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Electric Rain Convexion converts PowerPoint files to Silverlight and WPF with ease

Author: Nick Petterssen, Director of Product Design, Electric Rain

About the Author: Nick Petterssen is the Director of Product Design at Electric Rain. He has contributed several articles to the Expression Community Newsletter.

If you have ever had the need to share PowerPoint content over the web, or have clients with the same need, there is a new conversion technology available that may be of interest to you. Convexion is the first-ever PowerPoint 2007 Add-in to export to Silverlight and WPF formats while retaining the animation, transition, and design fidelity found in the original PowerPoint. This new add-in from Electric Rain, makers of the 3D to XAML application ZAM 3D, has just been released as a business tool, and as a designer/developer solution.

Electric Rain Convexion lives within the PowerPoint interface as an add-in, which means that after installation you will find it as a main menu item. Upon selection, the Convexion tools will expose themselves in the PowerPoint Ribbon.

Aside from the Help and About buttons, the main Convexion interface can be found by clicking the Converter Settings button which will expose a dialog with all of the related adjustments that you can set prior to conversion:

There are two versions of Convexion available, with the only difference being the export formats that the add-in can convert to. Convexion Standard edition is designed for business users looking to convert their PowerPoint presentations into Silverlight or WPF content, and that version can generate either a Silverlight .XAP and HTML file, or a .EXE file.

Convexion Pro edition is designed for the designers and developers who have clients, or work within companies that need that same conversion process to happen, but with some post-conversion customization as well. Convexion Pro exports to the same formats as the Standard edition, but also has the ability to generate .SLN projects that will open in Expression Blend, either as Silverlight or as WPF solutions.

With all export options there are a wide variety of conversion settings, such as Image Resolution, Player Size, Player Style etc. that you can choose from. Once these setting have been chosen the conversion happens with a simple click of the Convert Presentation button. At that point you will be asked to name the exported file and then you can watch Convexion do its thing, slide by slide.

During conversion, Convexion will take all of the text and images contained within the slides and convert them to images, along with any shapes, charts and graphs. Embedded videos in the WMV format will be retained as WMVs. Other video formats such as MOV and AVI are not supported within version 1.0 of Convexion. Sound files in the MP3 and WMA format will also be retained and will play within the converted Silverlight or EXE file.

Convexion’s best feature lies in its ability to retain layout and animation fidelity within the converted presentation. This means that any animation designed to be delivered over a series of stop points will continue to be delivered as such, and most of the basic animation effects will be replicated identically within the final conversion.

Once the presentation is converted it will be played back within an interface called the Convexion Player, which provides the viewer a host of controls for them to interact with during the presentation.

These controls include playback controls, thumbnail views, slide titles and notes. These tools can be turned on and off by the viewer depending on their needs, and there is a fullscreen option as well.

For those users who need some additional control over their converted content, Convexion Pro edition also offers an export format for both Silverlight and WPF that generates a full solution that can be opened and edited within Expression Blend or Visual Studio.

With these solution files, a designer or developer would be able to perform a variety of customizations on the converted presentation, after which they could build that solution into a WPF or Silverlight presentation, just as if it would have come out of Convexion itself. This opens up opportunities for users to be able to style the pre-designed skins to match company branding, or inserting additional Blend content to be integrated into the original presentation content.

For more information on Convexion you can go to the Electric Rain website to get more details on its capabilities and uses. To view some sample conversions you can go to http://www.erain.com/Products/Convexion/Examples/. This will give you a feel for the quality of conversion with PowerPoint content as well as see the broad range of animations that are supported by Convexion.

With the popularity of Silverlight on the rise and the need to get content from PowerPoint into a web-viewable format, Convexion has arrived to fulfill a need, either for content specialists distributing presentations or for designers and developers with clients needing custom branded presentation deployment across the Web or via desktop.