Thursday, July 05, 2007

Digital Libraries presentation using Spresent

For my LSC 597: Digital Libraries class, I am required to do a presentation on digital library technology. Rather than use Powerpoint, or cobble together a website, I thought I'd try out Spresent, a tool I discovered via Librarian in Black. It's Flash based, which has intrigued me since SLA 2006.

The first thing I noticed was that, like most Web 2.0 tools, Spresent is still under development. They have lots of plans, including being able to export the presentation as a .swf, and being able to upload photos from your harddrive, but at this time, neither works.

Text can be either a headline, a text block, or a list. Each of those types comes with possible animations and other options.

There are several good backgrounds to choose from, and store of generic clipart. The real photographic power comes from the Browse Flickr button, where you can search for tags (with respect paid to copyright and Creative Commons). You can also specify the location of a JPG, YouTube video or Flash animation to embed in the presentation. Downside: only JPGs work, not GIFs or PNGs.

Slides are easy to create, copy and modify, and you build your slide show linearly or not-linearly, using buttons to jump from slide to slide. Internal links update automatically when you insert or remove a slide.

It wouldn't be Flash if it didn't play like a movie, and you can set your presentation to run automatically, with audio in the background and everything. I chose not to use this for my presentation, since I didn't know how long I'd spend on each slide topic, but for stand-alone web presentations, this is good stuff.

One thing I didn't like: you can't make text or image hyperlinks. I wanted to use the icons from the various companies I research as links in my bibliography, but (in addition to just looking cluttered), I couldn't make an image into a link. Nor could I put a link into text, or really do any kind of formating to the text, actually (no bold, no italics, nothing).

All in all, I think I found a good alternative to Powerpoint, though somewhat limited in what it can do right now. Hopefully as more people give Spresent a try, and are impressed, they will continue to upgrade and enrich the application. Give it a go if you have a presentation you need to give, and have a little extra time to play around with a new tool.

By the way, if you'd like to see what I created for Digital Libraries, you can go to the following link:

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