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February 20, 2007

Preparing eBooks using OpenOffice.org’s Impress

Category: eBook Marketing & Publishing — Answers 2000 @ 1:09 am

As described in my previous article, OpenOffice.org is a free office suite (although you can buy a copy of OpenOffice.org if you prefer). I’ve found it very easy to create eBooks using OpenOffice.org - far easier than it is us the far more expensive Microsoft Office. In the last article, I wrote about Writer, the word processor in OpenOffice.org, in this one, I’ll talk about Impress, the presentation package in OpenOffice.org.

Before we start with the tutorial, let me just mention one of the biggest advantages of using Impress (in OpenOffice.org) as opposed to Microsoft PowerPoint (in Microsoft Office): when you convert to HTML in Impress - you can turn off the use of frames. This is a huge advantage, because it means that Activ E-Book Compiler’s Search and Table of Contents functions, just work, absolutely perfectly, without any fiddling around. This is such a big advantage that it means if you have a PowerPoint presentation, and want high-quality quick version into an eBook, possibly the best way to do it is to open the presentation in Impress, and convert from there (and yes Impress can read PowerPoint files).

As with the last article, before the tutorial I need to display a quick legal notice, which OpenOffice.org’s marketing people said I should include: OpenOffice.org is a registered trade mark used with permission of the OpenOffice.org Community, http://www.openoffice.org.

Anyway, here’s the tutorial (prepared using OpenOffice.org 2.1 - so if you have a different version of OpenOffice.org, there may be some differences):-

Creating Your Source Files Using OpenOffice.org Impress 2.1

This page shows you how to create the the content that will go inside (the source files) your E-Book using OpenOffice.org Impress 2.1.

Before You Start

There are a few key points to understand before you start:

  1. The best way to work with Impress is to create your entire presentation as normal, and then convert the entire presentation into HTML (so it can be used as the content for your E-Book). In other words, the whole presentation becames the content of the E-Book.
    • When you do this conversion, the 1 presentation file will be converted into a whole series of files in the your source folder.
    • This conversion process is done from within OpenOffice.org Impress (but don’t worry, we explain the steps below).
    • During the conversion process, Impress will automatically add navigation buttons (etc.) to the pages allowing the user to move through the slides.
    • Provided you follow our instructions below, your pictures and graphics will automatically be saved in the appropriate folder and linked correctly from the other files created. If you do not follow the instructions, then pictures may be saved incorrectly, and when you view the E-Book (or worse one of your customers views the E-Book) they will see missing images in your pages.

  2. You can create hyperlinks from your slides to web sites (see instructions below). However, as Impress will link the slides to each other, there is no need to add links between the slides.
  3. Please be aware that the OpenOffice.org Impress feature that converts from its own document format to HTML may have some limitations, so it is possible that you may lose some details of your formatting during the conversion process in Impress.

Preparing Your Impress Presentation

As mentioned previously, if you use a web editing program, or a program like OpenOffice.org Word, you would normally want to work directly with your source files. However with Impress it is easier to create your content as a native Impress presentation and then convert the content into sources files later.

  1. Start OpenOffice.org Impress 2.1.
  2. Create your Impress presentaton exactly as normal.
  3. Save the presentation in the normal way (using the Save As menu option), with the Save as type field, set to OpenDocument Presentation (.odp) into the normal location that you use for your OpenOffice.org documents, for example C:\My Documents\.

Using Hyperlinks in Impress Presentations

As part of the normal process of creating Impress presentations, you can add hyperlinks to web sites.

  1. Place the insertion point (the caret) where the text that will eventually become the hyperlink will go.

    Impress 2.1 - Placing the caret

  2. Click Hyperlink which is on the Insert menu.

    You will see this dialog box:

    Impress 2.1 - Inserting a hyperlink: step 1

  3. Make sure Internet is selected on the list of options on the left hand side.
    • In the text field labelled Target, enter the URL of the web page or web site that the hyperlink will lead to. Always include http://, at the beginning of the hyperlink. For example, even though we commonly say www.yahoo.com or yahoo.com, the full URL is really http://www.yahoo.com - and we must always enter the full URL when setting up hyperlinks.
    • In the text field labelled Text enter the text to use for the hyperlink.

    Impress 2.1 - Inserting a hyperlink: step 2

    Click Apply and then Close, and you have now added the hyperlink.

    The text of the hyperlink may initially show up as selected like this:

    Impress 2.1 - Your hyperlink is ready but selected

    So click elsewhere on the slide to unselect the text, and you’re done. Your screen should look something like this:

    Impress 2.1 - Your hyperlink is ready

Converting Impress to HTML

Only after your presentation is completed and saved in the normal OpenOffice.org Impress presentation format (known as OpenDocument Presentation (.odP)), should you think about converting your presentation into E-Book source files. You will want to store all the source files in their own folder, for example, a folder called. C:\MyBook\source\. If you used Activ Quick Project, you should already have an empty folder created and ready to work in.

Here is the procedure to use when you’re ready:

  1. Start Impress and open your saved Presentation.
  2. Click Export… on the File menu.

    You will want to save into the source folder, for example, C:\MyBook\source\.

    NOTE: When you do this, your presentation will actually be stored in several files in this folder. The main file of which will be index. Because there are a whole bunch of files for each presentation, it is best to always keep different projects separate from each other, by using a different source folder for each presentation that is being converted into an E-Book.

    One other thing of note, is that when you do Export in Impress 2.1, there are a lot of options about how the information is saved (we will go through these options in moment). To avoid having to re-enter these options each time, Impress 2.1 has a feature called designs. These are basically a saved set of the options, that specify how the program should save into HTML. We do not cover designs in this tutorial, but if you use Impress a lot, then you may want to learn about them later from the OpenOffice.org help or from a manual.

  3. The Export… menu will first display a dialog which allows you to select which folder you want export the presentation to, under what file name, and in which file format.

    Navigate to your source folder (for example C:\MyBook\source\), enter the file name as index, and set the File format to HTML Document (OpenOffice.org Impress) (.html) as shown below - then click Save.

    Impress 2.1 - Preparing to export as HTML

  4. Impress will now display a "wizard" which guides you step-by-step through the export process. In this wizard, you should complete each screen, and then press Next>>.
  5. The first screen of the wizard allows you to pick an existing design (if you have one or more set up) or start a new layout. We do not cover designs in this tutorial, so select the New design radio button, then press Next>>.

    Impress 2.1 - HTML Export: step 1

  6. The next screen allows you to choose how to present your the presentation after conversion. You should select Standard HTML format as the Publication type, but you may check or uncheck Create title page and Show notes as you feel appropriate. When you are ready, press Next>>.

    Impress 2.1 - HTML Export: step 2

  7. The next screen allows you to choose to allows you to how you would like your presentation converted into HTML. You can choose whatever options you prefer. When you are ready, press Next>>.

    Impress 2.1 - HTML Export: step 3

  8. The next screen is only shown if you chose to Create a title page. If you did not chose to Create a title page, skip to the next step in this tutorial.

    You can fill out the text how you want. Then, when you are ready, press Next>>.

    Impress 2.1 - HTML Export: step 4

  9. The next screen allows you to select the type of navigation buttons to be added to your presentation. Choose whatever options you want, then, press Next>>.

    Impress 2.1 - HTML Export: step 5

  10. The final screen of the wizard allows you to choose the colors for your presentation. You can choose whatever options you want, then, allows you to select the type of navigation buttons to be added to your presentation. Choose whatever options you want, then, press Create to convert the presentation to HTML.

    Impress 2.1 - HTML Export: step 6

    You will be asked if you wish to save the Design (all the settings you just entered in the wizard). Since we are not covering Designs in this tutorial, for now you should just click Do Not Save.

    Impress 2.1 - Saving HTML Design

  11. The conversion to HTML is now complete!
  12. If you want to make changes later, all your need to do is:
    • Modify your presentation in the normal way using Impress.
    • Save the changes in the OpenDocument Presentation (.odp) format.
    • Repeat the above procedure for saving your presentation as HTML. Before doing this, it’s a good idea to either clear all the files out of your source folder (do not delete the original Presentation file!), or save the Presentation as HTML in a brand new empty folder (in the latter case, you’ll also need to update the selected folder in Activ E-Book Compiler using Edit/Scan Folder…). This is so that you don’t get files left-over from the last iteration in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., version of your E-Book.


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