There are 2 types of software approaches for writing add-ins for Microsoft Office applications: so called VSTOs, and web applications. VSTO is the older technology. It integrates deeply into Office and the Windows operating system, code is written in C#. This restriction to Windows is the reason that all PowerPoint plug ins and extensions run on Windows at the moment. The web application API is the newer approach, allowing you to code applications with standard Javascript/HTML.

This has huge advantages:

  • It runs on all platforms and devices, not just Windows.
  • Any coder who knows Javascript/HTML can hit the ground running with developing apps, a far bigger developer community than people who know their way around VSTO/C#.
  • It is a lot easier to integrate these Office web apps into existing web applications (such as SlideMagic).

I have a lot of ideas to extend PowerPoint beyond the current plugins that offer in-app access to stock photo sites but.... PowerPoint is at the bottom of the priority list when it comes to API development at Microsoft. Excel, Outlook, and to a certain extend Word, get priority. Specifically, the ability to manipulate slide content is very limited (put text in the currently selected text block, or place an image somewhere on the page).

PowerPoint is the key communication tool that is used in corporates (not Word). PowerPoint is tricky to master (50% to blame on software, 50% to blame on the "eye for design" that not everyone has). Combine these 2 and it is the biggest opportunity for 3rd party developers to make a change to business communication, make a financial return for both developers and Microsoft, and make PowerPoint stand out over Apple Keynote. 

I do not know the reason for this lower priority, it can be a deliberate strategic choice and/or a technical reason. I hope it is the first, because it can be fixed most easily.

This blog is read by many influencers in the presentation world, if you can, please reach out. I "signed" this online petition as well, but I am not sure how much wait it carriers, feel free to add your clicks.


Cover image by Henrikke Due on Unsplash

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