PowerPoint Frustrations

I recently saw a really nice Word document with PowerPoint slides in it that made me curious enough to try using PowerPoint again. (I’ve been using Keynote since 1.0.) I’m at the Project Bamboo meeting in Tucson, and I’m knee deep into a presentation I want to make at some point while I’m here, but the following things are driving me nuts:

* Thank goodness there are some barebones themes — are these fugly ones some sort of commitment to legacy users?

* Modifying a theme in PowerPoint is not quite as intuitive as Keynote, but it works once you “get it.” PP has this nice option to replace fonts, but I can’t seem to get it work.

* PP objects don’t seem to be too aware that one often wants to align them in reference to the slide itself — you can do this through the palette but not DEPENDABLY by dragging the object itself.

* One of the brilliances of Word is the ability to create custom keystrokes. Why does its sibling not have this? Something one does regularly, like moving objects backwards and frontwards, is only available as a submenu off a contextual menu or as a drop-down menu on the palette — which can be torn off, but who really wants tear-off palettes lying about a screen — especially the smaller screen of a laptop computer that one travels with? CMD + SHIFT + B for “Send Backwards” is far easier and faster.

All of this because the Mellon Foundation representative at Project Bamboo, Chris Mackie, did a fantastic print version of a talk he gave. I had the chance to ask him yesterday how he got his slides over — because dragging them from the left-hand pane into my Word document consistently gives me a “you’re out of RAM” warning with no results, and his response was he:

* clicks on the slide
* selects all
* copies
* pastes into Word

And the cool captions he has in his document like “Slide 1, Animation 1”? He did those by hand! Where’s the smart interaction between suite apps? (Is Pages good about handling Keynote slides? Because I don’t use Pages, I haven’t tried this — the new outlining function has me looking twice, but I live in a world of document exchange built on Word.)