Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, December 25, 2006

Web Presentation Gets Better: Create Flash Presentations Online With SPresent

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Web presentation applications have really moved forward in 2006, but there are few contenders that challenge the excellent SPresent in terms of the ability to create powerful flash presentations online in a matter of minutes.


With a rich feature-set that steps up to PowerPoint and doesn't look foolish for doing so, SPresent gives you an intuitive flash interface with every bit as much functionality as its desktop counterparts. What's amazing is that it packs these features into a free-to-use web application that runs entirely from your browser.

This flexible tool not only replicates full desktop functionality - from its ability to resize to your chosen window size to the inclusion of an 'undo' button - but goes one step further, throwing in great web specific features like the ability to browse Flickr and grab photos for your presentations from the application itself.

In this video review I take a look at some of the impressive, easy to use features that set SPresent apart from the competition and make it an excellent way to design and deliver presentations entirely from your browser of choice. In five short clips I show you how you can:

  • Find your way around the well laid out SPresent interface
  • Easily drag and drop rich, multimedia elements on and off your slides
  • Embed YouTube videos like this one right into your presentations
  • Make use of a selection of clip-art and stock images, and put together lists that animate upon rollover
  • Create 3D charts, and share your slide-shows via email or by embedding them right into your blog or web page

SPresent Video Review

Web presentations with desktop functionality

What impressed me most about SPresent was the fact that the interface is very well featured, and will feel instantly familiar to anyone who is used to working with a desktop-based application like PowerPoint or Keynote. The menus allow you to do pretty much everything you could do from your desktop, such as print off your presentations and choose various preferences, and they have even added keyboard shortcuts, which is a nice addition.

Then, to make things even easier there is a familiar tool-bar of icons along the top of the screen, with the inclusion of undo/redo buttons, which always come in useful.

They have also included the ability to both easily create shapes and arrows, and even the capacity to free draw, which is a feature that sets SPresent apart from even high-end presentation applications. Furthermore, there is a predictive free draw mode that will smooth out your rough lines into recognizable geometric shapes, and this useful when it comes to creating diagrams on the fly.


The sidebar on the right of the screen makes for very simple drag and drop functionality, so that you can quickly drag images, buttons, charts and text boxes onto the stage and customize them with drag and drop ease, or through the fine tuning of the well-stocked inspector panel at the bottom of the screen.

International users will also be pleased to hear that the entire interface can be changed on the fly to one of several languages.

All in all, then, this has been really thought through. The SPresent team haven't held back, and their ambition has paid off in terms of a great interface that is every bit as functional, and easy to use, as anything else out there.

Browsability, embedability - the benefits of the online application

Besides holding its own against the desktop presentation applications, Spresent takes full advantage of the fact that it is an online web presentation tool.

The Web Image option is truly impressive in that it allows for both the embedding of online video, which is amazing in and of itself, but also the ability to browse through Flickr photo-sets from within a custom photo-browser, and then add single images or entire slide-shows to your presentation.


This smooth integration with other services is commendable, and does raise the gauge in terms of what is possible with web presentation applications. I think that SPresent is going to be imitated in this respect, both in terms of other web applications vying for SPresent's user-base and desktop applications looking to improve their interfaces to allow easy access to online media and image repositories.

The finer details


SPresent also sets itself above the pack by including the kinds of features we haven't really been used to seeing in web presentation tools to date. Some of the fine points that elevate SPresent to a higher status, in my mind, are:

  • Layering. Okay, we aren't talking Photoshop layers here, but the ability to quickly and easily move images forward and backward does create the ability to stack them nicely one over the other, in the order that you want. Great for creating complex diagrams or animations.
  • Free drawing. The nearest I get to this in Keynote is being able to create shapes with a bezier tool. I am impressed by this function, which has a range of applications. Amit Agarwal demonstrated how this could be used to trace photos, as one example, in his recent review of SPresent. But this could also be used to write directly onto slides using a tablet pc or graphics tablet, creating great annotations on the fly.
  • The built in image library. I'm no fan of clip art, but the images and animations that come bundled with SPresent are all of a pretty high quality, and the selection of backgrounds is both impressive and, let it be said, at least on par with some of the stuff put out by Microsoft. I would be inclined to say that the backgrounds are actually better looking than those available by default in PowerPoint.

  • Room for improvement

    I have been truly impressed with SPresent, and I would say that if there is any room for improvement, it is in the details rather than any issue with the application itself.

    While the 3D graphs are impressive, for instance, I would have liked the option of a more straightforward 2D alternative. This is a fine point, and not one that effects the overall usability of the program, especially as images can be freely imported, but as so many great features have been packed into the interface, I would like the option of a more minimal, less overstated choice of charts.

    That really is my only gripe, and that is an incredibly minor one outweighed by the fact that the charts can be modified on the fly, after having left the editing mode.

    Web presentation has reached a new level

    Spresent genuinely has raised the bar, and will prove itself useful to both those looking to create great looking presentations from scratch, and also those who would like to simply arrange and enhance presentations they have prepared elsewhere, and imported via the web.

    This flexibility and interoperability already make Spresent an excellent, free service. If you add to this the feature packed interface and well stocked library of images and animations, you are left with what is a must-use tool.

    I urge you to check it out.

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about Spresent, you might want to:

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    posted by Michael Pick on Monday, December 25 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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