It's been a while since I've written much about ProPresenter, but the guys at Renewed Vision have been busy. They have been coming out with a pretty constant stream of upgrades that make our lives easier, and for that I'm grateful. The latest version, 3.5.1 as of this writing, has a few cool new things (that didn't necessarily come out at 3.5.1) that I really like.
I've written before about the "New Presentation (song) from Copied Text..." feature, and how much I like it. Normally, what I've done is do a quick internet search for lyrics of a new song, or take the cord sheet from our music director, clean it up and copy it in that way. Both those methods work great, but I think the new Song Select interface is even easier. Assuming you have a CCLI account (you do have a CCLI account, right?), you can now access the CCLI song library right from ProPresenter. Search for the song you need and click the Export button on the Song Select tool bar. That launches the Import feature of ProPresnter and the song appears. Just like other import methods, the importer is smart enough to pick up on lines like "Verse 1" and uses them as labels, not lyrics. It's really fast, and super-convenient.
Through the Resources button in ProPresnter, you can also access background media from a number of vendors including Igniter Media, 12 Inch Design, WorshipFilms, Highway Video and Midnight Oil. Using the built-in browser feature, you can search their catalogs and find what you're looking for. A couple of mouse clicks and the media is purchased, downloaded and inserted into your library. Very cool.
They have also made some subtle changes to the preferences panel that make is easier to get Pro configured the way you want. In fact, there are a number of very subtle changes throughout the interface that just make it easier to use. One such example is a feature request I made on their forums some months ago (not that I take credit for it, I'm sure others asked, too). There is a transition time setting at the bottom of the presentation window that controls how fast one slide fades into the other. While you could always click in the box and enter an exact number, the up/down arrows incremented in 1 second steps. I felt this was far too large a chunk; normally I've found times between .3 and .6 seconds work best. That used to take a lot of clicking and typing. Now, the arrows increment in .1 second steps, which is far more useful. Thanks guys!
Finally, perhaps the coolest feature is the iPhone remote. A $4.95 app you can buy through the iTunes store, the Remote gives you the ability to observe or control Pro right from your iPhone or iPod Touch. I have been playing with this a little, and it's extremely cool. Since it works over Wi-Fi, you can control Pro from anywhere on the network. It's instant-fast, meaning no lag time between a touch on your iPhone and the change in Pro. When in Observe mode, it's possible to scroll through the entire library or playlist to see what is coming up next without affecting what's on screen. In Control mode, it's as if you were sitting at the keyboard. This would be great if you find yourself down a volunteer some weekend and have to run ProPresnter while doing something else. Or to be able to review sermon notes with the pastor without shouting across the auditorium. Or checking lyrics with the worship leader. Or...
I've not been shy about telling you that ProPresenter is my favorite presentation app, and these enhancements only strengthen that opinion. Remarkably, they've continued to add features without turning Pro into a lethargic beast of code. Clearly, they've been careful in designing it well. The best part is that all these enhancements have been free (save the iPhone app, but it's $5...). Keep it up guys!