Distractions, distractions

You’ve probably heard of “Death by PowerPoint” — it has been the subject of many negative articles and Dilbert comic strips — and even if you haven’t, I’m sure you’ve experienced presentations that don’t really sit well with the corresponding speech. These presentations tend to be quite heavy on text: the audience has a choice of either reading or listening, but it’s nearly impossible to do both. They are also sometimes polluted with irrelevant, rather distracting elements, like certain sound effects, animations, or ClipArt. Sadly, the presenter tends to waste a lot of time on adding these things to the presentation.

And so, this is my first attempt at a solution:

A suggestion for the OpenOffice.org Impress UI

It attempts to help fix the bad habit of lengthy text in presentations by providing an outline pane, which is where the outline goes (figures), separately from the presentation. This outline would be saved with the presentation, printable right from Impress, or saved separately as a document. It also attempts to make editing faster and easier, by clearing up the interface some and presenting a “potential slide” as the last slide. Dragging, inserting, or creating anything on this slide would automatically create a slide. Moving between slides would now be seamless, just like with document browsing. Some other UI improvements here include quick, intuitive transition management (between slides) and timing editing (under the slide number) and an improved scroll bar that shows page numbers and previews on hover for navigating through large presentations. Lastly, there’s this behavior that “extends” a slide if its contents don’t fit. On screen, this would appear as scrolling down a slide (which is basically what it is). Menu bar organization and the omission of a toolbar and a status bar are not really part of the proposal.

Phew, I hope that covers all of it.

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