Using PPTPlex with a single slide25 May 2010
A little while back I was asked to put together a twenty minute presentation for a group of staff on an ICT related topic. After some deliberation and input from one of the team leaders I decided upon a topic of communications technology that was available to them. As a basis for the presentation I decided to put together a diagram that showed the relationships between the technology and the features of each along with some guidance on choosing the right sort of technology for the right scenario. At the end of the presentation I could then give the team an A3 copy of the diagram to put on their wall for reference.
So I set to work on putting together the diagram and after a few Internet searches for photos of the equipment and a bit of Visio magic the diagram was complete. I had initially envisaged putting the diagram up on the wall and talking everyone through it, but A3, the size of the meeting rooms and the number of attendees would make this wholly unworkable. So what I needed was a way to display the diagram large enough for everyone to read.
Electronic display was really the only viable option but even our best projector wasn’t going to be able to display everything at a large enough size. What I needed was a way to zoom in and move around the diagram. My first thought was to save the diagram into an image format and then use an image browser to display the diagram and allow me to zoom in. The problem I discovered quickly was that even a high resolution image was poorly displayed when zooming in. I needed something that would scale as a vector.
Visio’s native display did this well, but didn’t have a full screen view and it was all too easy to accidentally shift diagram elements. It was at this point that I hit upon the idea of using PPTPlex from Microsoft Office Labs. This add-in normally uses a slide deck split into sections to produce a beautiful pan and zoom transition between slides. The add-in however allows you to zoom and pan on any part of the canvas that is generated incorporating all of the slides. As you might expect this also works for just having a single slide….
My solution was therefore to embed the original Visio diagram as an object into a PowerPoint slide and then to run this as a PPTPlex presentation. Whilst there is no prescribed motion it allows me to freely zoom in and out on the diagram with no appreciable loss of resolution and to pan around the diagram.