A new Twist for Presentations

Yesterday, I was writing about the bump in the road with using Open Office instead of MS Office on our pool laptops, namely, PowerPoint presentations. Today, my further research into that led me in some interesting directions.

I started out getting a copy of the PowerPoint viewer. I know that not everyone has their presentation ready to go in it’s final form before they head out with it on a laptop, but I thought if this would display the timed slide advances properly, I might be able to use Impress to make slight edits, and the Viewer to display the slide show.

Unfortunately, while the viewer displayed the animations correctly from the original PPT file, any portions of it that I changed in Impress, lost these features. This led to such things as a bullet list that was timed to display one bullet every 20 seconds having one bullet half way through the list display the entire time, because I took out one comma in the text. This is obviously not going to work.

However, with the news this week that IBM was rolling out a beta of their free Lotus Symphony, I thought maybe, just maybe I’d see how the Symphony Presentations handled these animation features. So, I registered with IBM and downloaded it.

Turns out that Symphony has had no difficulties with my test presentation at all. It displayed all the timed transitions just fine and the animations worked perfectly, even after making small changes in the slides and saving it. The problem, though, is that, unlike Impress, Symphony presents a very different interface for working with presentations when compared to PowerPoint. If we go this route, there will be a learning curve with attorney’s who want to work on presentations at the last minute on the road. That’s something to consider, and something I’ll be concentrating on if/when I demo it for the folks who will ultimately have to make that call.

In the mean time, there is still much more testing to be done with Symphony, as well as the other parts of Open Office before I’m ready to make the call either way. I will definitely keep Open Office to handle Excel and Word files, I haven’t run into too many major problems there yet, but Impress, well, simply doesn’t.

We’re still a long way from determining that we can get by without Microsoft Office on these laptops. At this point, I’m not holding my breath.

Technorati Tags: MSOffice, OpenOffice, Impress, LotusSymphony

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