Prezi – My Nemesis!

When I first heard about Prezi (the PowerPoint) killer from a blog post Robert Scoble posted in September of 2010, I was excited. Jump forward a couple years and I finally had the opportunity to use it for some client work. Apparently Scoble must not have ever actually USED the application.

Unfortunately my excitement faded quickly when I realized how frustrating the software actually is.

This post is going to be a blunt overview of my frustrations using Prezi. I'm not going to beat around the bush and add a bunch of fluff to come across as being nice about it. I will be blunt because it's the easiest and most effective way at getting things done and as a developer myself I understand the need for precise constructive criticism. Plus, there is a good chance some of my frustrations are just a matter of me not understanding something, so hopefully they will let me know where I'm wrong.

I have high hopes for Prezi, I think it could be a really nice piece of software - I'm just shocked at how lacking it is despite being out for over 2 years.

Here we go:

Backgrounds

  • There is no option to do a repeatable background, a repeatable background would allow me to use a smaller image and help to reduce load times
  • In theory you might be able to do it through CSS but we don’t know paths to any of the images we upload into Prezi
  • Getting the background to fill the full display of various sized devices can be tough because the position of the background changes depending on zoom level when adding in objects due to the parallax effect, so the image has to be huge compared to your objects placed on the workspace
  • Plus, when presenting - as you navigate from object to object, Prezi will zoom in and out which is good but sometimes it will zoom out enough that you will see the edges of the background image (when not using the "3D Background"

Images

  • Why can’t we simply swap or update images - we have to actually re-upload, re-size, re-position every time. I'd like to just right-click on an image and click "Update" and go out and select my updated image and have it re-upload but keep my same scale and position on the workspace
  • We can’t scale images from a corner, we always have to scale from the center and can’t type in a specific value
  • The scaling increment amount changes depending on your zoom level, making it really hard to match up one object with other or when you are swapping out an image with an update
  • We can’t add simple CSS properties settings on images, adding in a CSS border would be really handy and would keep my Prezi cleaner and more optimized (rather than adding in a frame around an image)
  • Why can't I make an image, shape, object into a link? You can type a link into a text block, but then you see the link, you can't simply wrap some text in a link

CSS

  • Misspelled error message display (IE 10):
    • Prezi ErrorPrezi Error
    • Oddly, if you copy the error text and paste it someplace it is all spelled correctly
  • Why can’t apply custom classes and styles to specific objects?
  • Doesn’t seem to use standard CSS property names - why should I have to learn another new syntax?
  • The scrollbar (bar) doesn’t show up n CSS editor, so you have to either click the up/down arrows (which is super slow), or you have to scroll with your mouse wheel (also slow)
  • Annoying class names (shape.style1) - ugh

Shapes

  • Can’t name shapes and apply custom styles
  • Can’t add my own custom shapes to quick list of shapes - have to simply upload an image and copy it over and over
  • Can’t add patterns/images as backgrounds to shapes
  • Would be nice to be able to add in margins to frames/shapes so that when in presenting mode it will zoom to the margin edge rather than the frame edge
    • Right now if you want to have a visible frame with some margin you have to do two frames (the visible one wrapped with an invisible one) – that’s annoying

Text

  • I hate that every time I click outside of an object it brings up the Text tool
  • Used to not be able to delete the default textboxes on an new Prezi (this seemed to get fixed recently)
  • Can’t define actual font sizes, this makes it really hard to keep text sizes across various elements of the same size
  • Can’t do numbered lists
  • Can’t bold, Italic, cross-out, underline text
  • Only 3 main styles available– why can’t we have H1 – H6?

Alignment

  • There is no align left, center, right buttons for objects
  • Only alignment option is a line when moving objects (only works sometimes) and will randomly pick which object it's aligning to
  • To align an object with another you have to group them and then align with a 3rd object, group, align with 4th, etc. to get decent and consistent alignment
  • I should just be able to select a bunch of objects and quickly align them
  • I should be able to select a bunch of objects and distribute them as well
  • Not all objects allow for alignment with each other - photos won't align with shapes for instance (not for me anyway)
  • Trying to align manually is tough, it seems to change based on your zoom level
  • Having a grid system that stays consistent would be nice for lining up objects, right now it changes depending on zoom level

Grouping

  • If you overlap one object with another, they automatically get grouped together - irritating as hell
  • What’s the point in having a group option if they automatically group?
  • This a really annoying issue when trying to swap out an image and you overlay the new one with the old one to scale/position it the same as the original version, suddenly they are attached together and deleting the original one is tough

Selections

  • I can’t always select objects, seems to depend on your zoom level - this seems odd
  • Auto-grouping makes selections / moving objects difficult

Zooming

  • Several times I accidently made an object too small, it got pushed outside of allowed zoom level
  • I don't understand why it even allows me to reach that zoom level if it breaks the app
  • When selecting the object to make it larger it throws an error saying it’s too far out and won’t let me scale it larger (FAQ for this issues suggests doing this and re-scaling, but it won't let you re-scale, it just complains that it's to far out)
  • Provided solutions for zoom issues work somewhat, still doesn’t solve original problem though of why not just prevent me from making something that small?
  • Can’t define type of “Transition” (Zoom or slide) very easily (seems to depend on distance/rotation of related slides)

Show/Hide

  • Why can’t I hide objects until navigated to when using the navigation arrows?
  • I can only hide objects inside of frames (but this is super limited) and doesn't allow you to actually hide the frame itself

Importing Slides

  • Importing PowerPoint slides is a nice feature and would be an easy way to allow a clients to make updates to the Prezi without having to deal with actually using Prezi
  • The problem though is that there is no way to “Update” a slide, you have to re-import it, re-size, rotate, etc. every time - ugh

Presentation

  • On iPad you have to use the Prezi App - you can't use a browser (I couldn't anyway)
  • On iPad the navigation arrows are on the left/right and work great
    • Except when you have an object positioned within an inch of the sides, which in return causes you to hit the arrows instead of the object
  • You have to double tap objects to zoom in on an iPad
  • Double tapping to zoom out doesn’t always take you out to the correct zoom level
  • Viewing presentation in a browser with a mouse works well
    • It is nice because it only requires a single click to navigate around objects
    • Problem is that the arrows to navigate around show up at the bottom of the screen, rather than the sides like the Prezi App (This is super annoying)
  • When presenting on my Surface, the arrows will go away, and there is no easy way to bring them back up other than to slightly move the presentation
    • Single tap works well on my Surface
    • Other than the arrow issue, displaying the Prezi on my Surface was the nicest experience
  • Why does every object have to be “Active” would be nice to define whether an object activates the zoom in and out

So those are all the annoyances I can remember at the moment, it's a pretty big list in my opinion (especially for a paid product), hopefully Prezi will fix some of these issues.

I have been using software for 20 some odd years and have to say that Prezi is one of the only applications that absolutely drove me nuts, I honestly do not understand how the average person is able to make it do what they want.

It's possible I'm simply asking it to do something it isn't designed to do, but to me, it seems like there are quite a few glaring features that are missing. At this point, PowerPoint is safe if you ask me.