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How to easily automate creating slides with a Powerpoint chart from Excel

This video is based on a scenario where lots of data in Excel is used to create numerous slides with each having a Powerpoint chart. SlideFab will create the slides and update the data ranges for the charts automatically.

The data used in this example originates from the World Bank: Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (%)  by year and country. This data should be representative for many other data sets: Categorized numerical time series data where for each category a chart is required.

In this example one slide will be created per country. Each slide will be about one country and contain a bar chart by year and a shape with the country name.


An image from the SlideFab 2 Powerpoint chart example video showing how SlideFab

 

 

 

 

 

Basically, the video contains three implicit chapters:

  1. How to create a Powerpoint slide featuring a Powerpoint chart. This is very basic as it only involves inserting a bar chart into an empty slide,
  2. How to write the formulas to have a dynamic data range in Excel for the chart. This step involves writing a formula with INDEX and MATCH as a lookup to obtain the numbers for a specific country.
  3. How to link the Excel workbook with the Powerpoint presentation with SlideFab for automatically creating the slides. Finally, this step is about setting up the iteration loop using the selected country cell and the country list as well as selecting the dynamic Excel data range for the chart on the template slide.

Here you will also find the Excel workbook and Powerpoint presentation file as download, which can be tried out with SlideFab 2 right away. These files are prepared already, containing formulas and settings as shown in the video.

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Table spreading across slides

This video is based on a scenario where a table with 1,000 rows in an Excel table shall be brought to Powerpoint. As 1,000 rows are way too much for a single slide, the table shall be spread across multiple slides. Let's call this Table Spreading. In this video the Slide Loop feature will be used to create 125 slides, where each one holds a Powerpoint table with 8 rows plus header.



In this video it will be shown how to create a control table that can be used by SlideFab for automation purposes. Moreover, the process of how to create a table which can hold a subset of the original 1,000 rows will be explained. A combination of functions such as Index, Match to lookup the appropriate for example will be used.

This table spreading example is rather advanced, so having a second look at the Excel file and the formulas is recommended

Here you will also find the Excel workbook and Powerpoint presentation file as download, which can be tried out with SlideFab 2 right away.

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Loop Condition Example

This video is based on the "Hello World" example and and incorporates a loop condition. The loop condition can be used to not create slides, if it does not evaluate to true. In this example the loop condition is used, to leave out every second slide. So instead of all 6 slides of the "Hello World" example only slides 1,3 and 5 (candidate values "A", "C" and "E") will be created. 


Screenshot of the Loop Condition example video showing the created slidesTherefor the original example receives two new formulas: The first looks up the position of the Master Cell content using the Match function. The second formula checks whether the  position is odd using the modulo operator (the IsOdd function would work as well). After linking this cell to the condition field in SlideFab, the slide making creates every second slide only.

Here you will also find the Excel workbook and Powerpoint presentation file as download, which can be tried out with SlideFab 2 right away.

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Output File Decomposition Example

This video is based on the "Hello World" example and goes one step further. This example is about output file decomposition. While the original example created 1 presentation containing 6 output slides (1 slide per loop), this video shows one output file can be created per loop (so 6 files with 1 slide each). When using output file decomposition, other features such as adding segments or sorting slides locally (per loop run) can be applied as well.

 

Screenshot for the Hello World with Output Decomposition ExampleAgain, this example is kept very simple. Of course, when the presentation template contains more than 1 slide, then the decomposed files will have more than 1 slide, too.

Here you will also find the Excel workbook and Powerpoint presentation file as download, which can be tried out with SlideFab 2 right away.

SlideFab 2. Power to the User Blog Post Image

Power to the User. All new SlideFab 2 Released

I am very proud to announce the all new SlideFab 2. Simply the most powerful Powerpoint automation tool ever built.

Based on the experience from SlideFab 1 the new version was redesigned and rebuilt from scratch. SlideFab 2 brings the user experience to a completely new level. Not only does SlideFab 2 come with a new interface, it also introduces a unique and much simpler user process to automatically create Powerpoint presentations based on Excel workbooks.

The new approach is very straight-forward: Creating a simple "Hello World" project takes less than 2 minutes to set up. Even more advanced tasks, such as creating tables or charts automatically, do not take much longer. For me "Power to the User" means that each Excel user should be able to do things for which typically coding from a VBA guru was required. What a great improvement of efficacy and efficiency in daily work this would mean for many users, when excessive copy & paste from Excel to Powerpoint comes to an end.

Seamless integration

The most prominent novelty is that the new SlideFab 2 is now seamlessly integrated into the Powerpoint application window. This simplifies setting up the interaction between SlideFab and Powerpoint objects such as shapes, tables or charts. 

SlideFab 2 Window Example

 
Practical linking between Powerpoint and Excel

Moreover, when it comes to linking between Powerpoint and Excel, SlideFab relies on a very simple but easy to use approach: First of all, it aligns the Excel window next to the Powerpoint window. Then it let's the user select an Excel range and insert it into SlideFab 2 with a simple click of a button.

As linking to Excel cells via address (e.g. 'Sheet 13'!$X$2:$Y$4) is not optimal, SlideFab recognizes named ranges and tables. If this is the case, SlideFab uses named ranges, table names or column names as more robust linking approach. This way the user can change the Excel model (e.g. inserting columns, moving ranges) without having to update these links.

Reference Edit Illustration

 
Insightful automation preview

When everything is set up, SlideFab 2 will show the slide making progress in a neatly arranged preview window. This way the user can check the output quality and intervene - just in case - while the process is still running.

Animation showing automatic slide making in SlideFab

Beyond these three areas, there are further novelties and improvements in SlideFab 2 over its predecessor, e.g.

  • The user can switch between interface languages in SlideFab 2 (German and English at this time)
  • Parameter inconsistencies are easier to find with the help of new status messages and status coloring
  • SlideFab 2 reduces the number of required user parameters and applies smart defaults for faster setup instead

To enjoy the full experience it makes sense to try it yourself. And here comes the good news: You can acid test the full version of SlideFab 2 for 30 days without any risk

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Hello World Example

This brief video shows how to create a Hello World project with SlideFab 2. It will be explained how an Excel workbook can be set up and linked with Powerpoint such that multiple slides with different "Hello World" titles are created through SlideFab automatically.  

The example in this video keeps things very simple as it writes formula-based texts from Excel to Powerpoint. However, SlideFab can do more than that. And in fact, bringing tables, charts or images from Excel to Powerpoint is very similar to what is shown in the video.

Here you will also find the Excel workbook and Powerpoint presentation file as download, which can be tried out with SlideFab 2 right away.

SlideFab v1.10 released

UPDATE: SlideFab 2 is now available with groundbreaking changes. The text below is deprecated.

 

SlideFab v1.10 is a minor update bringing a couple of bugfixes and improvements. Most notably, SlideFab is now capable of making slides and whole presentations from a worksheet directly without opening the SlideFab window. Therefor a named range "SlideFab_X" needs to be created for a given Excel cell where X is the number of the Xth embedded setting. Now, when double-clicking this cell, SlideFab will run according to embedded setting number X. On top of this a few bugs were fixed and some aspects were improved. This makes an upgrade to  SlideFab v1.10 highly recommendable.

The following lists give an overview of the novelties and bugfixes since version 1.9.

What's new in SlideFab 1.10

Features:
- Making slides directly from a worksheet via double click a cell with a named range such as "SlideFab_X" where X is a number of an embedded setting

Bugfixes:
- Removed a false error message when auto-fitting text to shape seemed not to work after shape was deleted due to condition
- Fixed a bug where conditional formats in a table were not updated properly
- Handled an issue when embedded savings were stored in the workbook but could not get read anymore
- Resolved a problem when exporting to Powerpoint chart did not work when it was linked to Excel. Now there is a warning instead
- Tweaked the positioning of the worksheet view when clicking into a range selector textbox (e.g. for shape source range). Now the chosen range is centered instead of being focused in the upper left area of the visible range
- Improved slide and shape renaming with a new message within the SlideFab Powerpoint add-in

SlideFab v1.9

IMAGinE Innovation: Here comes SlideFab v1.9

UPDATE: SlideFab 2 is now available with groundbreaking changes. The text below is deprecated.

 

This latest release of SlideFab v1.9 comes with a couple of novelties, for example two great new export modes:

  1. SlideFab has now the function to open up image files (e.g. jpg, png) from the hard drive and put these images into Powerpoint slides. As filenames can be computed or looked up from lists with formulas (e.g. VLookup or Index/Match), this new feature opens up a world of new possibilities. For example, when embedding company logos into the presentation it is not necessary to add these images to the Powerpoint file itself.
  2. Another novelty is SlideFab's feature to support charts which are designed within Powerpoint. This is a tremendous addition to copying charts from Excel over to Powerpoint or to updating think-cell charts. The way it works is very simple: Design any chart within Powerpoint and then define where the data in Excel will come from. (Please note: this import mode will be only be visible when using charts in a Powerpoint template file. Otherwise this mode will not be shown within the export mode dropdown in the slide editor)

On top of these new features SlideFab got a massive speedup improvement which will pay off for larger presentations with hundreds of slides.

SlideFab v1.9 also supports the format painter for indirect shapes and images from files. For example, when a drop shadow (or border, reflection, etc.) is set in the template for a shape which will become a picture when running the slide fabrication, this drop shadow will appear in the output file as well.

 

The following lists give an overview of the novelties and bugfixes since version 1.8.

 

What's new in SlideFab 1.9

Feature:

  • New export mode: SlideFab can now read image files and put those into Powerpoint shapes
  • New export mode: SlideFab supports Powerpoint charts and updates data tables from ranges in Excel

Under the hood improvements:

  • Splitting and caching to speed-up the fabrication of larger Powerpoint presentations with > 200 slides
  • Disabling and restoring autosave in Powerpoint to improve speed-up
  • Improved positioning precision for shapes when imported from a Powerpoint template presentation
  • Minor bug fixes
SlideFab category tree example image for the blog post

Wolf in sheep’s clothing? How to tame the beast and create great category trees in Powerpoint automatically using SlideFab

UPDATE: SlideFab 2 is now available with groundbreaking changes. The text below is deprecated.

 

Category trees are a little bit like wolfs in sheeps' clothings: They look pretty, sometime cute. But if you try to create great category trees, they will eat up all your time. So, what is a category tree: It is visualization of numerical data which is categorized in multiple ways. The category tree gives an overview of the most important sub categories first. Then it shows how these sub categories break down. For example, it can be used to show supplier spend data on spend category and sub category level as well as the top suppliers and countries per subcategory. Gathering all these numbers and compiling these Powerpoint slides is a huge copy/paste effort. You can imagine: Chances are high that something will go wrong. And if the underlying data changes, then it basically means starting from scratch. 

Fortunately, category trees can be created with SlideFab as well. As soon as Excel model and Powerpoint presentation are set up, the slides can be created within no time. So whenever data changes it will be a piece of cake to recreate the category trees. This means faster results with less time invested and also no manual copy/paste errors made. This short video shows in less than three minutes how this looks like and how it can be done.

If you want to try it yourself, go grab the SlideFab trial version and download the category tree example from the downloads page. It is even possible to plug in your own data, just make sure to refresh the pivot tables after pasting your data.

A longer tutorial explaining this example follows soon, it will go through the model and template and explain the underlying logic. If there are questions in the meantime, feel free to reach out.

Creating 100 Fact-Based Supplier Negotiation Decks with custom storylines in 15 minutes

UPDATE: SlideFab 2 is now available with groundbreaking changes. The text below is deprecated.

 

This tutorial video gives an overview of the SlideFab capabilities when it comes to automatically creating whole presentations and not just mere slides. The example is based upon the idea that for annual negotiations with the suppliers there should be a custom-tailored fact-based presentation for every supplier in order to prepare and support the negotiations, ultimately leading to better results (e.g. savings). Therefore a storyline is created which leads through the historic performance and culminates in a claim for the upcoming year. The video explains how custom formula-based slide titles and content can be created to really have a personalized look and feel beyond just showing charts and tables. As a result, based on 7 templates slides, 650 slides  for 100 suppliers will be created (50 slides are not created for sake of story consistency using the slide condition feature.  Basically it is about just not showing some suppliers how good they actually are 😉 ).

Of course, this idea of custom-tailored presentations can be applied in other domains as well, e.g. when conducting surveys and using SlideFab to create feedback presentations for all participants or when running a decentralized project where individual work plans and instructions need to be compiled in larger numbers or on a regular basis through SlideFab.

Please note: The video was created with SlideFab 1.7 which at this time was still known as SlydMkr. For the new features since then please refer to The most powerful Powerpoint automation tool got even stronger: SlydMkr / SlideFab v 1.8 released.