What's new in think-cell

Continuous improvement

think-cell's subscription-based licensing model allows us to continuously improve our software with no additional costs for our customers. We regularly release free updates that contain great new features besides the usual improvements in stability and speed. This way think-cell becomes more powerful, more efficient and above all easier to use. On this page we would like to take you on a short journey through the version history of our software.

How to update

think-cell 11 is available to all existing customers at no additional costs. It is also available as a full-featured free trial.

think-cell 12: Enhanced control of what you already love about think-cell

Making PowerPoint better goes even further with think-cell 12. While the addition of Profile charts bolsters our ever-expanding portfolio of charts and graphs, the enhancements included in this release increase your ability to easily control, connect and display more information. From applying color to multiple partitions (versus only one side) to linking Harvey balls, checkboxes, and even images to data in Excel, think-cell continues to shave hours off your day while making every presentation shine. It’s that simple.

Included in this release:

Rotated line / combo charts

Rotated line chart

You can create rotated line charts, also known as profile charts, and rotated combo charts in the same way as rotated stacked or clustered charts.

Similarly, for a rotated stacked or clustered chart you can use the chart type control to change the chart type to line, keeping the rotation.

The think-cell profile chart is an easy way to visualize even the most complex trends with data that indicates the value area and points of control related to specific topic areas.

Common use cases include: Company or product comparisons across various categories, personality profiles, market profiles for financial and banking industries.

Using a rotated line chart and error bars, you can create football fields. They can be used to visualize the low and high values for an item and the spread between them.

Football field chart with low and high values and the spread between them shown as a bar

To create a football field chart:

  1. Create a rotated line chart
  2. Enter the low and high values in the datasheet Football field chart datasheet
  3. Select both the lines for low and high values
  4. Right-click and choose Add Error Bars from think-cell's context menu
  5. Select one error bar and format both the bar and data points for low and high values as desired. You would typically switch to a thick error bar, e.g., 6pt in football field charts
  6. Right-click the chart background and select Add Gridlines from the context menu. To style all of them, select any one of them and press Ctrl+A to select all. You can then choose formatting options from the floating toolbar, such as a lighter color.

Scatter chart partition fills

You can directly select individual partitions in scatter and bubble charts. This makes it easy to give each partition a different fill color, if desired. Previously, you selected a partition line to choose the fill color to only one side of the line.

Scatter chart with one partition selected to choose the fill color

To create a chart with four partition fills:

  1. Create a scatter chart as usual
  2. Add two partition lines that intersect
  3. Move the mouse pointer into one of the partitions, which will highlight in orange as a selection target
  4. Select the partition and choose a fill color
  5. Repeat for the other partitions.

This also works for areas bounded by non-linear trendlines!

Editable Data Layout

You can now customize the layout of the internal datasheet as well as that of Excel links.

This is particularly useful when you want to link charts to an existing Excel sheet whose layout you do not want to modify. Let's say you have an Excel sheet laid out like this, and want to create a column chart out of the selected range:

An Excel sheet containing data for a chart

  1. Select the range and click Insertthink-cellElementsStacked
  2. Place the chart in the desired position on the slide.

In the resulting linked range, the first data row is misinterpreted as 100% values, and the first data column as series labels.

To get the correct interpretation of the data:

  1. Right-click the green border of the linked range and select Edit Data Layout Linked Excel range with context menu open, hovering on Edit Data Layout
  2. Disable Series Labels and 100%= Linked Excel range with Edit Data Layout menu shown
  3. Click the green update flag on the chart in PowerPoint.

The link will now correctly interpret all linked cells except the first row as data values, with data rows representing series.

To label the series, simply right-click the chart, select Add Series Labels and replace the placeholder in the labels accordingly. The final result will look something like this:

Stacked column chart created from linked data with edited layout

Note: When working with the internal datasheet of a chart, you can find the Edit Data Layout button in the Quick Access Toolbar at the top of the window.

Highlighting linked elements in PowerPoint

You can click Highlight on Slide in the Data Links dialog to highlight all elements linked to external sources on the slide, to further facilitate easy management of your data links.

Highlighted Linked Text Field on Slide with Data Links Dialog Next to it

Text fields linked to Excel are now listed in the Data Links dialog.

Option to lock positions by default for tables, text boxes and other elements

think-cell tables, text boxes and other elements are automatically resized and positioned. This advanced automation can be a great time-saver, but is also quite different from PowerPoint's standard mode. A new option allows you to have the best of both worlds, getting access to think-cell's new elements while controlling size and position yourself.

Lock Positions by Default option

When Lock Positions by Default is active, think-cell elements that you add have all locks closed. Table with all locks closed

  • To move the element, select the whole table and drag it. It will keep its size and the locks will be moved to the new postions.
  • To resize, drag the respective lock. For example, to make the element wider, drag the right lock.

Option to align center/align middle for all think-cell layout elements

You can now align the horizontal (Align Objects Center) or vertical (Align Objects Middle) center of a think-cell layout element, or a group of think-cell layout elements with one another, or with the slide.

Just as with other alignments between think-cell's smart layout elements, this relationship will be maintained even when something causes the slide layout to change.

Let's say you want to have an image of a fixed size on your agenda slides that is always aligned vertically with the middle of the table of contents, which in turn is always in the center of the slide horizontally. You can now easily achieve this as follows:

  1. Insert an agenda slide into your presentation by selecting Chapter from the think-cell Elements menu
  2. Insert the desired stock image by selecting it in the ElementsStock Image and clicking on the slide to the left of the agenda table of contents to insert it
  3. Select the table of contents by clicking its border, so that the locks are shown, and click Home → Drawing → Arrange → Align → Align Center. A red line with a closed lock will appear in the middle of the table of contents A think-cell table of contents aligned to the center of the slide
  4. Multi-select the image and the table of contents by holding Ctrl and clicking both. Click Home → Drawing → Arrange → Align → Align Middle. A grey line connecting the middle of both elements will appear, indicating that they are aligned with each other around that position The alignment lines of an image and a table of contents aligned at their middle
  5. Select the image and, holding Ctrl drag one of its resize handles to fix its desired size.

Now you can add chapters, subchapters, etc. to your agenda as usual, and think-cell will automatically take care that the desired relation between slide, table of contents, and image is maintained.

Additional features

Customize appearance of Gantt charts

You can now customize the appearance of the Gantt chart using the new <gantt> element in the style file: From setting default background fills for different elements over fine-grained control over the properties of every single kind of line in the chart to new choices for the look of the date scale.

We have also added support to Gantt charts for fiscal years that always start or end on a particular weekday, and thus require leap weeks, as well as support for 4-4-5, 4-5-4, and 5-4-4 calendars. For example, including the following element in your style file will allow you to use fiscal years ending on the Friday closest to Janurary 31st, and with 13 week quarters following a 4-5-4 convention:

<fiscalYear>
	<end month="jan"/>
	<weekAlignment lastWeekday="fri" lastDay="nearestToEndOfLastMonth" weeksPerMonth="454"/>
</fiscalYear>
For a detailed description, see fiscalYear.

think-cell now supports Windows on ARM!

This means you can now use it on your Microsoft Surface Pro X, for example.

Remove the X-axis/baseline of any chart

To place the chart on top of a picture or visual background, for example, simply right-click the axis and click the image Delete button, or left-click the axis to select it and press the Del key. To add it back in, right-click a highlighted segment of the X-axis area, and select  Add Axis Line. A column chart without a baseline

Deleting Unused Links in Excel

You can now delete all disconnected data links in an open workbook. Simply click Delete Disconnected Links from think-cell's image Tools menu in Excel, or right-click a datasheet highlighted in orange and click the left image Delete button from the contextual menu.

Cleaning and sanitization

think-cell has expanded its cleaning and sanitization options, to help you prevent leakage of sensitive internal or client data, and has bundled them into a single Clean Up... dialog. For example, think-cell can remove all Comments and Presentation Notes, as well as any unused Slide Masters and Layouts embedded in the presentation. It can also automatically replace all numbers contained in the presentation with random ones. The same functionality is available when using think-cell's Send/Save Slides... dialog.

Predefined slide layouts

You can now predefine slide layouts in the style file which will be shown as thumbnails on inserting a chart. Click one of the rectangular areas marked on the thumbnail to quickly and precisely insert the chart with that position and size. This is especially useful when combining it with slide templates to ensure consistent placement of charts on the slide in relation to other elements. Think of it as placeholders for think-cell charts, just more flexible. For detailed instructions on how to do this, see Predefining slide layouts for inserting charts.

Slide thumbnails previewing positions for insertion
Improved color picker

think-cell now comes with an improved tool for picking colors, accessible by selecting Custom... from any color control. It gives you a useful preview by immediately applying the selected color on the slide. You can also easily switch between choosing colors for different features of the selected element, such as fill color and font color, and even switch to choosing the colors for a different element simply by selecting it on the slide. If you want to select a predefined RGB color in either hex (#82a617) or decimal (rgb(130, 166, 23) or R119 G119 B119) format, simply enter it into the box bottom right.

think-cell color picker

think-cell 11

Our CEO Markus Hannebauer walks you through the most important new features of think-cell 11 in the following short video. See below for further details.

Linked data tables

You can create linked data tables in PowerPoint from data ranges in Excel.

Chart and data table, both linked to Excel data

To create both a chart and a data table:

  1. Create a linked chart as usual
  2. In Excel, select just the series labels and numbers
  3. Choose Table from think-cell's Elements button in Excel
  4. Place the data table on the slide and restrict its position as desired with the locks, e.g., to be below and aligned with the chart.

Updating the linked table works exactly the same as updating the chart. You can even set it to update automatically whenever the data changes in Excel. See Table to learn more.

Image element and inserting stock photos

You can convert bitmap image shapes to think-cell elements by selecting the image and choosing Convert images to think-cell in the ≡ menu. think-cell will take the image into account when automatically positioning smart text boxes, process flows and tables.

Convert image to think-cell menu item

Using the Stock Image button in the Elements menu, you can directly insert a stock photo that will be part of the automatic slide layout. On first use you need to enter your Getty credentials, or you can use free images from Unsplash. See Images to learn more.

Insert Stock Photo menu item

Data connector for Tableau

You can connect a view on a Tableau dashboard with a PowerPoint chart using think-cell. See Tableau data to learn more.

  1. Open a Tableau dashboard in Chrome.
  2. Click the icon of the think-cell extension:

    think-cell Chrome extension icon
  3. The different views on your dashboard are detected and shaded in green when the mouse pointer is over them. Click one.

    Select view on Tableau dashboard
  4. A new tab is opened with the view's data. Pick the chart type you want to create.

    Pick think-cell chart type
  1. Assign columns to the parts of the think-cell data sheet pertinent to the chosen chart type, i.e., for a stacked chart, categories, series and values.

    Assign Tableau data columns to think-cell data sheet parts
  2. Click Create to create a think-cell chart in PowerPoint.

    think-cell chart from Tableau data

think-cell remembers the connection to the Tableau data! Clicking on the datasheet button of the chart in PowerPoint will open the tab with the view's data in Chrome. There, you can click on Update to transmit updated data to PowerPoint. You can also start the data update from think-cell's Data Links dialog:

Category labels on top of a chart

Text fields linked to Excel

You can insert a text field that is linked to a cell in Excel into any think-cell label or PowerPoint text box.

image
  1. In Excel, select the cell with the content you wish to link to
  2. In PowerPoint, place the cursor in a label or text box
  3. Choose Text Field Linked to Excel from think-cell's Elements button in Excel

The contents of the linked text field always updates automatically when the cell contents in Excel changes.

Changes to the user interface for Same Scale

The Same Scale functionality is improved and more flexible. It was necessary to move the button to access it. The Same Scale button is not shown anymore when two or more whole charts are selected. Instead, select the parts you want to scale the same in both charts:

  • two segments, one in each chart
  • two axes, one in each chart
  • two gridlines, one in each chart
  • two data points, one in each chart
Applying same scale after selecting two gridlines

You can also mix and match, i.e., for a line and a column chart, you would select a data point in the line chart and a segment in the column chart.

As before, you then right-click and choose Same Scale from the contextual menu. And also as before, you can set more than two charts to the same scale. Just select, e.g., one segment in each chart and apply Same Scale. See below for another example, this time using two segments, in two charts:

Applying same scale after selecting two segments

To revert to automatic scaling, select a segment, axis, gridline or data point and choose Reset to Automatic Scale from the contextual menu.

Additional features

Ctrl+A is much more powerful now. Hit it repeatedly to automatically select ever larger sets: all labels of one series, then for all series, then all labels in the chart. Same for all segments of one series, then all segments in the chart, then even all segments across all charts on the same slide. As the next formatting change you make will be applied across the whole selection, this makes wide-ranging changes very fast.

You can move category labels to the top of the chart, without flipping the chart itself.

Category labels on top of a chart

Do you have a multi-level agenda with too many sub-items to always show everything? You can now hide all chapters of a certain type. For example, select a third-level agenda item, right-click and choose Hide this and similar chapters. The currently active chapter can not be hidden, of course. To go back, select the whole agenda and choose Show all chapters and subchapters from its context menu. (learn more)

Agenda with button to hide all chapters of a type

Chart scaling is adjustable even without a visible axis by selecting a segment, data point or gridline and using the usual axis handles.

Chart with axis handles without a visible axis

Support for right-to-left charts for use with right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. When you change the language, all existing charts are switched to right-to-left automatically and vice versa.

Gantt chart in Hebrew going from right to left

Specify fill colors directly in JSON:

{"number":4,"fill":"#00FF00"}
{"number":6,"fill":"rgb(33,66,0)"}
{"number":8,"fill":"rgb(80,8,52)"}

In the Gantt chart, you can set a fiscal year that is different from the calendar year. In a style file, include the following snippet for a fiscal year that ends in September. Q1 of the next year would start with October:

<fiscalYear> 
    <end month="sep"/> 
</fiscalYear>

think-cell 10

Now on macOS

After several years of development, we have achieved what no other company has done before – we have ported a complex Windows Office add-in to Office for Mac without sacrificing functionality! Your license for think-cell on Windows is also valid for macOS. think-cell 10 works with Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac version 16.9 or later, running on OS X Yosemite (10.10) or later.

With think-cell 10, you can now choose your favorite working environment and have the same great user experience. The interface is exactly the same and all features are available.

User Interface

With think-cell now branching across multiple platforms we took the opportunity to refresh the user interface. Icons in the Elements menu and context menu have a fresh new look.

Context toolbar with row of chart type icons

With one click, you can change the chart type from this row of icons.

Context toolbar with row of chart type icons

In the Data Links dialog you can now also easily select all charts linked to a specific Excel source file, and update them with one click (see Data Links dialog).

Data Links dialog

New buttons in the contextual toolbar help you easily update and revert, as well as switch to automatic updates for a chart.

Context toolbar with row of excel link icons

Selecting a series in the legend of a scatter or bubble chart highlights all points or bubbles of the series.

Bubble chart with one series highlighted

Same scale and axes

Setting charts to the same scale is now persistent. If the scale changes in one chart, all charts with the same scale will be updated. You can set charts to the same scale even when their axes are not displayed (see Same scale).

Using the same scale for multiple charts also works with axis breaks. Setting the same scale does not remove existing breaks, and adding an axis break to one chart will automatically add it to other charts using the same scale.

Two charts set to the same scale with an axis break

The X axes can also be set to same scale if they are value-based or date-based. For example, you can easily set two line charts to show the same years, even when the date range covered by the data is different (see Same scale).

Two line charts set to the same scale

Scatter and bubble charts now support same scale. You independently choose whether the X- or Y-axis should use the same scale.

Two scatter charts set to the same scale

Value axes support a reversed axis. Scatter and bubble charts support a numerically reversed axis. Column, clustered and area charts simply flip the chart. In a line chart with two axes, you can set one to a reversed order to highlight negative correlations (see Reversing the value axis).

Line chart with one reversed axis

Save and send slides

On Windows, you can use Gmail when sending slides instead of Outlook. To enable this, you set "think-cell Send With Gmail" as the default email program (see Save and send slides).

Default progams dialog with think-cell Send With Gmail selected

The "Save Slides..." command uses a dialog which includes your Quick Access folders. At the bottom of the dialog, you can choose which slides to include and whether date and time should be added to the filename.

Save slides dialog with options to choose included slides and append date and time to filename

When using "Save Slides..." and "Send Slides...", the filename better represents your choices: If you choose to send the entire presentation, for example, the file name does not contain slides numbers.

Color and style

The font color of text in labels can be chosen and is not reset, even if the label background changes (see Font color).

Chart with colored labels and font color control

The Load Style File command makes it easy to load previously used and default style files. Initially, it contains all styles included with think-cell for easy selection.

List of recently used files for Load Style File command

The color scheme for new charts is always taken from the think-cell style. The most recently used color scheme is now irrelevant when inserting a new chart. You can use a style file to set your preferred color scheme as the default (see Customizing think-cell).

Chart decorations

In the scatter chart, trendlines based on a power law, exponential or logarithmic relationship can be fitted to your data (see Trendline).

Scatter chart with power law trendline and trendline type control

You can represent the numerical scale of your chart with only grid lines instead of an axis line, instead of showing both (see Value axis).

Stacked chart with grid lines and axis handles

JSON

Create slides with text content based on JSON input while using the full power and flexibility of smart text fields. The new named text fields serve as placeholders in your automation templates (see Introduction to automation).

Named Text Field element in Elements menu

think-cell 9

Smart text boxes

think-cell's text boxes have been given a boost of intelligence. You can now use them to create complex slide layouts without manually moving or resizing any elements (learn more). Watch the video to see how it works.

Doughnut charts

Make your pie charts stand out even more by converting them to our newest chart type, the doughnut chart. And yes, doughnut charts look just like they sound. They’re essentially pie charts with a hole in the middle. This new chart design helps to accentuate the data slices and provides a place to highlight additional information. Learn more.

Doughnut chart with labels and title

Enhanced chart rendering

For better visual quality and faster editing, think-cell 9 uses PowerPoint's native chart component to render charts instead of the legacy MS Graph component. This also removes several other limits, e.g., scatter and line charts can now contain more than 4,000 data points. think-cell's user interface itself is not changed at all by the new rendering back-end. You will just notice the improved visual quality and better compatibility.

Automation with JSON

In addition to Excel, you can now use JSON data to automatically create and update periodic reports (learn more). This new enhancement allows you to:

  • Create presentations automatically by merging template charts with JSON data.
  • Build a web service that creates think-cell charts.
  • Export your business intelligence reports as PowerPoint slides.

More new charting features

The new "Flat" agenda style uses background fills instead of rectangles. Learn more.

Agenda slide flat visual style

Tooltips now show labels and numeric values for individual datapoints.

Chart labels and numeric values tooltip

Chart types can now be switched between absolute and percentage, even when there's no axis. Learn more.

Absolute and percentage-based charts

The sort order of slices can now be easily changed for pie and doughnut charts.

Pie and doughnut chart sort order

In waterfall charts, category sort options such as "Categories First Up, Then Down, Including Start" ensure that sum columns stay in their position.

Waterfall chart category sort options
The baseline weight can now be changed. Baseline weight options

Changes to existing charting features

In previous versions you adjusted the column width by changing the gap width between columns. In think-cell 9, you instead adjust the column width directly by using the following handles: Learn more.

Change column width with a handle

Label rotation was changed by dragging a handle in previous version, while other properties like font size and number format were set using the floating toolbar. In think-cell 9, you also set label rotation in the floating toolbar. Learn more.

Set label rotation in the floating toolbar

In previous versions, milestones where shaped as a triangle or diamond and you switched between them with a button in the milestone's context menu. In think-cell 9, additional shapes were added. Therefore, you choose the milestone shape with a control in the floating toolbar, which shows a list of choices. Learn more.

Choose milestone shape from the floating toolbar

New tools to make you more productive

Quickly switch the decimal symbol (e.g., German to US format) for labels on all or selected slides. Learn more.

Change decimal symbol on PowerPoint slides

Remove animations from all or selected slides. Learn more.

Remove PowerPoint animations from slides

Quickly choose custom colors with the new eyedropper tool. Learn more.

Choose custom colors with eyedropper tool

New keyboard shortcuts:

  • Multi-select labels with Ctrl+Alt+Shift+ .
  • Duplicate elements, e.g., in tables and process flows, with Ctrl+Alt+ .

Additional customization options

  • Control agenda placement through a custom layout that can also contain more shapes for agenda slides. Learn more.
  • Define theme color shades as a base color plus brightness. Learn more.
  • Specify checkboxes with more options: non-square images, e.g., traffic lights, and all Unicode characters. Learn more.
  • For a color scheme, specify that it is not remembered as the default for subsequent charts. Learn more.

Improved Sharepoint support

think-cell fully supports the new user interface for conflict resolution in PowerPoint 2016 that is based on whole slides. Concurrent editing in SharePoint/PowerPoint 2013 is also improved.

think-cell 8

Process flow

think-cell 8 greatly expands the slide layout functionality of our software by introducing the pentagon/chevron and textbox as new think-cell elements. Show project steps with accompanying bullet points by creating the basic structure very quickly out of building blocks, and use flexible single-click duplication to add additional steps. The following video shows this in action.

The layout is continuously re-arranged and optimized automatically when the text in elements changes. Furthermore, the direction of the whole structure can be changed from left-to-right to top-to-bottom by dragging the unified rotation handle. Learn more.

Excel link for Gantt chart

You like linking charts directly to Excel and having them update automatically? With think-cell 8, Excel links also work in Gantt charts. You can link activities and milestones to dates in Excel. When the dates change, the Gantt chart is updated as well. Learn more.

Link Excel data with Gantt charts in PowerPoint

Chart to data

Sometimes source data is only available in a chart on a website or a PDF document. The new Chart to Data tool in think-cell 8 lets you work with this data. Below on the left is a chart in a PDF document. On the right, the segments were automatically detected by think-cell and the numerical data is ready for import. Learn more.

Extract data from chart images and create functional charts in Excel and PowerPoint

Chart type conversion

Would you like to change chart types after the chart has already been created? In think-cell 8, you can easily convert chart types. For example, you can change stacked columns to clustered columns, segments to lines and many more combinations.

Change think-cell chart types

More new charting features

  • Do you want the series labels in a legend to appear in a different order than in the datasheet? With think-cell 8, you can also use the chart's visual order, which may be different due to sorting, or an alphabetical order.

    Chart series labels reordering
  • Automated chart updates with think-cell's programming functions become even more automatic: The chart width remains fixed when the number of chart categories changes, minimizing necessary manual changes to the slide layout.
  • Set the numerical sign of labels independently for segments and totals.

Collaboration

Co-authoring in Microsoft Sharepoint is supported.

think-cell 7

Compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016

think-cell 7 is the first version of our software that is compatible with Microsoft Office 2016. Of course, it is compatible with all current Microsoft Windows and Office versions, including 32 and 64 bit versions. It is therefore recommended to install think-cell 7 regardless of which Windows or Office version is used.

Charting features

  • Aggregate data into a separate Other series from the segments' context menu in column, Mekko, area and combination charts. Add segments to or remove them from the Other series simply by dragging a handle. (More on this)

    Aggregate data into separate series in column, mekko, area, and combination charts
  • Sort categories by their total values directly from the chart's floating toolbar. (More on this)

    Sort chart categories by total values
  • Interactively resize data bubbles in bubble charts by dragging a bubble's handle. The other bubbles will be updated automatically, maintaining correct size ratios.

    Resize data bubbles in bubble charts Resized data bubbles in bubble charts
  • Adjust the reference size of the bubble size legend by dragging its handle.
  • Easily toggle the value axis between absolute and percent representations in stacked, 100% and area charts. (More on this)
  • To move all Gantt chart date items at once, press Ctrl+A while a bar, milestone or process is selected.

Formatting and style

  • Choose from the complete set of Microsoft Office design theme colors to style your think-cell charts. If needed, compatibility with Office 2003 and older versions can be ensured by a restricted color scheme offered in the chart's floating toolbar.
  • Customize your charts for a consistent visual identity with new options in the think-cell style file. In version 6, you could already change defaults for segment colors and color schemes. Now, in addition, you can define your own line colors and line styles, arrow bubble fills and outlines, Harvey balls and checkboxes, which may even include pictures instead of checkmark signs. (More on this)

Label content

  • Labels entered into the datasheet can now be up to 255 characters long without being truncated in the chart.
  • Create clean yet unambiguous charts by showing 4-digit year numbers on specific axis labels, while keeping 2-digit years for all others. (More on this)
  • In recognition of our growing Asian user community and its currency conventions, you can now find 104, 108 and 1012 in think-cell's magnitude dropdown box.

User interface improvements

  • Floating toolbars now open to the right of the mouse pointer, staying out of the way of selected elements.
  • Easily access cell formats from the datasheet toolbar with the new datasheet formatting button.

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