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FlashPPT: August 2007

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Sunday, August 19, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 7:53 AM IST

Here's a fictitious question: I have embedded a Flash movie in a PowerPoint presentation, and I would not like anyone to be able to save that embedded Flash movie from my PowerPoint presentation and use it elsewhere. And it does not seem doable -- so are my Flash files really safe?

OK -- yes they are reasonably safe only because many people are just not aware of that possibility, but remember that technology moves faster each day. There are indeed third party products that allow you to extract Flash content from PowerPoint files quite easily, and although these are not too well known or documented, they do exist.

So don't assume those Flash movies cannot be extracted.

If you need a Flash movie that's within a PowerPoint file, you can always request the creator of the presentation for a copy of the Flash movie. And just in case you created the presentation and lost the Flash movie, you can use the third party tools!

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Saturday, August 18, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 1:26 PM IST

Important Note: Make sure you read this post on not being able to embed a Flash movie within a PowerPoint 2007 presentation.

Now that you have inserted the control in your PowerPoint 2007 slide, it's time to bring in the Flash movie within the control. You need two things:

  1. A PowerPoint slide with the Shockwave Flash control inserted.

  2. A Flash movie placed in the same folder as your PowerPoint presentation.
If you don't have a sample Flash movie, get it here...

Get started with editing the control properties:
  1. Right-click the control and choose Properties (see Figure 1).


    Figure 1: Access the properties

  2. This will bring up the Properties window that you can see in Figure 2. Select the (Custom) option so that you can see the three ellipses (...) towards the right -- click on these ellipses. If you don't find the (Custom) option, ignore these steps, and proceed to Step 6.


    Figure 2: Properties window

  3. This will bring up the Property Pages dialog box that you can see in Figure 3. If this dialog box covers your Flash control or the slide, you can move it away a little.


    Figure 3: Property Pages dialog box

  4. In the Movie URL text box, type the name of the Flash SWF file that you placed in the same folder as the presentation. You can also type an entire web URL within this text box if you want to access a SWF live from the Internet. Check the Play option, and do check the Embed option too (unless you typed in a web URL in the Movie URL text box). There are several other options in this dialog box that you can tweak as required, but do remember that the Background Color option makes no difference!

  5. Click OK to get back to the slide and play the presentation. Once you play the presentation you may want to resize and reposition the inserted control.

  6. Not applicable for everybody: If you branched out from Step 2, select the Movie option in the Properties dialog box, and type the name of your Flash SWF (see Figure 4) -- no path is required since we already placed everything (the presentation and the SWF) in the same folder. Also make sure that the EmbedMovie option remains set to False.


    Figure 4: Properties window

    Make sure you set the EmbedMovie option to False since PowerPoint 2007's new security options don't respect the True value for EmbedMovie. Look at this post too: Embedded Flash Does Not Work On Another Computer

  7. Save the presentation.
Maybe you don't want to make any more changes, or you might want your Flash movies rewound after playing. Or maybe you don't want to follow so many steps, and prefer an automated one-click process. In that case, look at FlashBack.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 10:52 AM IST

I'm assuming you have the Developer tab of the ribbon enabled, have all the prerequisites installed, and have assembled everything in one folder.

Now you can insert Flash movies in your PowerPoint 2007 presentations. If you are using an older version of PowerPoint, look here...
  1. Select the Developer tab of the Ribbon, and within the Controls group, click the More Controls button (see Figure 1).


    Figure 1: Click the More Controls option.

  2. This will bring up the More Controls dialog box that you can see in Figure 2. Select the Shockwave Flash Object option, and click OK.


    Figure 2: Select to place a Shockwave Flash Object control.

  3. The cursor will now turn into a crosshair, drag and place a control on the slide so that your control looks like what you can see in Figure 3.


    Figure 3: The placed Shockwave Flash Object control.

  4. Now that you have placed the control, you need to link this to the Flash movie. I show you how to do that next...

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 8:34 AM IST

The options that allow you to insert Flash movies in PowerPoint 2007 (and maybe later versions) are found in the Developer tab of the Ribbon.

By default, this tab is not visible (as shown in Figure 1) -- and has to be turned on. If the Developer tab is indeed visible in your Ribbon (see Figure 2), you need not enable it.


Figure 1: There's no Developer tab in the Ribbon by default.


Figure 2: Now there's the Developer tab!

Otherwise, this is how you can enable the Developer tab in the Ribbon:

  1. Choose Office Button | PowerPoint Options, to bring up a dialog box of the same name.

  2. In the Popular tab (on the left pane), check the option that says Show Developer tab in the Ribbon, as shown in Figure 3.


    Figure 3: Check the option to show the Developer tab

  3. Click OK to get back to the PowerPoint interface -- you should now see the Developer tab in the Ribbon (refer to Figure 2).
Once the Developer tab shows in the Ribbon, make sure that you have everything else you need to insert Flash movies in PowerPoint 2007...

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Saturday, August 11, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 11:14 PM IST

Although this site is the most complete resource of Flash-in-PowerPoint information anywhere, I wanted to share other resources with you as well:

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posted by Geetesh at 11:06 PM IST

There are many reasons to attain various ends that people go on the path of converting PowerPoint to Flash. And almost a decade after this started, I have to say that I have found no perfect automated solution!

Many products claim to do this, and some do come quite close to perfection. But if they are suitable for one presentation style or purpose, they may not work out as well in another scenario.

And so the search continues!

On this site, I'm going to explore all these products and share my opinions. And your opinions count even more -- so feel free to comment on all these products. Maybe, we'll find the perfect product!

Watch this blog, and keep commenting.

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posted by Geetesh at 9:13 PM IST

In a previous post, I introduced FlashBack -- a PowerPoint add-in that rewinds (and replays) Flash movies in PowerPoint slides.

Here's a step-by-step tutorial on using the add-in:

  1. First download FlashBack from here... Next you'll want to install the add-in. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions...

  2. Once you install FlashBack, you'll find a new option in the Tools menu within the PowerPoint interface (see Figure 1).


    Figure 1: FlashBack shows in the Tools menu in PowerPoint.

  3. Now place a Flash movie inside PowerPoint, or open a presentation that has an inserted Flash movie that needs the rewinding.

  4. Now choose Tools | FlashBack | Initialize FlashBack (refer to Figure 1 above).

  5. This brings up the Initialize FlashBack dialog box that you can see in Figure 2.


    Figure 1: FlashBack options.

  6. Choose one or both of the options provided:

    Rewind and play the movie: If you want to just rewind the movie, leave this option unchecked. More often than not, you'll want to leave this checked. Remember, all your Flash movies in all presentations you play get rewound automatically as long as FlashBack is installed. If you don't want that behavior to happen, you'll have to disable FlashBack altogether. Instructions on how you can disable FlashBack can be found here...

    Eliminate 'residual' image flashing: The last frame in a Flash movie may provide a flicker when it is rewound. This flicker or flashing may happen when you revisit the slide that contains the Flash movie. If you want a solution for this behavior, check this option.

  7. Click the Initialize button to get back to PowerPoint.
Remember that FlashBack is a machine specific solution, not a presentation specific one. If you want a presentation specific solution, you'll have to use the manual VBA route...

If you use the VBA route, you must first disable FlashBack...

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posted by Geetesh at 8:34 PM IST

This post will show you how you can download, install, and disable FlashBack, a free PowerPoint add-in that automatically rewinds inserted Flash movies in PowerPoint slides.

  1. First download FlashBack from Shyam Pillai's site...

  2. Next unzip/extract the downloaded files to a location on your computer. Make sure this is not on your Desktop, or any location where you may move or delete files often. Make a note of the location where you extracted the files. Within the folder created, you'll find a file called FlashBack.ppa (see Figure 1).


    Figure 1: Extracted FlashBack files.

  3. Now launch PowerPoint, and choose Tools | Macros | Security to bring up the Security dialog box that you can see in Figure 2.


    Figure 2: Change Security Level to Medium.

  4. If your Security Level is set to High or Very High, change it to Medium. Don't worry about demoting the security level now because you can set the security level higher once you have installed FlashBack.

    And if your Security dialog box does not show the Very High option, don't worry -- all versions of PowerPoint don't provide that option.

    Click OK to get back to PowerPoint.

  5. Choose Tools | Add-ins to bring up the Add-ins dialog box that you can see in Figure 3.


    Figure 3: Your Add-ins dialog box may not be as crowded as mine, but that's not an issue!

  6. Click the Add New... button to bring up the Add New PowerPoint Add-in dialog box that you can see in Figure 4. Navigate to where the FlashBack.ppa file is saved on your computer, select it, and click OK.


    Figure 4: Find FlashBack.ppa, and select it.

  7. You might now see a Security Warning dialog box, as shown in Figure 5.


    Figure 5: The Security Warning box looks a little scary!

  8. Click Enable Macros to get back to the Add-ins dialog box (refer to Figure 3). Click the Close button on this dialog box to get back to PowerPoint.

  9. You should now see the FlashBack option in the Tools menu within PowerPoint (see Figure 6).


    Figure 6: FlashBack shows in the Tools menu in PowerPoint.
Note: You may want to change your Macro Security Level back to High or Very High once you finish installing FlashBack.

To see how you can use FlashBack, look here...

Disable FlashBack

You might want to disable FlashBack for a while, especially if you want to rewind your Flash movies manually using VBA. To do that, choose Tools | Add-ins, and uncheck the FlashBack option in the resulting dialog box. Click Close to get back to PowerPoint.

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posted by Geetesh at 6:53 PM IST

FlashBack is a free PowerPoint add-in from Shyam Pillai, a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP that rewinds a Flash movie so that it plays from the starting frame when shown again in the same presentation. You can learn more about why rewinding is required here...

FlashBack automates a lengthy process that requires some coding in a VBA environment. You can download a free copy of FlashBack from Shyam's site...

Remember though that FlashBack is machine specific, not presentation specific. If you need to add the rewinding code to a presentation that will be distributed, you should use the VBA route...

Learn how to install and disable FlashBack...

And here's information on how you can use FlashBack...

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posted by Geetesh at 9:00 AM IST

I already discussed why you would want to rewind your Flash movies, the ones you insert into PowerPoint slides.

Now let me show you how you can do that with a little VBA code. Remember though that this code is dependent on ActiveX controls that are not supported by both the free PowerPoint Viewer on Windows, and PowerPoint on the Mac. So this will only work on PowerPoint 97 or higher for Windows.

  1. First, create a backup copy of your presentation, just in case.

  2. Open the presentation in PowerPoint -- this presentation must have a Flash movie inserted as per the instructions provided here...

  3. Make sure that the Loop option in the Property Pages dialog is left unchecked.

  4. Save the presentation.

  5. Press Alt F11 to bring up the Microsoft Visual Basic window (see Figure 1).


    Figure 1: The Visual Basic window is where you add code in PowerPoint.

  6. Choose Insert | Module. This adds a new module in the left pane, as you can see in Figure 2.


    Figure 2: A new module has been added.

  7. In the main window, add the following code, while making sure that the number in the 3rd line after the word "Slides" is the number of the slide in your presentation that contains the Flash movie.

    Sub OnSlideShowPageChange()
    Dim obj As ShockwaveFlash
    Set obj = ActivePresentation.Slides(2).Shapes("ShockwaveFlash1").OLEFormat.Object
    obj.Playing = True
    obj.Rewind
    obj.Play
    End Sub

    Figure 3 shows you the main window after the code was added:


    Figure 3: Code has been added.

    As you can see, the code simply sets the Playing property to true, rewinds the movie, and plays it.

    Also, if your presentation contains more than one Flash movie, you'll need to repeat this process for each movie. However, change the numbering in the 3rd line again after the word ShockwaveFlash, so that you name them ShockwaveFlash1, ShockwaveFlash2, and so on. Then, in the Properties window, give the object the same name in the Name row, which is just under the Custom row (see Figure 4).


    Figure 4: Match the object names in the Visual Basic window, and the Property window.

  8. That's all you need to do -- return to your presentation, save it, and play it to test.
Remember, your macro security settings may stop the VBA code from executing. In PowerPoint, choose Tools | Options | Security | Macro Security, and make sure it isn't set to High. In addition, coding in the Flash file itself may stop the movie from playing.

I wish to thank Ellen Finkelstein, author of How To Do Everything with PowerPoint 2007 for providing the VBA code used in this tutorial. You can visit Ellen's site here...

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posted by Geetesh at 8:06 AM IST

I have already created a multi-step process tutorial for inserting Flash movies in a PowerPoint slide that is suitable for users of PowerPoint versions earlier (and not including) PowerPoint 2007. Here's a sequenced list of those instructions:

  1. Getting Started With These Four
  2. Assemble Everything
  3. Insert the Control
  4. Edit the Control Properties

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Friday, August 10, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 9:07 AM IST

VBA stands for Visual Basic for Applications, and is a programming language subset of Microsoft Visual Basic. It allows to control several options in programs that support VBA.

Most Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint work with VBA.

You really don't need to learn a lot of VBA to make things happen. Sometimes, you can just paste a snippet of VBA to make miracles happen!

For example, you can rewind your Flash movies in PowerPoint slides using some VBA.

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posted by Geetesh at 8:31 AM IST

Why would you want to rewind a Flash movie placed in a PowerPoint slide? That's because in certain scenarios, the Flash movie you insert might not play right from the beginning of the movie:

  • When the Flash movie plays for the first time you present the slide, it plays right from the beginning. But if you proceed to the next slide (or any other slide) in the PowerPoint presentation before the Flash movie has finished playing , it just stalls the Flash movie and moves on. Get back to the slide that contains the Flash movie again, and it plays from where it got stalled.

  • Or maybe you are viewing the slide that contains the Flash movie, and then exit the presentation. Of course you haven't shut down PowerPoint altogether, and you reopen the presentation and play the slide that contains the Flash movie. Again, the Flash movie plays from where it got stalled.
These issues may not be very troublesome if you inserted a static Flash movie, or even a Flash movie that plays for a very small duration. In other scenarios, this can be downright irritating!

Fortunately, you can automatically rewind these movies. There are two ways to do that:
  1. You can get over this problem by inserting a little VBA code, and this is easy to do if you follow this tutorial...

  2. Or you could get a free PowerPoint add-in called FlashBack, which does this automatically for you.
Remember: The stalled Flash movie problem does not happen if you shut down PowerPoint altogether, and then launch it again.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 9:20 PM IST

Now that you have inserted the control, it's time to bring in the Flash movie within the control. You need two things:

  1. A PowerPoint slide with the Shockwave Flash control inserted.
  2. A Flash movie placed in the same folder as your PowerPoint presentation.
And of course, if you don't have a sample Flash movie, get it here...

Get started with editing the control properties:
  1. Right-click the control and choose Properties (see Figure 1).


    Figure 1: Access the properties

  2. This will bring up the Properties window that you can see in Figure 2. Select the (Custom) option so that you can see the three ellipses (...) towards the right -- click on these ellipses. If you don't find the (Custom) option, ignore these steps, and proceed to Step 6.


    Figure 2: Properties window

  3. This will bring up the Property Pages dialog box that you can see in Figure 3. If this dialog box covers your Flash control or the slide, you can move it away a little.


    Figure 3: Property Pages dialog box

  4. In the Movie URL text box, type the name of the Flash SWF file that you placed in the same folder as the presentation. You can also type an entire web URL within this text box if you want to access a SWF live from the Internet. Check the Play option, and do check the Embed option too (unless you typed in a web URL in the Movie URL text box). There are several other options in this dialog box that you can tweak as required, but do remember that the Background Color option makes no difference!

  5. Click OK to get back to the slide and play the presentation. Once you play the presentation you may want to resize and reposition the inserted control.

  6. Not applicable for everybody: If you branched out from Step 2, select the Movie option in the Properties dialog box, and type the name of your Flash SWF (see Figure 4) -- no path is required since we already placed everything (the presentation and the SWF) in the same folder. Also change the EmbedMovie option to True.


    Figure 4: Properties window

  7. Save the presentation.
Maybe you don't want to make any more changes, or you might want your Flash movies rewound after playing. Or maybe you don't want to follow so many steps, and prefer an automated one-click process. I'll cover all these issues soon.

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Sunday, August 5, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 3:56 PM IST

I'm assuming you have all the prerequisites in place, and have assembled everything in one folder.

And yes, I'm assuming you are running a pre-2007 version of PowerPoint such as version 97, 2000, 2002 (XP), or 2003.

Now it's the time to insert a control placeholder for the Flash movie:

  1. Make sure the Control Toolbox is visible. If you cannot find it (refer to Figure 1), choose View | Toolbars | Control.


    Figure 1: View the Control Toolbox

    Note: Remember this is a toogle option. If you have the Control Toolbox already visible, you'll just hide it by clicking this option again.

  2. Figure 2 shows you the Control Toolbox palette. The bottom right icon in the palette is the More Controls option.


    Figure 2: More Controls


  3. Click this icon to view the list of ActiveX controls installed in your system, as shown in Figure 3. If your list of controls is different from the ones shown in the screenshot, don't worry as long as you have the Shockwave Flash Object control available. Select this option.


    Figure 3: Select the Shockwave Flash Object control

    Note: If you don't find the Shockwave Flash Object control listed, you need to install that from the Adobe Flash site -- refer to the Get Started with these Four section.

  4. Once you select this control, your cursor changes to a cross-hair. Drag onto an area of the slide where you want the Flash movie inserted. This area will be represented by a checked box as shown in Figure 4.


    Figure 4: The placed Shockwave Flash Object control

  5. Now that you have placed the control, you need to edit the properties of the control to insert the Flash movie. This is what I'll show you next...

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posted by Geetesh at 3:49 PM IST

Before you start inserting your Flash movie on a PowerPoint slide, you should follow these good practices to assemble all the stuff:

  1. First of all, make sure that you have all the four prerequisites in place.

  2. Place your saved PowerPoint presentation in a new or existing folder. Copy your Flash SWF file to this folder.

    If you need to insert the Flash SWF file into a new presentation, then save the Flash SWF file into a new folder. Then create a new presentation and save it in this folder.

  3. If the presentation is not open, launch PowerPoint, open the presentation and navigate to the slide where you want to insert a Flash SWF movie.

  4. Thereafter, the process in which you insert the Flash SWF will differ a little if you use PowerPoint 2007 or a previous version of PowerPoint.
If you use a version of PowerPoint that's pre-2007, proceed here...

PowerPoint 2007 users should proceed here...

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posted by Geetesh at 3:30 PM IST

Get Started With These Four:

To insert Flash movies inside PowerPoint, you need four things:
  1. Microsoft Office PowerPoint: A copy of PowerPoint 97, 2000, 2002, 2003, or 2007 (or a newer version). This will not work in the free PowerPoint Viewer.

  2. Microsoft Internet Explorer: Although you really don't need this in the process of inserting Flash, it is required since this takes care of the ActiveX runtimes. Most versions of Windows come with Internet Explorer built-in. You can always get the latest version here...

  3. Shockwave Flash ActiveX Control: This is a helper application that allows Microsoft Internet Explorer and other applications that can interact with ActiveX controls to show Flash movies. PowerPoint is one such application that can rely on the Shockwave Flash ActiveX control to play Flash movies on PowerPoint slides.

    Your copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer probably already has this ActiveX control installed, but since this is frequently updated, you should visit the Adobe site and check.

    The Shockwave Flash ActiveX control can be auto-installed at:

    www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?
    P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash

    Since this control installs on its own, make sure you visit the above link using Microsoft Internet Explorer -- the Flash plug-in for Firefox is not the same, at least not in this case!

    If you need to view more options, visit:

    www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/alternates/

  4. A Flash SWF Movie/File: If you don't have any Flash clips, you can get some here...
The next thing you need to do is assemble everything in one folder...

PowerPoint 2007 users also need to enable the Developer tab in the Ribbon... -- if the Developer tab is already visible for you, proceed to assemble everything in one folder...

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posted by Geetesh at 2:48 PM IST

Microsoft Internet Explorer (also known as Windows Internet Explorer in newer versions of Windows) is the default graphical internet browser built into most versions of Windows.

Microsoft Internet Explorer can view static and dynamic web pages, and several graphic file formats including JPEGs, GIFs, and PNGs. In addition, it allows you to view various other file formats using helper applications. These helper applications were called browser plug-ins in very old versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, but Microsoft evolved the helper applications to a new technology called ActiveX.

You can download the latest version of Internet Explorer here...

Getting back to ActiveX, the Shockwave Flash ActiveX Control is the most well known of all controls.

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Saturday, August 4, 2007
posted by Geetesh at 2:31 PM IST

ActiveX is the successor to OLE 1 and OLE 2 - in clear cut, unambiguous terms, this means that ActiveX is a technology that allows components, clients or controls to run individually integrated in another application.

The control could be a Shockwave Flash control - the applications are usually web browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer. Alternatively they can be any program which has the ability to communicate with an ActiveX control. In our case, this program happens to be Microsoft PowerPoint.

If you want to learn more about ActiveX, you can visit the following link:

Web Developer's Virtual Library has an excellent introduction to ActiveX. They also maintain an ActiveX links page.

This glossary article is an excerpt from Indezine's PowerPoint and Flash page. Indezine.com is the parent company that owns the FlashPPT site.

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