After having worked with OpenOffice.org's Writer and Calc, you should feel right at home when it comes to using Impress. Working with menus, inserting text, spell-checking, and customizing your environment all work in exactly the same way. The editing screen itself is probably more like Calc than like Writer in some ways. The Impress work area will have tabbed pages, so you can easily jump from one part of the presentation to another. Each page is referred to as a slide. Given the history of business presentations specifically, the making of these 35mm slides it's probably no wonder that we still use the same terms when creating presentations with software like Impress.
To start Impress, click on your application starter (the big K), select OpenOffice.org (or Office), and click on OpenOffice.org Impress in the submenu. You can also start a new presentation from any other OpenOffice.org application, such as Writer or Calc. Just click File on the menu bar, select New, and choose Presentation from the submenu.
When you start up Impress for the first time, the Presentation Wizard will appear, where you will be presented with a number of choices. You can start with an empty presentation (Figure 15-1), work from a template, or open an existing presentation. Incidentally, some earlier versions of OpenOffice.org started with a blank page. You have the opportunity to select this behavior by clicking the checkbox labeled Do not show this wizard again.
Figure 15-1. Starting a new presentation with the Presentation Wizard.
The Presentation Wizard allows you to select from existing presentations as well as templates. For the moment, I'm going to stick with the very basics. Leave Empty Presentation selected, and click Next. Essentially, this starts us with off with a blank slide. Step 2 (Figure 15-2) gives us the opportunity to select a slide design. You may find a few options for slide design here (these would be your templates). Choose <Original>. Before you click Next, pause and look at the options for output medium. By default, Impress creates presentations designed for the screen (or a projector connected to your PC).
Figure 15-2. Impress defaults to creating presentations designed for the screen.
Step 3 (Figure 15-3) lets you define the default means for slide transition. You've all seen these presentations; as someone shows a presentation, slides dissolve to show the next one, or fly in from the left, or drop like a trap door closing. At this stage of the game, pick one of these effects from the drop-down box labeled Effect, and then choose the Speed of that transition. On the right-hand side is a preview window that will show you what the effect looks like when you select it.
Figure 15-3. Selecting slide transition effects.
Directly below the slide transition selection, you will select the presentation type. Your choices are Default and Automatic. By default, transition from slide to slide is accomplished by pressing a key, whether it be <Enter> or the spacebar (you can define this). Presentations can also run without any intervention from the person giving the presentation. By selecting Automatic, you can define the amount of time between slides or even between presentations. Accept the default setting here, and click Create to start building your presentation.
We now have everything we need to start working on our presentation. Impress opens to a blank page that is divided into three main panes, or frames (Figure 15-4). Over on the left, small previews of all your slides are displayed (just a single blank slide at this moment). As you work, you can quickly move to any slide you wish by scrolling down the lists and clicking on the slide. Below each preview is the slide's title. By default, the title is Slide, followed by the slide's number, in sequence. If you don't like this naming convention, you can easily override it by right-clicking on the title and selecting Rename slide.
Figure 15-4. Selecting your slide layout.
Over to the right, another pane is visible, with a number of potential slide layouts having small preview images. This is the Tasks pane, and it is further divided into four sections: Master Pages, Layouts, Custom Animation, and Slide Transition. By default, the Layouts section is open. From here, you can decide on the appearance of the slide, the number of columns, title locations, and so on. If you pause over one of the images with your mouse cursor, a tooltip will appear telling you a little about the layout format.
Finally, there's a rather large central pane with five tabs, labeled Normal, Outline, Notes, Handout, and Slide Sorter. The Normal view is where you do most of your work, creating and editing slides. The Outline view is a kind of bird's-eye overview of the whole presentation. You can reorder slides, change titles, and so on. The Notes view does pretty much what you expect it provides an easy way to add notes to the slides. The Handout tab is, I think, very handy. Sometimes when you are doing a presentation, you are expected to provide printouts of the slides for those in attendance. With Handout, you can define how those printouts look and how many slides will fit on a single page. Finally, we have the Slide Sorter, which is just a larger version of the Slides preview pane on the left. With a larger area, sorting slides is made just that much easier. For now, we will be working with the Normal view.
Finally, you'll notice that the various toolbars and menus have some resemblance to those of both Writer and Calc (discussed in the preceding two chapters). The menu bar sits just below the title bar, and the Standard bar is directly below that. You'll notice that the formatting bar has a number of different options unique to working in the Impress environment. Along the bottom is the Drawing bar, which provides quick access to objects, drawing functions, 3D effects, and so on.
So let's jump right in and create a presentation. From the Tasks pane, select the Layout section, if it isn't already open. Choose the Title, Clipart, Text layout by clicking on it, and it will instantly appear in the main work area in the center (Figure 15-5).
Figure 15-5. Having chosen a slide design, we are now ready to start editing that slide in the central work area.
At any point, you can start the slide show by clicking Slide Show on the menu bar and selecting Slide Show. Pressing <F5> has the same effect. There won't be much to see at this point, but you can do this from time to time to see how your presentation is coming along.
To start editing your slide, click (or double-click for images) the section you want to change. Make your changes by typing into that area. For the title, you might enter Introducing Linux! When you are happy with your changes, just click outside of the frame area. Over on the right, in the frame that says Click to add an outline, insert these bulleted points:
As you might have noticed, this outline serves as talking points that mirror some of the topics I covered in the first chapter of this book. Now, over on the left-hand side, double-click on the frame (as instructed on the default slide) and insert a graphic. The Insert Picture dialog will appear (Figure 15-6), allowing you to navigate your folders and look for the perfect image.
Figure 15-6. Inserting a picture into the presentation.
You can use any image you like here. For my image, I used Konqueror to surf over to Larry Ewing's Web site (www.isc.tamu.edu/~lewing/linux), where I picked up my Tux graphic from the source. (I'll tell you more about Tux at the end of this chapter.) You may choose another image if you prefer. When you have your image selected, click Open, and it will replace the default text in the left-hand frame.
That's it. Your first slide is done. You might want to pause here and save your work before you move on. (Masterpieces must be protected.) Click File on the menu bar, select Save As, and then enter a filename for your presentation. I used Introducing Linux as my title. Now click Save, and we'll continue building this presentation.
At the right-hand end of the Standard bar is a button labeled Slide. Clicking this button will insert a new slide after whatever slide you happen to be working on. You can also click Insert on the menu bar and select Slide. Once again, you will be presented with a blank slide, ready for your creative vision (as in Figure 15-4). Over in the left-hand frame, a new blank slide appears below the preview of the completed first slide.
For this second slide, let's select a new slide design. Go back to the Layouts section of your Tasks frame and select the slide design called Title, Text (Figure 15-7).
Figure 15-7. With the addition of a second slide, our presentation is starting to take shape.
Because we had five points (after our introductory slide), let's do a quick add of the next four slides by just clicking the Slide button on the Standard bar. You should now have preview images labeled Slide 1 through Slide 6.
Now click on the preview image for Slide 2, and then click the top frame, where it says Click to add title. Enter the first bullet point from Slide 1. Then repeat the process for the next four slides, inserting the appropriate bullet point as the title.
As to what to enter in the text area of each slide, that I will leave either to your imagination or to your memory of Chapter 1. When you have finished entering all the information you want, save your work. I'm going to show you how to dress up those plain white slides.
Right-click on your slide (not on the text), and select Slide from the pop-up menu. Now click on Page Setup (Figure 15-8).
Figure 15-8. Modifying the page (slide) setup in preparation for color.
What you will see is a two-tabbed window (one tab says Page and the other says Background) (Figure 15-9). Click on the Background tab. Notice the five radio buttons. Each provides an option for background selection, whether it be plain white, colors, gradients, hatching, or bitmaps. Click on each to see the choices it offers.
Figure 15-9. Selecting background decorations from the Impress page setup.
For example, you might choose the Linear blue/white gradient (a very business-looking background) or perhaps the Water bitmap. The choice is yours. When you click OK, you'll be asked whether you want this background setting to be for all slides. For now, click Yes.
All right. You've done a lot of work, so save your work. Click File on the menu bar and select Save (or Save As) from the menu. If you choose Save As, you will have the opportunity to select the presentation format, whether native OpenOffice.org OpenDocument or Microsoft PowerPoint format.
Now it's time to see the fruits of your labor. Click Slide Show on the menu bar and select Slide show. You can also use the <F5> keyboard shortcut. The slides will transition with a touch of the spacebar or a mouse click. You can exit the presentation at any time by pressing the <Esc> key.
Printing Your Presentation
As with the other OpenOffice.org applications, click File on the menu bar and select Print you can also click the small printer icon on the Standard bar. The standard OpenOffice.org print dialog will appear, from which you can select your printer of choice.