Released recently, there’ve been some 88 changes to the various tools in the worksheet since the release of v11.21 (released some 22 days ago as of this publication).
Many of the changes between the last release and this one are under the hood changes. However, considerable work went into improving and enhancing the Layer: Outlines/Frames tool. Quite a bit of work went into the Findings tools of Cover Layer During Rotation and Largest Width During Rotation. These latter two tools should now work correctly for any scale of layer. You never know when you might need to know the minimum width you need for when you’re rotating a layer or just how wide that layer might be for a given value of zoom.
Fractional values of a layer’s aspect are now provided as are the angles formed by a diagonal between two opposing corners. Sometimes that information can prove helpful, if not enlightening when you’re creating an effect.
You can now compare the widths between the 3 Findings Layers. Further, you are told the amount of space on each side of a layer for its given scale, aspect, zoom, and position.
What’s more, a version of the Tools For ProShow is now also provided in OpenOffice format with this release, v11.33a. This format had been discontinued as of v10.11jf for performance reasons.
ProShow has capability that the ordinary user has no access to because Photodex has yet to provide any infrastructure to. That is where my Tools for ProShow come in. In September of 2014 I released a version of the Excel worksheet that I developed to assist me with creating various effects within ProShow. I started developing this worksheet around July 2010. I ported this worksheet into Libre Office and OpenOffice formats (both of which are freeware worksheets). These tools are in an Excel 2010 worksheet. The OpenOffice is compatible with v4.1 and later. Libre Office formats are version 5.03 and later.
The tools provided in this worksheet are FINDINGS, EQUAL SIZE CHANGES, MODIFIER ROTATION CALCULATIONS, CROPPING TOOL, DISTANCES, PROPORTIONAL SIZING AND PLACEMENT, QUADRATIC/LINEAR FUNCTION, TIME: SHOW/SLIDE/KEYFRAME, FIND HALFWAY POINT, POSITION A ROTATED LAYER, and TEXT LAYER TEXT POSITIONING. These tools provide a way for you to do things you thought were impossible, very difficult, or labor intensive. They have the potential to save you lots of time and effort. These tools help release some of that ProShow power you probably didn’t even know was there. The results of the tools are compatible with both ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer except for the MODIFIER ROTATION CALCULATIONS, QUADRATIC/LINEAR FUNCTION, and TEXT LAYER TEXT POSITIONING tools. That’s because Gold does not support modifiers (and the former two are modifier-related) or text layers.
FINDINGS. The FINDINGS tool allows you to exploit the relationships between the ProShow features of Pan, Zoom, and Rotate Center as well as a layer’s features of width and height (PROSHOW SETTINGS, CALCULATED SETTINGS, and LAYER: WIDTH AND HEIGHT). It lets you find a layer’s actual position after being rotated on a side, corner (LOCATIONS). The rotation has to be in increments of 90 degrees from ±0 to ±360. You can also find the screen location of a rotated layer’s side or corner. You can also align a layer’s side, corner, or center to any specific screen location upon demand (ALIGN HERE). Pick a screen position. Then, choose what part of the layer (corner, side, or center) that will align to that position. The worksheet gives the settings required to align to that screen position.
EQUAL SIZE CHANGES. Creating layers to use for your own borders, outlines, or frames is easy now with the EQUAL SIZE CHANGES tool. A layer’s size change is given and the resulting zoom settings and the percent of change from the original zoom settings is given for both axes. The size change is specified as a change in the X-axis or Y-axis or by an axis independent amount. For the axis specific change, two methods are provided: By a Percent Change or End value. The Percent Change method is useful for specifying a modifier value of zoom. For the axis non-specific change, the amount of size change along a side is provided. For any approach, the resulting size change is specified as a percent change from the original zoom value and an ending zoom value for each axis.
The Effective Aspect for the Starting (or reference) Layer and the End (or “Outline”) layer are given. This section of the Equal Size Changes tool provides information useful to ProShow Gold users who want to provided an outline and/or frame to a layer. The aspect values are simply reference values. The width and height for each (Start and End Layer) is also provided. Also provided is the amount of the dimension on any side that will extend beyond another layer (when the “outline” layer is positioned in ProShow below the layer that is being “given” and outline). This is useful for editing a graphic in a bitmap editor to provide change only to the area that will extend beyond another layer’s edges. Deleting the inner portion of the layer can create a graphical frame for the image layer in ProShow. Finally, the amount of zoom for the graphic to provide the correct outline/frame to another layer is provided.
The MODIFIER ROTATION CALCULATION tool gives you rotation amounts in Degrees, Phase Change, and Modifier Value. You can enter the appropriate type (Degrees, Phase Change, and/or Modifier value) and the results for the remaining types are also provided.
CROPPING TOOL. Cropping is a very useful feature when you want “standardized” layer aspects. The CROPPING TOOL is a smart tool.You can crop a given layer dimension to a desired aspect. It also provides for cropping a region within a layer to the desired aspect. No more guessing. Each aspect (the target or the layer) is invertible. That is, if the dimension/aspect values are for a wide layer, simply inverting the settings results in a tall layer; no need to re-enter values (and potential entry errors).
DISTANCES. This tool allows you to rotate a layer and then move that layer a specific distance along that rotated angle or along a line perpendicular to that angle. That may not seem like a big deal but, when you need it, an awful lot of trial and error (and therefore time) is removed. This is particularly important when you need to move a layer an exact amount of distance exactly along the rotated angle (or perpendicular to it). It’s important when you need it! It is possible too, to find the exact actual location of a rotated layer. ProShow will not tell you directly … so, while you can see the layer’s position on the screen, getting its exact coordinates is less than simple.
PROPORTIONAL SIZING AND PLACEMENT. This tool is useful for providing a 4th layer that is sized proportionately to another. Say, for instance that you had two tall layers of A and B. A third layer is C. Layers A and B are sized differently. Layer C has a given size difference from Layer A. This tool calculates the size and position of a Layer D such that the relationship between it and Layer C corresponds to the relationship between Layers A and B. This way, two sets of layers can have the same visual relationship (size and position) to each other. The User Input is into the Layer Input settings for Layers 1, 2, and 3.
QUADRATIC/LINEAR FUNCTION. This is a modifier function that is NOT documented by any Photodex literature. The quadratic function defines a parabolic curve. What this tool does is to allow you to plot that curve and perhaps define where on that curve you want the ProShow to work from. Without the first value of the function, the equation that defines the Quadratic function becomes the Linear function. The same idea applies to it. After you provide the numbers for the function, the curve is plotted for you. A visual representation definitely helps you figure out what is going on! Once you’ve got it all worked out, you can then enter the results into ProShow.
TIME: SHOW/SLIDE/KEYFRAME. ProShow deals with time in minutes and seconds by default. But, it can, with a setting change in Preferences, change that to show time in seconds. This tool provides a difference in time from the start of a show, slide, or keyframe (only for Producer) to a given point within the show. This difference in time is given minutes and seconds as well as the total of seconds. The primary purpose of this tool is to provide some information that’s usable with modifier functions which start at the beginning of the show, slide, or keyframe.
FIND HALF-WAY POINT. This tool provides the distance half-way between two points on the screen. The user provides the pan values for the X-Axis and Y-Axis of each point. A use for this might be to find a rotation point around with to rotate the two layers.
POSITION A ROTATED LAYER. This tool provides the final position of a layer that’s been rotated using the TILT function. For instance, if the rotate center for the layer is set to the layer’s left side, the layer is set to the left of screen center, and the layer is horizontal tilted 180 degrees. Using the LOCATIONS tool found within FINDING, the layer’s new location is determined. This is position is entered into this tool. Next, a final desired position is entered. This tool reports how far the layer has moved and also what pan setting to enter to position the layer where you want it. Note that when a layer has been rotated 180-degrees, re-positioning the tilted layer is not a straight-forward exercise unless you know exactly what the layer’s width or height is and how much distance was traveled by the layer during the tilt (or rotation). Instead of going through the mental contortions that are normally required, you use the various tools to help you determine the information you need to know to re-position a tilted layer.
I have been busy lately … compiling information and rewriting topics I have previously created. I have rearranged, revised, and updated the blog entries. Generally, the information posted should be easier to read and topics to find. Blogs have some significant limitations to making information really easy to find and read … but I have tried to minimize those limitations wherever I could.
One thing I discovered was that this blog contained more information than I thought was there. Another was how much information needed some updating. Some of it was current as of Proshow Release 4.52 and here we are using version 6. Much has changed since then.
The introduction to Proshow, ProShow Discussion, has its own chapter now as does the ProShow Equations (this establishes the relationship between the functions of Pan, Zoom, and Rotate Center, how layer width and height are determined, and the relationship of the show and layer aspects).
Useful for nearly any user expertise level, most of the information presented is for users familiar with ProShow, particularly the advanced and expert user. Basically, this is information that is not in the ProShow manual … it’s beyond the manual. Peruse, study, and Enjoy.
Layer outlines are useful for a variety of reasons to the user. In general though, outlines add some contrast to an otherwise borderless image, making it easier to view. View a version of this tutorial in a video tutorial here,
Using ProShow Gold you can add a simple outline to any layer in your show and change the outline’s color. In Slide Options, select a layer, click on the Adjustments tab and click the check box next to Outline. You can adjust the color and toggle the outline on or off.
ProShow Producer takes layer outlines a step further and offers multiple ways to create an outline around a layer: the outline feature, vignette feature, and manually creating the outline.
Using this feature, ProShow Producer provides five outline widths and the ability to set the outline’s color. To access the outline feature, open the Slide Options. Select a layer and then select the Adjustments Tab. The outline feature is located under the Editing Tools section. There you can set the function. Set the outline color and size.
PRO’s: Convenient, fast, easy to use. Quickly set the outline width from 1 to 5.
1) Producer’s narrowest setting, 1, is sometimes too wide.
2) Producer’s widest setting, 5, is sometimes too narrow.
3) The outline rests half on and half off the image.
a) An image cropped by a mask generally hides the outline
b) When the mask is nearly the same size as the masked layer, a portion of the outline may be visible
4) The outline is often positioned slightly off-center on the layer.
5) Outline corners are always rounded.
6) On masked layers, the outline is usually chopped off.
7) When a duplicate layer is placed behind the masked layer, sized to match the masks’ size, and given an outline, the outline’s rounded corners do not display well.
8) If a blur is applied to the layer, it is also applied to the outline. Something that you may not want to happen.
ProShow Producer can create an “outline” via a vignette. This applies a color over the inside layer edges. To access the Vignette feature, open Slide Options. Select a layer and then select the Adjustments Tab. The Vignette Feature is located under Editing Tools. Click the Vignette checkbox and then click on the Vignette button or simply click on the Vignette button.. This opens the Vignette dialog.
To create an “outline,” under the Vignette Type, set the Type to Solid Color (then select the desired color). Under the Vignette Options, set the Vignette Size, to a size of 0 to 100%. Select Solid borders and Fill corners. Leave both Border Size and Corner Size at a setting of 0. If Solid Borders are not selected, the border will start out as a solid color at the outside edge and fade to transparent at the width specified by the Vignette Size. If Fill corners is not selected, the “outline” will have rounded corners.
1) Quick and easy
2) Options for rounded or sharp corners.
3) Faded Outline is possible.
4) A gradient (or multi-color) “outline” is possible.
1) Covers part of the image to create the impression of an outline.
2) Not appropriate for most masked layers. May have an unbalanced in size.
3) An applied blur applies to the whole image and may not be what you want.
4) Except for selecting a preset gradient (which you can change the colors/opacity/position/color space of, there is really no control over it. It appears to be a variation of a radial gradient type and you are unable to change it.
Manually Created Outline
Since ProShow lets you add or duplicate layers, it is fairly easy to create a layer that has the same aspect and size as the layer for which you want to create a border. There are a variety of techniques you can use to create this outline. It is possible to create extremely narrow outlines or very wide ones. You can create solid color, multiple color, variations in the opacity, variations in the blur, and multiple variations of the type of outline. The outline may be created with a single layer that is slightly larger than the original or a masked set to create a more complicated looking outline. While this is by far the most complicated approach, it is also the most flexible. However, the extra work involved is well worth it.
1) Extremely flexible,
2) Extremely narrow to extremely wide outlines,
3) Outlines with transparent regions between the layer to which the outline applies and the actual outline,
4) Blur the outside edge or the inside edge of the outline is possible,
5) The outline can be offset from the layer it is outlining,
6) Multiple color/opacity options.
7) Does not require covering any part of the image.
8) The “outline” has sharp corners unless specifically rounded.
1) Requires a modicum of skill with Producer,
2) May require imagination,
3) Extra effort is involved,
4) May require some knowledge of masking,
5) To make it look correct, some math skills are probably required.
Creating A Simple Outline
To create a simple layer outline, assume the outline layer has an aspect of 3:2 and a scale of Fill Frame. Add a white gradient layer of 1200×800. The mask is the layer 1 gradient. The masked image layer is layer 2. Both layers’ zoom is 65. Duplicate the gradient layer and move it below the image layer. Create the outline by changing its zoom-x to 60.5. Now, calculate the zoom-y amount. Start with the difference in zoom-x: (65.5-65.0)/65.00 =0.5/65=0.00769. Next, calculate the required zoom-y change by multiplying this difference by the mask layer aspect: 0.00769(3/2)=0.0115. Now, multiply that value with the starting zoom-y: 65*0.0115=0.75. The final zoom-y is 65 + 0.75= 65.75. So, zoom-x = 65.5 and a zoom-y = 65.75. The border/outline around the image should look equal on all sides.
Create A More Complicated Outline (A Transparent Region Between the Image and Outline)
Duplicate the Simple Outline as given above. Then, duplicate layer 3, the outline layer. Set layer 3 zoom-x to 66.0 and zoom-y to 66.5. Set layer 4 zoom-x to 67.0 and zoom-y to 68.0. Set layer 3 as an inverted grayscale mask. Set layer 3 blur to 20. You should now have an outline with sharp outside edges and soft inside edges. The outline should have a transparent region between the image and the inside edge of the image.
Variations on this more complicated layer outline are very numerous and relatively simple to modify once the initial outline setup is created. I’ve used this type of outline for in my own shows for a number of years. Generally though, I use the simple outline.
Keep these tips in mind when manually creating your outline:
• Calculate the proper zoom value increases from the starting zoom value for each axes.
> An outline with all sides the same size generally looks more pleasing to the viewer.
• Ensure all layers have the same scale type (e.g., Fill Frame).
• Ensure the mask and outline layers have the same aspect.
> For example, if the mask has an aspect of 3:2 then the outline layer should too.
> It isn’t strictly required but is highly recommended
Method for Calculating the Proper Size Increase for Manually Created Border/Outline Layers.
Subtract Starting Zoom from Ending Zoom (This calculates the amount of change)
Divide the result by the Starting Zoom (Gives the decimal value of the Size Change)
Multiply the result by the image aspect to get the size change for the other orientation
If step 1 was for the horizontal axis (zoom-x)
• Multiply step 2 value by the layer’s horizontal axis value, then
• Divide the result by the layer’s y-axis value
• Add the result to the Starting Zoom value
If step 1 was for the vertical axis (zoom-y)
• Multiply step 2 value by the layer’s y-axis value and then
• Divide the result by the layer’s x-axis value
• Add the result to the Starting Zoom value
Change the outline layer’s zoom values to the values calculated in step 3
Note: if the layer aspect is 3:2, then the x-axis value is 3 and the y-axis value is 2. If the layer has an aspect of 4672:3104, then the x-axis is 4672 and the y-axis is 3104.
Using Graphical Layers for Outlining
Often, the quickest way to create a border/outline of a non-masked layer is to simply duplicate it. Then, move it from its default location from above the original layer to below the original layer. Resize the lower layer relative using the technique describe above. The next thing you want to do is to change the image layer to a color other than the default colors. In Slide Options, go to the Adjustments tab. This is where adjust the layer’s color(s).
• To make the image layer black, set the white point to -100.
• To make it white, set the black point to 100.
• To set the layer to any other color,
> Click on the Auto button to automatically set Brightness, White Point, & Black Point
> Set the contrast to -100.
> Select the Colorize tool and set the desired color.
MODIFIERS. Modifiers are an advanced feature of Photodex’s Proshow Producer (PSP). Their use is typically attributed to something for a master PSP user. However, that is not necessarily the case. Actually, simple modifiers require minimal PSP knowledge to use them. This tutorial was first posted on the ProShow Enthusiasts Forum back on 27 Nov 2009
Photodex’s documentation of modifiers is lacking. Effectively, modifiers are described at a top level. However, aside from an example or two, nothing in the modifiers manual provides any effective guidance to the potential user on how to use them. While Photodex describes modifiers as limited in what they can do, they have the potential to save some slideshow builder’s a considerable amount of time and effort (especially if they’re building an effect for use as a style in a later show). What I’ll present here is a quick example that you can easily expand upon for even more practical uses.
Knowledge of masks and keyframes is crucial to the effective use of modifiers.
MASKS. A common use of a mask is to constrain an image to a certain size. This allows you to zoom and/or pan an image within the confines of that mask while not using any additional screen space. An example of why you might want to use this feature is when you want to fade one image away to reveal another. However, if the two photos are different sizes, the fade from one to the other can appear disconcerting. Also, you may only want part of one image to appear (as in the case of a landscape image masked to appear as a portrait image). There are various reasons why you would want to mask an image. Understanding masks is crucial to effectively using PSP.
An image that has been masked cannot directly use PSPs outline and shadow features. That is because the outline and shadow are typically clipped away by the mask. Instead, you have to build the outline or a shadow.
KEYFRAMES. Keyframes help you control the movement or appearance of an image/layer. Knowing keyframes is also crucial to take advantage of the power of PSP.
EXAMPLE DESCRIPTION. I’ll provide a relatively simple and practical example that demonstrates the use of modifers, masks, and keyframes. This tutorial will create a masked image with an outline. The mask layer changes position and size during the slidetime. The other 2 layers will follow the position and zoom of the mask layer. Those other two layers will only contain the default two keyframes.
This example assumes you have a working knowledge of PSP. Exact steps on how you use/access a particular feature is not presented. I’m assuming a transition time of 2s on either side of the slide.
• First, put your portrait image onto the slide. Scaling: Fill Frame; Zoom: 30%
– This is a typical setting for a 2:3 aspect image (many digital camera sensors have a 1.5 aspect).
• Set the slide time to 5 seconds.
• Double click on the slide to open the Slide Options Dialog
• Next, add a solid white gradient layer. Resolution: 800 x 1200.
– I often use a gradient instead of a solid color layer because I may want to use multiple colors later. If you start out with solid color layer and then later find out you need colors for some reason (i.e., need a gradient layer), you will have to add a new layer and then duplicate keyframes and their locations/rotation/zoom/etc, and/or modifiers etc … it can result in lots of work!). [Update: I’ll have to give a little tutorial on this, but there’s a way to convert solid color layers to gradients or even to image layers! Neat. But, it’s outside the scope of this tutorial.]
– White allows use as an intensity (grayscale) or alpha (transparency) mask interchangeably.
• Put this as layer 1. Zoom: 30%, Scale: Fill Frame
– Note that this makes the image and the mask have the same scale. Zoom following works best between layers that are scaled similarly. Dissimilarly scaled layers that use zoom following may result in unexpected/unwanted results (but it could be interesting!). In this case, the two layers (the portrait image and the image mask layer) are sized approximately the same.
Now, let’s start setting up the positioning. In this case, the image layer will follow wherever the mask goes.
Select the gradient layer
• Now, select the Effects tab and click on the Motion Effects tab (v4); you don’t have to do this in version 5+.
• Add keyframes.
– Right click on the time line (the section where the timeline numbers are or the yellow bar). In the resulting dialog select “ Insert Multiple”
– Put 5 into the resulting dialog and hit OK.
• Set the time for each keyframe. Remember, this tutorial assumes a 2 second transition on either side of the 5 second slide.
KF1: 0s; KF2: 2.01s; KF3: 3.5s; KF4: 4s; KF5: 5s; KF6: 5.5s; KF7: 9s
• Set the position for each keyframe:
– kf1:-20,20; kf2: -20,20; kf3: -20,5; kf4: 20, -20; kf5: 0,30; kf6: 0,0; kf7: 50,50
• Set the Zoom for each keyframe
– kf1: 0,0; kf2: 50,50; kf3: 0,20; kf4: 40,0; kf5: 20,20; kf6: 90,90; kf7: 0,0.
Select layer 2 (image layer).
• Right click on pan-x box.
Select Add Modifier.
Apply to: All Keyframes;
Type of action to [+] Add to Modifier;
Variable Amount Based On: Pan X.
From: Layer 1.
Multiply By: 1.00.
• Pan-Y box.
Select Add Modifier.
Apply to: All Keyframes;
Type of action to [+] Add to Modifier;
Variable Amount Based On: Pan Y.
From: Layer 1.
Multiply By: 1.00.
• Zoom-X box.
Variable Amount Based On: Zoom-X;
From: Layer 1;
Multiplied By: 1;
Add an action.
Set Type of Action to
[-] Subtract from Modifier;
Constant Amount: 100.• Zoom-Y box.
Variable Amount Based On: Zoom-Y;
From: Layer 1;
Multiplied By: 1;
Add an action.
Set Type of Action to
[-] Subtract from Modifier;
Constant Amount: 100.
• Set Zoom-X and Zoom-Y values of each Layer 2 keyframe to Layer 1’s largest zoom value: 901, 2, 3
SET layer 1 as a grayscale mask.
– Layer 1 (gradient) and layer 2 (image) are now a mask set.
– Layer 1 is the masking layer and Layer 2 is the masked layer.
Add a border layer.
• Add a gradient layer.
• Give it a size of 800,1200 (again, this is for a 3:2 aspect image; use 900×1200 for a 4:3 image. This layer should be the same size as layer 1 for border purposes. I could have duplicated layer 1 and obtained all of that layers settings but that’s not the purpose of this tutorial).
• Set the color to white.
• Set the size “fill frame,”
• Set the zoom to 91% (1% larger than the largest zoom of layer 1).5
• Move this layer to the lowest layer, layer 3.
Add modifiers (apply to all keyframes) to layer 3
• Pan-X. Variable Amount Based On: Pan X; From: Layer 1.
• Pan-Y. Variable Amount Based On: Pan Y; From: Layer 1.
• Zoom-X. Variable Amount Based On: Zoom-X; From: Layer 1. Type of action: [-] Subtract from modifier; Constant Amount: 100.
• Zoom-Y. Variable Amount Based On: Zoom-X; From: Layer 1. Type of action: [-] Subtract from modifier; Constant Amount: 100.
• Go to Effects|Adjustment Effects. Set Blur to 40.
Note that this layer and layer 2 only have the default number of keyframes.
Play the slide and see what happens! Next, change the layer 1 settings of the pans and zooms and see what you get when you play the slide.
1. If the layer 1 maximum zoom is changed from 90 to some other value, you need to change the maximum zoom of the other layers that depend upon it for their zoom to the same value (if you want to zoom amounts to be the same). That is, if the largest zoom of layer 1 is 110, then set the zoom of the dependent layers to 110).
2. If the value of the maximum zoom is over 200 the dependent layers may not zoom down to zero the same as the master layer.
3. Zoom actions … when you follow the zoom of another layer, you’re using a value that appears to be interpreted as percent of a percent in the referencing/following layers’ zoom (unexpected zoom values are possible if you don’t provide a correction value). Adding the -100 action after the zoom reference to the master layer seems to create a correction that works well for most zoom values below a maximum zoom of 200 in the master/reference layer.
4. Do not enter a rotation amount for any of these layers. For some reason, a rotation breaks the zoom “fix” I’ve discovered that enables a zoom follow.
5. Size changes in Different Axis notes. Since the horizontal and vertical aspects of a show may have considerably different proportions, you can get the appearance of large differences in size. Since Photodex uses percent to change size, a 50% size in one direction may result in a larger or smaller actual size change in the other direction with the same 50% size change. So, if you want a size change that looks the same in each direction, you need to adjust it by the show’s aspect. For instance, if you want to change the X-Axis size from 90% to 91%, that represents a 1/90*100 = 1.11% increase. So, the corresponding Y-Axis change by the screen aspect. So, the increase would be 1.11(9/16) = 0.625%. That change would then be 90 + (90*0.625/100) = 90 + 0.56 = 90.56. So, a change from 90% to 91% in the horizontal requires a 90.56% setting for the vertical to keep the same effective width change.
As you can see, if you work with it, this example is rather simple. It consists of only 3 layers (a mask layer, an image layer, and a border layer). But, what I’ve provided is information that can easily be expanded to other layers or sets of layers. (NOTE: if you want to have a layer follow another layers’ location but be beside it, you can add an action of -1 that multiplies the pan-x value … so a pan-x of 20 becomes a pan-x of -20 for the referencing layer). So, if you decide to change the location and/or zoom of the master / referenced layer, that’s essentially the ONLY layer you may need to change! It’s not appropriate for all situations. But where it does, it can save you time and effort.