Rant about the state of presentation software for developers

I’ve been doing a few talks here and there over the last few years, and want to ramp it up even more. But apart sending the talk proposal and getting it accepted by a conference or a Meetup, and from going on stage and talking about that topic, you also need some slides usually.

Tools out there

There’s many tools that help you to create great looking presentations out there, you hardly even need to pick a platform anymore, as most of them have a web version available too.

The simplest, free option That anyone can use is surely Google Slides. I still use it for quickly making slides, sharing them and editing them anywhere - disposable stuff, for work and quick hacks. It’s just a tad boring.

I haven’t used Powerpoint in a while so I’ll skip that. The other big one is Apple’s Keynote. This is the one to use if you want to make immaculate presentations. I’m talking sexy animations, lovely fonts and bearable default themes. Jake Wharton and many other brilliant speakers use Keynote for a reason.

I used it too, and I found it a lot of work getting it to show stuff as I wanted it to be shown. You had to dig into the Master Slides, and edit your code slides, use grids and other things that I hate about WYSIWYG tools.

Thing is, we developers are lazy. I mean, the three-toed sloth is basically my spirit animal. If only I could write my slides in code, in Markdown let’s say…

Well, turns out that with Deckset you can! Thanks to my friend Andy for showing it to me! With Deckset you program your slides, add pictures, and the app will render them, and/or export it to PDF. That’s the final result of my talk on public policy, for instance:

And best of all? You can source control that stuff. I keep the sources of that talk on my Github, including the images, and if I’m doing it again and need to tweak it I can do so by just creating a new branch for it. This is basically speaker/developer candy.

But not really - the main problem with Deckset I find is that it’s too limiting. You can’t highlight a particular chunk of code. You can’t modify individual slides. That’s why I present my checklist for the best presentation software in the World:

The Zan-approved checklist for the best presentation software in the World

  • Presentation programmable and source-controllable
  • All the features of Deckset
  • Selective code highlighting
  • Grid-based system for positioning items
  • Apply theme to individual slides\
  • Allow building custom themes
  • Export to HTML
  • Compress resources before exporting

That’s it, I’m not too demanding, right? I’m willing to pay good money for that. So, in case you build it, I will buy it.

Or, in case I haven’t done my homework and that magical unicorn presentation software exists, please let me know and you shall receive my eternal gratefulness.