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Glew Comments on Using SlideShowPlugin rather than PowerPoint

I used SlideShowPlugin for the presentation of OrcaArchFest2006May26. (OrCA is the name of my group at Intel - Oregon Computer Architecture. I hope that I have anonymified everything else.) This is the second significant presentation I have made using TWiki slideshow - the first was CompArch.SlideShow.

I got a bit of shit about not conforming to the corporate standard of using PowerPoint. But overall I am fairly happy with how the presentatiin went, and how TWiki SlideShowPlugin worked - although of course I have ideas for improvement.

Which TWiki Slideshow plugin to use

I am aware of

  1. SlideShowPlugin
    • multiple slides per page
    • uses L2 headings ---++ as slide separators
  2. SlidyPlugin
    • multiple slides per page
    • uses L2 headings ---++ as slide separators
    • analagous to TWiki:Plugins.SlideShowPlugin, but based on W3Cs "HTML Slidy" (presentation at http://www.w3.org/Talks/Tools/Slidy/.
    • Slidy syntax has features like incremental display, expanded/collapsed items, handout comments, etc
    • Content scales somewhat with browser window size
  3. SlideNavPlugin / SlidePlugin
    • one slide per topic page

I first started using SlideNavPlugin, but found one slide per page too limiting. I then switched to SlideshowPlugin because it was good enough. I suspect that I should switch to SlidyPlugin, because it has several features that I was going to comment about needing.

smile Multiple Slides per Page

I want to be able to have slides be separate pages, so that I can shuffle them around easily, and create crafted special presentations.

But I found this annoying to have to do for every slide. Consistently, I am finding that I want to create documents, both slideshows and specifications like UarchProposal, in a single file - with the ability to refactor stuff out to separate files for sharing.

Multiple slides per page supported, but not required.

Lots of %INCLUDEs work fine to use files from other pages. Annoyingly, EmbedTopicPlugin does not work so well, as noted below.

frown EmbedTopicPlugin problem

EmbedTopic did not work well with SlideShowPlugin. Headings within the embedded topic did not become slide boundaries. Unclear if they do not show up in the TOC at all, or just did not become slide boundaries.

frown SlideShowPlugin Header Handling.

In TWiki, normally one can reference headings like

   ---++ H2 Heading
as [[#H2_Heading]].

Unfortunately, SlideShowPlugin changes the headings to look like

   ---++ Slide 22: H2 Heading
which requires a reference using [[#Slide_22_H2_Heading]].

This breaks [[#H2_Heading]], and means that a reference that works when not in slideshow mode doesn't work in slideshow mode, and vice versa. Unfortunate.

Also, having the slide number makes it impossible to establish links while the presentation is changing.

Recommendation: need to be able to use [[#H2_Heading]] links, even in slide show mode.

smile Structured Table of Contents - some problems frown

A default TOC produces a flat list of slides.

  • Slide 1: Intro
  • Slide 2: Sub Intro
  • Slide 3: Topic1
  • Slide 4: Topic 1.1
  • Slide 5: Topic 2
  • Slide 6: Topic 2.1
  • Slide 7: Conclusion
  • Slide 8: Sub Conclusion

This is pretty ugly when you have 60 slides...

One of the biggest reasons that I want to use TWki for slides is to be able to have better organization.

So, the good part: it worked really well. I was able to created structured and condensed table of contents, that really helped the presentation:

  • Condensed Table of Contents
    • Slide 1: Intro
    • Slide 3: Topic1
    • Slide 5: Topic 2
    • Slide 7: Conclusion
  • Structured Table of Contents
    • Slide 1: Intro
  • Slide 2: Sub Intro
    • Slide 3: Topic1
  • Slide 4: Topic 1.1
    • Slide 5: Topic 2
  • Slide 6: Topic 2.1
    • Slide 7: Conclusion
  • Slide 8: Sub Conclusion

I put all of the above on an index page, and left a link to the index page on every slide. It really helped me navigate.

I also created a list of the key figures and animations, which, again, helped.

Wishlist: Automatic List of Slides Creation

TBD: I want to automatically create these structured and condensed lists of slides.

  • e.g. all L1 and L2 headings
  • all headings 2 below the current
  • etc.

The Bad Part about the Lists of Slides

Unfortunately, I had to create the structured and condensed lists of slides using HTML <A href="..."> ... TWiki syntax could not be used.

  * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide1"> List of Slides </a>
   * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26" class="twikiLink">OrcaArchFest2006May26</a>  </a>

   * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide3"> What It Does </a>
      * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide7"> Design Principles </a>
   * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide10"> Architecture </a>
      * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide12"> Memory </a>
      * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide13"> Instructions </a>
   * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide16"> Uarch </a>
      * <a href="/archfut/bin/view/.../OrcaArchFest2006May26?slideshow=on&amp;skin=print#GoSlide18"> Uarch Overview - Diagram </a>

Why could I not use wiki links?

  1. as noted above, SlideShowPlugin did not allow twiki internal link syntax in the slide show b. I needed to specify the ?slideshow=on parameter to the link.

This is sad. It makes the links break outside slideshow mode. Somehow we need to have the link syntax work n both modes.

Also: there needs to be a way to have the link specify

  • if you're in slideshow, visit this link in slideshow
  • else, visit not in slideshow mode

Slide boundaries

SlideShowPlugin uses all H2, ---++, headings as slide boundaries.

This is not good enough. It makes the automatically generated table of contents for a document useless.

I think it wants to be an option - but I think that there need to be other ways. E.g. explicit BEGINSLIDE/ENDSLIDE in the text.

I suspect that I will often created highly indented bullet lists, and then use BEGINSLIDE/ENDSLIDE. Would be nice if deep indentation could be unindented - e.g. if a slide only covers a subtree from level 4 on down, make level 4 level 1, etc.

Pictures indifferent

I drew pictures in PowerPoint and Visio, and attached them to the slideshow. I then had to edit, to move the link to the needed place.

Wishlist; "attach _here_".

Main hassle was that I needed to store both .GIFs and .VSD/.PPT for the drawings. I really want TWiki to be able to automatically convert a drawing to a GIF.

Animations smile

It worked pretty well to use PowerPoint to build animations, link a .PPS file to the page, and click on that.

In fact, it worked really well to have both static and dynamic views of pages.

frown Scaling to fit Screen

I thrashed around getting diagrams to fit on the screen. Sometimes I had an 800x600 screen, sometimes 1024x768, sometimes 1200x1024.

One of PowerPoint's big advantages is this automatic scaling.

I ended up doing things like


   <img src="%ATTACHURLPATH%/Memory.gif" alt="Memory.gif" 
       height='%CALC{"$EVAL(720*$GET(scale))"}%' />

It was annoying to have to edit the pages - but I reckon a form could be used.

Wishlist: automatic scaling to current window size.

By the way, I am actually glad that it was possible to create slides larger than the display. It made it natural to scroll to some backup information, when somebody asked a question.

smile smile Best Idea; Quick Customized Navigation

I added the following at the top of my presentation:


I then used EMACS global replace to INCLUDE this after every ---+ slide boundary:

---++ Slide 26: Agu

This worked fantastically well.

As is typical for presentations in my group, the audience had their own priorities. I was able to answer questions by using this quick index to jump to a new slide - nearly all the questions were anticipated by my key slides, just not in the order the audience wanted. And then I was able to use browser back, or my structured slide index, or my quick index.

With PowerPoint I have been in this situation before, and watched the audience get bored while the presenter pages back and forth. Or uses the flat and unstructured slide index. Or jumps to the slide selector. Or... Myself, with PowerPoint, I often have to make a list of the key slides, and remember their numbers, in order to be able to present effectively.

The ability to create such quick indexes is fantastic. It's enough to justify usimng twiki for presentations over PowerPoint, IMHO.

I am told that PowerPoint hyperlinks are equivalent. Maybe - but they are a pain to manage. TWiki makes managing such links easy. * wish list: of course, want to use TWiki link syntax rather than HTML A HREF syntax for the links.

Wish list: automatically create such quick indexes. E.g. point to next slide on same hierarchy level in the structured index - or up a level, or or...

  • but manually creating them is godd enough, and infinitely better than PowerPoint.

Bluesky Wishlist: some sort of smart selectable editor:

Given a list of slides - some files, some internal - I often create several oresentations.

Equivalently, files appear in different lists:

  • the quick index of only 5-6 files
  • the condensed index
  • the whole index, structured
as well as topic specific versions of each.

I imagine having the indented tree, with a matrix of click boxes. Rows correspond to topics, columns correspon to indexes or presentation lists. Collapsable subtrees.

This usd to create many of the navigation tools.

frown Packaging up the Presentation

The TWiki presentation fell very short wrt pacakging it up.

  • e.g. I might want to email the whole presentation to someone
    • including the most important links.
    • and all the attachments
  • archive the presentation for historical reasons
    • including all the links - which I do not want to change.

I.e. you need to be able to draw a boundary around the set of twiki files and attachments that are "the presentation", put them into an archive, and then mail that single archive file around.

Mailing a link is not good enough - my TWiki is under access control, and many people in this audience do not have access to the twiki site. (Mayny do not want access.) Per page access not good enough, because of multiple pages in same presntation.

I ended up just usinmg Internet Explorer to create a Microsoft .MHT archive file of a web page, and mailed that around. I mailed the link, but, as noted above, that does not always work.


Overall, I am happy with these first experiences using TWiki instead of PowerPoint.

It looks like TWiki can be used to create much more navigable presentations.

Improvements needed in

  • scaling to screen size
  • bundling up the presentatiion for archive or email
  • using twiki link syntax everywhere

But, overall, I will keep doing it.

-- AndyGlew - 26 May 2006


Thanks Andy for sharing your experience!

-- PeterThoeny - 27 May 2006

I too would like to make better use of the slideshow plugin. I would really like an automated advance of the slides and the ability to loop the presentation. I haven't come across this feature in the any of the slide show plugins (correct me if I'm wrong). Has anyone added this feature ad-hoc?

-- MontanaQuiring - 05 Mar 2007

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Topic revision: r3 - 2007-03-05 - MontanaQuiring
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