Schneider, Ph.D., November 2006
98/ME/2000/XP and PowerPoint 2000/XP/2003
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.