PowerPoint: A Codeless One-Slide Timer (Part 2 of 2)


Read part one here.

Next, we need to create custom animation that controls the order in which PowerPoint displays the shapes on the slide.

1.      From the Slide Show menu, click Custom Animation.

2.      Select the shape that displays the second-highest time (in our case, the shape displaying 0:50). In the Custom Animation task pane, click Add Effect, select Entrance, and then click on Appear.

3.      The animation should now be listed in the animation list in the task pane.

4.      Select the animation, and in the Start drop-down, select After Previous.

5.      Click on the drop-down arrow next to the animation name, and then click Timing. In the animation dialog box, on the Timing tab, for Delay enter 10.

Repeat this for each shape, in descending order of the time each shape displays. So now you've got the shapes appearing at 10 seconds intervals, in the order of most time displayed (1:00) to least time (0:00). Note that you don't assign an animation to the first shape, because you want that shape to be visible as soon as PowerPoint displays the slide.

Now stack all the shapes on top of each other. That way, as each shape appears, it covers the previous shape. Because all the shapes appear the same, except for the time displayed on each, during a slide show they'll appear as a single shape counting down the seconds left on the time.

So our timer counts down the seconds correctly, but we also want to move to the next slide when the timer is done. For this, we'll use a slide transition, just as Geetesh does in his timer. We'll set the slide transition to occur one second after the timer finishes its count.

1.      On the Slide Show menu, click Slide Transition.

2.      In the Slide Transition task pane, select the type of transition you want.

3.      Under Advance slide, check Automatically after and enter '01:10' in the text box. Make sure On mouse click is not checked.

We're done. When PowerPoint displays the slide, the animation sequence starts, displaying each shape at ten second intervals. At the same time, the slide transition is counting down. PowerPoint displays the final counter shape (0:00) one second before it executes the transition to the next slide.

As you can see, if you wanted a longer timer, say a five or ten minutes, or wanted to count off one-second intervals, creating the timer could get tedious real fast. The main advantage to this approach, as well as Geetesh's, is that it doesn't rely on anything other than PowerPoint's native functionality. Which means you can move the presentation to another machine and not have to worry about stuff like whether the security setting will allow code to run.

The disadvantages, of course, are that it's somewhat laborious to set up, and it's not very flexible. Because it relies on slide transition functionality, the timer has to start as soon as PowerPoint displays the slide. I couldn't think of a way to make the slide transition dependant on user interaction, which would have enabled me to let the user start the timer whenever they wanted. But for short timers where you don't want to (or can't) use VBA code or add-ins, it could come in handy.

As I mentioned in the last entry, the PowerPoint FAQ lists several timers available as VBA code or add-ins.

Speaking of time, it's probably past time I got back to my SharePoint research…

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