[Contest] Kvisoft Flash Slideshow Designer

As with all programs, the experience of the end user begins with the download. Slow downloads from a site can turn me off before I even begin using it. My download from kvisofts site went along at a decent speed with a download rate of just over one megabyte/s taking less than a minute for a 60.1MB exe installer.

Next comes the installation. Another chance for plain making me annoyed or turning me off. This could be anything from bundling other demo versions of products by the developer that I didn’t want to try into the installer up to bundling auto-installing toolbars into my browser.

Thankfully the worst that this program had was to auto open a web page saying “Thanks for installing!” Slightly annoying but no harm done.

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As you can see in the above screenshot, the install page actually contains a quick startup guide as well. I’ll be honest here, I don’t read directions unless I have to. I prefer to bang my head against the keyboard for a minutes then resort to a help file only if absolutely needed. So after taking a quick screenshot I hit the big X and moved on.

Next up was the ‘trial’ screen I was faced with. Another potential place for me to get turned off if the developer requires an email address or an internet connection just to try out their software. Once again Kvisoft does not let me down. I am able to hit the try button and bypass such inconveniences.

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The start screen was rather straight forward having only a few options. So few, that for a moment, I was a bit skeptical that this software would be useful at all.

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The “Add File(s) option only had two choices to start with: flicker and youtube.

Choosing either of these asked me for urls. For my purposes I had no use for these so I immediately went to the next option of templates. Once the screen was open one of the first things that I noticed was a big download button. Mousing over it revealed a tooltip saying I could download more templates. Well, no point in starting a project without looking through all my options, so I went back to download and install the extras resulting in another download of just over eleven MBs.

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After restarting the program to ensure the new resources were loaded, I was slightly annoyed to see that the ‘Download’ button was still enabled. I had expected it to be removed or at least grayed out/disabled. After seeing this I wondered if something had gone awry during the installation of the extras. I did a quick check of my start menu and then my programs uninstall list both which were mysteriously missing any entries of the resources package being installed. Short of uninstalling and reinstalling both files and checking the folder/file list in between reinstalls it appears you simply have to assume that everything went as expected.

After pressing ‘All’ and sifting through the various templates I found them to be quite adequate for a variety of situations however none of them were perfect for my project.

My next step was to explore the ‘Customize template’ option. After asking me for height and width information it opened a second window with a very different layout.

After doing a quick review of my options by clicking on each section I started again from the first option, the background. At this point I was rather disappointed. I had hoped that by pressing customize it would default to whatever I had selected originally and allow me to make changes to the layout or buttons. Instead, the customize option allows you to create your own from scratch. Worse still, the default options are very limited. You are unable to see many of the template backgrounds anywhere. I was able to manually locate them.

“C:\Program Files\Kvisoft\Flash Slideshow Designer\res\templates\Theme”

However the one I wanted to use was not suitable at a resolution of 120×90 and became heavily pixelated at my project setting of 1024×768. In addition they included pre generated boxes for the overlays such as buttons dashing any hopes of customization. I finally understood why they were not selectable by default and became slightly flustered. I would have to start my project from scratch!

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After going through the default files and throwing something together so that i continue my testing, I saved my changes and selected the output option. Immediately on the original screen I could see the template I had just created.

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Double clicking on it brought it up and allowed me to add several files from the same folder all at once. I opened up the edit slide dialog and was pleased to find that I could click through the pictures and edit each from the new window rather than having select and edit them one at a time. This window had many options ranging from adding text over top of the picture to filters that modified the image and even had a slot where you could add descriptions for personal reference/notes. The last option I liked a lot as I could see it being useful. For instance, when trying to identify someone in the picture.

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I wasn’t able to find the timing or transitions options from inside the Slide edit window. It appears you must do this from the original window. Once again, a minor annoyance but not a deal breaker.

Next I went on to test the effects of the transitions. Quite a few options here as well including image motion.

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By default, random transitions are inserted but can be easily modified. However if I were dealing with hundreds or even thousands of pictures I’d like see a few more options such as excluding certain effects and then re-applying a ‘random’ effect to each transition but the default is a good choice by the developer to start with.

You have the option of adding music including more file types than I had expected. Instead of being limited to wave files you can use mp3, wma, or ogg along with many others! You can also play and adjust the volume for each separately.

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The final option to try was the publish options which opened up a screen with just a few options mainly preview and publish along with a few others on the right side such as adding a logo of your own. I had no use for it but others might.

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I published one of each type and tested them. All played without a hitch!

Summary and Notes:

As I noted while writing my experience with the software, I encountered a few minor annoyances along the way but none that really bothered me. I would however like to see a few more options included into future versions.

  1. The developer should consider adding separate high resolution resources for many of the backgrounds and animations so that users can use them for defaults inside the customization screens as well. Preferably without the pre-generated overlays used by the templates screen.
  2. Enable changing timings and transitions from inside the slide edit window.
  3. Allow the exclusion and manual re-application of the random transitions.

All in all, it was a very well thought out program. Many of the options and screens are self-explanatory or otherwise simple to use. If you wanted to throw something together quickly and found one of the default templates suitable for your project you could have a finished file within minutes. I did not experience any crashes, exceptions or bugs such as a function not preforming as expected.

While not as feature rich as some of the products available for professional use I could certainly see this as being very useful to the less technically inclined. It could also be useful when I need a project thrown together quickly.

Unless you need the power of a suite such as Adobe (and the hassle of learning how to do what you want) it’s a solid program that does it’s job quickly, easily and well.

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Reviewer: byte

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