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LiveBlog: Google launches Presentations

Presentations are now available in Google Docs – finally! Hurray!

So, as something of an experiment, I’m now going to LiveBlog my first thoughts on the system… my first ever LiveBlog!

09.39 I have a lot of presentations on my computer, as I’ve done quite a few in my time as a medical student, so I’m now uploading them to Google Docs, where they can finally join the rest of my work.

09.41 I’ve uploaded six presentations so far. The size limit is generous, 10Mb, but the system only accepts PowerPoint files, which I guess will be a disappointment for those using competitor’s products. The conversion is pretty excellent – I’ve only come across one instance of some misplaced text, and there are a couple of issues with my original presentations using non-standard fonts, but other than that, they’re importing brilliantly.

09.44 My main gripe so far is that I have been unable to find a function for adding notes to slides, which is a shame, as most of my presentations have pretty extensive notes. The mini-slides on the right of the screen also don’t render properly – they’re approximations of the full-size slides, but often text is placed somewhat differently.

09.51 The print function seems quite good – in fact, it removes slide backgrounds more effectively than PowerPoint itself. However, another minor gripe is that whilst it will import AutoShapes perfectly from PowerPoint files, there’s no way to add them to files online, which is quite an annoying feature if trying to make slides look pretty. I maybe should have pointed out that most of the presentations I’m uploading are on this very website, here, so you can see the sorts of things I’m working with.

09.56 For some reason, Google won’t import my Acute Confusion presentation. Looking at it here, you’ll see it’s one of the simpler presentations I have, so I can’t understand why that one, of any of them, should fail to load. Another problem is that there’s no transitions or animations available, which sort of ruins one of my presentations. And, as with Spreadsheets, multiple spaces are displayed as single spaces, so where I’ve used them to line things up with diagrams (yes, I know that’s bad practice, but it’s common), it just hasn’t worked.

09.59 Scratch what I said about spaces – you can put them back in to line things up, but the uploading engine appears to remove them all. The logic of that decision is lost on me.

10.05 I’m now up to about 12 presentation uploaded, and I’m still noticing oddities. For example, you can upload presentations with different themes for different slides, and they import fine, but you can’t create them. In natively created slideshows, all slides have to have the same theme. It also occurs to me that, particular on slideshows I’ve uploaded, a slow connection would be useless. Perhaps it’s because my slideshows are naturally quite graphically intense, but it does take quite some time for all the pictures and backgrounds to load. Whether the native backgrounds are smaller files that would be quicker to load, I’m not sure, but I certainly hope so.

10.13 I’m still going, but just wanted to let you know that you can read more about the launch here.

10.17 The Hip Fracture presentation (view it here), which I thought would be a nightmare to upload as it’s very graphically intense and has quite complex layouts, has uploaded almost perfectly – very little tidying up needed, in fact only one correction on the title slide.

10.23 It’s actually quite fun looking again at all of these old presentations.

10.30 It occurs to me that the File menu across the three different applications is completely different – they should probably make that a bit more consistent some time. And I also note that the Presentations application does the same odd thing as the Docs application, whereby underlined text is always underlined in black, regardless of the text colour.

10.43 Well, I’ve played about with this new toy for over an hour now, uploaded a whole load of presentations, and feel that this LiveBlog has gone as far as it can go. Just for completeness, I should say that the system has now accepted my Acute Confusion presentation, but I don’t know what’s prompted the sudden change of heart.

Google Presentations is a good idea and a good system. I wish it’d been around when I was still writing large numbers of collaborative presentations. It imports PowerPoint slideshows effortlessly. However, the editor is very basic, lacks some straightforward expected functionality (shapes, transitions, etc). It’s already suitable for basic collaboration presentations, and it seems a good tool for giving presentations over the web, but much more work is needed if this is to become one of Google’s trademark ‘killer apps’.

This post was filed under: LiveBlogs, Technology.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Dj

    20.51, 19/09/2007

Hi dude,

do you still need donations?

Comment from Mort Karman

    02.12, 25/09/2007

Simon, tell DJ and everyone else who wants to send donations you know of a poor retired journalist in Alma,Michigan and give them my e-mail address.
The money will go to MORT HOUSE, home for grouchy old retired Mort and Dorothy.
My oldest daughter, Lori, works for Rev. Pat Robertson, a televangelist who takes in millions of dollars. I tried to tell her what kind of operations the TV preachers ran, but she had to go to work for one to finally believe it.
She is supposed to tell someone who wants to commit suicide God will solve all the problems for a money contribution. Little old ladies on social security are supposed to tithe rather then buy medicine or food.
Apparently the TV preachers observe only one commandment-THY CONTRIBUTION CHEQUE SHALT NOT BOUNCE.
So send money my brothers and sisters and all good things will come to you.

Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)

    18.06, 26/09/2007

DJ – you are always welcome to support my blog financially – you can leave me a tip here, should you so desire.

Mort – Televangelism does appear unfortunate, but I guess it’s just a modern take on the selling of indulgences. Of course, we don’t get much televangelism in the UK, we prefer to just steal money through dodgy premium-rate phone-in competitions.

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