Last month I posted a couple of entries about alternatives to commercial presentation graphics programs that we are very familiar with using (“Where’s the killer open source presentation software?” and “More on presentation software – look at Opera Show“). The comments didn’t make it over from my IBM developerWorks blog, but there was a bit of a discussion and Sam Hiser mentioned Dave Raggett’s Slidy. Jon Udell over in InfoWorld has picked up this same idea today in his “Web-based alternatives to PowerPoint.”
I think this has a lot of promise, assuming you have a modern browser like Firefox or Opera available (*). Personally I’m tired of wrangling with what Internet Explorer 6 doesn’t do, especially in terms of CSS. As long as I have a presentation that I can hand to someone else and it just works in their browser, I’ll be happy. I think it is a small price to pay for greater portability. What would be really cool is to have a really superb authoring environment right in the browser as well. I would think that a little AJAX might go a long way here. Jon leans toward this at the end where he says
Bring it on! Presentation software has been stuck in neutral forever. Web applications, however, are firing on all cylinders. Some say Word and Excel are about to be Web 2.0 roadkill. Not me. The browser can’t yet substitute for those applications. But for PowerPoint? Any day now.
There has been less attention paid to sophisticated presentation support in browsers than word processing, but I think the order of difficulty from easiest to hardest is presentation, word processing, and spreadsheet. Swap the first two for what I think we’re seeing happen because of the attention being paid.
Personally, I would have to resist the temptation to do something in PHP because that would require a web server as well. It is simple enough to install PHP with Apache on a laptop, but it does add to the overhead. It’s also not going to be something the average person has.
(*) I am not a Mac user, so I don’t usually mention Safari. I can’t test for myself what it does or does not do.