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I am working for a large government organization, where we have been using Powerpoint as the backbone of our training material development. However we are thinking about migrating to a new platform for a number of reasons

  • Powerpoint technologically is "stale" and uncompelling compared to alternatives.
  • We'd like to migrate to a tool that runs through the web browser and that uses more open standards/source
  • Would like to be able to open a presentation at different points. Previous to pptx / Office 2010, you could open a powerpoint to a given slide. But this feature doesn't work anymore

Feature Requirements (top 3 features)

  • Access to any / all parts of presentation via URL controls (ie using '?' or ':' in the url) in IE 8
  • "Instant" Access: The staff that would be using this is under tremendous time pressure. We have low bandwidth, so a tool with less frills and smaller file sizes / time to start up is preferred.
  • Web development or "Single file" deployment: If possible, tools like Presi (inaccessible currently do to technology constraints) or single file formats like .ppsx are preferable to having an archive of files.
  • NOT NEEDED: Interactivity is rather low on the list. The system is intended to be simple, focusing on procedural instructions with a screen shot of two

Concerns

  • There is a lot(!) of technical information that our trainees need to learn and be able to recall. Ideally, training material would also serve as a user manual for forgotten concepts.
  • We already have a sizeable trove of powerpoint training material, which ideally we'd like to be able to migrate
  • Our technology platform is well behind the current state-of-the-art (OS: MS-XP, IE 8, Adobe AIR from 2005 - 8), and because of the size of our organization, platform upgrades are difficult and expensive. Also, I have been pushing our MIS team for upgrades of these platforms for a year, without any success.

The platform issue is a serious issue, and will take some real effeort to resolve. However I see the biggest issue is with migrating old training material. So any advice on these two issues would be very welcome.

Tx

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    Welcome to Software Recommendations! The background you've explained phantastically, so we know what's it about. But what's missing are specific requirements (except from converting existing documents). What features are important to you, which are rather considered "bonus-points"? Could you please edit your post and add those details? Thanks a lot! – Izzy Sep 15 '14 at 18:23
  • @Izzy I have updated the question as per your suggestion. Let me know if there is more I could add – ControlAltDel Sep 15 '14 at 20:08
  • Not really my area of expertise, but looks much better IMHO. If you're after a web-based solution (as it looks like now), you might wish to add the web-apps tag. Thanks for the update! – Izzy Sep 15 '14 at 21:23
  • Powerpoint technologically is "stale" and uncompelling compared to alternatives: People hate PowerPoint for a lot of different reasons, we need to know your reasons, so please explain exactly what you don't like in PowerPoint, thanks! :-) – Nicolas Raoul Sep 16 '14 at 5:19
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Given your ideals of single file deployment and the ability to use the training material as reference I would strongly suggest converting the existing material to and generating new material as ebooks.

A first look for converting your existing files:

ppt -> OpenOffice Impress -> HTML -> Calibre -> ebook format.

The ebooks will normally be:

  • Single file
  • Readable on a wide variety of devices including older machines
  • Able to be downloaded and retained for reference.
  • All of the above software is free
  • All of the above software is cross platform
  • All of it is scriptable so you should be able to automate the process, (for at least a first pass conversion).
  • The middle step - the HTML collection - can be viewed on web browsers including the ability jump to specific locations.
  • If you set up a suitable template you could include links to download the ebook version(s)
  • Calibre can be set as a server allowing the training material to be browsed by category and downloaded, with device specific conversion.
  • Intriguing... Need to mull over this – ControlAltDel Sep 16 '14 at 13:57
  • It will cost you no more than a little bandwidth and a little time to give it a try. – Steve Barnes Sep 16 '14 at 14:15
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(MS PowerPoint is good for me atleast)
Frankly you don't have much alternatives out in the market. So I'm listing all available (most appraised only) Office applications.

  • FreeOffice - Download - Freeware - Windows, Linux
  • LibreOffice - Download - Freeware Open-source - Windows, Linux, Mac
  • Apache OpenOffice - Download - Freeware Open-sorce - Windows, Linux, Mac

I'm familiar with both LibreOffice and OpenOffice. They are good at what they are designed to.

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It would be a big change but you could consider a static web generator. The problem is that there are probably too many good choices in terms of the underlying technology. I know Pelican pretty well and was flexible enough for our needs.

Advantages:

  • you can use text files to write the material with Markdown or Restructured Text syntax
  • the same text files can be processed to different types of output (including those mentioned in the answer from Steve Barnes)
  • accessing any page can be done by URL and you can customize the URLs to your liking
  • can be distributed as a folder of linked html files with no need for a server, if required.

Disadvantages:

  • the change is a major one and migrating from PowerPoint presentations might be hard to automate
  • the system needs tweaking to correspond to your own needs in terms of look and feel
  • the obtained static html files need to be served from a server (your own or hosted)
  • page layout will be more variable, depending on which browser is used, but could be even read on a mobile device with automatic layout adaptation provided by many "responsive" themes.

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