[Update: On December 18, 2014 Flowboard changed the name of this software to FlowVella. This article has been updated to reflect that change.]
If you’re a Mac user who has had to make professional-quality presentations in the past, you probably know that your options for software have generally been limited to Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote applications. Both are powerful tools that allow you to create slick looking presentations for use in a variety of situations, although they can also be needlessly complex, and ponderous at times. This is particularly true for someone who isn’t familiar with all of the nuances of how those programs work, which can make creating a presentation a daunting affair. But a third party app called FlowVella promises to take the complexity and drudgery out of creating beautiful presentations, while also delivering a host of features that you would expect in modern software with a much higher price tag.
A Template for Success
Creating a new presentation with the FlowVella software is a surprisingly easy affair. After the application has launched, you simply select the option to “Create your Flow,” at which time you’ll be presented with a number of templates to serve as a starting point. Those templates include frameworks for making interactive photo albums, thank you cards, catalogs, and even infographics. Of course, there are basic templates for business presentations too, and the “Start from Scratch” option allows you to work without a template at all. The software even includes some options that are timely as well, with holiday themes for the appropriate time of the year appearing automatically in the template gallery.
Once you have selected the template you would like to use, FlowVella will open it with a few sample slides already in place. Those slides will provide tips on how to best use that particular template, and will include designated locations for photos, text, company logos, and various other items. Extra pages can be added as needed, with each of those pages conforming to the format of the original template in terms of color, style, layout, and so on. This ensures that FlowVella users are able to create presentations that are consistent looking, without feeling overly confined at the same time.
Powerful Tools at Your Fingertips
A well-designed template will certainly help a presentation to look good, but it is the content that is added later that truly makes it stand out. FlowVella gives you all of the tools you need to edit those templates quickly and easily, taking them from a generic looking outline, to something that is truly personal in a matter of minutes. For example, text boxes give the user full control over font selection, as well as the size, color, style, and alignment of the characters within it. Similarly, images can be imported onto the slides as well, with the ability to quickly and easily crop and scale them to fit the space provided. All text and graphical elements of the slide can also be designated to serve as buttons to move the presentation forward or backward, while embedded links can be included to jump to a specific slide within the presentation itself, or on to an external website or email address.
These basic tools are just the tip of the iceberg however, as FlowVella has plenty of more advanced options available under its hood. For example, users can easily import their own videos, or embed clips from YouTube or Vimeo. Similarly, PDF’s can also be imported onto a slide too and the software even has a number of pre-designed shapes that can be added at any time. This gives the user a lot of freedom to fully customize the look of their presentations in unique and creative ways, allowing every Flow to appear completely different from any other. There is even an option to create a gallery of photos that can be inserted on a slide with a single click. All of these features are simple enough to use that even beginners will be able to pick up on them in no time at all. In fact, the simplicity and ease of use of this application is actually one of its greatest strengths.
Presentations in the Cloud
In addition to its excellent use of templates, and a suite of powerful, yet easy to use, tools, FlowVella also includes functionality that is firmly rooted in the cloud as well. Upon purchasing the software from the Mac App Store, users will be required to create an account, which provides them with up to 500 MB of uploaded data per month for free. That amount can be doubled to 1 GB on a premium account for those who feel they might need more capacity. Once uploaded, the presentations are hosted in the cloud, allowing FlowVella users have access to their creations from just about anywhere, including on the web and on an iPad. This is incredibly useful when you want to make quick edits to your documents, or need to download it to your computer or tablet.
This cloud-based strategy allows for a lot of versatility in how you share your presentations, as the software will provide a short-link URL that you can send to others who may want to see it for themselves. Best of all, those viewers don’t need to have FlowVella installed on their computers or mobile devices to watch the presentation either, as it will play just fine in their browsers. In fact, the Flowboard website actually has dozens of example presentations available for anyone to see. They not only demonstrate how easy it is to share these files with others, but also how amazing Flowboard presentations can look too.
In addition to having access to the FlowVella cloud storage servers, users can also save their presentations to Dropbox, Box, and other popular cloud-based options. Built-in social networking functionality also makes it easy to quickly share your latest creation with friends, family, and coworkers, while integrated analytics keep you informed of how well your presentation is performing, providing statistics on the number of views and “likes,” as well as allowing others to leave comments on your work.
Simple, Powerful, Affordable
I could go on and on about some the other nice touches that FlowVella has integrated into it software, like the extensive library of video tutorials that can step you through just about any procedure, or the built-in ability to export your creations to PDF files. But I’m sue by now you’re starting to get the picture. FlowVella is an elegant, easy to use solution for creating professional looking presentations that can be viewed directly on a computer, mobile device, or over the web. It is so intuitive and easy to use, that you’re likely to find yourself creating amazing presentations in no time at all, with very little need for outside assistance. While it doesn’t have all of he features that you would find in PowerPoint or Keynote, it is incredibly simple to use, and surprisingly powerful at the same time.
FlowVella also happens to be incredibly affordable as well. The Mac version of the software runs just $19.99, although it is on sale in December for 25% off. An iPad version of FlowVella is also available for free, although a premium version for the tablet will unlock extra functionality for just $4.99. Flowboard also offers an educational version as well, which provides the same functionality at a reduced cost for educators. Considering how fun and useful the software could be in the classroom, I consider it to be a great tool for teachers of all levels.
If you’ve been searching for inexpensive alternative presentation software than FlowVella is probably the answer to your prayers. It is a product that doesn’t skimp on the features and provides lots of great functionality at a price that simply can’t be beat. I think you’ll find it offers everything you need, with lots of great extras too.