PDF X-Change – Still The One

Nearly a year ago, I mentioned a wonderful product called PDF X-Change, from Tracker Software,  in a post. It allows me to annotate PDF files, which many vendors maddeningly insist on using for briefings. Why “maddeningly”? Because for me at least, the best place for my notes is in the presentation – it provides the context and I don’t need another window open. In PowerPoint I just use the notes at the bottom of the window. PDF X-Change is a free download, and takes care of the rest of the pitches I see. Read more of this post

Information Builders Prepares to Ramp It Up

The last couple of years for Information Builders (IBI) have been a mixed bag. On the one hand, WebFocus, their flagship BI offering, has received stellar reviews, getting top marks from Gartner and Forrester in published research. On the other hand, growth stalled and sputtered a bit for the past year or two, and then the economy went south. But a strong new management focus, the clearing of the field as other leading independent BI vendors were acquired, and some timely new product introductions have set the table for a new surge by the New York-based vendor.Logo_IB_3015 Read more of this post

Make PDFs Free. Really?

Sometimes, I need to make PDFs. Vendors would like to use stuff I write, and I am happy to let them do so for nominal fees, but I don’t want the content changed. But I’m not really in the publishing business, and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a tool for that purpose. So I was pleased when a friend told me about PDF995 and their suite of easy-to use tools. Read more of this post

PDF X-Change Rocks: AR Soft Copy Survey Participants Take Note

Poll results for soft copy survey

Poll results for soft copy survey

This is the third and final post on the topic of which format is best for providing soft copy of briefing material to analysts. After a few more votes were added, the combined total of PDF and annotatable PDF formats got closer to Powerpoint in our survey. The final total was PPT 29, PDF13, annotatable PDF 10. (See chart at right.) Read more of this post

PPT Wins Poll on Analysts’ Preferred Soft Copy Briefing Formats

Preliminary votes and comments are in – nearly two-thirds of our 46 respondents as of April 10 prefer Powerpoint format to PDFs, and a small minority is using annotatable PDF format, though several didn’t even know it exists. (Adobe, are you listening? Some work to do here.) Key themes in comments from AR and analysts:

  • Some analysts like to edit PPTs; when they can’t get them, some resort to other methods. Forrester’s Oliver Young told us, “I take screen shots of almost every Webex or Go-To-Meeting session I end up in since so many vendors never bother to send along the slides.” We heard the latter complaint several times; Guy Creese of Burton Group has the numbers: “Half the time (I keep stats on this, since I find it so aggravating), I’m not sent the Powerpoint.”
  • PDF had its champions too. HP’s Gerry Van Zandt noted its broad platform support and backward compatibility; “for those who DO use Office, you have the issue of the older Office 2003 .ppt/.xls/.doc and the Office 2007 .pptx/.xlsx/.docx files. If you don’t have the translators installed, it’s a pain.”
  • Send in advance; preparation makes the meeting more effective. Rick Brusuelas: “allows analysts to prepare better (isn’t the point to get useful feedback?).” It also helps AR do their job better; Duncan Chapple of Lighthouse AR noted, “if the analyst gets the slides, then so does the AR manager, and that helps spokespeople to be more coherent over time.” Jocelyn Eisenberg likes the active role it facilitates for her: “I insist presentation decks be provided to me in PPT format so I can edit them, if necessary, before sending them on to the analysts.”
  • Powerpoint’s file size can be an issue. Sandy Berman says IBM  “sometimes sends PDFs if the PPT file is too big for the firm’s firewall or gateway or whatever it is that returns huge files to me as undeliverable.” Of course, there may be a hint in there about the contents of the file, too…

Finally, the file is not the point; communication is. Curt Monash, for one, doesn’t want slides at all, and rarely looks at them a second time. Last word to Henry Harteveldt of Forrester: “What I CANNOT stand is the briefing organization taking me through slide by deathly slide. I learned to read at a very young age.”

The survey will run through April 20 and then I’ll do a wrapup.