Office Labs has recently released a PowerPoint 2007 add-in called pptPlex. For those of you who saw Bill Gates show off the TouchWall at the CEO Summit, you saw how information no longer had be be presented in a linear fashion. When dealing with many data sources and disparate views, users must be able to quickly navigate to any point in a document without loosing the flow of a presentation.
The whole point of PowerPoint was to do just that, to make a point. Somewhere in the last decade, the developers and end-users lost their soul and instead created the behemoth Office application that it is today. Rather than changing the way people do presentations, features have been added to change the way people create content–the less important function of the two. We, Microsoft, don’t exactly lead by example either with too many of our decks being bullet points, linear, and dry. Pptplex has the potential to change all this by allowing presenters to more easily create a story around the slides. By essentially grouping slides in a deck around "themes," a users become immersed in a visual storyboarding experience.
So Where’s the But?
I recommend any tech-savvy presenter try out the add-in but there is a caveat. The software is actually prototype code and hence extremely buggy. When it crashes, you will likely have to go to the task manager and "end task" on the entire PowerPoint application. It’s not all bad though! I’ve discovered that this stability problem only exists if you take large pre-made slides and try to click on "overview." The key to stable operation is to start using the add-in when creating decks from scratch. Another way, if you must use existing content, is to drag & drop slides into a new deck individual and testing the "overview" every few slides. Trust me, it sounds worse than it actually is, just make sure you save often.
Finally, if you really want to get your head around this add-in, I cannot stress that watching the three training video on the pptPlex page is essential. It is a different way to use PowerPoint and you will be lost if you don’t watch the videos. I hope you all enjoy the add-in!