Saturday, December 19, 2009

PowerPoint 2010 for Web Graphics and The Missing “Fun”

I’ve been building web sites for quite a few years and have bounced around different graphics tools as well.  I’m never happy with one product.  Photoshop, The Gimp, PhotoEdit, Microsoft Image Editor (defunct), Paint.NET, PaintShop, CorelDraw, Illustrator, ArtRage, etc. etc.  But one tool I seem to come back to a lot is Microsoft PowerPoint.  I don’t have a prepared answer for that, but I suspect that it may be due to the simplicity of it.  It’s just easier to do some things with it than with more complicated tools like Photoshop or The Gimp.

The image below shows some simple graphic buttons I created in PowerPoint 2010.  The entire set of objects took literally 5 minutes to create and arrange.  No custom plug-ins or scripts or configuration settings required.  I simply dropped the shapes, picked a theme style, adjusted the gradients and transparency, reflection and edited the text.  Done.


By the way: Where’d the “Fun” Go?

I’m just saying that it seems in the rush to flood the other tools with so many incredible features, something gets lost in the shuffle.  The simplicity and intuitiveness seem to suffer as more tools are stuffed into their ever-growing menu and toolbar collections.  They also seem to take longer and longer to launch with each new version.  Another thing that seems to be missing in those is “fun”.  Sure, there’s geeky fun, but intuitive, reptilian brain, instinctive fun, is just fading away.  Some of the products that seem to understand how “fun” should be part of the equation are Kagi’s ArtRage Studio and Disney Magic Artist, which are great for burning hours and hours of playing for no reason other than playing (if you get that luxury).

I’m not saying Microsoft PowerPoint brings the “fun” to your graphics work.  No, it really doesn’t.  But it does bring ease, simplicity and a feeling of least-effort for really basic shape creation and editing.  Another product that brings simplicity is Paint.Net, but it’s showing signs of slipping into the same fast lane as the more complicated (and pricey) products when it comes to features vs simplicity.  The latest version (3.5 as of this writing) restores some of the clarity of the UI that the prior release was gradually slipping away from, which is very nice.  I’m really looking forward to version 4 when it’s released.  I’m focusing on Windows graphic products exclusively of course, which is what I’m most familiar with, so forgive me for not mentioning others which are only available for OSX or Linux.  In the meantime, I will continue to bounce around to find a chain of tools to meet my needs.

Just my two cents

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