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Episode 1: The obligatory “what we’re all about” posting
Hello, welcome to the PowerPoint and the Office Art team blog. A different kind of blog, written by several members of the team, about the work we are doing to make better software for you.
This blog was created to talk directly to you specifically about that work. We’re taking a slightly different approach from most blogs by sharing the space; it’s not about a single person’s viewpoint, it’s a team blog. We think this will give you a variety of content and provide technically in-depth discussions, while avoiding taking too much time away from our day jobs.
Entries will, for the most part, be written by Program Managers on the team. You may not be familiar with that job discipline; there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Program managers are not, strictly speaking, developers. They are not project managers or marketeers. The job description of Microsoft program management is fairly unique in the industry. I regularly use the following quote, originally from a Microsoft want-ad, as a concise description of the job:
As a program manager, you'll be the product's technical catalyst, owning development from inception to release. You will write product specifications and drive all aspects of development, from implementation and testing through marketing and delivery of the latest Microsoft products.
Pretty accurate. Here’s another description taken from an exhibit in the Microsoft Museum:
The job of program management is to take the basic idea for the product and give it definition. By applying the result of market research, talking directly to users, working with competitive products, and soliciting viewpoints from within Microsoft, the program manager develops a feel for what the customer needs. Now decisions on what features can be made on the product will be made.
So then program managers are catalysts, taking input from customers and our own observations, working to champion the development of our applications. In creating the “next version” of the application we try to feed our developers information, through specifications and bug reports, so that they’re free to excel in the actual construction of the program - the writing of the code. We keep the customer in mind, weigh and judge the various use scenarios, and drop everything to listen to a complaint or hint of a customer problem. But it’s important to realize that we’re nothing without the rest of the team.
The team is really two groups of folks. Within the Office organization we call ourselves PGS – Presentation and Graphics Services. Half of the team is involved in creating shared graphics and text services for all of Office. That team, and the technology, is called OfficeArt. Of course PowerPoint is a prime consumer of the work that the OfficeArt team does, so it’s no surprise we’re joined at the hip. The rest of the team is involved in “core” PowerPoint work; editing presentation content and managing the slide show. To be honest, there’s a lot of shared team work in the larger Office organization, PowerPoint gets a lot of functionality teams that do diagramming, charting, security, file management, the user interface… almost anything that appears in more than one place in Office is likely to have a shared team associated with it.
Which leads me to another aspect of working in PGS; we’re mostly located in California, not Washington. PowerPoint was originally created by a Silicon Valley startup named Forethought Corp. Development of PowerPoint remained exclusively in California for years. In the last few years that team moved onto a new Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus with other local products such as MSN TV, Hotmail, and some of the XBOX hardware development team. Over the years key parts of PowerPoint itself have moved back and forth between states. For example, the slideshow, animation and multimedia components are done by members of our team that are located in Redmond. So you really have to say that PowerPoint development spans two states, and involves a lot of talented people.
When it became time to integrate graphics creation and handling in all the Office applications the PowerPoint team was a large part of that process. All the Office applications contributed resources to the initial release back in Office 97, but from then on the PGS team was the core team for maintenance and development of new graphics features within Office.
There are about a dozen PGS program managers. Several of us have been discussing doing an PowerPoint and OfficeArt blog for a while, to tag-team writing it to share the general load. Which leads to the obvious question; with all the other work we have to do, why blog? Well, like any good leading question, there are several answers.
First, and most important, we think the PowerPoint and OfficeArt story, the development and use of the application, and the development of graphics features in Microsoft Office, is inherently interesting. Maybe that’s just us, but it’s gotten you to read this far.
We also believe we’re uniquely positioned to give you these interesting stories and insights. We think that the information you’ll get reading this blog will be useful. That, I’m afraid, you’ll have to take on faith, but we promise to try. We also look forward to reading your comments on posts, as you might have guessed by now it’s a large part of what we do.
Finally, we all think we develop great graphics applications, ready for use by anyone with a computer and a need to express themselves. We’d like the opportunity to expound on its strengths and innovations, and frankly to explain some of its shortcomings. Of course we want to talk about the new applications that are coming as much as we can, but we won’t ignore the ones that you use today.
We’d like you to come along for the ride and see where it gets us all.
Really looking forward to this. Let's get creative. I am sure a lot of people will be interested in this blog, after all this is something we PPT-people use every single day. So count me in. Seems I am the first to post here, I will certainly not be the last. Have a nice day Luc
Glad to see this up and running - great info written in an eminently conversational style. And it's nice to see a PowerPoint blog platform on MSDN - I've bookmarked this page!
yay! I'm really looking forward to reading this blog. Good start, guys. Echo
Great Job All! Can't Wait to read the next edition.
Definitely looking forward to more to come on these topics. Thanks for letting me join. GCostigan
Just updated the list of blogs for my feedreader. And I think this one will be one of the most interesting ones for me. Regards from Germany,
Very interesting. I'm looking forward to the blogs on PowerPoint and Office Art! Thanks!
nice blog! this would help all ppt-people out there.... I hope you could also discuss sites like www.free-power-point-templates.com, that could also help in making powerpoint presentations...