The last bullet-point presentation I did was about six months ago, and I used Open Office’s offering to do so. I hated it. I was then obliged to convert that to PowerPoint, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I loathed that!

I didn’t want to go that route again, so I searched for something new. Having loved LaTeX while writing my book, I looked into the possibility of creating presentations with LaTeX. There are ways of doing that, and I disliked them all.

I then remembered a program that Jos Vos of X/OS showed me at UKUUG earlier this year: it is called MagicPoint.

MagicPoint is

an X11 based presentation tool. It is designed to make simple presentations easy while to make complicated presentations possible. Its presentation file (whose suffix is typically .mgp) is just text so that you can create presentation files quickly with your favorite editor

The program’s initial syntax needs a bit of getting used to, but once you set up a small template (based on one of the provided examples), writing the presentation is as easy as typing lines of text into a text editor of your choice.

MagicPoint has a few bells and whistles. While not as many as some of the larger programs, it

  1. You can draw on slides while presenting.
  2. Handles many image formats.
  3. Offers a talk timer and slide guide.
  4. Can run in different screen resolutions.
  5. Can import data into the slide at run-time (with mgp’s %filter).
  6. Has a slim markup language.
  7. Sensible keyboard shortcuts available (e.g. “3g” to go to page 3).
  8. Can display LaTeX.
  9. It can output HTML (with or without images).

MagicPoint hasn’t been updated for a while, and it does have some quirks (at least, the version I compiled for Mac OS X, has): for example, the program sometimes goes into an endless loop, and I haven’t been able to find out why.

Be that as it may, it works well for me, because I use its companion program mgp2ps to create PostScript, which I then convert to PDF with ps2pdf. The best is that I can use my favorite text editor, my favorite spell checker, and that the program can read from UNIX pipes while it renders the presentation, making it a cinch to include program output, configuration file snippets, etc.

In other words, I’ve almost completed the Exim and LDAP presentation I’ll be giving at the UKUUG Summer Conference. Had I used any other of the presentation tools, I’d still be fumbling with them. ;-)

Further reading:

Software and CLI :: 30 Jul 2009 :: e-mail