Datasoul and Powerpoint

Following 42: Datasoul rocks :-) Gasreth asks (via twitter):

@dave42w Does Datasoul link with PowerPoint? Can't tell from the website.

140 characters on twitter does not allow a full reply :-)

Except that we could say "No at the moment, but partially soon".

Datasoul comes from a big Church background (the Prado's Baptist Church at Curitiba, Brazil). In that setting you have a Datasoul operator and in such a situation integration with Powerpoint was not an issue. You have both loaded and simply hide datasoul at the appropriate point to reveal the powerpoint presentation below.

However, my own needs are a little different. In most situations the preacher or worship leader uses a remote presenter to move from slide to slide. In this mode you lose flexibility but reduce the size of the worship team and gain precise control over slide changes (can be significant for sernons in particular).

So in the development version of Datasoul we now have support for remote presenters (and it works better than any other with sensible logic on the back slide button in particular).

Also Samuel is working on support for displaying slideshows of images. This will give the first support for powerpoint (actually we are working with OpenOffice as that is free software and Impress is better than powerpoint).

The way this will work is that you can export slides to images (one at a time with OpenOffice Impress, but we are going to have automation for that). So to integrate powerpoint with Datasoul you would get Datasoul to use OpenOffice to convert the presentation to a set of jpegs (one per slide) then you would use these jpegs as a slideshow in Datasoul. Obviously you would lose any animations, but as a first solution we think it will be helpful to many people.

Later on we are looking at automating OpenOffice Impress so that Datasoul has an Impress service element with the filename and calls OpenOffice to launch the presentation. This will work with many powerpoint presentations (again complex automations may not work and powerpoint's horrible mangling of font sizes can cause some layout issues).

So if you want to get ready for datasoul and powerpoint then I recommend you

  • Ditch powerpoint and use OpenOffice Impress.
  • Try using little or no animation (for example if you must add bullet points one at a time then start with a full slide and then duplicate it. Go backwards deleting a point at a time. You then get the same effect by changing slides).
  • Either wait or start using the development version of Datasoul and contribute (bug reports are a good start).

On the other hand if you think I am an idiot for suggesting that powerpoint is not the centre of the universe then if you provide code to support powerpoint from Datasoul I am sure Samuel will consider it.

The last solution is of course to focus on building your Church so that you have the resources to have a datasoul operator in the service. Actually I think that is the best option :-)

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