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Integrating Live Twitter Feeds into PowerPoint Using SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius


As a frequent presenter, I’ve been wanting to add some more interaction to presentations for a long time. A couple of years ago, I used some .php code I found on the web and an early version of Xcelsius to display a ticker bar during the presentation that contained the subject lines of emails sent to a particular address. And after some frustration, I even managed to put together a simple voting-by-email service that was adapted by the BusinessObjects demo team and worked perfectly during a large internal kickoff.

The system worked, but it was cumbersome: it required server code that broke when my service provider upgraded my hosting service, not many people were equipped with the suitable phones, it was awkward to type out the addresses, and letting somebody else use it meant setting up a separate system.

For all these reasons, the prototype just sat on one of my ancient “to do” lists – until now. Exactly two weeks ago, I suddenly realized that the world had moved on, and that the arrival of Twitter had provided me with a perfect opportunity to revive the prototype.

Twitter provides a service that’s available everywhere, for free, on just about any device (even older phones, using SMS), and lots of people (at least in the Web 2.0 world) are already using it during presentations. And texting/accessing web pages is much easier than it used to be with a new generation of smarter, easier-to-use phones (e.g. there’s a great TweetDeck for the iPhone). So I set out to figure out how to link it to Xcelsius and put the result into a PowerPoint presentation

I looked at the search API, which turned out to be perfect for the job: it uses a simple URL call, no ID is required, and it returns a standard RSS/XML data set.

I used the Xcelsius Excel XML Map integration to grab the data, added a ticker bar and a few buttons, and hey presto!, I had a basic prototype in just a few minutes

I’ve dabbled in the past in some Flash scripting, but I’m completely out of my depth when it comes to the latest ActionScript 3.0 object-oriented code. Xcelsius made it easy for even somebody like me – a slightly geeky marketing guy – to build these tools without using anything more complicated than some Excel formulas.

I tried it out at a conference, and the feedback was very positive, so I shared it with some friends within SAP, added voting, and then decided to release it publicly on my web site dedicated to SAP and Web 2.0 technology:

The prototypes are in “beta”, ready for testing. There are currently three tools — but I already have some others in mind.


  • PowerPoint Twitter ticker bar

  • PowerPoint Twitter feedback slide

  • PowerPoint Twitter voting

I hope to record and share a screencam of how to do this, and I’ll be releasing the “Xcelsius source code” .xlf files. In the meantime, please test out the prototypes, and I welcome any feedback. Follow me on twitter to get the latest news on the project:

Here’s the link to download the tools and get detailed instructions on how to use them:

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