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Cloud Computing : Keynote

Cloud Computing : Keynote

So you’re a poor student and claim you can’t afford to buy iWork but still need to produce that all important presentation for yesterday, well if you have an internet connection you can do just that via the brilliant 280 Slide.

Anyone who has played with 280 Slides for even a few hours will realise it marks a milestone in the concept of web applications. There is no doubt the buzz for 2009 is cloud computing, the idea of a applications and documents being held securely on the internet accessible from any computer is dramatically changing not only how we work but also how we buy software.

Services such as Google Apps have allowed us to create documents and share them online and now 280 Slides takes it to the next level bringing a free, fully featured PowerPoint / Keynote web app to the cloud.

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Many people we talk to are nervous about making the leap from desktop application to their web equivalent. Generally their concerns are over security but there is also an impression that webapps are very basic stripped down versions of the full application. 280 Slides shatters this perception.

The application is surprisingly feature rich and offers multiple text layers (and the ability to move layers back and forward), the ability to add images, video and shapes. In addition, multiple ‘undos’ and auto saving have also been thrown in, the system can even handle adjusting item opacity, that is how good it is!

As well as being able to upload your own media 280 slides will allow you to add media from popular sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube.

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Despite a real Apple feel and look, to date 280 Slides is only able to export to PowerPoint (as well as PDF). You can also upload your existing PowerPoint presentation so you’ll never need to start from scratch. This is ideal if you want to present your legacy presentations to a wider audience.

If you have all your presentations in Apple’s Keynote format, don’t panic, remember you can easily export them to PowerPoint 2007 format from within the Keynote application. (Export in Keynote 08 and the Share menu in Keynote 09).

Obviously there are tools and capabilities that both Keynote and PowerPoint offer that 280 Slides is unable to support but if I was to list the 5 essential tools I need in making presentations (with the exception of transitions) they are all certainly there and more in this single web application.

As well as being able to export to PowerPoint you can also email your creation (again as a PowerPoint), embed your presentation on a website or for the really daring mobile warrior you can even present your show live from any web browser. Presentations can also be exported to the popular SlideShare service.

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From an education point of view 280 Slides offers a brilliant and remarkably easy to use solution for creating presentations. It was remarkable how fast the system actually is, I really felt I was working on a desktop application throughout my demo. How it would be great to test how reliable it would work if a class of 30 computers were all using it through a single internet connection though. I am still slightly nervous in relying in my work being there when I need it when using online services but I am sure confidence in web apps will grow the more they are used.

280 Slides is an exciting development both as a self contained online PowerPoint maker but also as a glimpse of how mobile / Cloud computing is set to evolve in the next few years.

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