Latitude Advances Flash-PowerPoint Integration

iCreate 2.0, Latitude's first new version of the rich-media content tool since acquiring it earlier this year, foretells future Flash integration with Web conferencing.

Latitude Communications Inc. on Friday launched a new version of a rich-media content creation tool that it acquired in April in a prelude to the further integration of Flash capabilities into its overall Web conferencing platform.

MeetingPlace iCreate 2.0, the first release of the software since Latitude acquired software maker Wanadu Inc., allows users to convert Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into Flash documents as well as insert Flash, audio, video and interactive elements into PowerPoint documents.

The new release combines the server and desktop software into one product, said Darin Dunlap, product marketing manager. iCreate 2.0 also includes the ability to better group slides in a presentation according to topic and enhanced audio editing and conversion capabilities.

As a stand-alone software tool, iCreate 2.0 is typically used in creating presentations for training, e-learning, and sales and marketing. But Latitude, of Santa Clara, Calif., also has plans to integrate by the middle of next year many of its capabilities, specifically the PowerPoint-to-Flash conversion, into its core MeetingPlace Web and voice conferencing platform, said CEO Rick McConnell.

Increasing Flash support in Web conferencing is important because Flash has become so ubiquitous, McConnell said. Yet, nearly 80 percent of the presentations for Web conferencing are created with PowerPoint, he said.

"Flash is on millions of desktops, and this would allow us to have access to all those desktops for Web conferencing," he said.

iCreate 2.0, available now, consists of a plug-in for PowerPoint 2000, XP or 2003 that adds the Flash conversion tools and ability to create interactive elements to slides as well as server software that can run on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. It is available either through an enterprise software license or as a hosted service.

Beyond integrating iCreate features into MeetingPlace, Latitude is planning to launch multipoint video capabilities into its Web conferencing platform in the first half of 2004 as part of a partnership with Radvision Corp., McConnell said. Latitude already has begun conducting demonstrations of the new video features.

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