As a presenter at events I am constantly trying to improve the experience of showing information in slides and transitioning back and forth to demos.
ZoomIt: An OK solution for a bad problem?
The most jarring aspect of this is making sure that demo code is visible to the audience. The fantastic ZoomIt allows a presenter to (surprise, surprise) zoom into portions of the screen and highlight/annotate code or information to the audience:
First of all, the act of zooming can be disorienting to the audience. There is a flurry of zoom and scrolling activity to get to where you want to on the screen. After this, the actual presentation of the zoomed content usually works nicely enough. However, the zoom out must occur before moving back into the PowerPoint slide deck to continue with the next portion of the presentation.
This has been the only way to give a consistent and clear overview to an audience, particularly when SSMS was being used for demos. The issue revolves around the fact that although the T-SQL code editor window can resize fonts, the remainder of the SSMS interface is set in a single font type and size.
Many of you may have noticed that Microsoft made a key change in their deployment strategy with regards to SSMS when SQL Server 2016 was released. SSMS was decoupled from the core engine components and follows a much shorter release cycle. Since SQL Server 2016 was released to market in September, there have been at least 6 versions of SSMS released. This is fantastic, we now no longer have to wait for the next release of SQL Server (whether a full version or a service pack) for SSMS to get bug-fixes or feature additions.
This is now extremely important when we look at the issue around font sizes and types. Microsoft has paid attention and with their current Release Candidate (RC) for SSMS 17 they included a very important release note entry…..
If we read the release notes, we see that there are three new tasks available via Quick Launch inside SSMS.
- PresentEdit – This allows the fonts for presentation mode to be set
- PresentOn – This turns on presentation mode
- RestoreDefaultFonts – Reverts SSMS back to the default fonts after activating presentation mode
All three tasks are pretty easy to understand, although the final task highlights that a task to specifically turn off the presentation mode is currently missing (this is an RC after all).
The “Quick Launch” field can be found in the top right corner of SSMS 17.0 RC3 and begins searching as soon as we start to type in it:
By choosing “PresentEdit” an xml file is opened in a new tab in SSMS, showing us the options that we can change to make SSMS look different when presentation mode is activated.
We are presented with the option to choose font family and font size for both the text editor and, more importantly, for the environment in general (menus, object explorer etc.). This is where we can play around an find the fonts that work best in our presentations.
Using the values in my screenshot and launching PresentOn made a huge difference in font readability inside SSMS. The image below shows SSMS on the left in “standard” mode and in presentation mode on the right.
The difference is quite clear, all environment fonts are much larger and easier to read on during presentation mode. This is great for demoing SSMS during a presentation!
However, the biggest improvement is when we are querying data. In previous versions of SSMS the grid results were tiny when projected onto a wall. The only way to see the results were to either return the results as text (which has the downside of running off the right-side of the screen for larger result sets), or using ZoomIt and people getting motion sickness.
Now, with presentation mode on, the results grid is included in the font resizing:
Praise be to the spaghetti monster! No more motion sickness required and attendees can concentrate their contempt at all the bullet points in the slide deck instead.
So if you are a presenter, or want to have more control over the fonts in SSMS, your wait is almost over…… or is over now if you are brave enough to install the RC of SSMS 17 🙂