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Publishing Powerpoint Presentations on the Web

Introduction: Powerpoint presentations can be output as either:

The difference in sizes is considerable. The ActiveX presentation is compressed considerably from the original whilst the HTML files end up 20x the size of the ActiveX. The HTML files, however, can be played by anyone with a web browser and need no software to be downloaded or installed. Recent presentations we have placed on the Web are in HTML but all our back copies are in ActiveX format to save space. The ActiveX format is also good for Conferences and Email as the source can not be modified, the "player" is smaller than a PowerPoint player and it is independent of PowerPoint version. There are some more details about the Activex Powerpoint Animation Player it in our Technical "Howto" Articles series under Microsoft Power Point ActiveX Presentations. If you have Office 4.2 or Office 95 you can download Internet Assistants to install to get HTML output - see my article on Adding HTML capabilities in Microsoft Office 4.2 and 95.

Accessing HTML output capabilities in Microsoft Powerpoint 97: It is easy if you have Powerpoint 97 where it accessed by File|Save as HTML. If it does not show on the File menu the HTML options were not chosen when Office 97 was installed and you will need to find the CD and rerun setup - go through the options screens and you will find a box to tick for HTML and also some convertors which you may wish to add.

Producing HTML or ActiveX Presentations in Office 97: The HTML presentation is produced by a Wizard in Powerpoint 97 which is accessed by File|Save as HTML. The same Wizard produces either HTML presentations or an ActiveX presentation. The Wizard is very easy to use and you can save the parameters you chose for reuse by ticking the box on the first step in the Wizard and then reuse them at this step the next time. The various inputs we make to the steps are:

  1. select Standard Page style;
  2. choose either GIF or Powerpoint Animation;
  3. 640*480 and 3/4 of the screen should be usable by everybody;
  4. enter our Email and Web page addresses, tick the Internet Explorer download box and clear the Download original presentation box;
  5. at present we use browser colours but may well chose a better background in the future;
  6. chose small square buttons;
  7. put them below the presentation;
  8. chose a directory - we have working directories C:\_Download and C:\_Workspace available
    Note that the Wizard places the presentation into a sub directory with the same name as PowerPoint presentation so if you rerun the Wizard to produce both HTML and ActiveX presentations it is easy to overwrite one with the other - specify a different working directory
  9. and finally save the set of parameters so you can run through very quickly next time.

The HTML presentation: You will find the directory created by the Wizard contains 3x the number of slides plus some .gifs and an entry page always called index.htm. I have found no easy way round having a directory on the web page for each presentation. It occupies significantly more space than the ActiveX presentation (20x more!) or the original but can be used immediately by anyone with a browser.

Modifications to the HTML Entry Page - index.htm: We make two modifications to the Index page:

The ActiveX Presentation: As stated above the Wizard places the presentation into a directory with the same name as PowerPoint presentation just like the HTML output so it is easy to overwrite one with the other unless you use different working directories. It also creates a lot of working files whilst all you need is pres0.ppz and either index.htm or a preferably a customised page to run the presentation. pres0.ppz can be safely renamed as long as it remains .ppz and does not need to be in a separate directory. There is one caution and that is that in creating a .ppz file it also produces an intermediate Powerpoint 95 presentation and any features which are not in Powerpoint 95 are lost so check the result before publishing. This is because the Powerpoint Animation Player has the useful ability of displaying both Powerpoint 95 (.ppt) and .ppz files. Associations are set up so .ppz files can also be run by double clicking after the ActiveX player has been installed.

Customising the page to access the ActiveX Presentation: We have modified the page which is produced by PowerPoint (index.htm) to play the presentation. Our Standard Presentation page has comments on the editing needed for a new presentation at the top. The link can be right clicked and Save Target As to copy onto your disk if you wish to use it. You will also need to download the following animated gif by right click|Save Picture As if you wish to use it without modification.

Microsoft PowerPoint Animation Player

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Copyright © Peter Curtis
Content revised: 3rd December 2001