PowerPoint placeholder text gets moved to adjacent placeholders when slide layout changed

I have a template that includes multiple copies of the same layout, each with a different background picture. This is the only difference between the layouts.

The layout has four text placeholders on it for name, title, date and confidentiality level.

When I create a slide from one of the layouts, populate all 4 placeholders with text and then switch the layout to one of the others, everything is fine.

But, if I delete the text from one of the placeholders before switching the layout to another, the text in the placeholders (PH) rotates. What I mean is that the text from PH1 ends up in PH2, PH2 ends up in PH3 etc. The placeholders stay where they are but the text gets moved!!!

Interestingly, the names of the placeholders in the Selection Pane don't change in the first case but they do in the second so is PowerPoint doing something special to recreate the placeholders during the switching process before pasting the text back into them and thereby messing up the order?

But the big question is "how can I stop this effect from happening?"

I can reproduce in 2013, 2010, 2007 but I haven't uploaded a template as it's a confidential project (I  will try to recreate with a new blank file).
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Jamie GarrochSenior Technical Consultant at BrightCarbonAsked:
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JSRWilsonCommented:
Jamie

The solution is not straightforward but you need to go into the XML and look at the idx value for the placeholders. These determine (in a not very obvious way MSFT) what goes where and in what order. Sorry I can't be more helpful but this is definitely the setting.
Echo_SCommented:
Yes, idx value changes. That's the cause. But I don't know that there is actually a solution, especially when reusing existing slides. You might be able  to code to reset idx for each PH to a static value or something along those lines.
Jamie GarrochSenior Technical Consultant at BrightCarbonAuthor Commented:
Hmmm. So is it possible to create layouts with multiple text placeholders and for this behaviour not to happen? Feels like a MSFT bug to me!
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Echo_SCommented:
I don't know. It's also often an issue with pix ph.

For some reason I don't think its a bug, tho. I'll ask.
JSRWilsonCommented:
I think it is a bug.

If you just duplicate the MSFT comparison layout and just switch from one to the other with a couple of blank placeholders the text moves around. That cannot be "by design"

I'm sure in the past changing the idx helped a bit but I'm not sure now. The only (rubbish) solution seems to be to block the empty placeholders with dummy text. This might be an answer if you are using code to switch layouts.
Echo_SCommented:
Certainly I'd call that buggish behavior, too! But for some reason I there's something floating around in the back of my brain saying it's by design. That would be a very bad design, but hey, we've seen that before!
Jamie GarrochSenior Technical Consultant at BrightCarbonAuthor Commented:
Looking forward to that 'floaty' thought reappearing Echo. lol!

It's certainly viewed as buggy for my client who is struggling to see why this could be 'deliberate' by design. I guess it could be a 'consequence' of design but I can't see ho it could be intentional behaviour. Very very bizarre.

I like the idea of dummy text John. Perhaps a simple space would do but that's then something to communicate to over 12,000 users in the client's installed base! BTW, this question isn't one of programming but pure usability of a (rather complex) template set for a complex company.
Echo_SCommented:
You might suggest an add-in as a corrective. Pretty sure there's not any other option.

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JSRWilsonCommented:
I suspect the (illogiocal) thinking is :

If you move from a layout with say 3 new placeholders but text in only two to one with say two placeholders the text is not orphaned but goes to an empty placeholder.

Only real solution as Echo says is to have an AddIn which adds  and then later removes dummy text (a space is enough)

This won't actually help but it might be a way to demo to Clients that it is MSFT not YOU!
Apply a Comparison layout and put A in the first text Placeholder and B in the second Content placeholder.

No just apply the same layout again (not reset)

How can that be right?
Jamie GarrochSenior Technical Consultant at BrightCarbonAuthor Commented:
So, just to summarise:

If a Slide Layout has more than one Placeholder of the same type (e.g. text, picture, chart, table etc.) and content is missing from any of the placeholders on the Slide with a Z-Order less than those containing content, when the Slide Layout is switched to another [similar] layout with at least the same number and type of placeholders, the content will be pasted back to the newly created placeholders (with different names in the Selection Pane) in order of their Z-Order (layer) property, meaning that content will move from one placeholder to another.

Right, now I understand that, I think I know how to deal with it in the client's existing add-in. Thank you both :-)
Echo_SCommented:
I didn't think that z-order matters, to be honest. I didn't make that connection when I was looking at this before. (A few times before and a few years before!) Reordering the PH on the layout and on the slide itself never seemed to matter, but I didn't make the connection that the content was getting pasted back in order of the new PH z-order. That's a nice new addition. Thank you!
Echo_SCommented:
Hey, Jamie -- can you send me your problem template? I want to look at something, but I can only find one file right now in my stash with the idx problem. It would save me having to dig through my archives.
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