How many times have you received a frantic call from an end user who has traveled somewhere to make a PowerPoint presentation—only to find the computer he or she is using for the presentation doesn’t have PowerPoint on it? Or maybe you’ve found a PowerPoint presentation here on TechRepublic that you would like to modify and have installed on everyone’s machine, but not everyone in your organization has PowerPoint?

One of PowerPoint 2000’s most useful features is the Pack And Go Wizard. The Pack And Go Wizard allows you to compress your presentation, any associated files, and Microsoft’s PowerPoint Viewer into only two files. You can then distribute these files via several floppy disks, a CD-R or CD-RW, network, or various other media.

In this article I will use our download PowerPoint on information for traveling laptop users to illustrate how PowerPoint’s Pack And Go Wizard works and how the wizard can help you provide better support. I’ll then outline several issues you should consider when using the Pack And Go Wizard.

What’s the point?
For some organizations, PowerPoint presentations are essential communication tools. This dependence, however, doesn’t mean that every workstation will have, or needs to have, PowerPoint installed. There are numerous situations in which someone needs to view or give a PowerPoint presentation without the full functionality of PowerPoint.

Take, for example, a traveling sales representative who needs only to display PowerPoint presentations. Is this worth buying them a license for the full version of PowerPoint? Or perhaps this same salesperson has traveled to a remote location, his or her laptop with PowerPoint on it has failed, and no other PCs with PowerPoint are available. If the salesperson were carrying a CD-R with her Pack And Go Wizard files, she could be up and running on a PC without PowerPoint in no time.

What if your help desk needs to distribute a PowerPoint presentation to every laptop in the company, but not all laptops have PowerPoint installed? Again you can use the Pack And Go Wizard and the PowerPoint Viewer to allow all users to read the presentation. I will use this last scenario to illustrate how easy these two PowerPoint components are to use.

Let’s begin
If you have a full version of Microsoft PowerPoint and would like to follow along with the steps I outline in this article, you should download our “Sample FAQ PowerPoint for traveling laptop users.” This presentation contains helpful answers to common questions from traveling laptop users. Once you have downloaded the presentation, which is around 511 KB, open it within PowerPoint.

Packing up
Click File | Pack And Go and the Pack And Go Wizard will appear (Figure A). Like many other Microsoft wizards, the steps you will encounter via this wizard are listed in the window on the left.

Figure A
Selecting Pack And Go under the File menu gets you to this screen.

Clicking the Next button takes you to a screen where you can select either the active presentation or another one by using the Browse button. For the purpose of this demonstration, select the active presentation and click Next. You will then be prompted to select a location to save the resulting files. Choose the desired location (I chose the Desktop for the purpose of this article) and click Next. If your presentation has linked files, such as sound files, Excel spreadsheets, or the like, you can choose to include those on the next screen. You can also elect to include any embedded TrueType fonts used in the presentation. Click Next to continue. Finally, you will be asked if you wish to include the Viewer (Figure B). For this example, you should choose to do so. Don’t worry that the Pack And Go Wizard only mentions Windows 95 and NT, the Viewer will work with Windows 95 and all later versions.

Figure B
Choose to include the Viewer.

The last screen of the wizard summarizes what I’m about to do and where. I chose to save my files to the desktop, because I will be zipping and transferring them to floppy disk. If you choose to save the files to the A: drive, the wizard will span the two files across multiple floppies. The number of disks will depend on the size of the presentation, the size and number of linked files, and the inclusion of embedded TrueType fonts. This particular presentation has less than 15 slides, no linked files, and no embedded TrueType fonts and required three disks. This is a point to remember when planning how you will distribute your presentation.

Also note that if you make changes to the presentation after this point, you must run the wizard again (Figure C).

Figure C
Check the summary of actions before you proceed.

Unpacking in the right place
As you can see, using the wizard is pretty straightforward. Unpacking the presentation and Viewer is only slightly more complicated.

You will find two files after using the wizard: One is named Pngsetup.exe and the other is named Pres0.ppz. These files are either on the first disk of however many the wizard used, or you will find them at your chosen location (the Desktop for this example).

Double-click the executable file to start the Pack And Go Setup Wizard and begin the unpacking process. The first screen prompts you to select a destination folder for the unpacked files. By default, the files are expanded to the root directory of the C: drive. You can enter a new location, however, the Pack And Go Setup tool does not support long file names; notice the use of ~1 in the Source Folder: line shown in Figure D. Once you’ve entered the destination folder, click OK to unpack the files. I stuck with the root directory of C: for this example.

Figure D
Look at how the source file path is listed if you wish to place the files in a specific directory.

The unpacked files will contain the presentation, any linked files or embedded TrueType fonts, the Viewer (Ppview32) and several .dll files. Our example presentation should have 18 total files. Once the files are unpacked, you’re ready to go. Simply locate the presentation (.ppt) file and double-click on it.

Note that the presentation icon shown in Figure E looks different than the original PowerPoint icon. You’ll also notice that our example presentation’s file name was truncated using a ~1. This will occur with any file name greater than eight characters. To make things easier for your end users, you can rename this file and place it on the Desktop. To view the presentation, a user must simply double-click the icon.

Figure E
The PowerPoint icon changes to a Viewer icon on a computer without PowerPoint installed.

Bringing it home
While the Pack And Go Wizard and PowerPoint Viewer make PowerPoint presentations available to everyone, there are several important points to remember.

First, the packed files for even a simple PowerPoint presentation can be more than 3 MB. While this isn’t an issue if the presentation will reside on a computer’s hard drive or network drive, it can be a problem if the presentation is to be transported.

One inexpensive option for supplying end users who make a number of PowerPoint presentations in remote locations with an emergency version of the Viewer is to burn the two Pack And Go files on a business card-sized CD.

If your traveling users carry this in their wallets or laptop bags along with a diskette of their current presentation, they will have everything they need if they find themselves in a situation where the computer they are supposed to use doesn’t have PowerPoint. Even if they still have to call the help desk to get things set up, the end user will at least be equipped to solve the problem.

Another consideration is that the presentation icon will look different on a machine that has only the Viewer and not a full copy of PowerPoint. This can be confusing for some users who are used to seeing the PowerPoint icon.

A third difference that users need to know about is that, when they are showing their presentations, they need to stop at the last slide and go no further. If they go beyond the last slide, the Viewer automatically closes and their audience will be left looking at their computer desktop.

Is this a pointless presentation?

Are there many uses for the PowerPoint Viewer at your organization? Do you have users that don’t need PowerPoint, but need the ability to view PowerPoint presentations? Tell us what you think in the discussion below.