Powerpoint Problem Within OLP

edited November -1 in Troubleshooting

Hi guys

Back to plague you again with a silly problem - but its one that has tripped me up for the last two Sunday's in a row and had me scrambling about in the last few minutes before the service started to fix the problem.

We are now using OLP for all Sunday Services and have OLP installed on our Pastor's home PC and all those of our tech team (all three of us!).  In each case I have set up OLP to use an NTFS junction to redirect OLP from the the usual 'Appdata/Roaming/OpenLP/data' folder to a 'data' folder in our shared Dropbox account (obviously all 'data' sub-folders are included as well).

This has worked really well with changes to Themes, Custom Slides and Songs replicating smoothly to all users.  However media, and powerpoints are not working well and PPTs in particular are causing a real pain (since we use them more often).

The problem is that if I prep and add in a responsive reading as a ppt/pptx file I obviously first load it into my powerpoint library and click on the 'add to service' button. (All fine). When I save my Service and transfer it (via Dropbox) it opens OK on the main church PC and it shows the right filename at the right point in the service, (I can even click on the expand button and see that there are 5 slides / 9 slides or whatever) - but the PPT will neither preview nor play correctly.  (I thought that the service format was supposed to be a self contained file including all PPT files - is this not correct?)

In trying to troubleshoot I thought - OK, lets add the same ppt back into the Powerpoint library on the church PC and that should fix it. But it doesn't. In fact the only fix I can find is to delete it from the service and then 're-add' it back from my local Powerpoint library.

Can someone explain exactly how the Powerpoint library operates? Is there an sqlite file somewhere else that I'm not replicating through Dropbox?  If files are already being sync'd, does anyone have any ideas why the ppts are mis-behaving in this way.  I have noticed that adding a ppt file to the 'data/powerpoint/' transfers it through Dropbox but again does not lead to it being automatically picked up and added to the  powerpoint library within OLP. If OLP simply uses pointers held in its library to access external ppt files then what is the point of this folder?

I am also wondering how this situation might be complicated by the situation where users access PPT/PPTX files directly via the Dropbox folder rather than clicking down each time through appdata -> Roaming -> OpenLP etc.  Does relative adddressing within the pointer trip you up ie 'c:/users/MY_USERNAME/Dropbox/ChurchMM/Powerpoint.ppt' versus 'c:/users/CHURCH_PC1/Dropbox/ChurchMM/Powerpoint.ppt' (Though presumably the 'MY_USERNAME' addressing also creeps in to using the longer 'appdata/roaming/openlp' path).

Sorry this is a bit longwinded. I just wanted to clarify the problem as fully as I could. I trust that you can clearly see what I'm wanting to do at any rate.

This is clearly not a big issue. It only becomes a problem when our pastors (helpfully - :p) throw in last minute changes to the service on their own withiout understanding this and bork a perfectly working service minutes before it starts.  On Sunday last, they did this just before leaving home and then didn't even copy the modified ppt into Dropbox (and they were so unhappy with me when their beautiful ppt refused to play....).

I would expect that re-coding to address this might take some time so any sort of workaround you can suggest in the interim would also be gratefully received.

God Bless



  • edited October 2012

    Hi Alan,

    Interresting post, thanks!

    However sorry, my message is not an answer to your question about how OLP handles the PowerPoints in the service files.

    It is rather motivated by my curiosity about how did you solve the concurency issues between multiple and/or simultaneous DropBox-OLP users. Have you nailed this problem down?



  • edited October 2012

    Gee, I thought I was the only one who had this problem....

    My home PC, was home built, and to save the cost of Windows, I put on Fedora, well it's Fedora now... I create a Service on the home PC. copy everything to the church PC and the Powerpoint Barfs, unless I copy the powerpoint file and add it to presentations, then it works fine.  I don't add presentations at home anymore, I just copy the file into the service directory with the service and add it at the church.

    I think one of the issues is that the registry/config files are used for storing the presentation file links, which are then linked to the file somewhere.  I think a better design for this, would be to copy the presentation file into the presentations directory and use an SQLite database to do the linking.   It's a little refining in the design, the registry/config should be used for items that are machine specific, the data directory should be used for things that are installation specific.  In other words, if I use two computers, I should be able to copy the data directory from one machine to another, and then run a service on the second machine, without needing to redo things.

  • edited October 2012

    The PowerPoint file is held in the service file (if you rename the .osz to .zip you can then navigate down the folders and see the original ppt file)

    I'll have to investigate the cross-computer issues some more when I have access to a second computer. I did just try adding a ppt to a service, and then deleting the ppt from the media manager and source file from disk, before re-opening the service. The powerpoint worked fine. So why it causes an issue across computers I don't yet know.

    We used to take a copy of the PowerPoint in V1, however this was something of a pain. It wasn't obvious to the user that OpenLP was using a copy, therefore if they had to fix/change a slide after the import they did so in the original file. It then caused some confusion when going live on the copy in OpenLP when the changes weren't there. Therefore in V2 we decided to just point to the original. There are obviously pros and cons to each approach.


  • edited October 2012


     Thanks for your comments. I'll await your update but don't sweat it.  It's a minor irritation and I'll await a fix in some future update.  Enjoy the V2.0 launch and take a break for a week or two... You guys have all earned it


    VideoPsalm:re concurrency problems. We generally operate on a two week rotating rota for all service prep at my church. When its not my weeks, I generally leave OLP well alone - so there is rarely a chance of of two people trying to make changes to the database at once (Also, a side benefit of the pain I went through getting all of our hymnbook + SoF + Source added in in one go is that we very rarely need to edit the Song database now). 

    I don't understand the technicalities of Dropbox concurrency protection (if there even is any) or whether OLP even flags the database as 'open/locked' when the programme is running. Even if it does, is this purely a local flag within the OS itself or a physical file alteration which might then replicate through Dropbox.  That might be a good thing - instant flagging to other users that someone else was in the system? - or it might be awful and cause all sorts of technical problems.

    I'm happy to leave Gushie and the team to maybe give some thought to the implications of using the 'Cloud' to synchronise databases when they get around to thinking about v2.1.  It strikes me as a fairly obvious thing for anyone running a church 'tech team' to want to try and do but it may require major changes to the current coding framework for  OLP and I'm not going to ask for that when the current system works so well.  To me a PPT fix would be much more valuable on an ongong basis than a major re-code to handle possible concurrency issues.

    But since you have flagged the issue though (being forced to think is often useful for me - LOL!); I have now started to take a weekly back-up of the 'data' folder on the main church PC (for instant 'roll-back' if required) and since I use a Mac at home, 'TimeMachine' also has about 6 months of backups from my Dropbox account to give me some further redunancy.

    Not a terribly clever technical solution I'm afraid, but a practical one which I think passes the 'Good Enough' test for now.



  • edited October 2012

    I always add video and PPT on site before the service, just to ensure no problems, and to keep it from taking forever to save the service file.  

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