MasterNewMedia
Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi
 


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Google Presentations: The New Google Docs Module For Sharing, Co-Editing And Creating Online Presentations

"Maybe more than any other type of document, presentations are created to be shared. But assembling slide decks by emailing them around is as frustrating as it is time-consuming. The new presentations feature of Google Docs helps you to easily organize, share, present, and collaborate on presentations, using only a web browser."

Starting today, presentations -- whether imported from existing files or created using the new slide editor -- are listed alongside documents and spreadsheets in the Google Docs document list.

With Google Presentations, slide shows, whether newly created or imported from PowerPoint, can be easily edited, shared, and published using the familiar Google Docs interface. Better yet, multiple professionals can work simultaneously at the same presentation without ever interfering with each other.

Participants are also connected through Google Talk and can voice talk and/or text chat about the presentation as they're watching the live presentation.

Last, but not least Google Docs new presentation feature is available in 25 different languages as well as to all Google Apps customers.

This is basically what Google officially announced yesterday on its blog, for the launch of the Google Presentations, the newest and long-awaited module inside their web-based Google Docs web-based application suite.

Google-Docs-Presentation-menu1.gif
Photo credit: Ophelia Cherry

 

Google Presentations

Google-Docs-Presentation-full-interface-480.gif

The new presentation module inside the Google Docs interface is the latest addition by Google to an already very appealing, web-based suite of office applications. As soon as Google will be able to provide the means for this set of web-based applications to work also as one is disconnected from the Internet, it will be then meaningless to keep using traditional software suites like Microsoft Office.

While the Google Presentation module does not directly compete with PowerPoint, it sets itself as an ideal complement and up-coming replacement once more features are added and the many differences or shortcomings will be amply compensated by Google Presentation inherent web-based strategic advantages.

Google Presentations can read directly Microsoft PowerPoint files. These need to be uploaded before they can be edited or shared. For now Google Docs Presentations supports only .ppt and .pps files with a maximum file size of 10 MB.

Google-Docs-Presentation-menu-upload-PPT.gif

The good thing is that you can point to PowerPoint files that have already been uploaded online by simply providing their URL. Google Presentations will reach out to those, download them and make them available in your account for editing.

Google-Docs-Presentation-upload-a-file-350.gif



Key Features

The Google Presentations module, inside Google Docs, sports the essential features of a very basic PowerPoint-like application.

Basic text formatting, editing and resizing of objects and text, the ability to easily import and position images on a slide, but not much more at the moment.

There is a very simple module allowing the selection of so-called "themes". These are preset presentation templates that provide a ready-made look to all the slides in a presentation. The sets initially provided inside Google presentation are rather limited and look very poor.

Google-Presentation-choose-theme-350.gif

Just like in PowerPoint, a set of ready-made basic slide layouts are also offered to the user each time a new slide is created. The selection offered by Google Presentations reflects pretty much what most pro presenters would expect and which include a basic title slide, traditional slide layout with title above and bulleted point below and a few standard variants for the use of images or graphs.

Google-Presentation-choose-layout-350.gif

Sharing Google Presentations shows inside your web pages is also straightforward:

"All you need to do is wrap the Presentation URL in an IFRAME. It's so simple, it should be illegal! Use this code:

<< iframe src="http://docs.google.com/TeamPresent?fs=true&docid=dg346trx_3drprrt" width=600 height=400 >< /iframe >>

... but change the URL to your Presentation, and adjust the size as necessary."

(Source: InsideGoogle)



Formatting Controls

Google Presentations includes also all of the basic text and formatting commands you expect from any office application. Text font, size, color, as well as bullets and alignment settings. What appears to be lacking for now are the more advanced formatting commands devoted to paragraph and line spacing, bullet choice and position and so on.

Also missing from view at this time are any graphic support tools to create basic geometric shapes or symbols into a slide. The same goes for alignment, object editing, rotation or flipping of objects and related commands.

Images can be easily imported but no changes or editing, outside of resizing them, can be done inside Google Presentations.



Google Presentations - Revisions

All by itself the Google Presentations Revisions facility makes up for some of the initial shortcomings that the Google Presentation tool may provide.

This all new facility keeps complete and precise track of all the changes you make inside your presentations while offering an easy way back to each and every one of those intermediate points. Just like a wiki can do. Fantastic.

This is great help for anyone working on presentations, as it is almost inevitable not to need to go back to some previous point and to regain editing changes or images that are not available in our latest version.

Google-Presentation-revisions-history-revert-to.gif



Slide Management

Google-Presentation-right-click-menu.gif

By right-clicking on any slide a contextual menu provides the option to easily delete a slide, insert text or images in it, as well as serving the standard copy & paste functionality.

The only way to change the background of a slide is by selecting a different theme, unless I overlooked an easier or simpler approach that was not self-evident to me.

Slides can also be easily sorted in any personalized order by simply clicking on the Move Up and Down icons at the bottom of the slide thumbnails pane.

Google-Presentation-move-slide-up.gif

It is also very easy to duplicate, delete and create new slides with multiple easy to access commands to do so.



Editor's Analysis



Pros

  • Very easy to use. Immediate.
  • Great Revisions facility. Worth a ton of gold just by itself.
  • Unthreatening. Well organized UI
  • Performing
  • Good if not great screen output
  • Can be shared with as many collaborators as needed
  • Can be co-edited by as many collaborators as needed
  • Each presentation can be also be published online via an embed code provided by Google



Cons

  • Maximum file size supported for imported PowerPoint files.
    The present maximum size supported for PowerPoint files is 10 MB. For the quality and user-centered approach that all of its web-based services show, Google seems to have come shorthanded at this announcement with a maximum file size limit that may not serve well the enthusiasm and rapid flocking that this newly released tool could raise.

  • Limited formatting controls
    Not very much in the way of what the original PowerPoint can offer, but the basics are all there.
  • Ugly and limited "themes"
    This breaks a bit with Google's traditional high quality designs. It looks like this is stuff imported from somewhere that hasn't had yet the time to be taken care of. As... Google at this point... could very well start intruding... and in a positive way... in the way we communicate and manifest our ideas... as presentation templates are one of the key vehicles to make those ideas visually manifest.
  • No graphic or annotation tools
    While a factual limit, it all goes in favour of simplicity and greater ease of adoption. Since it may be likely that Google will add such features later, it all looks like a perfect strategy for getting everyone cool and settled rather and awed and afraid to move.



Review Summary

Google's quiet new entry into the Presentation arena with the addition of a new module inside its Google Docs office bundle it is a clear indication that we are indeed in a non-reversable path toward web-based applications. As soon as off-line capabilities will be built as standards into these the last barriers to adoption will crumble down.

The new Google Presentations module offers a great support tool for drafting presentations and visual outlines or storyboards inside distributed virtual teams.

Google Presentations is NOT at this stage a would-be replacement for PowerPoint. It is rather an ideal addition and complement to it. While PowerPoint fits perfectly the role of the feature rich creator and editor, Google Presentations provides all of the collaborative, sharing and publishing opportunities not available in the original product.

Google Presentations is also a great tool for all those that have always wanted to use PowerPoint, but have either feared it or have not been able to afford it. Google Docs takes definitely down the barrier to entry for any would be presenter wanting to set-up a very basic set of slides, without having had to take a course to do so.

Again, as highlighted above, Google Presentations collaborative facilities including co-editing, co-viewing and easy distribution to selected individuals, easy embedding and publication into web pages, plus the oustandingly simple Revisions feature make this new Google Docs module a rewal value addition to Google web-based offerings.




Originally written by for Master New Media and entitled: "Google Presentations: The New Google Docs Module For Sharing, Co-Editing And Creating Online Presentations"

 
 
 
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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, September 18 2007, updated on Friday, February 26 2010


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