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LarsBarkman.com

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06 Feb 2015
Replacing PowerPoint With Code?

In my professional life as an architect I do my fair amount of presentations. The way I go about building the presentations is normally by finding some old presentation I have done or maybe get a corporate presentation that looks good and then use those as the base for the new presentation (with new content of course). That is normally a pretty effective way of doing presentations but the result is always quite predictable and it does not in any way help to keep me away from the ivory towers (https://twitter.com/larsbarkman/status/559761204844195841)!

A few days ago I saw a great keynote by Martin Fowler (http://youtu.be/wgdBVIX9ifA) and a inspiring talk by Nick O’Leary (http://www.infoq.com/presentations/ibm-node-red). What they both had in common were simple and engaging slides that conveyed the message without taking away the focus of them as presenters.

Such presentations can obviously be made with any presentation tool but what really interested me was that due too a very minor technical glitch Nick mentioned that he used impress.js (http://bartaz.github.io/impress.js/#/title) for the presentation. I did not at that time know anything about impress.js or any other JavaScript/HTML5 presentation frameworks but the idea of doing presentations with code intrigued me because I don’t get to code nearly as much as I want/need to these days (serious ivory tower warning right now)!

A quick search later I was reading about impress.js and was amazed with all that it could do. But as always (serious issues around being content) I then started thinking that maybe there is an even better framework out there?! A few searches later I found this blog (http://codecall.net/2014/02/07/best-javascript-html5-presentation-frameworks/) that presented 12 frameworks for doing presentations.

At that point I was convinced that I should give this a serious try… Both to stretch my comfort zone and maybe even find a way that actually works better than powerpoint (I’m sure many of you would say “Keynote” but that is just another flavor of the same thing) in the long run.

Despite what you might think from the statement above I generally like Powerpoint but there are a few issues around layout (same issues as word processing vs. markup language) and maybe the most annoying part for me (we all have different hangups) is where to put the *.ppt so it can be viewed after the initial presentation (I know about Slideshare… I think I’m just trying to find a reason so that I can be all nerdy)? Normally, I would convert the presentation to pdf and send it out via e-mail to the people that attended the presentation. But that kind of kills the presentation, fills up peoples mailboxes and nobody else finds the presentation. A better way would be to put the presentations here on the blog (maybe with a password if it is confidential) to be viewed as a normal web page and all that would be needed is to send the URL (and maybe a password).

After running the demos of the different frameworks and tinkering a bit I found one framework that I think stands out… reveal.js (https://github.com/hakimel/reveal.js).

Why do I think it stands out? Well, all of the examples (https://github.com/hakimel/reveal.js/wiki/Example-Presentations) looks great and that gives me confidens that the framwork actually support the presenter. The documentation seems good and the syntax clear. There is also wordpress integration (https://github.com/alleyinteractive/revealjs-wp-theme) that would make sharing presentations on this site a breeze.

I have just started making a professional presentation with reveal.js so I’ll soon know how it works out…

If you think that there is something I missed or just want to get in touch, please contact me on Twitter @larsbarkman

Til next time,
Lars

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