Revolution to author and present multimedia content?

Michael J. Lew michaell at
Mon Aug 12 00:35:01 EDT 2002

I'm thrilled to hear that someone would like to replace PowerPoint 
with a Revolution-based application!

I have been lecturing using PowerPoint in combination with Revolution 
and Hypercard for many years, with Revolution and Hypercard-based 
animations and simulations to spice up the material and make some 
concepts more accessible. Several of my computer-aided learning 
modules (CALs) that are in use in courses here have been made with 
Revolution and it is helpful to the students to see snippets of those 
modules used in a lecture prior to the students exploring the CALs 

After some frustrations resulting from upgrading PowerPoint to the 
most current version, I have very recently decided that it would be 
worthwhile making a Revolution application to replace PowerPoint for 
my own use (my preliminary stack is called 'Get to the point!). If 
Joao, and maybe others, is thinking along the same lines then maybe 
we could make it into a collaborative project. I have so made a 
useable (but not bug-free) automated 'dot-point' field template. and 
have fiddled with making cards grow to fill the screen with text 
being scaled appropriately. No real difficulties in those.

I have mentioned my aspirations to some colleagues at my university 
and their response is generally unencouraging. They feel that 
PowerPoint is a huge application that has been developed my large 
numbers of programmers for many years: true enough, but in that 
context it is interesting to contemplate the quality of their product 

I believe that a project to make a PowerPoint replacement could be 
surprisingly manageable. First, PowerPoint is mostly bloat and 
flashy, but useless features. Many users regularly choose to use 
outside applications for things that PowerPoint could do (e.g. 
outlining and drawing) so there is no need to replicate those 
'features'. Secondly, many of the features that would be needed are 
already built into Revolution. For example, the geometry manager is 
useful switching from edit mode to full-screen mode and the backdrop 
property can instantly deal with any mis-match between stack and 
screen proportions. Groups are a natural way to deal with the variety 
of slide templates. Slide transitions are built in. Image importing 
needs only a convenient way to get images from the clipboard. 
Animations are readily constructed using the animations manager. 
Basically, the similarity of the card and slide metaphors is such 
that using Revolution to make slideshows is a natural.

Importantly, in order to be useful to those like me who already code 
in Revolution, the project needs only to supply some templates and 
standard slide components and behaviours; the rest can be scripted 
directly in Revolution. Thus such a project can be useful even at a 
minimal stage of development. Extra capabilities can always be added 
by anyone who has Revolution because the project would be naturally 

In my imagination we will end up with a standalone application that 
makes and displays slideshows just like PowerPoint, and a version 
that runs within Revolution that will make open-ended multimedia 
presentations convenient for Revolutions scriptors.

Anyone keen to help?

Michael J. Lew

Senior Lecturer
Department of Pharmacology
The University of Melbourne
Parkville 3010

Phone +613 8344 8304

New email address: michaell at

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