I irrationally hate PowerPoint, perhaps because it’s gone from being a useful teaching tool to an outrageous container for romantic sayings or cat photos shared indiscriminately via email by mothers and grandmothers. Thus I am happy to receive with open arms the new tool from Office, Sway, which despite still being in beta lets anyone use it for free to create their own dynamic webpages to serve as collaborative publications or digital presentations.
Sway is focused on managing content via the cloud, and its control panel lets you work with your projects either through your browser or on the mobile versions of the app, which are about to arrive. You can associate your user account with other services like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or OneNote (Microsoft looking out for Number One with that last one), such that using its ‘drag and drop’ system you can create all sorts of multimedia documents without much effort or any prior knowledge.
This simplicity is based on the distribution of the project into independent modules to which you can assign a specific function in the form of text, images, or pull quotes. You can include whatever content you want, using one of a series of templates that will change the look of all the info at a single click as if it were an HTML/CSS style sheet. This analogy is in fact a good reference to understand Sway’s breadth of applications, since thanks to these features you can create both online presentations and webpages with a highly collaborative component.
The modules stack up sequentially, and when you create a new one you’ll get options to modify the header, add text or multimedia content stored on your associated accounts, upload a local file, or assign a feature to the layer in question to group the objects or stack images, among many other options.
The tool was unveiled by Microsoft in early October, and although it still hasn’t been openly distributed for all users, you can still register for the beta and start creating publications from today, and they’ll be anchored to your associated email account as an online project, which can also be published on the web and shared with any user via a unique associated URL.