Keynote 1.1

by John Nouveaux

Keynote is Apple Computer’s entry into the presentation management software arena, combining the ease of use, ease of learning and stunning look you have come to expect from Apple.

The minimalistic interface in Keynote makes learning and becoming proficient on the product relatively easy. I’ve spent several months with PowerPoint and it still seems like a struggle each time I try to do something with it. Keynote, by contrast, I mastered (more or less) in the first week of use.

The controls are simple, well placed and don’t clutter up the screen as with PowerPoint. Most of the “good stuff ” is available via the Inspector, Fonts and Colors windows; the last two of which work more or less the same in all Mac OS X applications - one less thing to have to learn to become productive in Keynote!

Most of the tweaking of individual slides can be accomplished via the Inspector window’s various parts: Slide, Graphic, Metrics, Text, Build, Table, Chart, and Media. For the most part changing various aspects of your presentation is straight-forward and for those who already know PowerPoint, the learning curve will indeed, be very shallow.

Keynote does a nice job of handling font rendering allowing for easy positioning, sizing and rotation of text and graphical elements. Especially impressive is the quality of such manipulations when importing vector images from say Adobe Illustrator.

Other features include alignment guides, drag and drop support (although better from the Finder than from other applications), outline mode for organizing your initial presentation thoughts and the use of THemes to set the overall look and feel of your presentation, well done QuickTime media format integration and Keynote’s dual-monitor support.

If you have either two monitors or a single monitor with an external projection device, Keynote has the ability to treat each separately. Run your slide show on one (you choose) and show instructor notes on the other. Nice.

Apple ships Keynote with 12 basic Themes - collections of master slides and accompanying default settings. Other Themes are available via the Internet either for free or as separate commercial products. If you don’t like the way your presentation looks, it is fairly easy to switch Themes giving your presentation a complete make-over with a single click of the mouse.

Visually, Keynote presents both master slides and your working slides down the left side of the Keynote window providing an “at a glance” thumbnail view of not only the master slides but also your work in progress. Often used functions (master slide selection, text box creation, etc.) and access to the Inspector, Colors and Fonts windows are available via a series of buttons across the top of the Keynote main window.

What would I like to see in the next revision of Keynote to make it better?

When running your presentation, you lose cursor control over Mac OS. What you can do in a running presentation is fairly limited: go to the next slide, back up to the previous slide, exit the presentation.

More printing options: So, although Keynote 1.1 needs some work, it is a solid product with which you can easily create visually stunning presentations. As Keynote imports and exports PowerPoint (amongst other) format files, it is quite possible you can make the switch to Keynote for many if not all of your current presentation needs. Unless you are using and need PowerPoint features not found in Keynote, it’s certainly worth a look.

I’ve made the jump and am more than willing to live with the limitations for now, holding out hope for all those wonderful new features I just know will be in 2.0.

For more information on Keynote try these two Web jump-off points:

• Apple’s Keynote site: http://www.apple.com/keynote

• Keynote marketing material, documentation and links to other Keynote sites Tom Negrino’s (the author of Peachpit Press’ “ Keynote for Mac OS X” Visual Quick Start Guide) Keynote site: http://www.negrino.com/ keynote

• Links to most of the popular Keynote sites on the Web - an excellent starting point.