New and improved slide builders
With the April 2008 Edition, all of the slide show builders have been rebuilt from scratch. The slide show builders were originally introduced with version 5.0 back in 2001 and they've changed little since then. It seemed that an overhaul was in order.
The Photo Show Builder, now called the Photo Slides Builder, has been reorganized so that the first step you are presented with is the one to select images. Previously, the first steps involved selecting a background, margin, and title page before getting to the image selection step. Many users simply need to select their images and press Finish, so this step was moved to the beginning of the process. There are a few other minor differences but this builder is very similar to the previous version.
The Announcements Builder and Outline Builder, on the other hand, have been removed and are replaced by a single Text Slides Builder. The Text Slides Builder provides a way to quickly build a series of text-based slides. Unlike the previous Outline Builder, the Text Slides Builder provides a better mechanism for building a series of text-based slides. If your slide shows are primarily text-based and fit the typical mold of such slides, then this builder could be useful to you. You should find it faster to build a slide show using this builder than by attempting to build the same slides within Slide Show Builder itself.
Another improvement that the Text Slides Builder has over the previous Outline Builder is that it better handles bulleted and numbered lists pasted from Microsoft Word. Previously, when you pasted such text into the Outline Builder, the bullets and outline numbers were pasted into the edit control as raw text, but the builder did not recognize them as bulleted text. Now when rich text is pasted into the builder's edit control, it first analyzes the content, and if it detects that there is list text in the clipboard. It will convert that text to a bulleted format that is understood by the edit control. It doesn't work perfectly, but it is much improved over the previous version. This same enhancement has also been implemented in the edit control within Slide Show Builder itself.
Another improvement is that when selecting an animation to use for bulleted text, a little preview window is now provided so you can see how an animation will likely look when applied to the bullet items.
The Announcements Builder was removed because essentially all of its functionality was duplicated by the new Text Slides Builder. I have some ideas for a more useful announcement slides builder that may come into being at a later time, but until then, if you used the old Announcements Builder, you should find that the new Text Slides Builder will work just as well.
Overall, the builders have added some features, but in some areas, features were removed. Text appearance options have been reduced as well as transition and animation options. You can still get to the more advanced features within the Slide Show Builder, but the intent of these builders is to provide a more streamlined way to build a slide show. The builders now also have a tabbed interface which lets you skip to a specific step if you wish.
In the next post, I will discuss the new Scripture Slides Builder.