PowerPoint is omnipresent and everywhere – and there are even people
out there who compare it to death! So, why has this program escaped all this
some sort of integration with databases?
It would probably be wrong to say that there has been no use of PowerPoint
with databases in the past. I myself am aware of many custom solutions built
by PowerPoint and database consultants that have explored amazing uses of the
two application flows together. However, no such solution has been made available
to a mainstream audience - in fact, many mainstream PowerPoint users probably
don't expect any database integration of any sort for PowerPoint slides. And
then comes along DataPoint and tries to change attitudes. Will this concept
succeed? Let's find answers...
Take-off and DataPoint
DataPoint is a PowerPoint add-in created by Take-off, a Belgium based company
that was founded in 1998 with a goal is to build products and consultancy for
the aviation market (more airports than airlines). Take-off builds AODB and
AODB stands for Airports Operational Database. It collects, distributes and
validates airport information such as flight info, check ins, gates, etc. FIDS
stands for Flight information Display Systems. This is a system that you as
a passenger see at every airport - they show your flight information,
boarding status, advertising, etc. This is also used by staff to know which
luggage is going to which aircraft, flight tracking and delays.
Take-off is headed by Kurt Dupont, Director who was also my contact for this
review. Thank you, Kurt. For more information, visit the Take-off
site... Also, do visit this extensive feature
list for DataPoint...
Evolving and Applying DataPoint
I asked Kurt about how DataPoint evolved:
"For several years I was hoping that Microsoft would include
database connectivity into PowerPoint. They did not so I took the challenge.
After 2 years of investigations and development, DataPoint has been released.
Some testers have been using the system already for several months."
I also asked Kurt about application areas for DataPoint and he provided some
extensive info. Since most of this is so valuable, I'm reproducing the entire
- A music hall is using DataPoint to display the play list of bands, singers
together with the schedule. Next to this online presentation, they use PowerPoint
and DataPoint to generate flyers.
- Inform your personnel on the work floor about the current status of a project/product.
- Display the random numbers of a bingo event.
- Someone has collected information in Excel or Access but his or her boss
wants to have a PowerPoint presentation.
- Score board for games, elections and votes.
- To maintain a companys product list, prices and stock information.
- An overview presentation with the status of all ongoing projects in a company.
The information is collected from a Microsoft Project database.
- To welcome visitors at the reception desk
The screenshots above show DataPoint working behind the scenes to output
dynamic data driven PowerPoint presentations that deliver airport flight
schedules (left) and weather forecast reports (right).
Download and Installation
A 30-day trial of DataPoint is available from the
Take-off site. Installation is a simple affair and you get to choose
whether you want the add-in initialized for PowerPoint 2000 or 2002/03. The
first time you run PowerPoint after installing DataPoint, you'll find a new
DataPoint menu and toolbar.
DataPoint provides an easy way to link any PowerPoint presentation, especially
text boxes to dynamic data sourced from Excel spreadsheets, text files or database
The easiest way to get to grips with DataPoint is through the excellent tutorials
provided within the help file. There are four tutorials that teach you the
basics of using DataPoint.
The first of these shows you how to insert a live clock and time counter within
a slide. The other three explain how you would link content in PowerPoint's
text boxes dynamically from a text (CSV - Comma Separated), spreadsheet (XLS
- Excel) and database (MDB - Access) file. Amazingly, the tutorials don't tell
you to change the values in the data sources and see how they update within
the slides, but that's probably understood anyway.
I asked Kurt what they plan to do next with DataPoint - and PowerPoint 2003
compatibility is top on his list of new features planned. Also, the next DataPoint
update should be able to function with multiple versions of PowerPoint installed
on the same system.
Pricing and Support
DataPoint for PowerPoint 2000 or 2002/03 costs EUR 179 each and you can upgrade
from the 2000 to the 2002/03 version for EUR 99. Payments are processed online
through ShareIt - after your transaction is validated, Take-off will send you
a permanent license key by email.
Support is through a FAQ hosted online on the Take-off website - for problems
or doubts not resolved through the FAQ, users are encouraged to contact Take-off
email or phone for further support.
DataPoint is an exceedingly simple add-in that achieves its purpose of existence
by linking PowerPoint presentations to dynamic data sources. Most of the time,
you'll want a copy of DataPoint installed on any delivery machine so that data
links can be maintained. Alternatively, you can break data links, but that
would mean that the dynamic source connection would be severed altogether.
DataPoint is a little pricey, but comparable solutions which actually don't
exist at this time would probably be much more expensive than this. All put
together, DataPoint uses PowerPoint only as a data display tool - all other
procedures are entirely hidden from the end user thus providing a seamless
data connection that is extremely easy to use and maintain. I'm sure that justifies
I have no qualms recommending this product.