I have wanted to play with reveal.js for a while, as a way of improving the look of my presentation slides, and I’ve finally got round to doing so.
I am impressed. Very impressed.
Impress (LibreOffice), pandoc, and beamer
Since switching to Linux full-time, and really disliking
Impress, the presentation tool in the LibreOffice suite, I have been writing presentations in markdown, and then using
pandoc to convert them into
beamer, and then convert them to PDF.
I love the simplicity of writing content in markdown, as I can focus on what I am including in the slides, rather than on their formatting, which is handled by a template.
But - for me at least - getting the template correct in
beamer was harder work than I wanted. I had to accept a number of compromises, and while my slides were still adequate they were not what I wanted.
reveal.js uses a similar approach: write your slide content, and then use templates to control slide rendering.
pandoc. It took about 10 minutes from downloading the basic files to have a theme looking how I wanted it.
It’s an open source project, and doesn’t require you to host your slides on someone else’s system. In fact, I have stuck with the Basic setup and, while the Advanced setup (running a local webserver) is “recommended”, I haven’t found anything I’m missing out on yet. It says that the Advanced setup is required for external markdown content; I just write the content in markdown (in
Apostrophe), and then paste it into the reveal.js index file, and that works fine.
I spent an evening reading the docs - time well spent - and experimenting with different features, and was quickly producing presentations which look more than good enough for my needs with very little effort.
I have bought the video course, as a means of supporting the developer, and I look forward to watching that when I get a few spare hours. (It’s worth learning how to use tools well, IMHO, especially since I make my living from them.)
Videos, images, fancy backgrounds, nice transitions - they are all supported, although, clearly, I will be using them sparingly. I like slides to be a backdrop to what I am saying, not the main feature.
It also has a feature I really missed from my PDF-based approach: speaker view! I like to see what the next slide/build is going to be, as that helps me with my presentation, and being able to see a clock, to keep track of time, is also welcome.
(Do I sound like a bit of a fanboy? Probably, and deservedly so…)
On the downside, some of the features I want to use do require me to switch from markdown to html - for example, using fragments, to “build” slides with multiple stages, which is reasonably common - but I can cope with that, and I will use
espanso to automate it.
Firefox v Brave
Update: this is out of date. It turns out that I needed to use a more recent version of Firefox than the one in Debian stable. Using that, I’ve no need for Brave.
My go-to browser is Firefox. I have used it for many, many years, and I like it.
Sadly, it does not render reveal.js slides well. Transitions have a noticeable lag, and the overall experience is not good.
I’ve been using Brave for a few months now, for running Microsoft Teams in-browser. On a whim, I opened one of my reveal.js presentations in Brave, and boy was it good. Absolutely no lag at all, and everything was so much snappier.
I do wonder for how much longer I will use Firefox, to be honest; I can see a move to Brave on the cards.
One thing I still need to work on is how to run a reveal.js presentation in Brave, when I am sharing the Brave tab on a Teams (and perhaps other?) conference call. Normally, I just load the slides in Brave, hit “F” to go full screen, and off I go. However, when I am sharing the tab via Teams, there is a warning message at the top of the screen, reminding me that I am sharing the tab, and this prevents me from going into full screen mode. I suspect there is a solution out there for this, but I don’t yet know what that is.