Companies are addicted to PowerPoint. It's hard to imagine how anyone ever sold an idea or proposal prior to digital presentations. This has resulted in mountains of bloated slideware files clogging our email and file servers. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 now includes a slide library feature that goes a long way toward improving the way we work with PowerPoint presentations.
The out-out-of-the-box slide library leverages all of the standard content management features inherent in MOSS, including as check-in/check-out, versioning, alerts, and workflow. The difference between a slide library and a standard document library is that when you upload a presentation from PowerPoint or MOSS to a slide library each slide becomes a unique SharePoint item, which is managed independently.
The real magic begins when you create a new presentation from the slides stored in the library. First, you select the slides to include. You have the option of creating a brand new presentation or importing the managed slides into an existing PowerPoint presentation, providing it is already open. You also have a choice whether or not to keep the formatting. Finally, you can choose to be notified if the managed slide in the library ever changes.
Think about it. As you open a presentation, it automatically checks the authoritative source of record to see whether any managed slides have been updated. That's powerful! If there have been updates, you can decide whether to replace the old slide or simply append a copy of the updated slide. Obviously you can ignore the update all together, if you wish.
So here's an example: We maintain an overarching Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) Strategy presentation. In addition, we have several sub-strategies for specific services within UCC. There are some redundant slides and some unique slides across each of these presentations. By using the slide library we can manage a single copy of each unique slide. Then, when we open a presentation it checks to see whether each slide is current with the version in the slide library. Before, if we needed to update one of the redundant slides, we would need to remember to replace the old version in each of the presentations. That takes time and is prone to human error. The MOSS slide library results in a much more efficient means of managing PowerPoint slides.
Although the advantages of using the MOSS slide library are clear, there are some things to keep in mind:
- The MOSS site type must be a 'team site' or 'document workspace.' Other site types may not support slide libraries. Slide libraries cannot easily be added later unless you create a new sub-site based on the 'team site' or 'document workspace' site type.
- All slides should be uploaded to the root of the slide library. It too difficult to create a new slide show from slides scattered across different folders in the library, since you lose your selections when navigating between folders.
- Whenever you create a new, unique slide it should be uploaded to the slide library so that it will be managed.
- All slide edits should be done on the managed copy stored in the library. Do not edit slides directly in the presentation. This will ensure that every presentation using that slide will be kept up to date.
The MOSS slide library is valuable to any team that manages a large number of dynamic presentations. I hope that Microsoft will continue to develop and enhance the slide library. Here are some most wanted improvements:
- Larger thumbnail graphics - The tiny thumbnails in the main slide library view are so small it is impossible to read the content. Unless you are very familiar with the content, you will need to click on the slide to see a larger image or perhaps even open the slide in PowerPoint.
- More safeguards - There are not any built-in safeguards to ensure that a presentation made from slides in the library will stay in synch. Someone could easily break the link with a slide in the library and not know it, resulting in the Presentation becoming stale.
- Support for templates - A document template based upon slides in the library does not maintain the connection between the slides in the template and the slide library.
- Deletion support - If you delete a slide in the library, you should be prompted to have it removed when you open presentations containing that slide. This would make it much easier to retire an obsolete slide across all presentations that contain it.
Have any of you used the new MOSS slide library? How does it work for you? What improvements would you like to see?