So recently I tried the new Google Presentations, their version of Office’s Powerpoint and I must say, I think it is pretty slick for being an online application. We will talk a bit about the new presentations application, what it might mean to programmers and what it means to the rest of the computing industry… in this entry of the Programming Underground!
People, including experts, had been saying that out of all the office products they felt that Powerpoint would be the real challenge to get online and into an office application since it deals a lot in graphics, slides, drag and drop and editing text upon clicking on it.
Well, they managed to do a pretty good job for being version 1.0 and being online. It certainly can’t do everything that Powerpoint can by far, but it is moving in the right direction. It doesn’t have the ability to draw on slides and such, but it has image insertion, themes, and get this… online multi-person viewing slide shows. A person can create, collaboratively, on a presentation and also present that to multiple people over the Internet. Powerpoint even has trouble doing that!
Now what could this mean for the web programmers of the world? Well, besides possibly opening up another API in the future (which Google appears to do with all their products) it would mean that presentation manipulation could be integrated with other API products like maps, search, maybe Google earth? Who knows. Can you imagine using Google Earth to locate your home town, get driving directions from your current location to that destination on maps, with a presentation listing points of interest along the way? Maybe you could give a presentation while on the road through your Google supplied wi-fi in San Fran. Just make sure you are not the one driving!
I am eager to see what kind of API they will have for this project and what will be done with it. We all know that being through Google Docs, it will eventually become searchable content that will make its way to the search listings, but a few things I think should be in the API include….
1. XML version of a given slide (so we can parse a slide if need be)
2. Image insertion from a remote location (specify the slide, the x and y and a URL to then import the image into the slide location… scaling optional of course)
3. Basic navigation through slides much like a recordset
4. General properties of a presentation or a slide
5. Range selection of slide (select slide 4 – 9 for instance)
6. Modify objects on a slide through given properties (change text, resize images, move elements around)
These are just a few of the ideas that I could think of that might make the presentations project a bit more interactive. This could allow programmers in .NET, Java, or a server-side language like PHP/ASP to manipulate presentation slides… possibly even while the presentation is in slide show mode. As script/program that manipulates the documents dynamically… even voice recognition through a .NET application to control your presentation application.
Lastly, we all know what this means for the industry. Another notch in the belt of Google as it marches on to take a piece of the Office suite market. Google hasn’t officially announced plans to spread into this market, but it is pretty obvious that is their intention. Who is Google kidding really? Another market where Microsoft is going to have to get up and actually be challenged by a competitor. We already know how much of a thorn Google is to Microsoft’s side these days… with the whole search market and everything.
Personally, I don’t care as long as Google remains free, allows me to develop things for free, shares information with me, protects any information identifying me, and asks that I spark innovation. As long as they keep with that ideology, I am even willing to take the occasional targeted advertisement.