Craft your Presentations with Sway storytelling app from Microsoft

Last week Microsoft announced the general release of its Sway digital storytelling app. Sway, which is part of Microsoft Office and designed for creating presentations is, in many ways, an alternative to PowerPoint. 

Sway was first announced in October last year and has been available in “preview” status since then. Its general release means it is available to the public and to Office 365 for business and education customers worldwide. The software is available as a downloadable app for Windows 10, iPhone and iPad, or as part of Office Online. The app fits perfectly into Microsoft’s recent “cloud first, mobile first” approach: designed for use across phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and other devices.

The purpose of Sway is to convey concepts quickly, easily and clearly. Unlike PowerPoint, it is primarily for presenting ideas onscreen rather than to an audience. Tutorials, topic introductions and interactive reports are the sort of things to which it lends itself. Sway presentations are backed up to the cloud, and can be easily shared or embedded in websites.

The Sway interface is based around a story line, into which users add a series of cards. These cards are then filled with content, with different cards available for different types of content, and which can be grouped together into sections. Content intended to be the user’s narrative can be easily added, removed, edited or reordered. This flexibility should allow stories created in Sway to be much more free-flowing that presentations created in PowerPoint.

An overall theme of a Sway can be selected by the user and some additional design tinkering can be done, but otherwise Sway’s built-in design engine chooses how your Sway will look and users have little control over the formatting of individual elements. This may sound limiting, but, by minimizing the amount of tinkering that users can do, the app is kept simple and is optimized for creating presentations quickly. The design engine of Sway does a pretty good job of making its presentations look coherent and optimizes the design for viewing across different devices.

Once a Sway is completed, it is possible to play it in the desired non-editing viewing mode and to share it. Sways can be shared via the user’s public gallery, via social media, as a link or as a piece of embeddable media. 

Sources: Fast Company, Microsoft