PowerPoint Goes Interactive.(Microsoft PowerPoint 98)(Product Announcement)
Macworld September 1, 1998 | Heid, Jim Authoring Multimedia Projects in PowerPoint 98 Your assignment: create an interactive self-guided tour that will run at the local tourism office. The project has some QuickTime and QuickTime VR movies, an audio soundtrack, and the usual text and images. You’ll need to create some buttons that enable users to branch to different screens. And the chamber of commerce would appreciate a button that links to its Web site.
Your tool: Microsoft PowerPoint 98.
PowerPoint? The preferred weapon of conference-room hypnotists everywhere? Actually, yes. PowerPoint 98, which is the most creative occupant of Microsoft’s Office 98 suite (see Reviews, June 1998), has some impressive interactivity features and can handle every one of the requirements I just outlined. PowerPoint is also easier to learn than a multimedia-authoring program.
Still, PowerPoint was designed primarily for sequential, conference-room- style slide presentations, and getting it to behave like an interactive authoring program isn’t always straightforward. go to website microsoft powerpoint templates
Set the Stage When you choose New from the File menu, PowerPoint 98 wants to hold your hand by offering a variety of wizards and canned designs. For an interactive project, choose the Blank Presentation option; it’s in the New Presentation dialog box’s General tab.
Even then, however, PowerPoint 98 insists on helping (stop already!), offering a series of AutoLayout screens for your first slide. Click on the AutoLayout named Blank (it looks like an empty square), and then click on OK.
An interactive project benefits from a consistent look from one slide to the next–perhaps a text heading, a horizontal line, and a Quit button on each slide. PowerPoint’s Slide Master is the place to put these. To access it, choose Slide Master from the View menu’s Master submenu.
You can make interactive projects look nicer by displaying their elements on background textures. PowerPoint includes an assortment of attractive textures. To apply a texture to every slide, switch to Slide Master view and then choose Background from the Format menu. In the Background dialog box, choose Fill Effects from the pop-up menu at the bottom of the dialog box. In the Fill Effects dialog box, click on the Texture tab and then double-click on the desired texture. Finally, click on Apply.
Build a Foundation PowerPoint 98′s enhanced branching features are particularly good for interactivity. They enable you to create buttons in your project that let viewers jump to URLs and that take viewers from one slide to another even if the destination isn’t the next slide in sequence (see “Branch Out”). But to create branching buttons, the slides you want to branch to must already exist. So your first step in creating an interactive project is to create those slides. You don’t have to complete every slide up front–you can create blank slides as placeholders.
Manipulating Media Just like any grown-up authoring program, PowerPoint 98 can import files in a variety of formats, including most popular graphics formats as well as sound files and QuickTime movies.
Bring on the Graphics To add a graphic to a slide, switch to slide view, pull down the Insert menu, and choose From File from the Picture submenu. You can use the Format menu’s Format Picture command to create a border around the image and even to adjust its brightness and contrast.
Bring on the Movies and Sounds To add a movie or sound to a slide, use the Insert menu’s Movies And Sounds submenu. Here you find an appealing way to add background music to a project: have PowerPoint play one or more tracks of an audio CD installed in the machine that’s playing the presentation. This enables you to have a CD-quality soundtrack without surrendering megabytes of hard-disk space to audio files (see “Adding Movies and Sounds”).
Note that if you plan to move a presentation containing QuickTime movies over to a Windows machine, you’ll have to reinsert the movies by using the Windows version of PowerPoint. Microsoft says this limitation is due to the way PowerPoint 98 handles QuickTime movies on the Mac. see here microsoft powerpoint templates
Create Original Graphics PowerPoint 98 also provides tools for creating text, lines, and common shapes. With the Drawing tool bar, you can create text boxes whose margins and indents you can control with a Word-like ruler. And with the Office 98 WordArt module, which you can access by clicking on the WordArt icon in the Drawing tool bar or choosing WordArt from the Insert menu’s Picture submenu, you can create finely spaced headings with exotic effects–a talent even major-league authoring programs can’t match.
But unlike most authoring programs, PowerPoint 98 doesn’t create antialiased (smooth-edged) text, so large text can appear chunky. One workaround for this is to use Gregory Landweber’s SmoothType (www.kaleidoscope.net/greg/), a $5 shareware extension that antialiases all the text on the Mac’s screen (alas, slowing down text-heavy displays in the process).
Get the Show on the Road PowerPoint 98 can run slide shows in several modes. For an interactive project, you’ll want to choose the kiosk mode, which locks out the keyboard’s arrow keys. You use the Slide Show menu’s Set Up Show command to specify kiosk mode.
Previous versions of PowerPoint included a viewer application you could distribute freely with your presentation to enable users who didn’t have PowerPoint to view your efforts. Microsoft says that it plans to ship a free viewer for PowerPoint 98. But until it ships, you’ll need to license and install PowerPoint 98 on the computer that will be running the final project.
As an interactive authoring tool, PowerPoint 98 has some weak spots–such as its inability to display the standard QuickTime-movie controller bar– and it does require some awkward workarounds. All in all, however, its interactive capabilities are impressive. PowerPoint 98 is no Macromedia Director, but it’s definitely the most entertaining member of the Microsoft Office workforce.
JIM HEID (www.heidsite.com) lives and breathes Web and multimedia development tools.
Adding Movies and Sounds You can import QuickTime movies and audio files and add them to slides via the Insert menu’s Movies And Sounds submenu. Here are some helpful tips for easier implementation.
Make Movies or Sounds Play Automatically Normally, PowerPoint 98 doesn’t play a movie or sound file automatically, instead requiring you to click on it to start playback. But there may be times when you want automatic playback–for instance, you might want music to play as soon as a particular slide is displayed.
There is one drawback to this technique: the movie or sound will play back automatically only once, the first time its slide appears. If a user navigates back to that slide, the movie or sound won’t play automatically. Alas, Microsoft says there’s no way around this limitation.
Hide a Sound PowerPoint uses a small icon (D) to indicate an imported sound. If you don’t want the icon fouling your screen design, drag it off the edge of the slide layout, as shown here.
Use Space-Saving Soundtracks PowerPoint can play tracks from an audio CD–a great way to add music to a project without increasing file size. To insert a track, choose Play CD Audio Track from the Insert menu’s Movies And Sounds submenu. In the Play Options dialog box, specify which track you want to play and, if desired, the start and end times. Check Loop Until Stopped (E) to loop the soundtrack for the duration of time you specify below (F).
Branch Out Branch any on-screen element to another slide–or link it to a Web page– via a simple, clickable button.
1 Make a Button PowerPoint provides several button-making options. The Action Buttons submenu in the Slide Show menu provides commands for drawing several types of common buttons, but the buttons have a cheesy, pseudo-3-D look to them. I prefer the Drawing tool bar’s AutoShapes pop-up menu. The round-rectangle tool (A) draws buttons that resemble standard Mac OS buttons.
To add text after you’ve drawn the button, control-click on the button and choose the Add Text command from the shortcut menu that pops up. You can format the resulting text, using the Format menu’s Font command.
You can also turn a text box into a clickable button: after typing the text, select the text box and then use the Drawing tool bar or the Format menu’s Text Box command to create an outline around the text box and to specify a fill color.
Dotted lines at the top of an Office 98 pop-up menu (B) indicate that you can turn it into a floating palette by clicking on the dotted lines and dragging the pop-up away from the tool bar.
TIP If you’re still building your project and haven’t yet created all the slides, you can use PowerPoint’s outline view to add placeholders for slides you want to branch to. It’s a quick way to create slides without going through all the slide-creation dialog boxes. In outline mode, every time you press return, you add a new slide.
2 Add Branching Once you’ve created the button, you’re ready to specify what happens when a user clicks on it. Do this with the Slide Show menu’s Action Settings command.
To create a branch to a specific slide, click on Hyperlink To (A) and choose Slide from the pop-up menu. Click on OK, and in the resulting dialog box, choose the name of the slide you want to branch to (B).
Check Highlight Click (D) if you want your button highlighted after a user clicks on it.