Monday, 4 February 2013

The productive presentation tool


I took many presentations in my life. There are definitely various types that makes big difference sometimes. There are thorough, walkthrough presentations where you explain a topic from A to Z. There are the bullshit presentations where you need the zero to hero graphs and many fancy extras. There are always creative ones of course. However I like to craft my slides as simple as possible.


For me it's important that people don't take too much time with a slide. They should take attention to me and the topic. The material can be found on the internet, that's not magic. The chance they will forget your slides is high. Unless you introduce the new iDevice.
Also, I think a slide should be more of a memory stabilizer. A visual hammer that sticks the information to your mind the most effective way. That's how I ended up making 1 word slides. Don't tell anybody, but that's also very useful for me. Otherwise I'd never remember what I'm talking about.

The process starts with research. Collecting thoughts cannot be done easier than on a mindmap. I'm using Freemind for that. My wish was that the work after the research should be zero. Yup, zero. There has to be a mindmap to presentation converter application but unfortunately I haven't found any of them. So I decided to make mine.

The workflow would be the following:


  1. Do the research and build up your mindmap (preferably with a tool that makes a Freemind compatible MM [xml] file)
  2. Copy the output XML and paste to the converter app
  3. Play the presentation


Simples.

Now you may ask wouldn't that be sloppy? Oh well, as I said, I want to keep it simple. However there are options to enrich the result. First you have the title. That's derived from the node text. Then you can attach links to nodes. That could serve as a picture. I prefer having pictures big so it's gonna be the background. Then you can have comments. Which could be the content - when really needed. You have other properties according to a node, such as attributes, icons and connections - children, etc. All can be used smartly somewhere.
As an extra, animations and proton-exploding effect can be applied anytime.

I'll talk about the code and architecture in the follow-up post. In a nutshell, I decided using RequireJS - so I can build up my independent components and use and mix and reuse them. I'm using jQuery for some minimal Dom manipulation. Then I probably stick with the DOMParser object to parse the MM xml file.

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If you know any site that offers this functionality, please let me know. But even if there is one I'll finish mine.

Peter

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