Pretty slides with Sketchapp for PowerPoint and Google Slides via Drawing

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Well the world has moved way beyond the clipart of Microsoft PowerPoint, so now what’s a person to do if they want really great artwork and beautiful slides.

TL;dr

First get pretty icons to with Gsuite, you need to export them to WMF and stick them in Google Drawing

  • The Noun Project. This is *the* place to get beautiful icons. They come in SVG format which is the format of the future. Its pretty clear you want a set of assets in SVG format into Google Drive.
  • Install Sketch and make sure you have Sketch Cloud, party away making incredibly cool diagrams. Then when you are ready export it
  • Now from the web interface https://google.com/drive, you want to open this with Cloudconvert and choose it when you right click and choose Open With on the SVG and select the WMF export format and hit convert and have it save it back to Google Drive. Note that there is a bug where there will be a big black box on top, just ungroup and delete it.
  • After a little bit, you will. have a WMF that you can Open With Google Drawing. Note that you cannot import this, you have to open with Google Drawing and then copy and paste it.
  • Once open in Google Drawing, it gets saved in GDraw format and you can now copy and paste to Google Docs, etc.
  • When you are done doing the edits in Google Drawing, which you need to do because you will get the right dimensions, then you export it back with a Save As SVG.
  • Then on your Mac, you can copy it to the GDrive and open it in Sketch. Sketch will then create it’s own file format and you’ve rounded tripped!

To make it work with Mac PowerPoint:

  1. you use the same Inkscape to do a command line conversion to EPS or PDF and this will import directly so it saves a step you don’t need to have it in separate drawing application.
  2. This does not work with EMF or WMF as you get a big black box on top way, so Microsoft is way better (but lacking on collaboration in real time on the web). Also unlike Google Drawings, this comes as a single object, you can’t edit the pieces.

The ugly details

Where these beautiful drawings should go is the biggest factor because the two biggies only import certain formats. The main thing is to make sure it doesn’t just convert it to a bitmap (e.g. JPG, or BMP) because that means you lose all the resolution and get rasterization errors plus the size is huge. The net is that EMF seems like the lingua franca across all these tools, so the strategy is to keep the documents in read/writeable SVG and then export into read-only EMF

  • Google Slides. They unfortunately don’t import SVG nor does it support EMF, SVG, EPS or PDF imports but it does support WMF via Google Drawings, instead, you have to have a running web app to copy from so bizarrely you have to have Windows Office to make this copy work or you have to use Google Drawings and copy and paste from there.
  • Mac Office. Annoyingly, only the Windows versions of PowerPoint support SVG natively. It does however grok EMF and EPS (although it does a bitmap conversion).
  • Windows Office  has SVG directly so it is a single step from Sketchapp (although this is Mac only)
  • Google Drive. It knows how to deal with SVG directly but only as a readonly object. That is it only has a viewer.

Give that, what are the choices for drawing applications and storage. You ideally want a format like SVG which is read and written and then you might have intermediate form. Looking at this list, the best choices seem to be Inkscape or Sketch.app:

  • Sketchapp also supports EPS and PDF and SVG export from it’s native Sketch format, EPS is not a bad one. We don’t use the more general PDF. because Google Slides doesn’t support that kind of import. It does cost $99 though but is way prettier. So to get to Mac Office is a one step create EPS.
  • Cloudconvert.com for instance which does this. But Install Cloudconvert as a Google application for Google Apps. Note that when doing WMF conversion, any colored object just comes out black on top, so you need to ungroup it and then underneath you will find the document. Also note that text boxes are turned into individual letters. The black box is a problem with Cloudconvert and also Inkscape.
  • Mac application like Gapplin to do this.
  • You can also do this from the command like with Inkscape
  • Inkscape. This is the open source version of Sketch.app. It does require XQuartz to run. You can install with Macports or Home brew. It has EMF export using Inkscape Save As or use EPS as the secondary format as this is something that Mac. However, it doesn’t seem to import SVG properly, I get an error from the Homebrew installed version. Plus it is an ultra ugly XQuartz applications. PowerPoint does understand. It’s native format is SVG so a pretty good choice.
  • Google Drawing. This is an editor like Sketch.app but is web based unfortunately it only support SVG and PDF as an output, so not super useful unless you add another translator https://openclipart.org to convert it into EMF for consumption by PowerPoint and Google Slides but this is an extra step. It is web-based though, so that’s attractive. It also does not import SVG so you can’t use it with other libraries
  • Google Autodraw. This takes any doodle and turns it with AI into a beautiful chart but it’s just a demo and only outputs PNG.

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