May 8, 2007

Extending OpenOffice.org: Creating self-running presentations with IndeView

Author: Dmitri Popov

Although OpenOffice.org doesn't allow you to create self-running Impress presentations, there is a tool that can help you with that. Using IndeView, you can convert your Impress presentations into a self-contained package that can run off a CD or DVD on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

IndeView 0.6.7 includes a cross-platform viewer application and an OpenOffice.org Basic macro. There is also a script that can convert KOffice presentations, in case you need it. The macro converts Impress presentations into a set of PNG graphics files and accompanying configuration files. It also creates a directory that contains all the components necessary for running the presentation. The macro is provided as a .bas file, which means that you have to import and configure it manually; a detailed description of how to do this is available on IndeView's Web site. However, the very same macro is available as an OpenOffice.org extension called IndeViewCreator, which is easier to install and use.

Before you start using IndeView, you have to do some preparatory work. First, download the latest IndeView tarball and unpack it, and download the IndeViewCreator extension and install it in OpenOffice.org using the Extension Manager (Tools -> Extension Manager). Create an empty directory where the final presentation will be stored, and you are ready to go.

Open the Impress presentation you want to convert, and choose IndeView -> IndeView Creator. You will then be prompted to enter the path to the ROOT_DATA directory. This is the directory inside the IndeView package; if you have unpacked IndeView in your home directory on Linux, the path should look something like this:

/home/username/indeview/ROOT_DATA

and on Windows like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\Username\My Documents\indeview\ROOT_DATA

You will then be prompted to select the destination directory. Once the macro has done its job (which can take a while depending on the size and complexity of your presentation) the target directory should contain all the generated files. You can then burn the files to a CD or DVD. To run the created presentation on Windows, simply insert the disc. On Linux, run the /BIN/LINUX/indeview viewer from the CD's directory. Mac users can launch the viewer by double-clicking on it.

You can control the running presentation by using either the mouse or the keyboard, and you can invoke a handy overview of the keyboard and mouse shortcuts by pressing F1.

Tip: The IndeView Creator saves the presentation slides in the following resolutions: 640x480, 704x576, 800x600, 1024x768, 1152x864, 1280x1024, and 1600x1200. If your screen has another resolution, you can zoom in and out using the [+] and [-] keys to make the presentation look better.

IndeView is a useful tool for running presentations without OpenOffice.org, but the current version doesn't support transition effects, sound, and other settings. These features are planned for version 0.7.

Dmitri Popov is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Russian, British, US, German, and Danish computer magazines.

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