Over the years, we've had to make hundreds upon hundreds of presentations to clients, showing them our ideas, sketches, and wireframes. However, we kept running into the problem of how to share our presentations quickly, and figured there had to be a better way to do so.
When it came to sharing presentations, PowerPoint and Keynote were OK, but they could occasionally be a pain, especially if the person on the other end didn't have either of those applications. Online presentation apps weren't much better, requiring special software, logins or accounts. As we thought about the problem, we came up with the solution of a lightweight application where you could upload images, powerpoints, and PDFs transforming them into an online slideshow.
That idea would eventually turn into Influence, but first we needed a testbed for our idea … enter Reel.
Reel took over a year to do. Not because we were sitting on our duffs, but because Tanya, one of our lead designers, hacked away at it whenever she had a spare moment between clients. Like everything else we build, Reel started life as a few sketches.Early sketch of Reel's homepage.
With Tanya slowing picking away at the app on her free time, there was a one point when we had to shelve Reel. But when we picked it up again, we had a new toy in the toy box that made building it go a heckuv a lot faster — Foundation, our open-source framework. So we slammed Reel into Foundation and Rails 3 … and presto! Well, it didn't happen that fast, but Foundation got things moving at a quicker pace.
We even used Reel to talk about Reel:
Another fairly complicated script was building a widget that would allow someone to put a presentation up on their blog and quickly load it. However, we didn't want to clog someone's blog by having the entire preso upload every time someone viewed the page. To fix that, we hacked it so that only the first two slides would load and the rest would only load once a person clicked on the preso. What made it really complicated is that we had to deal with iFrames and older versions of IE. We ended up doing some fairly fancy hacking and used a flash java script loader, similar to the one in Notable, to get the embed to work the way we wanted.
As we said above, we were testing the waters for Reel's mother app Influence — a quick way to present new design ideas for feedback. We've finally released Influence in private release, seeking feedback from some early adopters. However, you can still reel in feedback ... so cast your line ...Start Reeling »