Mathias Brandewinder on .NET, F#, VSTO and Excel development, and quantitative analysis / machine learning.
by Mathias 21. August 2010 16:38

In a previous post, we saw how to programmatically search for text in a PowerPoint slide, by iterating over the Shapes contained in a slide, finding the ones that have a TextFrame, and accessing their TextRange property. TextRange exposes a Text property, which “represents the text contained in the specified object”.

Our goal is to translate a slide from a language to another, which means translating every chunk of text we find. However, the Text property contains a bit more than just text. Suppose you were working with a slide like the one below, which contains multiple bullet points, with various indentations:


If you inspect the Text for the content area, you’ll see that it looks like this:

Work It\rMake It\rDo It\rMakes Us\rHarder\rBetter\rFaster\rStronger

At the end of each bullet point, we have a \r, which indicates a line break. If we want to maintain the formatting of our slide when we translate it, we’ll have to deal with it.

We’ll worry about the actual  translation later – for the moment we will use a fake method, which will show us what chunk of text has been translated:

public static string Translate(string text)
   return "Translated [" + text + "]";

A crude approach

A first approach would be to simply take the entire Text we find in the TextRange, manually separate it into chunks by splitting it around the carriage return character, translating the chunk, and re-composing the text, re-inserting the carriage returns.

Starting where we left off last time, let’s loop over the Shapes in the slide:

private void TranslateSlide()
   var powerpoint = Globals.ThisAddIn.Application;
   var presentation = powerpoint.ActivePresentation;
   var slide = (PowerPoint.Slide)powerpoint.ActiveWindow.View.Slide;
   foreach (PowerPoint.Shape shape in slide.Shapes)
      if (shape.HasTextFrame == Microsoft.Office.Core.MsoTriState.msoTrue)
         var textFrame = shape.TextFrame;
         var textRange = textFrame.TextRange;
         var text = textRange.Text;
         textRange.Text = CrudeApproach(text);


by Mathias 13. August 2010 12:37

Today is Friday the 13th, the day when more accidents happen because Paraskevidekatriaphobics are concerned about accidents. Or is it the day when less accidents take place, because people stay home to avoid accidents? Not altogether clear, it seems.

Whether safe or dangerous, how often do these Friday the 13th take place, exactly? Are there years without it, or with more than one? That’s a question which should have a clearer answer. Let’s try to figure out the probability to observe N such days in a year picked at random.

First, note that if you knew what the first day of that year was, you could easily verify if the 13th day for each month was indeed a Friday. Would that be sufficient? Not quite – you would also need to know whether the year was a leap year, these years which happen every 4 years and have an extra day, February the 29th.

OuroborosImagine that this year started a Monday. What would next year start with? If we are in a regular year, 365 days = 52 x 7 + 1; in other words, 52 weeks will elapse, the last day of the year will also be a Monday, and next year will start a Tuesday. If this is a leap year, next year will start on a Wednesday.

Why do I care? Because now we can show that every 28 years, the same cycle of Friday the 13th will take place again. Every four consecutive years, the start day shifts by 5 positions (3 “regular” years and one leap year), and because 5 and 7 have no common denominator, after 7 4-year periods, we will be back to starting an identical 28-years cycle, where each day of the week will appear 4 times as first day of the year.


by Mathias 8. August 2010 17:30

I am currently on a project which involves creating a PowerPoint VSTO add-in. I have very limited experience with PowerPoint automation, so before committing to the project, I thought it would be a good idea to explore a bit the object model, to gauge how difficult things could get, and I set to write a small PowerPoint add-in which would automatically translate slides. Sounds like a simple enough project, how difficult could it be?

Turns out, not too difficult, but not completely trivial either. I discovered quickly that the PowerPoint object model, unlike most Office applications, doesn’t have much (any?) documentation for the .Net developer; the best I found is the VBA PowerPoint 2007 developer reference, which gives a decent starting point to figure out what the objects are about. So I thought I would share my exploration of the PowerPoint jungle, and hopefully spare some trouble to other .Net developers.

The plan

The objective is simple: write an add-in which allows the user to

  • select a language to translate from, and a language to translate to,
  • create a duplicate of the current slide, translating all the text and keeping the layout

The plan will be to use Google Translate to perform the translation. In order to do that, we will nedd to extract out all pieces of text that require translating.

Finding all the text in a slide

Lets’ start by identifying where we have text in the current slide. Let’s first create a PowerPoint 2007 Add-in project in Visual Studio. To keep things simple for now, we will add a Ribbon control with a button, and when that button is clicked, we’ll start working on the current slide:


Double-click on the Button (I renamed my button translateButton) to generate an event handler for the Click event, and get the current Slide:

private void translateButton_Click(object sender, RibbonControlEventArgs e)
   var powerpoint = Globals.ThisAddIn.Application;
   if (powerpoint.ActivePresentation.Slides.Count > 0)
      var slide = (PowerPoint.Slide)powerpoint.ActiveWindow.View.Slide as PowerPoint.Slide;



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