4 Replies Latest reply on Apr 22, 2010 7:11 AM by saskaw

    PowerPoint Slides: pros and cons of linking versus embedding

    saskaw

      My group uses powerpoint extensively to build course notes. We have an internally built source management system that enables us to check-out PPTs from a server location, create a local copy, use custom templates for editing, then check the file back into the server. Now we have created numerous Captivate projects that make use of these slides.  We have imported the slides from the local copy, and then used the linking feature in Captivate. We thought this would be an advantage because it allows us to edit the slides directly from Captivate, but in practice, it seems like it just makes things more complicated when we're making updates because our source management system wants to control these slides and move them around on the server. When we check them in, it removes the local copy. Now we are ending up with multiple versions and having to keep track of what Captivate is linked to and where the server copy is. We are encountering lots of funny behavior in Captivate and the source management system when we are editing slides, so we are thinking about moving to embedding instead.

       

      My questions:

      1. Does anyone else use a source management system for their powerpoint slides (home grown or otherwise), and if so, do you choose to link or embed the slides?
      2. What are the advantages of linking versus embedding? What will we lose if we choose to embed instead? And will that make things less or more complicated when we're trying to update our powerpoint slides?

       

      Thanks for your help!

        • 1. Re: PowerPoint Slides: pros and cons of linking versus embedding
          Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Hi there

           

          As I understand it, here's the difference.

           

          Perhaps you have a Powerful Pointing guru named Pat. Pat is responsible for ALL PPT presos in the company. Pat likes the presos to be stored on the company server where everyone sees them on drive letter Y.

           

          Pat is constantly making updates to the PPT presos. In this case it makes sense to LINK. That way Pat can make all the changes that are needed at any given time.

           

          You, the Captivate developer would then need to be aware that Pat changed the preso. Then you could just update in Captivate to pull in Pat's changes.

           

          Linking Pros:

          Pat may change presos whenever s/he desires

          Centrally accessed presos

           

          Linking Cons:

          If you choose to take the Captivate file home with you to work on it, you will not be able to update or make edits to the PPT, because it's on the LAN

           

          Embedding Pros:

          Whomever has the CP file also has the PPT file because it's copied to the innards of the CP file

           

          Embedding Cons:

          The CP file will swell by the size of the PPT file.

          No longer centrally accessed PPT.

           

          Hopefully this helps... Rick

           

           

          Helpful and Handy Links

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          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: PowerPoint Slides: pros and cons of linking versus embedding
            saskaw Level 1

            Thanks, this explanation is helpful, and it is how I would expect this feature to work.  However, working this way doesn't seem to be very practical if you follow the tips for working with PowerPoint that I found in help:

             

            PowerPoint tips: Follow these guidelines when you work with Adobe Captivate and PowerPoint:

            • Avoid parallel edits. For example, suppose you edit a linked PowerPoint file within Adobe Captivate and a copy of it outside the application simultaneously. In such cases, the results are unpredictable.
              ....
            • Avoid linking to PowerPoint files over the network on a shared network drive. The results are unpredictable if you lose connectivity while working with the shared file.

             

            Followign the guidelines in help, it appears they expect you to link to PowerPoint files that are on a local drive. That isn't very practical when you're doing shared development, like we are and the way you describe in your example.

             

            I guess I'm wondering which method people prefer to use in real life (linked or embedded). Linked doesn't seem as useful when you take the restrictions into account.

            • 3. Re: PowerPoint Slides: pros and cons of linking versus embedding
              Captiv8r Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Hello again

               

              Just some thoughts here.

               

              PowerPoint tips:  Follow these guidelines when you work with Adobe Captivate and  PowerPoint:

              Avoid parallel edits.

              For  example, suppose you edit a linked PowerPoint file within Adobe  Captivate and a copy of it outside the application simultaneously. In  such cases, the results are unpredictable.

               

              Well I'd have to say that parallel edits are just simply frowned upon. While it's certainly a tip that applies to PowerPoint, it really applies to nearly anything as you often end up with a "which version is the correct version" situation. My vote goes for making all primary content edits in PowerPoint and updating Captivate as a result. And really, that's the whole reason for linking.

               

              Avoid linking to  PowerPoint files over the network on a shared network drive.
              The results are unpredictable if you lose connectivity while working  with the shared file.

              While this point seems to have some merit, I personally find it to be an unreasonable and illogical point. Certainly Captivate has issues with working with projects over network drives and I've long advised users of the hazards of working on a project while it exists on a network drive. But I'm not so certain I'd offer the same advice for the linked PowerPoint files. Here's why.

              Briinging the PowerPoint into Captivate land seems to be an action that the Captivate developer initiates and maintains. Once the PowerPoint is in Captivate, there doesn't seem to be any live connection between Captivate and the PowerPoint presentation. Sure, Captivate knows where the preso lives. It has to in order to maintain the link. I make my claim about the "live connection" based on the following. (or absence thereof) If that PowerPoint presentation is updated outside of Captivate, I don't believe that any notification is made to the Captivate author to indicate that the file has changed and is now in need of updating in Captivate. I believe the only way that happens is if the person responsible for the PowerPoint notifies the Captivate author so the Captivate author then updates the Captivate accordingly. Certainly the Captivate author is able to recognize when the network drive isn't available.

              So sure, while a "best case" scenario involves keeping everything locally on the C drive, it seems to me to be thwarting the real reason one would want to create a Linked presentation to begin with.

              It's also helpful to keep in mind that a human wrote the tips you saw. And that human was a Technical Writer. While we hope that the Technical Writer knew Captivate inside and out, odds are they asked a developer for information on the process. And you are seeing what one person understood another to say about it. In other words, take everything you read with a slight grain of salt. I'm not saying it's all rubbish and should be discarded. Only that everything probably isn't 100% accurate or "real world".

              Cheers... Rick

              Helpful and Handy Links

              Captivate Wish Form/Bug Reporting Form

              Adobe Certified Captivate Training

              SorcerStone Blog

              Captivate eBooks

              • 4. Re: PowerPoint Slides: pros and cons of linking versus embedding
                saskaw Level 1

                Thanks Rick. These are all very good observations. I'm glad to see that you agree

                that the network drive restriction does not seem reasonable.  When I see something like that in the help, it makes me worry that they must have encountered some bugs in testing so they are trying to cover themselves. It does seem to thwart they whole idea of having the link feature. I wish the doc had a bit more information about the internals of what is happening between Captivate and Powerpoint so problems would be easier to debug.

                 

                Regarding the 'live' connection to PowerPoint, that's something I've wondered about too.  I have seen some messages within Captivate that prompt me to update my slides, but it is hard for me to figure why the message shows up and what prompts it.  It seems kind of random.  It may be because I have sometimes edited slides throught the Captivate interface, while other times doing the edit through PowerPoint. I've never done it at the same time (had the presentation open on Captivate and in PowerPoint for editing), but I have gone back and forth at times.   I think I'm going to just drop the idea of editing through Captivate.

                 

                So a reasonable approach to try might be:

                • put the powerpoint slides on a network drive.
                • do all the editing of the slides through powerpoint
                • use the update feature in Captivate to pick up changes, avoiding the edit feature in Captivate.

                 

                I'm going to try some testing to see how things behave working in this direction.  I managed to get a Captivate project so hosed up the other day it wouldn't run when published, but I think it was after editing through Captivate instead of PowerPoint.