OOo Impress: Slide Shows that Will Impress Almost Anyone
Here's an excerpt from Point & Click OpenOffice.org that shows you how to create slides and slide shows that are sure to make an impression.
by Rob Reilly
OOo Impress is a replacement for Microsoft's PowerPoint. Even if you're not an experienced presenter, Impress will help you create professional-looking slide shows.
Creating a Slide Show from OOo's Built-in Templates
OOo has a couple of canned presentations you can use. Bring up the templates, add your text, and you have a quick presentation, all ready to go.
Start OOo and select File > New. Choose Templates and Documents from the bottom of the list. Select the "Introducing a New Product" template. The basic slide show outline appears in the main slide-editing window, ready for your customization.
Highlight the "title" in the middle of the screen, and change it to your own topic. You can select another slide to edit from the slide thumbnails to the left of the main slide-editing window. Each slide has hints that you can replace with your corresponding information.
As you fill in the information for your product, it's a good idea to periodically save your slide show by selecting File > Save As. Give your slide show a name, and make note of the directory so that you can find it again. OpenOffice.org fills in the default file extension of .odp.
Making Your Own Slide Patterns from Scratch
Perhaps you don't want to use a canned presentation but want to jump in and start building slides from scratch. To do this, select File > New > Presentation. Enable the Empty Presentation radio button. Then click Create to go directly to the main slide-editing screen.
The main slide screen has all the controls and menus you could ever wish for in a presentation package.
Along the left side are the drawing tools you use to add boxes, lines, text, and other objects to your slides. At the top are the menus and toolbars. You can turn the toolbars on and off by selecting View > Toolbar. Active toolbars (the ones that are displayed) have a checkmark next to them.
Click the checked items to turn them off, and click the unchecked ones to turn them on.
The right side of the screen houses the Layouts window, where you can select the type of layout your slide will have. When you click one of the layouts, it appears in the slide-editing window in the middle of the screen.
The bar at the bottom of the screen gives slide status information, such as the cursor coordinates, object size, slide number, and so on.
Basic operations such as opening and saving files are located on the File menu. To view your masterpiece, click the Slide Show button in the upper-right corner of the screen. You can press Ctrl-Z or select Edit > Undo to back up through commands if you make a mistake.
Using the OOo Impress Auto Layout Feature
The auto layout feature is great for making a simple slide show in a hurry.
Start by selecting File > New > Presentation. Enable the Empty Presentation radio button, but this time click Next instead of Create, as you did when you were making a slide show from scratch.
The next screen lets you pick from a couple of available backgrounds. You can add your own backgrounds as you get more comfortable with OOo. You'll see how to do that, as well as use a master slide, in Chapter 8, "OOo Impress: Smooth, Sophisticated Slide Shows." For now, just click Next.
The slide transition screen is used to smoothly move from one slide to another during your presentation. You can select various fades, slide-ins, cover-ups, and dissolves. You can also change the effect's speed, which is affected by the speed of your hardware.
Complete the setup of the basic blank slide show by clicking the Create button. The main slide-editing window appears, ready for your customization. You can choose any of the slide layout patterns shown on the right side of the screen. When you click one, the layout is displayed in the slide-editing window, as well as in a thumbnail viewer on the left side. Each layout has simple instructions you can click and replace with your own text. Notice that the thumbnail slide gets updated as you add information in the main working screen.
Adding another slide is as easy as selecting Insert > Slide. A new slide appears in the main slide-editing screen and in the thumbnail viewer on the left. The same layout as the previous slide is used by default, but you can change it if you like.
You can even select the blank layout and add your own bullet points or text. The Text tool appears as a T icon on the left side of the screen. Click the T icon and then place the cursor anywhere on the main working screen. Click the screen and start typing. If you want to create more than one line of text, press Enter to go to the next line. When you're done entering text, click the arrow icon, above the T. This puts you back into selection mode, where you can select and manipulate objects that are already on-screen.
Once you are back in selection mode, you can right-click an object and do things such as resize it, move it, or even delete the object altogether.
Click the text you just entered; the outline is marked by a series of small green boxes. Move between any of the boxes, and the cursor changes to a thick crossed arrow symbol. You can click to grab the text (or any other object) and move it to a new position in the main working screen. If you mouse over one of the boxes, the cursor changes to a double-ended arrow with a bar, letting you click that handle and make the box bigger or smaller. If you make a text box too narrow, the text wraps automatically to fit. You have to highlight the text to change the font or size.
Before we get into more advanced operations, such as adding graphics to a slide, you should know how to view your handiwork as an actual slide show. Running your presentation is easy. Click the Slide Show icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Your current slide appears full-sized on the screen.
You can switch to slide show mode and page through your presentation using the mouse or the Page Up/Page Down keys. The left mouse button moves you forward through your slides, and the right mouse button does the opposite. Press the Esc key at any time to get back to the drawing view.
Don't forget to occasionally save your slide show while you work.
Adding Graphics to Your Slides
Slide shows are pretty boring with just bullet points and text. It's nice to add a little spice in the form of a picture or two.
Select Insert > Picture > From File. The standard file manager screen appears. That's where you choose the picture you want to use. You can go to a different directory using the arrow keys or common directory names on the left side of the screen. You can also display specific file types (such as .gif and .jpg) by using the Filter dropdown list at the bottom of the window.
Choose an image from a directory on your hard disk, and it is inserted full-size into your slide. It also appears, smaller, in the thumbnail viewer at the left.
To resize the picture, click the picture, hold one of the little green, square handles on the edge of your picture, and slide it to the desired size. Notice that the object dimensions (in the status bar at the bottom) change when you release the mouse button. (The videos show this better.)
Another way to get the same result is to roll the cursor onto the picture and then click and hold to move the picture around on the slide. Combine the resize and move functions to get the picture right where you want it.
Advanced graphics functions such as transparencies, alignment tools, and animations are covered in more depth in Chapters 7, "Draw: Not Your Father's Drawing Board," and 8.
Saving Your Slide Show
You can make just a few slides or hundreds. Saving them is exactly the same as saving a text document, except that the default file extension is .odp (Open Document Presentation) instead of the default .odt (Open Document Text) that you saw when you saved a text document in the default OOo format.
Importing and Editing PowerPoint Slide Shows
PowerPoint native slide shows look the same in Impress as in any other presentation file. Isn't this an interesting opening slide for a PowerPoint presentation?
All the normal functions available in OOo Impress can operate on PowerPoint files, too.
One limitation you might run into with editing PowerPoint files on a Linux machine is with TrueType fonts. TrueType fonts have traditionally been available on Windows machines by default, but TrueType fonts on Linux machines have been problematic because of licensing issues. Many Linux distributions include TrueType fonts on the installation CDs and DVDs, but some versions do not. If your PowerPoint slide show uses an unavailable font, it uses a default that may be unsuitable for your presentation. In that case, you may have to go through the presentation and replace the missing font with a more suitable one.
Exporting Slide Shows to PowerPoint Format
Select File > Save As, and save your slide show as a PowerPoint (.ppt) file.
OOo usually warns you that you may lose formatting if you save in something other than the native OOo .odp file. You can turn off this warning permanently by checking the "Do not show this warning again" box at the bottom. It might be a good idea to save a few of your OOo presentations in PowerPoint format and then view them with PowerPoint to see if you notice any incompatibilities.
Complete the file save operation by clicking OK.
Exporting Slide Shows as Flash for Web Viewing
OOo can save your slide show as a Macromedia Flash file so that a colleague or Web surfer can view the entire presentation from any Flash-equipped Web browser. Here's how to do it.
After you've finished creating your presentation, select File > Export. Select Macromedia Flash (SWF) from the Filter dropdown menu. Give your Flash file a name, and click the OK button to complete the operation.
You'll see the "loss of formatting" warning screen again. I usually ignore the warning and just double-check the slide show manually using a Flash-equipped browser such as Firefox.
When viewing the Flash file, the user can advance to the next screen by clicking and can go back to the previous slide by right-clicking.
An interesting-and increasingly popular-use for Flash-delivered slide shows on the Web is for colleagues or clients to view your presentation through their browsers while you discuss it with them in a conference call.
Overcoming (Most) Format Incompatibilities
You might notice several incompatibilities when importing and exporting between Impress and PowerPoint.
As mentioned earlier, TrueType fonts should be correctly installed on your machine, whether Windows or Linux, to head off any unexpected default fonts. This problem has largely disappeared with current distributions of Linux. OOo on a Windows box takes advantage of the TrueType font libraries that are already installed.
Margins may occasionally appear out of whack when you convert from PowerPoint to OOo. You may have to adjust the margins manually to clear things up.
The unit of measure used in your presentation is one of the biggest causes of incompatibility when you work with imported and exported files. You can set the unit type by selecting Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Impress. This setting appears on the General Options screen. Common measurements such as centimeters and inches can be selected from the Unit of Measurement dropdown menu. You must set your measurement unit type to match the one used to save the original PowerPoint presentation. If you don't know what it is, a few seconds of experimentation will show you the right one.
The Real Secret to Good-Looking Presentations
The best way to learn how to create professional-looking slide shows is to practice. Experiment. Use your imagination. Keep a little notebook (or text file) of techniques that work well for you, along with photos and other illustrations that will make your slides look more interesting than screen after screen filled with text.
About the Book
This content is excerpted from Chapter 3 of Point & Click OpenOffice.org!, written by Robin 'Roblimo' Miller. This excerpt was written by Rob Reilly. ISBN: 0-13-187992-8. Copyright 2006, Pearson Education, Inc. To learn more about this book, including purchasing options, please visit the book's Web page.