The PowerPoint Pen-Only Toolbar: Making the use of PowerPoint on a tablet PC more efficient

Discussion in 'Educators' started by lblb, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. rotor_

    rotor_ Pen Pal - Newbie

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    This is awesome! Thank you.

    You need to include "Run as administrator" in the instructions. The setup program didn't give an error, and I just noticed it hadn't created the "Apps for Tablet PC" directory.
     
  2. benjaminny

    benjaminny Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi lblb, thanks for developing this toolbar, it is awesome! I wonder what software / programming language did you use? I have some interesting ideas and I want to make my own toolbar as well...

     
  3. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Hi benjaminny,

    I'm glad you like it!

    I used AutoHotkey to program the toolbar. When you install it, the source code is installed here:
    C:\Program Files\Apps for Tablet PC\PowerPoint Pen-Only Toolbar 1_0\Source_Code\PowerPoint Pen-Only Toolbar.ahk

    I still use the toolbar every week when I teach and it has never failed me. Note that I prepared it what seems like ages ago now and the code is actually in pretty bad shape (as I was very much learning how to program back then, and still am today) even though it is fully functional. Since the toolbar hasn't been very popular compared to other things I've been working on, I just haven't bothered updating it. I'm pretty sure it won't all run smoothly on more recent versions of PowerPoint and Windows (especially if the Windows magnification is > 100%). Don't hesitate to come back here and ask questions while you're trying to adapt it to your needs or make your own toolbar, I'll be happy to try to help you.

    Cheers!
     
  4. benjaminny

    benjaminny Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks lblb! I didn't know there's such an interesting software AutoHotkey! My understanding after a brief look at the software is that it can "inject" into any program and customize the key combination you define to do a specific procedure that the program can do, isn't it? I think the annotation capability is very useful for teachers. I'm also wondering if in slideshow mode you can draw shapes or change the weight of pen strokes. Anyway I'll go and learn the software then see what it can do. I'll ask you when I have problems. BTW may I know what subject you teach?

     
  5. HeavyHanded

    HeavyHanded Windows Tablet PC Zealot!

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    Thank you for making this. I'm eager to try it out!
     
  6. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @benjaminny,

    I teach and do research in organic chemistry in a liberal arts college.

    AutoHotkey is a pretty powerful user-friendly coding language. Historically, its primary purpose was to use hotkeys where you would either assign keyboard shortcuts to different tasks, or use interfaces to interact with other programs. The toolbar is an example of the latter. When communicating with other programs, the main purpose usually is not about injecting commands in new programs and it's really just about sending keyboard shortcuts that are already part of the program. This means that usually, if the program doesn't work with keyboard shortcuts, interacting with it via AHK will necessitate advanced strategies. But just using hotkeys like this can be pretty powerful. As I mentioned before, I haven't worked on this PowerPoint toolbar for a while (and it may not behave well on more modern systems, in which case I'll be happy to help) but recently I have been working on a more versatile program:
    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/toolbar-creator-v-2-1.63014/

    AHK is now much more advanced than what it was originally developed for and there are all kinds of ways that you can interact with programs without using keyboard shortcuts, but most of these strategies still require some kind of advanced knowledge of AHK. It is particularly good and user-friendly for automation and for interacting with Windows. In the case of the PowerPoint toolbar, most of it is about sending hotkeys. For actions like changing pen colors, it actually runs VBA macros (which is the language that you can use to write macros in Office documents) that get installed when you set the toolbar to be an add-in.

    Unfortunately, drawing shapes during a slideshow or changing the pen width is not possible natively in PowerPoint and that's not a function that can be implemented easily with AutoHotkey. Adding just general shapes could be somewhat easier (but not the native PowerPoint shapes as you can't add them directly on the presentation (although you can add anything to any slide during a slideshow if you use a two monitor setup and add things in real time on the normal PPT window, not the slideshow window)) but would require an external program that would not be aware of the slides.


    @HeavyHanded:
    Let me know if you encounter any issues. I'll be happy to help.
     
  7. benjaminny

    benjaminny Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I see. So actually you link every button in the toolbar with a powerpoint command or a set of commands, e.g. when you click "blue", it's equivalent to clicking the menu->pen and then set the blue color, isn't it? One question I have is how do you add a slide during presentation? I guess it's not something you can do manually right?

    BTW I am also in a college doing research, on physics :)

     
  8. benjaminny

    benjaminny Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Also, I found out that in PowerPoint 2013 you can adjust the width of the ink, but I don't know if it is restricted to edit mode. See this web page: http://office.microsoft.com/en-sg/e...ght-text-on-a-windows-tablet-HA103986634.aspx
     
  9. lblb

    lblb Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    @benjaminny:

    There are basically four types of buttons in the toolbar.

    The first type just sends keyboard shortcuts. For example, the “Start show” and “End show” buttons just send F5 and Esc, respectively, and these are just the keypresses that you would normally use in PowerPoint.

    The second type are like the "add a slide" and pen color buttons: these run VBA macros that are installed when you make the toolbar an add-in (since these macros are in the add-in, you won’t see them in the list of macros that you can access from the Developer tab of the PowerPoint ribbon). If there is anything that could be called “injecting” something in PowerPoint, it’s this. For example, the macro to add a slide during the slide show looks like this:

    Sub PPToolbar_AddSlide()
    Dim Pre As Presentation
    Dim Sld As Slide
    Set Pre = ActivePresentation
    Set Sld = Pre.Slides.Add(Index:=ActivePresentation.SlideShowWindow.View.Slide.SlideIndex + 1, Layout:=ppLayoutBlank)
    With ActivePresentation.SlideShowWindow
    .View.GotoSlide (ActivePresentation.SlideShowWindow.View.Slide.SlideIndex + 1)
    End With
    End Sub​

    The macro to select the red pen looks like this:

    Sub PPToolbar_RedPen()
    With SlideShowWindows(Index:=1).View
    ' Change the Red/Green/Blue values to get desired color
    .PointerColor.RGB = RGB(255, 0, 0)
    .PointerType = ppSlideShowPointerPen
    End With
    End Sub​

    The third type are buttons that have nothing to do with PowerPoint, like the menu and move toolbar buttons, and that are just about the toolbar itself.

    The fourth type are the special function buttons. For example, the button to toggle touch is all about interacting with Windows, not PowerPoint.

    And then you can mix these different types. So the button to change pen color does the following:
    - runs a macro
    - sends commands to Windows to turn off touch
    - runs internal toolbar specific commands to change some toolbar icons

    As far as macros go, there are the ones that can recreate a series of actions (like what you describe for the blue pen) but you can also do some internal Office things that aren’t normally associated with any normal action (like adding a slide during a slideshow). The only other way that I have found to add a slide during a slideshow, apart from using a macro (which doesn't have to be done with toolbar), is to use a multi-monitor setup: while the slideshow is running on the main monitor, you can make real-time changes to any presentation, like adding slides, by modifying the normal PowerPoint window on the secondary monitor.

    Unfortunately, at least for PowerPoint 2010, it’s not possible to change the ink width as you are drawing during a slide show. What you referred to applies to drawing on slides when not in a slideshow. The very clunky thing you can do though, is that when you are done drawing during a slide show, you can exit the presentation, select the inking and modify its width after-the-fact. Just not as you are drawing.
     
  10. benjaminny

    benjaminny Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I see. Thanks for the detailed explanation!

     
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