This review is of the FREE version during the beta release!
I wanted to love you. All my friends rave about you and tease me for using PowerPoint. “Don’t you want to own your data!” they harangue me. And it’s true, I do! So the idea of having my slides on my server, embedable into posts? Hey that sounds great!
The cake, is, alas, a pie.
It’s not really a ‘lie’, but there are points that I just don’t love like they do. This is not to say I don’t like it, in fact I am happily using it, and I’m going to keep using it, and for a lot of people, this will be perfect to make slides. It’s not (quite) perfect for me, but that’s because of my current usage. I can see the future of slides and WordPress, and it really is going to be SEO Slides for many (if not all) of us.
Before I get deep into this, you have to register to import PDFs. This is perfectly fair and understandable. They’re converting a PDF into images on their server and importing. Okay, I’m jiggy with that. I could conceivably make the images myself, but this is fine. The problem, or rather the part I don’t like, is that they really all just images. And they’re named things like
c6ddd0b82e5a45c70fb2718869cad3e1-7. So once I import, I have to go back and change all the titles and (if I want) copy in my notes.
So why not just write it in SEO Slides? Because of Presenter View.
Say what you want about PowerPoint, but the fact that I get a presenter view, filled with my notes, is actually very important to me. I make notes, as you may have noticed reading my post from WordCamp Portland, 2013. Sometimes they’re exactly what I’m going to say, sometimes they’re slightly different bullet points than my slide has. Sometimes I have NO bullet points on the slide, so they’re all in the text. I really try to use that aspect of Power Point. I don’t really script my talks to 100% detail, but I treat those notes as flashcards to keep me on topic and on pace. They even will have time notations.
As a presenter, keeping to my time limit and topic is important to me. Since I do give similar talks a lot (example: I used ‘A Tale of Two Servers’ to talk about Managed WP hosting in Boston, but I also have a Degrassi themed one called ‘Whatever it Takes’), the notes are often the same, but the pacing will be different. I try to cater to my audience. For now, this is the absolute number one reason I’m sad-panda about the plugin. But if that’s not your thing? You have no worries!
The important factor to me is embed-ability. I have to be able to embed my content on a page. I use that page with a custom shortlink and put it in my slidedeck. Now with SEO Slides, I can just use the page, but it doesn’t let me put text or notes around it, so I’ll still want this to be embedded. Problem? Embedding with SEO Slides is not as obvious as you’d think. I read the Embedding FAQ and this just did not happen for me:
When you “Publish” your presentation, you will be provided a link to “Use presentation in a new post.” This option will embed your presentation directly into a new blog post.
I thought I was doing something wrong, but finally I realized the ONLY way to get this “Use in presentation” link was to save the post once published. Gah. Why not a nice button? Still, this was not insurmountable, and in the end, I really did like the look of the embed way better than the Slideshare one.
Except … I’m not really thrilled with having to upload all my media. It makes me want to make a dedicated SEO Slides site on my network so I can isolate content. Part of the issue is with how I like to write my slides. I know for a WordCamp where I speak for 45 minutes, in order to leave room for questions, I should have no more than 30 slides, and that’s only if I’m doing roughly a slide a minute! I try to keep it closer to 20-25 honestly. A 45 minute talk should have at least 5 minutes for questions. I like to keep the text on my slides minimal, so I have a lot more to actually talk about.
I hate slides that are pretty much what the person reads off… thanks. And that’s really a totally personal thing, but it means my slides are really image heavy. So that adds a lot of weight to a site. It’s not a plus or minus, just something I have to consider.
The other problem with embeds is the embed CODE. You get a lot of parameters but the ones that jump out at me is this:
It looks cool, and I can change the site_src and site_title…. What I can’t do is change the output. I mean, I can’t remove that ‘source and title’ at all. I can’t change the default so it’s always ‘halfelf.org’ instead of my placeholder site. And worse? I can’t turn it OFF so other people can’t embed my stuff. I mean, what if I don’t want them to embed my warez? This means if someone looks at my slides, clicks the slick plus-sign, they get the code for embedding and they get my slides.ipstenu.org link. Now if you go there, you get redirected, but that’s not the point! Why have this customizable if I can’t… customize it? There are no settings options save entering my API key and allowing for tracking (which I turned off). Why not have an option for customizing output!
A final minor note with SEO Slides, the title is also wonky. This may be because I’m running Trunk but I get this weird
title thing in my … well … title:
Not really super happy about that. I did report it though. Also I reported that I ‘ran out’ of uploads of PDFs. In the free version, you get three free PDF conversions. I did it once. I tried a second time and it said “Upload Error: Your subscription has exhausted the use of this service.” So I filed tickets for both of those on November 14th.
On the good side? These guys are WAY responsive to my enquiry about something (which they changed promptly), and helpful when I said “DaFUQ?” about embedding.
I’m not sure if I want to use it going on. I may end up using it for embedding, though, but it won’t be a replacement for PowerPoint for me any time soon. Now I just have to decide if I want to pony up the $200 a year just to convert my PDFs. There are enough ‘little’ things missing that frustrate me, like no quick-edit if you just want to change titles, no categories, no tags, no main ‘slides’ page (that is – the custom post type has no archive page).
Of note! Since this initial review was written, but before it was posted, SEO Slides upgraded me, so I’ll have to come back and re-review once I bang on the Premium Version: Is it worth it? Since, clearly, the brunt of why I’m ‘meh’ about this is the presenter mode, I may fall in love with Premium! The software’s only been out for two months at the time I wrote this, there’s a LOT of room for growth and I’m probably just being really really impatient.
As this moves from Beta to Live, I expect a lot of great things from SEO Slides. Do I love them? Not yet. But I like them a hell of a lot more than I like PowerPoint, with that sole exception. The presenter view. God help ’em, no idea how you’d tackle that! Can’t wait to see how they do it.