I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased on the subject of presentation software. I think PowerPoint is terrible. I hate it, I hate how people use it, and I avoid it at all costs. There are, however, times when I’m required to give a presentation. For a while, I was using Google Docs to create my presentations – it was all well and good, but there had to be a better option out there, right?
There is. Well, sort of. There’s going to be. It’s called Presentations, and is the latest offering from the folks at Adobe’s Acrobat.com, the makers of (among other things) Buzzword, a fantastic online word processor.
To get to Presentations, go to the Acrobat.com site, and look at the bottom. There’s a link for Presentations near the bottom – this is Adobe’s way of making sure you know it’s not a full-featured release yet. But it’s still darn good.
I was able to have a brief discussion with the folks at Acrobat.com before Presentations was launched, and they mentioned something that’s critical to Web-based apps being successful. There are three basic principles and points on which Presentations was founded: ubiquity, collaboration, and user experience. In all three realms, Presentations scores high.
The basic product is the same as any other presentation software – it lets you create slides, and then show them to other people. Adobe’s offering, though, offers a bunch of stuff that’s different and better. The best thing, in my opinion, is how much better the collaboration features are – better than PowerPoint, and better than any other online presentations tool.
A huge number of people can be working on the same presentation, or the same slide, or even the same word or image. You’ll see avatars for each person working on the presentation, listed next to the slide they’re currently editing. Conflicting changes are presented to the users, just in case your work overlaps with another collaborator.
There are a bunch of other great features to Presentations – the little things are what really shine. There are a number of themes available, which are easily customized to your liking (great for corporate use, where they tend to mandate a template). Diagrams can be created separately, and then moved around and edited together.
The navigation system is also a major upgrade from other applications. Even when you’re in presentation mode, you can bring up a small dock-like list of all your slides, letting you easily choose the one you want – avoiding that terrible “scrolling-through-everything-to-find-the-right-slide” moment. You drag the window to change the view of the slides, depending on how you want to edit them.
But it’s not all candy and rainbows, unfortunately. Acrobat.com notes frequently that Presentations is very much an early, unstable release, and it has some major notable features missing. There’s no spell-check, no support for importing movies other than .FLV files, and no import and export with PowerPoint – you can only save a Presentation to PDF.
There’s also no sharing of themes, no way to invite someone to view the presentation as anything other than a co-editor, and no way to make comments or notes on slides and presentations.
For now, Presentations is a slick, usable application. But as bugs get fixed and features get quickly rolled out, Presentations is going to bring ubiquity, collaboration, and user experience to a new level within the world of presentations. They’re easier to create, easier to navigate, and Presentations is a gorgeous app.
Worried about your next presentation? Tina shows you have to blow your audiences minds away with 10 Powerpoint tips.
What tool do you use for giving presentations? Present them to us in the comments.