Frequently Asked Questions

These are free? what’s the catch?

  • (a) the tools are prototypes / shareware – so no guarantees they will work, limited support, etc., and (b) a small SAP logo in the lower-right hand corner.
  • There are no plans to make them commercial products, so they may be prototypes indefinitely (but isn’t that the Web 2.0 way?)
  • If you need more power/options, take a look at www.polleverywhere.com, that offers some Twitter within PowerPoint options.

Do the tools work?

  • Yes! They let presenters receive feedback from the audience in real time, without needing a separate monitor or any technology running on a separate server.
  • The biggest limitations in using them effectively is (a) having an audience with twitter accounts, and being ready to use them and (b) getting used to presenting with them (i.e. reading and reacting to the ticker bar during the presentation, using the voting options, etc.)

But what if people give negative comments during a presentation?!

  • The name of the person (or at least what people claimed is their name) is displayed next to each tweet, so there’s relatively little chance of outright obscenities.
  • It’s a web 2.0 world — if people don’t like your presentation, they’ll already be twittering about it — should the presenter really be the only one in the audience who doesn’t know?
  • Bad presentations waste millions of hours of people’s valuable time each year — if the audience disagrees with you, and you find out about it, it’s a great opportunity!
  • BUT let’s face it, most people are nervous about the idea (profanity, spam etc.). If that’s the case, just use the “custom feed” option and sign up with a service such as TidyTweet.com, that offers powerful moderation capabilities (filter on different terms or users, automatically tweets allow after a delay, etc.)
  • The biggest danger is that a small twitter-enabled minority dislike a presentation that everybody else is enjoying. Simply looking at the audience should show if this is the case. I recommend the presenter deals with the objections and moves on, potentially offering to take up the issue after the show.

What happens if it doesn’t work?

  • The tools are provided “as is”, and there’s no guarantee that your internet connection won’t go down, the timoelliott.com web site will be working, or the Twitter web site, that conflicts may lead to your machine shutting down, etc. etc. — always have a backup presentation ready to go on another machine (this is good practice anyway).

What happens if you no longer provide the files on your site?

  • Click here to download the latest versions of all the files used in the PowerPoint Twitter Tools, in a zip file. Note that if you use these versions, you won’t automatically benefit from new version updates.

What technology do the tools use?

  • I used Xcelsius, the SAP BusinessObjects dashboarding technology, to create them, but the tools themselves are flash .swf files that don’t require any other SAP software. Since Xcelsius is based on Adobe Flex/Flash, they could also have been build directly in Flash by somebody who knew what they were doing. But Xcelsius made it much easier for somebody like me (a slightly geeky marketing guy) build the tools — no programming was required beyond a few simple Excel formulas.

Will you open-source the code?

  • Since the samples are built on Xcelsius, it can never really be “open source”, but I do intend to provide the source Xcelsius .xlf files at some point. But first, I would prefer to some more debugging them and figure out if there are any problems, so that others don’t have to remake the same mistakes I did. I plan to do a screencam on how I built the tools at some point. Contact me if you have an urgent need / great project…

This doesn’t do quite what I need…

  • (1) tell me what you need, and I’ll see if I can add it.
  • (2) There are lots of other twitter widgets available, and although I haven’t seen many embedded in PowerPoint, in theory, any twitter tool you find that uses a swf file could be used in the same way as these prototypes.
  • Here’s a powerful commercial product for doing voting via twitter in a presentation: PollEverywhere — there’s a free option, and then you can pay for more features.
  • A great post by Olivia Mitchell of Speaking About Presenting gives some other interesting solutions

Is there a version for PowerPoint for Mac, or Keynote?

  • Sorry, no – as far as I can tell from searching on the web, it’s not possible to integrate interactive Adobe .swf content into presentation programs for the Mac — if somebody knows how to do this, please contact me!

How are you going to distribute/use/update these tools?

  • This is a work in progress — all feedback welcome!
13 Comments
  1. Timo, does this content only work in PowerPoint 2007?

    I see it’s a PPTX file, but the luck of the draw is I am running PowerPoint 2003 SP3. It can read a PPTX but I’m guessing the content showing as big X’s means I have to upgrade.

    Any comments on that?

  2. Varik,

    (1) There’s a PowerPoint 2003 version just under the big green download button on the main page.
    (2) The “X”s are normal — put the slides in Presentation Mode (with an internet connection), wait a few seconds, and you should see the tools appear…

    Good luck!

  3. Hi Timo,

    Absolutely love it. Nice work. Two small questions about the Feedback slide. Is it possible to a) Increase the refresh frequency and b) set up the options so I don’t need to enter the search term every time I re-open the PPTX?

    Thanks again
    Jon

  4. Jon,

    The slide refreshes every 30 seconds — any more frequently unfortunately runs the risk of triggering Twitter’s “rate limiting”. I’d love to make it user-configurable, but that will have to wait until the next version of Xcelsius (the software I used to make the tools).

    You can however set the search term in advance. Right-mouse click the tool in PowerPoint, choose “properties”, find the “Movie” line that has the tool URL and add “?keyword=whateveryouwant” to the end of the URL. Add “&locked=1″ as well if you want “lock” it so the search term box doesn’t show…

    Regards,
    Timo

  5. This is fantastic! Can the prezi tool be used with a custom feed also? I was also thinking it would be great to build some basic gameshow type of displays like typical ARSs can do. What do you think?

  6. Yes, there’s support for custom feeds, so in theory it works for any ATOM feed. In practice, different feeds can have different specifications, so it might not work completely (e.g. not showing avatars, etc.). If you’re building your own feed, and it looks like Twitter’s, then it should work perfectly…

  7. When I attempt to put in a different feed I get an error saying:

    To access external data, add a cross-domain policy file to the external data web server.

    For more information, on the Adobe website, see the article “Cross-domain Policy File Specification”.

    If the problem persists, contact the file creator or your system administrator.

  8. Unfortunately, that’s a (really annoying) Flash security “feature”. The server that is serving up the feed has to explicitly have a special “crossdomain.xml” file on the server that specifies if Flash is allowed to access from a different server.

    One way around it is to use the offline version of the tools (link somewhere in the instructions), where you’re using the swf on your PC

  9. This is a fantastic tool.
    I’m looking for a full automatic ticker bar.(I’d like to run it in unattended mode). I’ve added the search term in the movie properties of the ShockwaveFlash object. And saved the powerpoint as a powerpoint show. This all works fine.

    But … I still have to enable the twitter bar. (pushing the red button). Is there a way to automate this?

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