Presentation programs, such as MS PowerPoint, are designed for easy creation of visual content, but especially to render it flexibly as printable slides or full screen presentations. Currently very few programs are designed to operate successfully in all current presentation settings. Instead of focusing on content the attention is usually attracted by a menu, toolbars and many other graphical user interface details.
This exploratory article covers a couple of issues arising in designing software usable in presentations and particularly in videoconferences. The test case is presentation of text content, which is achieved through a slightly enhanced application of the MS Rich Edit Control in the Microsoft Foundation Class framework.
The Text Presenter editor emulates in many ways functionality offered by the Windows WordPad utility. A ruler bar for user-friendly tabulator and indentation editing is the most important aspect missing from this utility. Instead, the application has been tuned to suit presentation usage.
The main functionality needed by presentation software is an easy to use mechanism for toggling between full screen and normal mode. In full screen mode only the client area of the application should be visible to the spectators. Although caption and menu bars are impossible to remove, WordPad can be tuned into a usable state by manually removing redundant toolbars. The wrapping mode should also be tuned into the so called Wrap to Window mode.
Text Presenter does all this. It also moves the caption and menu bars outside the desktop area. Unfortunately there are no conventions for accelerator keys dedicated to full screen viewing. This utility mimics Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer, where F11 toggles between full screen and normal window. The Escape key also restores the normal window.
The default font, as well as left and right borders are adjusted to presentation needs. Pedagogical usability is improved by a magnified arrow cursor, which is activated by mouse movements and hidden away after a period of idleness. In addition, the Text Presenter also implements automatic formatting and activation of web links. Links are signalled by another magnified cursor in the form of a finger pointing hand and double clicking starts a web browsing session.
Support for multiple monitors have been available for some year. However, very few programs offer support for the feature. Some programs offend intuition, by activating full screen in another window than the one were this functionality was triggered.
Text Presenter allows user definable selection of the full screen display. In a system with a dual or triple head video controller one display can be dedicated to control and the other one for presenting the content through a data projector or as a videoconference display. In this way, control of the content can be hidden from the actual display.
The application is being developed and tested on Windows XP SP1 and SP2 workstations.
— Ph. Donner