Apple Keynote or OpenOffice Impress for making Powerpoints?
April 3, 2014 5:57 AM   Subscribe

I am in charge of developing a series of presentation slides for a facilitated train-the-trainer session, and the trainers (both levels) need to have the ability to use the slides afterwards. While I have access to Apple Keynote or OpenOffice Impress to make these slides, I can't assume that the trainers will have anything other than Microsoft Powerpoint. Which product should I use, and what "gotchas" do I need to watch out for in terms of feature incompatibility?

(The simplest answer is "just buy Powerpoint", but to take that option I need to make the business case that what I need to do can't be done in either of the other products.)

The features my presentation would use are basic: text, pictures, embedded audio/video clips, and text appearance/disappearance when the presenter clicks the mouse, and slide notes.
posted by philosophygeek to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Either work just fine so long as you keep the transitions and animations to a minimum. You can save as PPT (or export to PPT) in either.
posted by xingcat at 6:09 AM on April 3, 2014

I tested exporting a Keynote 6.2 presentation with embedded image, MP3 and animations to PowerPoint 2011 for Mac, and it worked.

It may depend on exactly what you want to do. If you have access to both Keynote and Impress, make a test presentation file in both, using the media and animations your presentation needs, and export them to PowerPoint for testing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:12 AM on April 3, 2014

I don't call embedded audio/video basic with PPT. Formats and how you link that in can be a big problem. You will want to test this as much as you can in advance. Codec problems are common going across OSes.
posted by bonehead at 6:12 AM on April 3, 2014

I've successfully run several Keynote presentations in Powerpoint. You may lose some of the fancier effects, but the layout and general visuals shouldn't be affected. Watch out for fonts not being available on the target computer.
posted by Magnakai at 6:12 AM on April 3, 2014

An alternative to PowerPoint is to use Keynote to make the presentation on your end, and then have presenters use Keynote via iCloud to do presentations via their web browser (assuming your presenters can have a modern web browser).

That should get around most of the typeface and codec issues, I'd expect, but you'd want to test the performance of any media-heavy presentations.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:17 AM on April 3, 2014

When you mean "use the slides", do you mean edit them or just be able to take a copy with them?

I've used Google Docs Presentation and dumped the slides to a PDF when finished. The slides can also be shared if your users sign up for gDocs.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:17 AM on April 3, 2014

Oops, on re-read the embedded video/audio is a deal breaker for gDocs. Sorry.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:17 AM on April 3, 2014

The business case is that embedded audio/video is a nightmare even with the real PowerPoint, and that the time of everyone involved is far more. Think of the salaries lost for an entire classroom of people who can't watch that Very Important Video because you're using some obscure Apple codec for the video that doesn't work with PowerPoint.
posted by Yowser at 8:29 AM on April 3, 2014

I've used LibreOffice's Impress quite successfully with several corporate clients who use PowerPoint.

Gotcha's are usually a ton of transitions, which I can thankfully persuade them to get rid of to simplify the presentation, not to mention a reduction in the number of slides, again to make it a tool rather than a crutch.

But all the presentations I've developed from scratch or edited have worked perfectly in PowerPoint.

That said, no video was used. I would troubleshoot that first and foremost to see if it works and if not, the best manner to get it working.
posted by juiceCake at 9:09 AM on April 3, 2014

I do a lot of presenting at conferences, and the best way I've found is to use Google Drive Presentations. You can upload slides from PPT and Keynote, but I prefer just building it there because you can include videos, photos and other media directly. I give that link out to people so they can view the slides later and that works really really well. They can save the presentation to their drive as well so if I make changes after the conference (I generally will link to the video of the presentation at the end of the slideshow after it's processed).
posted by guster4lovers at 9:36 AM on April 3, 2014

Custom codecs from camera manufacturers are a huge problem in my experience. Someone will buy a camera, install the software, then the movies will just magically work for them on their computer. At the workshop or seminar, on a stock training computer, no go.
posted by bonehead at 9:40 AM on April 3, 2014

Another decent option is to target PDF instead. Acrobat is much better at handling stray fonts and embedded media than PowerPoint is.
posted by bonehead at 9:42 AM on April 3, 2014

I've dealt with this for assignments and instructor presentations in online classes, and I've got to say - I've never seen a presentation created in PowerPoint work correctly in OpenOffice, or vice versa. This applies even for simple things like font and textbox and image placement. Video and text appearance/disappearance will be a very long shot. My recommendation would be to create your presentation and then turn it into a PDF which contains links to videos that can be played online. I know this isn't ideal for what you described, but trying to go back and forth between OpenOffice, Keynote, and PowerPoint has always been a total nightmare for me and I avoid it whenever possible.
posted by augustimagination at 10:36 AM on April 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

The other issue is that if you create it in either of the products you mentioned and have no way to test it in PowerPoint, you really have no idea what they'll see on the other end. Are the trainers prepared to fix your slides or have them be not quite right?

To lower the cost, you could buy Office 365 for a month ($10) to make the presentations, if they're all done at once. Of course, once your subscription expires, editing would be a problem.

Edit - targeting PDF, as mentioned above, is also not a bad idea.
posted by cnc at 12:18 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

PDFs would definitely get around font issues.

One advantage of iCloud and Google Docs (web-based) approaches is that it is a snap to distribute updated presentations. A static web link can point to the current version of the presentation, or you send out a new link.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on April 3, 2014

Putting aside Keynote-to-PowerPoint conversions, compatibility of PowerPoint between platforms is an issue. In addition to codecs, another gotcha I have encountered between versions of PowerPoint for Mac and Windows is that use of symbols (Greek and mathematical symbols, for instance) do not translate correctly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on April 3, 2014

Agreed that font issues can be a big problem. It doesn't just look bad - information can go missing because it's run off the side or end of the slide.

I've found no certain way round it other than testing on the target OS and software, unfortunately.
posted by firesine at 3:50 PM on April 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've gotten burned on this every time. I love using Keynote to create slides and present. But, when forced to then use them on some untested Windows machine, at least one slides has always had a problem with fonts and how they are spaced and fit in things like tables.
posted by Gotanda at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2014

I'd agree that PDF presentations may be the safest route. It's really down to finding what works best across the board. As mentioned, I've had no issues moving from Impress to PP and back again but clearly others have. I to tend to use common fonts and very little if any "animated" effects.

All that said, when I was an instructor (Photoshop, HTML/CSS, and Flash back in the day) I never bothered to use any of the presentations for the courses.
posted by juiceCake at 10:13 PM on April 3, 2014

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