FlashSpring Pro 1.5

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider, Ph.D., November 2006
Published by: CPS Labs
Requires: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and PowerPoint 2000/XP/2003
MSRP: US$150.00

Creating a presentation pretty much means using Microsoft PowerPoint, the de facto standard, but how the presentation is used is beginning to change. No longer do we see PowerPoint presentations used solely, or even primarily, to support someone giving a talk to a live audience. PowerPoint is being used to design e-learning courses, update people, and generally speaking, provide a way to distribute knowledge without a live presenter. Given the inherent capabilities within PowerPoint, there are many compelling reasons for using the tool in this matter. However, the PowerPoint native format or converted HTML format does have definite limitations as a delivery vehicle to a widespread audience. This is where tools like FlashSpring step in. We reviewed the software with Windows XP and PowerPoint 2003.

FlashSpring’s primary purpose is to take a PowerPoint file and turn it into a Flash-based presentation. The whys for doing this are simple. Native PowerPoint presentation files can be large, unwieldy and hard to distribute. Flash, on the other hand, was designed specifically to address these issues. In general Flash files are small, play well on any platform, and over 98% of computers have the required free Flash plugin needed to view the files.

You may have seen other utilities that purport to do the same thing as FlashSpring, but the quality out there is uncomfortably variable. The primary differences between these types of programs lie in two areas: the quality and scope of conversion capabilities, and the options and manner in which PowerPoint files are actually converted into Flash presentation. Converting PowerPoint files is complicated and what you can do with them during the conversion process can provide for an endless number of variations. FlashSpring’s sweet spot seems to be providing a solution that is quick, easy, painless, and inexpensive.


Once FlashSpring is installed, you will be able to access its features through additional buttons in your PowerPoint toolbar. The actual conversion of a PowerPoint file is as simple as clicking on the FlashSpring Publish button. FlashSpring will be invoked and after a couple minutes, depending on the PowerPoint file size, you'll have a completely converted presentation.

In terms of the first area of concern, conversion quality and preservation of all the detail in your PowerPoint file, FlashSpring does a pretty decent job. After converting a number of fairly generic PowerPoints I observed that the output did indeed match the original presentation quite well. Where these programs really shine or fall short is in converting multimedia such as animations and audio. Looking at FlashSpring web site, you can find a complete list of PowerPoint animation options supported by FlashSpring. While there are quite a few, there are also a number of missing items.

When I did convert some PowerPoints with more advanced animated techniques and audio, not surprisingly, my results were not as stellar. Many of the advanced animation options resulted in a static or partially animated result. On the audio side, the results were much better. As long as the original audio clips were in WAV or MP3 format they converted accurately. During the review process CPS Labs indicated that FlashSpring 2.0 will include significantly better support for PowerPoint animations.

While the basic conversion process is painless and simple, you will also want to think about how well the conversion options meet your needs. In this area, FlashSpring does a decent job. One of the key options is the ability to specify output as one single Flash file or as a single Flash file for each individual slide. If you want to use the Flash files in another application, the single file route works great. If you want it to stand as a self-contained presentation, the single file and multiple file options both provide a player mode which offers forward and backward controls. The player mode also has a number of options including auto advance, slide timings, background music, and at the end of the presentation provide a hyperlink to a web site.

You can control the file conversion with a number of features. You can expand a presentation with your own Flash file using FlashSpring's import feature. You can also control a number of other general features such as background color, presentation size, file compression and quality settings. Finally, when creating your conversion, the output destination can be selected and slides can be automatically ZIPed (or not) and then e-mailed, FTPed to a web server or just saved on your hard drive.

Although most of the conversions went well during my testing, a few PowerPoint files managed to crash FlashSpring. It seems some text was copied from Word into the PowerPoint and in some cases this caused FlashSpring to die. What was quite amazing about this problem was that within 24 hours after reporting it and providing a sample PowerPoint file, I received an e-mail with a link to an updated version of FlashSpring that converted the PowerPoint flawlessly. This happened on two occasions and the response time in both cases was identical. While one never likes to see bugs in their software, you are bound to experience it once in a while. What you don't often experience is great customer service and an expedited resolution of the problem(s).

FlashSpring provides an easy to use solution for people who want to convert PowerPoint presentations into a format that is easily distributed over the web or on CD and which is accessible with just about any computer and browser. When looking for a solution, be sure and review comparable programs. In this price range, you're not likely to find a program that exceeds the capabilities of FlashSpring.

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