ProPresenter + OS X Yosemite = ?

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With Apple’s latest Mac operating system (OS X Yosemite) in the public beta phase and drawing nearer to being publicly released, I have decided to explore the compatibility of ProPresenter running on OS X Yosemite. 

The installation of Yosemite as a beta was rather straightforward without incident. What I will share here is that I have chosen to install it on a separate partition so I can switch and preserve Mavericks on the main partition, with all applications and data. Disk Utility made the creation of a 50GB partition a breeze, and with a beta copy in hand, away I went.

The total install time for Yosemite was 30 minutes, excluding the download time which was another 10 minutes beforehand. In one sense, this article covers and reviews both Yosemite as well as ProPresenter. Yosemite does have a very flat feel to it – gone are the shadows that give Mavericks and all previous versions of OS X more depth on-screen. The simplicity of the look and feel does bring it into alignment with iOS 7 on the iPhone/iPad. One of the obvious UI changes to me was the highlight in blue – which can be customised to a dark fray effect as well.

For some reason, Office for Mac 2011 appeared in Yosemite even though I did NOT install it, although it was existing on the main partition for Mavericks… I will explain this part later on, but for now, the only application I loaded on the clean Yosemite environment was ProPresenter, which I downloaded from scratch from RenewedVision.com. The installation itself ran as expected, with the familiar “drag application icon to Applications folder/shortcut” procedure.

In order to launch ProPresenter, I utilised the Spotlight function, which introduced me to the new centre-screen look and feel. This behaviour was very similar to the way it works on iOS. The search results were very fast although I did see a brief message as I typed in “Pro” stating that indexing was taking place. The search results were presented in a new layout, with the left half listing all results whilst the right half provided more details and in-depth information. In order to launch ProPresenter from the list of search results, I did have to double-click it.

The initial first-time loading experience including the set-up of a standard library set of background images/videos. I was also prompted to nominate a user library/preference location. At the conclusion of the first-time set-up, the progress bar and start-up window appeared to freeze and ProPresenter appeared to be thinking (cue the swirling rainbow circle that Apple has used to indicate “system busy”). After waiting for about 30 seconds, I gave up and closed it via the application menu (ProPresenter > Quit). The second time I launched the application it loaded much quicker, as indicated by the progress bar animation, and before I knew it, the ProPresenter License Registration window was before me. Since this is purely an experiment to test compatibility, I clicked on Demo and I was in.

The layout and presentation all remain unchanged – as expected. Playing around with key settings via the familiar Preferences window seemed to demonstrate a fully operational and capable application. The list of fonts available when editing a song/PowerPoint is controlled via the operating system, so I spent a little time selecting different fonts, sending the output to display and toggling the Output display (Command-1). The next test was on video handling. In the Video/Image Bin, I opened up an existing MP4 video clip and played it. I also then started playing with the standard video settings, experimenting with the various outputs and effects on the video. Functionally, everything operated as expected. From a performance perspective, it was hard to gauge improvements since I have not actually used ProPresenter on the iMac before, so I have no benchmark to compare against…

The only issue that arose throughout my compatibility testing of ProPresenter on Yosemite was when I attempted to import a PowerPoint presentation. This was how I discovered that somehow, Yosemite had installed or recognised the existing installation of Office for Mac on the machine, even though it resided on the separate Mavericks partition of the hard drive. the PowerPoint icon appeared in the dock and started hopping, as it does when an application requires the user’s attention. In this case, Microsoft PowerPoint was attempting to load up and was encountering some errors. I noticed that some of the errors also affected PowerPoint’s detection of who the user/organisation was – those details were missing/corrupted as PowerPoint attempted to launch. The final error message stated that PowerPoint was unable to load the presentation – it was NOT clear to me if this error message was from ProPresenter or PowerPoint. To check that PowerPoint was working in isolation, I opened the presentation file directly in PowerPoint which worked without a glitch.

Overall, given the OS X minimum system requirement for ProPresenter is OS X Leopard (10.6.8) it would appear that this next release in OS X Yosemite should not radically change the compatibility of the program. Further, the general look and feel of the ProPresenter UI does not strictly conform to the standard Apple theme, so the changes in Mavericks to Yosemite that affect system font, menu presentation and UI controls all have a minimal impact on use of ProPresenter.

Naturally, the capability of stage display and the iOS ProPresenter Remote app are existing custom-designed and built instances of where content is delivered via all devices – and this capability is not that dissimilar to the new Yosemite / iOS Continuity feature. It remains to be seen if Renewed Vision will investigate and explore rebuilding or even leveraging aspects of the Continuity SDK to introduce new ways of delivering content and visual production across multiple devices. One area where this feature may be of most practical benefit and use would be the development of slides/material. If the Slide Editor capability could be enhanced into another distinct iOS/OS X application, then Pastors and church creative media staff could work in this separate environment on sermons and announcement material, bring their finished product on their iPad or even Macbook to the main ProPresenter machine (iMac invariably?) and continuity would transfer the data onto the main machine… This is simply a raw thought/idea, and would likely need more serious consideration before becoming a fully fledged feature…

AirPlay functionality has also predated Yosemite for enabling a second display for use as an extended desktop. In fact, AirPlay’s extended desktop feature is a key enabler to simplifying use of ProPresenter, since it creates a wireless projection system direct to the video output (via an Apple TV). It is for this very reason that I would champion Apple TVs in all environments so I can easily and wirelessly project and create ProPresenter-produced visual displays.

In short, a greater test of compatibility for ProPresenter would be with different hardware specifications; at the operating system level – unless OS X Yosemite was re-engineering the existing display drivers, APIs and features, I would NOT expect any visible or significant impact on ProPresenter. Nevertheless, as with the introduction of any change into an operating environment, robust and thorough testing should be conducted to ensure a smooth operation. The future release of an iWatch device would present an interesting challenge should Renewed Vision want to explore the possibility of an iWatch version of the ProPresenter Remote app…

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