Multimedia Authoring SoftwareThis category of multimedia software is by far the most versatile. It can be used to create anything from simple slide shows to full-blown games and interactive applications. There are literally thousands of uses for this type of software: computer-based training, surveys, quizzes and tests, encyclopedias, games, interactive kiosks, interactive presentations, screen savers, CD-ROM/DVD content creation, and advertisements to name a few.
You're likely to find support for a wide variety of multimedia file formats including images, video, and sound, but you're less likely to see clip-art and sound libraries bundled with this type of software compared to some of the other multimedia software programs. High-end products in this category will offer database support for data-driven content. Some products allow you to author in a WYSIWYG environment (what you see is what you get), while others use a timeline-based environment. Although it's not required for all software in this category, much of it involves learning advanced programming and scripting languages to utilize its full capabilities.
Content is definitely intended for distribution and the software generally has some means of exporting projects to self-running, self-installing files. Many products in this category allow you to export your content as screen savers as well. If you intend for your projects to be cross-platform compatible, be sure to carefully examine the product's export specifications; many of these products will only produce stand-alone files for the Windows platform.
Price range is as wide as the potential uses for this genre of software; it can run anywhere from $50 to $1000 or more. Often there is a tiered pricing structure which depends on how the content will be distributed. Pay close attention to the licensing agreement for distribution of your content. It's not uncommon to see one price for personal use, and a much higher price for commercial use or royalty-free distribution.
Business Presentation SoftwareThis type of software is intended for the business user, primarily for creating slide-show style presentations, overhead transparencies, reports, portfolios, and training materials. Pages in presentation software are often referred to as "slides". Completed presentations are frequently published in multiple formats which may include print, the Web, or electronic files.
Most often, presentation projects are used in live presentations. They are commonly projected onto large screens or printed on overhead transparencies. The slides may be distributed in printed form as handouts to accompany the live presentation. Slides are generally intended to be followed in an ordered sequence, although some presentations may utilize interactive forms of navigation. Commonly, this software uses proprietary file formats that are not intended for electronic distribution, although there may be add-ons available for exporting presentations to self-running files for distribution purposes. More and more of this software now has the ability to export to HTML for posting presentations on the Web.
Common features in this type of software include support for popular vector and bitmap image formats, sound effects, animation effects, and transitions. Most products include templates or themes to give the presentation a unified look. Often the software comes bundled with business oriented clip-art, backgrounds, and sound effects. You'll usually find some level of interactivity such as hyperlinking for navigation. OLE support is an important feature to ensure office-suite integration. Text support is often limited to short blocks of text rather than long paragraphs, but you'll often find special text effects for creating eye-catching headlines and bulleted lists. This software has a definite business emphasis, so you're not likely to find flashy effects and cute clip-art, but you will find in-depth help, templates, step-by-step design wizards, and tips to get you up and running quickly and efficiently.
This software generally ranges in price from $150 to $300.
Because Business Presentation and Multimedia Authoring software share similar features, and both are primarily used in a business environment, I have combined the listings for this type of software. Visit the following links to find Business Presentation and Multimedia Authoring software.
Business Presentation & Multimedia Authoring Software for Windows
Business Presentation & Multimedia Authoring Software for Macintosh