WWW FAQs: How do I put a PowerPoint presentation on my website?

2007-02-01: It's not hard to put a PowerPoint presentation on the Web. There are three ways to do it. The best choice depends on what you really want to achieve.

Linking to Your Original PowerPoint File

If you just want to share your complete, unmodified PowerPoint presentation with users who already have PowerPoint, that's very easy. Just upload your PowerPoint file (your .ppt) file to your website and link to it, like this:


<a href="mypresentation.ppt">View My Presentation in PowerPoint</a>

This works well for users who already have PowerPoint (or OpenOffice). And that's usually a safe bet on your company Intranet. But for an Internet audience, it's not such a hot choice.

Converting to HTML or Flash

What about the general public? On an Internet site, most users are not willing to open "non-web" file formats like PowerPoint.

The Bad News: Microsoft Is No Help Here

PowerPoint includes the ability to convert your presentation to HTML. The bad news is that PowerPoint does a terrible job! The resulting HTML page is almost completely incompatible with all web browsers except Microsoft Internet Explorer.

The user receives a warning that the presentation is "optimized" for Internet Explorer. If they choose to continue, they see an extremely poor version of your presentation. In my experiments, some slides were not visible at all in Firefox.

If the end results aren't compatible with all browsers, why bother converting from PowerPoint at all? Fortunately there's a better way.

The Good News: OpenOffice to the Rescue!

You may already know about OpenOffice— a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. What you might not know is that OpenOffice can open your existing PowerPoint presentations... and convert them to real, cross-browser-compatible HTML pages, or even Flash movies.

Which one you choose depends on whether you just want to export the content in a reasonably readable (and Google-indexable) form, or prefer to keep your presentation's visual style more or less intact. HTML is best for a simple conversion that Google has no trouble indexing. Flash is better for those whose first concern is the visual quality of the end result.

First I'll demonstrate how to convert to HTML. Then I'll show you how to convert to Flash.

How To Convert PowerPoint Presentations To HTML With OpenOffice

Sounds good, how do we do it? Just follow these steps:

1. Install OpenOffice 2.1 or better, if you haven't already. Just visit OpenOffice.Org and click the "get openoffice.org" button. Follow the installation instructions and set up the software before continuing.

2. Launch OpenOffice Impress, the PowerPoint-like component of OpenOffice. Just follow these steps:

Start -> All Programs -> OpenOffice.Org -> OpenOffice Impress

3. The "Presentation Wizard" appears. Select "Open existing presentation" and then click "Open."

4. The "Open" dialog box appears. Select your PowerPoint file.

5. The presentation appears in OpenOffice. You might want to inspect it to make sure everything came through the conversion from PowerPoint correctly.

6. Pull down the "File" menu and pick "Export."

7. The "Export" dialog appears. VERY IMPORTANT: your presentation will be saved as more than one HTML file. The name you pick here is simply the name of the "title page" where the presentation begins. So you should use the "Create new folder" button at the top of this dialog box to make a new folder just for this HTML presentation. Call it mypresentationname (whatever your presentation is called— I recommend no spaces or punctuation, except for underscores).

8. Now, double-click on the new folder in the "Export" dialog. You're now in a folder dedicated just to the files for this presentation. The title page of your presentation should be the "index" page for this folder— the page that the web browser sees when the user accesses the folder without specifying a particular filename. So enter the name index and click "Save." The .html extension will be added automatically.

9. The "Assign design" page appears. "New design" is selected. Click "Next." If you have done this before, you may have saved designs (export preferences) which you can opt to reuse instead of going through all of the remaining steps.

10. The "Publication type" page appears. Pick "Standard HTML format" and click "Next."

11. The "Save graphics as" / "Monitor resolution" page appears. The default monitor resolution is 640x480, which is much too limiting for modern users. Pick "Medium resolution" or "High resolution." In most environments the vast majority of users now have 1024x768 displays or better.

12. Click "Next."

13. The "Information for the title page" screen appears. Edit this information if you wish, then click "Next."

14. The "button style" page appears. Pick the button style you like or leave the selection set to "Text only." Then click "Next."

15. The "Select color scheme" page appears. I recommend you leave it set to "Apply color scheme from document" so that any graphics you have used don't look wrong with the text.

16. Click "Create."

17. The "Name HTML Design" dialog appears. I recommend entering a short name for your design so that you can use it as a convenient template the next time you export a presentation as HTML. Then click "Save." You can also click "Do Not Save" if you don't want to save your export preferences for next time.

18. Now try out your new HTML presentation file with your web browser. Just browse to the mypresentationname folder you created above and double-click on index.html file to access the title page. Then click on "Click here to start" to see the first page of the presentation.

19. To correctly install the presentation on your website, make sure you upload the entire folder, not just the title page! There are plenty of pages and images beyond the title page, and all of them are necessary to present the entire show.

How To Convert PowerPoint Presentations To Flash With OpenOffice

Converting to Flash sounds downright elegant! But is it hard? Not really! This tutorial will show you how.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, the Flash conversion feature of OpenOffice does not include transitions and effects. The content of your show will be intact, but transitions will be "plain vanilla" slide changes, even though Flash is quite capable of handling them. Hopefully this will change in the next version of OpenOffice Impress. In the meantime, those with a larger budget will want to check out Robin Good's excellent article on PowerPoint to Flash Conversion Tools. Robin Good's article covers several powerful but non-free tools for converting PowerPoint to Flash with animations and transitions intact.
To save time, this tutorial assumes you have already tried out the "convert to HTML" tutorial above. So try out that tutorial now if you have not done so already.

1. Install OpenOffice, if you haven't done that yet (see above).

2. Open your PowerPoint presentation with OpenOffice Impress (again, see above).

3. Pull down the "File" menu and pick "Export." By default, "HTML Document" is selected in the "File format" menu. Pull down the "File format" menu and change the setting to "Macromedia Flash (SWF) (.swf)" instead.

4. Enter a name for your Flash presentation. The name of your presentation will work fine (again, I recommend no spaces and no punctuation other than underscores). Then click "Save."

5. Your presentation will be saved in the Flash SWF format. This may take a little while! You'll see a progress bar at the very bottom of the main Impress window— it's easy to miss if you're not looking for it.

6. When the progress bar disappears, your presentation is done! To verify that, just browse to the folder where you saved the Flash presentation, and double-click on mypresentation.swf (the file you just created). The presentation should appear in your web browser, and you should be able to click to move from slide to slide, exactly as you would in a normal PowerPoint slideshow.

7. To present this Flash presentation in your web page, you'll need to embed it in your HTML correctly. First, upload Mypresentation.swf to your website, and place it in the same folder with the web page on which it should appear. Then, add the following HTML to your web page in the location where you want the presentation to appear:


<object
  type="application/x-shockwave-flash"
  width="600"
  height="450"
  data="mypresentation.swf">
<param name="movie" value="mypresentation.swf/">
</object>

Important: change mypresentation.swf to your filename in both places where it appears above!

Now access the web page to see the presentation on the web. Mission accomplished!

"Why is the presentation so small?" In my HTML above, I chose to specify a width and height of 600 and 450 pixels, respectively. But you don't have to use those sizes. You can specify any size that works for your page design! The nice thing about Flash is that it usually scales very well.

Conclusion

PowerPoint itself isn't very helpful when it comes to converting your work to be viewed by anyone except Internet Explorer users. But converting PowerPoint presentations to appear on a website in a way that works for everybody isn't hard. It just requires a little patience and a willingness to use a great piece of free software to do what Microsoft Office won't.

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