Non-LaTeX presentations using org-mode – S5 and HTML5 slides

I recently had frustrations with presentations written using MS Powerpoint; I’m not even going to mention KeyNote as it is only available on a Mac. LibreOffice is my WYSIWYG editor on my Linux machine for writing quick and nicely formatted content. I also have MS Office installed on my machine using WINE. I sometimes use Google Docs for presentation when I have to collaborate. Most of the times, viewing MS-generated files on LibreOffice suffices. When it doesn’t work well, I opt for MS Office. However, I recently had to open a powerpoint presentation with an audio link. It didn’t play on LibreOffice and it didn’t play on my WINE MS Office. I started thinking about a possible route for presentation files that are self-contained and cross-platform. PDF comes to mind first, but to do so would mean I have to use Beamer to generate the slides or to use Adobe Acrobat to create the slides. I don’t want to do either as I’m referring to the scenario of creating quick slides.

HTML came to my mind next. I recalled S5. I remember this post which outlines how one could export to S5 using org-mode. I tried it out finally and things work nicely. This tutorial also mentions an alternative method to generate S5 presentations in org-mode based on the org-export-as-s5 function. Hopefully it will be integrated in the MASTER branch of org-mode soon. To embed audio or video, just paste the html code an html chunk, linking the file multimedia file in the current directory. Now the directory could be transferred to any computer and viewed.

I also stumbled on this link, which allows me to export org files to HTML5 slides. I think the latest file is here, with instructions on how to set up in the comments.

With the S5 and HTML5 slides exporting methods in org-mode, now I can make cross-platform presentations very easily using org-mode. I will probably use the HTML5 method as it doesn’t come with any dependencies like the ui directory from S5.

Presentations/slideshows in a web browser using S5

I use LaTeX Beamer whenever I write a a presentation because

  1. I’m familiar with LaTeX and want to keep up with the skillset,
  2. I prefer to write in plain text, especially in emacs, and
  3. I don’t have to spend time working on the how the presentation looks and just have to worry about content.

I recently re-discovered S5, a way to make presentations using html, viewable by any web browser. I think it is safe to assume that more computers have a web browser than a pdf viewer (especially more than MS Powerpoint, for sure). I don’t really know html, so I searched for org-mode or markdown support. Of course, these exist. For org-mode, check out org-s5. For markdown support, there is Instiki and pandoc. I hope to try these out soon. S5 seems to be a good alternative when my presentation doesn’t involve math equations or source code on display. You can also create Beamer slides easily using org-mode; see this and this.

vcasmo: video/presentation + picture/slides together!

I was reading this blog post on Revolutions Computing’s blog and discovered the vcasmo service, a way to post a presentation or video with the slides right next to it. This is DEFINITELY something I will use. Often times I watch talks or presentation videos online and most of the time the videos are either focused on the speaker and the projected slides or on the presentation slides with voice-over from the speaker. This method of presentation highlights both the presentation slides and what the speaker has to say, making me feel that I didn’t miss much from not being at the talk physically. Here is the embedded talk that made me discover vcasmo: