Color Me Un-Impress-ed

Volume 7, Issue 88; 21 May 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

You can take your GUI and…

I spent some time working on a presentation yesterday (the slides for which were due an alarming number of days ago, but let’s not go there). The salient point for this essay is that I had to author the thing in Impress or PowerPoint (which is the same as saying Impress since I haven’t any access to PowerPoint, but I want to make it reasonably clear up front that I’m not actually criticizing Impress in any fair sense).

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever done such a thing. Really: ever. I never give presentations this way. I write all of my presentations in my own Slides schema. (And before that existed, in a series of other less-well-defined XML and before that SGML schemas.) For presentations that have to be delivered in the Sun corporate style, I wrote stylesheets to produce that style either in HTML or in PDF.

But this conference insists that the slides be provided in one of the formats understood by these GUI tools. Under the covers, Impress is XML. I probably should have reverse-engineered the template and written stylesheets to produce that format, but I didn’t.

Instead I point, click, drag, type, point, click, drag, type, pull-down, click, pull-down, click, type, pull-down click, pull-down, point, click, type, point, click, type, return, tab, type, return, type, return, untab, type, point, click, point, lash around clicking wildly with the mouse because I can’t figure out how the %*&#@!? to get a hold of the object I want to delete, click, delete, point, click, delete, pull-down, click. click. Scream! That’s the first few lines of the first slide written.

People get work done this way!? Madness!

There. I’m glad that’s off my chest.


I've not used Impress, but most decent presentation apps (even PPT) can function as an outliner. So, there's not quite as much point-and-clicking as you seem to be doing. You typically use tab and shift-tab to move text around in the bullet hierarchy.

Still, even though my presentation application (Apple's Keynote) is otherwise quite nice, I often author the text of large presentations in an outliner and then export to Keynote to then handle the graphics.

—Posted by Bruce on 21 May 2004 @ 03:10 UTC #

Here, here! On the occasions I use Word and PowerPoint, I'm shocked at how obtuse these tools are. Word has had the same bullet-identing bugs for at least the past three versions.

I guess closed-standards and monopoly market power can stifle tool innovation -- who knew?

—Posted by Ben Galbraith on 21 May 2004 @ 04:19 UTC #

Yes, Impress can do the outliner-thing. Just press F12. (See also the Magicpoint users guide to OO.o's Impress

—Posted by Martin Kretzschmar on 21 May 2004 @ 04:23 UTC #

For the record, I'm sure that some of my frustration is caused by inexperience with the tool. That said, I have no desire to gain any experience with GUI editing tools so it'll probably stay that way.

And with respect to the outline mode, that may be convenient, but ultimately I had to plug all my text into a complicated set of slide templates so I'm not sure it would have helped. I'm not sure it wouldn't either--see the preceding paragraph.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 21 May 2004 @ 05:23 UTC #