt Dupont has been my contact at Take-off and here are some of his thoughts:

Kurt: For several years I was hoping that Microsoft would include database-connectivity into PowerPoint. They didn't so I took the challenge. After two years of investigations and development, DataPoint has been released. Such a FIDS (Flight information Display System) is more or less similar to PowerPoint itself, except that the database links are dynamic. PowerPoint + DataPoint could also be used at small locations to inform personnel or visitors about activities/status/follow up.

Take-off Datapoint Flight Info    Take-off Datapoint Weather

Watch out for a full DataPoint review at Indezine. Meanwhile, visit the Take-off site for more info.


Events & Seminars

PowerPoint Live
October 10 to 13, 2004
San Diego, California, USA
Rick Altman, R Altman Digital Consulting
PPT Live



During the preparation of this issue of the PowerPoint Ezine, I received assistance, content or feedback from Adam Schwartz, Dennis Ricks, Donna Atkins and Kurt Dupont (all in alphabetical order). I would like to use this platform to thank them for their help.


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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!

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