Founded in 2006, as of late the buzz about Slide Rocket is humming. I had taken a look at using it as a primary presentations platform earlier in the year. With their latest release, it is now a true cross-platform, online/offline presentation option.
I live, work and breathe in a cross-platform environment from a consulting and research/analysis perspective, thus I focus heavily on integration, the user interface and consistency across varying operating systems at the application and web browser levels.
After spending a few months using the free account Slide Rocket offers, a recent release that pulled me over to a paying client was the strengthened support for importing Power Point presentations from Office 2007 and 2008 (the latter on the Mac).
The interface is friendly and behaves like a rich internet application should - feeling fairly close to a desktop software application. It offers single user or team-based account types for collaboration. I find the latter especially useful for working with remote teams.
Getting Existing Presentations in to Slide Rocket
My first exercise with Slide Rocket was to import Power Point presentations both in Office 2003 and 2007 format. My concern was the preservation of any Smart Art from Power Point. This worked just fine - though the Smart Art is no longer editable. For my purposes, I do not view that as a negative as I complete any Power Point work prior to uploading.
Perhaps more important, I have shifted a portion of my presentation development to the Slide Rocket interface and away from Power Point. I continue to develop graphics offline in most cases and add them to the Asset Library (see below) on the system. All paid accounts on Slide Rocket provide 1GB of storage space, the free account offering 250MB.
A fairly sizable portion of the graphics I use are generated by screen recording tools (my favorite's are Jing for Mac and Snag-It for Windows). I often then annotate those screenshots and bring them into presentations.
For more abstract or illustrative graphics - I develop those offline (myself or through a graphic designer). The Slide Rocket Marketplace is starting to draw me in and I have been browsing it as a new source for assets for presentations as well. In the Marketplace, one can buy assets of every kind, including:
- Stock Photography
- Illustrations and cartoons (possibly a resolution for Smart Art)
- Access to professional designers and printing services
There is also a process for participating in the Marketplace as a seller yourself, if you are manufacturing assets as well as creating presentations.
The presentation editor feels very intuitive, providing a three-pane interface with access to all tools from within a working presentation. Along the top and left side, authoring capabilities include slide management, editing text, graphics and other plug-ins for content as well as a real-time preview of your changes.
The right side of the editor brings in the slide styling and presentation controls familiar to those coming from Power Point. This includes theme, font and image controls and transitions/effects.
One of the compelling features in the system is the ability to extract slides from various presentations and stow them in a Slides section of your account (separate from complete presentations). I find this useful on two fronts:
- To leverage a slide I might use frequently in differing presentations (bio, references, links, etc.).
- To share a slide(s), but not entire presentations, with others on my team if I am working with a group of editors on the site.
Sharing Your Work
The publishing capabilities are where Slide Rocket really edges out other offline and online solutions. Starting with the offline synchronization through the Desktop Presenter. This is an Adobe Air software client runs on your Mac, PC or Linux system and enables you to present and print without an Internet connection, from your Slide Rocket account.
The next step in the publishing process is taking your presentation live. There are several options, which should meet most of the options folks needs to distribute their work.
These capabilities vary based on your account type. The ability to make your presentation public and share or embed via email, website, blog, etc. are available to all users. The ability to track statistics or secure your presentation (as well as strip branding) are available only to Business plan users.
- You can share the link to your presentation via email or on your web site
- You can embed the presentation directly into your site (a feature I have already used on this blog)
- The presentation can also be secured if you are distributing with a password, as well as controlling how your viewers can interact with your work.
Additionally for Business plan users, there is also a great Twitter integration that enables you to post directly to Twitter from Slide Rocket, announcing your presentation to your followers. An obvious and fun way to drive traffic to your work.Just About Replaces Power Point
For the average Power Point user, this may be the case. Even for me, a medium power user of the tool, I find that Slide Rocket delivers what I need and some added flexibility. If the developers drive toward creating a simple smart-art styled illustration tool as a plug-in, I just might surrender completely to using it as my primary presentation tool.
Slide Rocket offers three tiers to its service, from a free, limited account to single-user and team-oriented accounts. Prices start at $10 per month (annual payment or $12 month to month) to $20 monthly for the Business Plan ($24 month to month).
There are advantages to using the Business account, even as an individual user, as you gain access to additional features:
- Analytics - track how and who viewed your presentations
- Web Meetings - the ability to host a presentation meeting
- User Administration - even if you work solo, and you find a collaborator, you can add them in and have control over which assets, presentations and slides they can interact with.