Category Archives: Outlining

No Office Export in Keynote/Numbers for iPad?

To be honest, I’m getting even more excited about the iPad. Not that we get that much more info about it, but:

For one thing, the Pages for iPad webpage is explicitly stating Word support:

Attach them to an email as Pages files for Mac, Microsoft Word files, or PDF documents.

Maybe this is because Steve Jobs himself promised it to Walt Mossberg?
Thing is, the equivalent pages about Keynote for iPad and about Numbers for iPad aren’t so explicit:

The presentations you create in Keynote on your iPad can be exported as Keynote files for Mac or PDF documents


To share your work, export your spreadsheet as a Numbers file for Mac or PDF document

Not a huge issue, but it seems strange that Apple would have such an “export to Microsoft Office” feature on only one of the three “iWork for iPad” apps. Now, the differences in the way exports are described may not mean that Keynote won’t be able to export to Microsoft PowerPoint or that Numbers won’t be able to export to Microsoft Excel. After all, these texts may have been written at different times. But it does sound like PowerPoint and Excel will be import-only, on the iPad.

Which, again, may not be that big an issue. Maybe will work well enough for people’s needs. And some other cloud-based tools do support Keynote. (Though Google Docs and Zoho Show don’t.)

The reason I care is simple: I do share most of my presentation files. Either to students (as resources on Moodle) or to whole wide world (through Slideshare). My desktop outliner of choice, OmniOutliner, exports to Keynote and Microsoft Word. My ideal workflow would be to send, in parallel, presentation files to Keynote for display while on stage and to PowerPoint for sharing. The Word version could also be useful for sharing.

Speaking of presenting “slides” on stage, I’m also hoping that the “iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter” will support “presenter mode” at some point (though it doesn’t seem to be the case, right now). I also dream of a way to control an iPad presentation with some kind of remote. In fact, it’s not too hard to imagine it as an iPod touch app (maybe made by Appiction, down in ATX).

To be clear: my “presentation files” aren’t really about presenting so much as they are a way to package and organize items. Yes, I use bullet points. No, I don’t try to make the presentation sexy. My presentation files are acting like cue cards and like whiteboard snapshots. During a class, I use the “slides” as a way to keep track of where I planned the discussion to go. I can skip around, but it’s easier for me to get at least some students focused on what’s important (the actual depth of the discussion) because they know the structure (as “slides”) will be available online. Since I also podcast my lectures, it means that they can go back to all the material.

I also use “slides” to capture things we build in class, such as lists of themes from the readings or potential exam questions.  Again, the “whiteboard” idea. I don’t typically do the same thing during a one-time talk (say, at an unconference). But I still want to share my “slides,” at some point.

So, in all of these situations, I need a file format for “slides.” I really wish there were a format which could work directly out of the browser and could be converted back and forth with other formats (especially Keynote, OpenOffice, and PowerPoint). I don’t need anything fancy. I don’t even care about transitions, animations, or even inserting pictures. But, despite some friends’ attempts at making me use open solutions, I end up having to use presentation files.

Unfortunately, at this point, PowerPoint is the de facto standard for presentation files. So I need it, somehow. Not that I really need PowerPoint itself. But it’s still the only format I can use to share “slides.”

So, if Keynote for iPad doesn’t export directly to PowerPoint, it means that I’ll have to find another way to make my workflow fit.

Ah, well…


Web-Based Presentations

Waiting for Google’s presentation app, I tried some of the other suggestions contained here:
Google prepping presentation product | Webware : Cool web apps for everyone

I had already prepared my presentation in “the application that should remain nameless but has a name rhyming in ‘Showerpoint’,” so I didn’t want to rebuild it from scratch.

Thumstacks looked perfect for my needs (I specifically do clean, simple presentations for my classes). Unfortunately, I couldn’t see a way to import content directly (maybe it’s there but I didn’t have a lot of time) and, in Firefox, I couldn’t paste content from my presentation. Too bad. It would have been most excellent, I think.

Then tried Zoho Show. It imported my PPT presentation just fine (though the dialog box was confusing) and it’s exactly the kind of “web-based Show-her-point” thingie I was looking for. Except for one thing. Switching from one slide to the next was just way too slow for my needs. Maybe there’s something I did wrong but it would take several seconds to show the next slide and my students were getting anxious. So I switched back to “Flowerpoint” during the break.

Spresent looks like a neat way to prepare Flash presentations, but that’s really my thing.

ThinkFree is probably the obvious choice and I’ll try it next time.

Why use a Web app for presentations? Well, there’s the possibility of collaborating, of course. But there’s also the issue of bringing the presentation from one computer to the next. Using the classroom presentation computer, you have to get the presentation on the computer (Zoolander flashback: “The files are in the computer?”). It’d be with a USB thumbdrive but, for some reason, the computer in my classroom doesn’t have a readily accessible USB slot (and I don’t have a thumbdrive but my media player works as one).

Besides, it’s easier for me to keep a file in a central place and keep adding material to it.

To me, the killer app is the outliner. A web-based outliner that could do presentations would be a wonderful tool, for me. It would fit sooooo well with my workflow, I would swoon.

So… Erm… Is there such a thing already? Pleeeeez?

Blogging Tools

Been trying a few blogging tools on Mac OS X. Currently trying out ecto, posted the previous entry through MarsEdit, played around with Flock, downloaded MacJournal, Dossier, blogworkz, looked at pages for other tools (like Performancing).
Still haven’t found the ideal tool.
Would like the following features:

  • Free (as in beer) or really inexpensive.
  • Spell as you type through Cocoa Services or multi-lingual dictionaries.
  • WYSIWYG with a toggle for HTML.
  • On-the-fly categories and (technorati) tags.
  • Browser integration (Firefox, Safari, Flock).
  • Easily enter URLs from bookmarks and history.
  • Manage posts.
  • Batch application of categories and tags.
  • Basic outlining (move lines up/down, left/right).
  • Crossplatform (OSX/XP)
  • Statistics (wordcount, etc.)

At this point, ecto seems almost like a winner as it has most of these features. What’s missing, though, are the on-the-fly categories which has in its Web interface.

Another option would be to use Safari or another browser which does “spell as you type.” In fact, Cocoa Services available in Safari also include many interesting features, including text tools from Devon and integration with several applications. But the Scrapbook in Firefox is almost addictive and it doesn’t work in either Flock or Safari. (Flock doesn’t do spell as you type.)

Ah, well…

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ATPM 11.10 – Outliners: TAO and OmniOutliner Pro
Comparison between two approaches to outlining. Some interesting comments about outlining usage.
As academics often need to write structured texts, a good outliner should really be a part of any academic's toolbox. Ted Goranson's column on outliners frequently contains insightful ideas about computer-assisted writing.
This specific column could use a bit of editing, though.

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