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Ask HN: What alternatives to Powerpoint/Prezi are there?
180 points by altoz on Oct 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments
I'm doing a lot of teaching and I've been using PowerPoint. I recently saw some people use Prezi and liked what they were able to do to map concepts visually to make them easier to understand. Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of the features that made Prezi powerful have been neutered in Prezi Next and isn't able to do a lot of what I'm looking for (no path editing, no infinite canvas, etc). What alternatives are there?

Some requirements for me:

* WYSIWIG editor * Tutorials * Infinite canvas/Path editing


Is a commercial SaaS GUI for reveal.js: http://lab.hakim.se/reveal-js/#/

I’m a paying customer, and find it useful. Where possible, I create slides using standard open source reveal.js (or often some markdown format that compiles to it) but sometimes I’ll want to do something that’s easier with a GUI, or just run out of time/interest for design-from-the-command-line.

It’s easy to export decks to HTML, and the auto-generated code is pretty clean and sane, as these things go.

Additionally, the CEO of the company is the maintainer of reveal.js, so buying the product saustains his work in the open source library. You can also write to him with bugs and requests, he’s keen to listen and responsive. Thanks, Hakim!

I'm a huge fan of reveal.js. Everytime I've used it, people ask what I used to make the slides.

Is anyone thinking beyond slides? We need to demand more from our presentational tools. I'd like to have these features:

Interactive slide elements like simulations, parametrized graphs, shells for SSH and interpreted languages.

Mobile interface served for audience so they can participate in quizzes, voting and interactive experiments.

Branching flows of presentation, so you can dive into more details on one branch, or skim through it on other branch (without running through slides franticly).

Free style presentation where some presenter zooms in and out of tree representation of our knowledge of the presentation subject.

Support for separate presenter's user interface - presenter should be able to easily cue the laughing track, or theatrically raise music volume, or see audience feedback.

Both Prezi and reveal.js and some other tools I've seen, add too much design fluff and fail to deliver any fresh approach. PowerPoint is stagnating for a looong while. Which is really the shame, because we could engage our audience so much better with right tools.

You've just described Articulate Storyline and/or Adobe Captivate.

org-mode with beamer output. For me there are a couple of large benefits:

- You can include LaTeX directly in documents and preview LaTeX inline in Emacs. This is not restricted to LaTeX math, but any kind of LaTeX environment. I often use this for including TikZ figures.

- You can include snippets of code in your document, execute them inline and include the results in your presentation. For instance, you can use this to include graphs using gnuplot, R, or matplotlib. Moreover, you can use tables org-mode tables as input to these code fragments.

- You can use tags for headers/slides. I often use this to generate two different slide decks: one that I put on the website before the lecture and a second one with solutions for me to use during the lecture.

- org-mode is a markup language that is similar to Markdown, so it is generally less work to write than LaTeX.

- Like LaTeX and Markdown, you can put everything under version control.

You can also use org-mode to create reveal.js slide decks. It gives you the benefit of editing in plain text with a pretty nice looking output.

Whoa. That sounds divine. Not trying to start a war here, but is there a way to do this kind of thing in vim? I've heard about evil move and spacemacs but never looked into either all that much.

I don't think there is currently something as extensive as org-mode in vim. vim can also not render equations/figures inline.

evil is a pretty good vi. I have been a vim user for ~two decades. I used Spacemacs as the gateway drug to Emacs, but have since built my own configuration from scratch (I was fed up with the general slowness of Spacemacs).

Google slides is pretty good and free, I'm surprised nobody mentioned it already

The portability and co-working capabilities just can't really be matched easily, as far as i know. It's really a great tool

The fact that it is cloud-based and therefore requires an Internet connection means it is the opposite of "portable" for me. When I go to client meetings and have to deliver a presentation, I can't assume I will be connected to the Internet. That's why I use PowerPoint.

I usually export/download Google Slides as a PDF to avoid any issues during important meetings

This avoids any issues with software not loading / messing up (powerpoint) too.

I really like using Google Slides, and whenever I had a presentation, I would just download in all different formats for PowerPoint, so that I cover the compatibility issues, but I have encountered that the PowerPoint export didn't look the same as the Google Slides one, so I highly recommend check the files before leaving your PC!

Isn't that really a problem with PowerPoint as well? If you e.g. use a font that isn't available on the computer you use to present. PDF export solves this, typically.

In the browser != Requires connection.

Right? Might as well say "have to download the exe from the Internet? That must mean it's online-only".

Connection-free browser apps have been with us long enough that we can't assume either way.

The benefit of an exe is you can simply keep it on a USB incase it needs installing elsewhere. Also you know for sure it's offline and isn't fickle to a browser history clear out.

But then again its in a usb. Cant really rely on usb ports being open to me or that i wont have to present on a 2017 mac which, unsurprisingly does not have a usb port or on a windows machine i plop in my usb ready to present and all i can present is the antivirus scan progress bar moving slower than san francisco traffic at peak hours. So lets just take print outs to be safe. So much for the effort i put in getting the fonts and colors just right.

Maybe because:

> Some requirements for me: * Infinite canvas/Path editing

After some googling, I found out how one can enable Prezi classic on an account that only has Prezi Next.

Make sure you're logged into your Prezi account, then go to this link: https://prezi.com/instant-prezi An editor or a 404 page may appear. Either way, Prezi classic is now enabled. You can access your dashboard again on the top right and switch between the two products in a drop down on the left.

Source: https://prezibase.com/activate-prezi-classic-account/

If you're demonstrating any code, I find RISE to be magnificent. It's a plugin for Jupyter Notebooks that lets you present your code via reveal.js

Project: https://github.com/damianavila/RISE Original demo at PyCon: https://youtu.be/rBS6hmiK-H8

Keynote for iCloud (the web-based version of iWork's Keynote) has close-to-feature-parity with the macOS/iOS versions.

Additionally, Keynote Live allows you to play a presentation and have viewers join via a URL, where they can view the presentation in sync on any device (macOS/iOS/Web), with feature parity to normal Keynote presentations.


I don't know if this satisfies your infinite canvas requirement, but I've used https://slides.com/ quite a bit. Similar to reveal.js.

edit: as pointed out elsewhere in the thread, "slides.com is a front-end for reveal.js, made by the authors of reveal."

Yea it's not as fancy, but I really like reveal.js. I do presentations at Python, Scala and Ruby meetups based on the same project, and I have a reveal.js project set up so I can easily build slides:


I've used slides.com with great success.

I love the websocket feature that let's you use your phone as a slide changer. It feels very professional but free.

Spectacle is pretty nice. Supports 3rd party extensions. Supports markdown. Split presenter and presentation views. Themes.


How about Sozi? its an extension for inkscape - http://sozi.baierouge.fr/

This is pretty fascinating, the about page sums it up http://sozi.baierouge.fr/pages/10-about.html .

Guessing it may also be possible to do some of the heavy lifting in another vector drawing app (e.g. sketch) then finish the presentation aspects in Inkscape/Sozi

Came to recommend this. It's more or less WSYWIG, and while you'll want to learn Inkscape first, it has its own set of tutorials for Sozi specifics.

Figma (https://www.figma.com) is probably a perfect fit for your use case. It's an interface design tool but it can also be used for presentations. Benefits:

* Free for individual use

* Completely cross-platform (browser-based)

* Has an infinite canvas

* Has advanced path editing

* Has a presentation mode for slides (the play button)

* Supports simultaneous real-time editing if you need to work with someone else

Looks really interesting. Thanks for this. How do you make it useful for slides? Each slide is one UI mockup?

While it does not solve your use case, others here might find it interesting: I built a domain-specific language for designing slides (https://github.com/ruuda/pris#readme). It is superficially similar to LaTeX/Beamer/TikZ, but it has first-class graphics that are reusable. More motivation in this blog post: https://ruudvanasseldonk.com/2017/04/27/a-language-for-desig.... It is still basic, but I have used it a few times to do slides nonetheless.

I remember seeing this on product hunt a while back and it looks awesome: https://ludus.one/?ref=producthunt

did you test it? how is it?

BigPicture might be what you're looking for: http://bigpicture.bi/demo

* Infinite canvas

* Infinite zooming


* Demo

* Opensource: https://github.com/josephernest/bigpicture.js

If you zoom on some vegetables here http://bigpicture.bi/Legumes you'll find the recipe :)

that big picture website is hardly usable on an iPad.

Mobile not supported for now.

But on the other hand, there's nearly no equivalent tool available nowadays ;)

What about sketchboard.io?

There's Strut, which is WYSIWIG and has path editing: http://strut.io/

I'm running a fork with some very minor improvements at https://www.airbornos.com/demo#open=strut. If you make an account there, they're saved in the cloud.

If you want LaTex, then take a look at this tool @ LucidChart LaTex support- https://store.office.com/en-ca/app.aspx?assetid=WA104380118&... - Word (free & paid) Lucidchart is an HTML5-based visual collaboration tool that makes drawing diagrams fast and easy. Easily create and insert flowcharts and other diagrams in Office documents. One of the supported “chart types” is LaTex equations.

I've only played with it a little and was really impressed.

I've been reading about Tableau, have not tried it http://www.clearlyandsimply.com/clearly_and_simply/tableau/

How about Sway? It is still very much in development. And the last I heard it has one serious shortcoming. The sway files must stay on the internet,no downloading. (that may have been fixed ...?)

Office Sway is a presentation program and is part of the Microsoft Office family of products. Generally released by Microsoft in August 2015, Sway allows users who have a Microsoft account to combine text and media to create a presentable website. Users can pull content locally from the device in use, or from internet sources such as Bing, Facebook, OneDrive, and YouTube. More at "Wikipedia"

Take a look at Ellen Finkelsteins site. She does some amazing stuff with PowerPoint http://www.ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/ - Ellen Finkelstein is a PowerPoint MVP


Overhead projector + transparencies

finger in sand drawing with circle gathering (almost not joking at all)

This style of communication was super common when I was in the infantry. "Sand Table Terrain Modeling" and "Rock Drills". IMO it's very effective.

\latex with beamer.

No one has mentioned LibreOffice?

Specifically, LibreOffice Impress [0] is the presentation application.

The other big open-source office suite is Calligra. Although not as popular as LibreOffice, it is still actively developed. Its presentation application is Stage [1].

[0] https://www.libreoffice.org/discover/impress/

[1] https://www.calligra.org/stage/

I'll second LibreOffice. It's much more polished than OpenOffice, and it's quite functional and mature. It has definitely gotten the TLC that OpenOffice so desperately needed about 10 years ago. I'm not sure if it has the infinite canvas that the OP is looking for, but it's definitely nothing to sneeze at.

It's more polished because the (almost) entire team of OpenOffice left and created the LibreOffice project, AFAIK.

Same as what happened with MySQL -> MariaDB.

Have you looked at MS Mix? https://mix.office.com/en-us/Home

Since you talk about teaching, are you aware of the MS Education offering? It includes subsites specific for teachers. That would be a good place to ask your question

OFFICE 365 EDUCATION / STUDENT ADVANTAGE - LEARN https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education This is home site for ongoing contact/training/features of Office 365 Education for: • School leaders • Educators • Students • Products • Training & Events • Stories • How to Buy

https://products.office.com/en-us/student/office-in-educatio... - Home Page / FAQ Check if you can get Microsoft Office for free by trying out your valid school email address at the Office for Students page. https://products.office.com/en-us/academic/office-365-educat... – Describes the Education plan and how to get it https://products.office.com/en-us/academic/office-365-educat... - Home page

Org Mode + Beamer (a LaTeX package).

Although personally, these days I tend to use Reveal (using org-reveal).

Hope you take a look at https://www.breakdown-notes.com

It has a pretty big map (though not infinite) for you to add shapes and text to, has support for adding and editing paths, plenty of tutorials and you can make slides in the paid version (free 2 week trial). Disclaimer: I made Breakdown Notes

As others have said in this thread, reveal.js is good. I've used it via slides.com where I put an overview presentation about my xtopdf Python toolkit for PDF generation from other formats:


S5 by Eric Meyer is good too - web-based, uses HTML, CSS and JavaScript:


Online S5 intro / demo using S5 itself:



Sorry, missed seeing your requirements for the tool, not sure if S5 has them, but leaving my comment up since I think S5 is interesting and definitely a presentation tool.

Google Slides (https://slides.google.com)

I've put together Slide Show (S9) [1] that lets you use plain text with markdown formatting convetions for putting together your slides / talks. Incl. a starter tutorial / repo. For infinite canvas (prezi-style) you can use the impress.js theme/template pack [2], for example. For wysiwig use your (visual) markdown editor of choice :-)

[1] http://slideshow-s9.github.io [2] https://github.com/slideshow-templates/slideshow-impress.js

If you're familiar with LaTeX, Beamer is an option for scientific/math slides.

Some more ideas: POWER-USER – EURO 200 (FREE TRIAL) https://www.powerusersoftwares.com/ With dozens of features, Power-user is the most complete add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint, designed to assist you in every step of the process of creating a presentation. With dozens of features, Power-user is the most complete add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint, designed to assist you in every step of the process of creating a presentation.

Here's a radical thought: don't use a presentation deck! Hand out a collection of images, printed or via pdf file, give the student a couple of minutes to quickly become familiar with it, then just talk about each of the major figure in the handout. This was my solution to 'powerpoint hell' when sharing results in grad school, I don't know if it really applies to your case (non-expert students), but it may be worth a shot. Hell, its better than reading off slides! Good luck!

Lucidchart has a slides/presentation mode, along with mind maps, a wysiwig editor, tutorials, and an infinite canvas.

(Disclaimer, I used to work there, and helped build the presentation mode.)

I want to suggest that WYSIWYG is a really bad formula for presentations.

For my part, I really like Hovercraft (makes impress.js using RST): https://github.com/regebro/hovercraft

If all you are looking for out of WYSIWYG is ease, then I think something like this is just as easy.

FYI: Slide Show (S9) also has a impress.js template/theme pack so you can write your talks / slides in plain text with markdown formatting conventions. See https://github.com/slideshow-templates/slideshow-impress.js

If some people are still using impress I am dropping this small library I made a few years ago.


That is so annoyingly slow that I closed the tab after "completing" the first 2 slides.

I have had issues with impress.js when my laptop's resolution was different from the projector's.

I just started using GitPitch.com which is backed by reveal.js It integrates seemlessly with GitHub, GitLab, etc. Feed it markdown and graphics and it produces beautiful slideshows. The author is incredibly responsive (I just commented on a feature I needed and it was done in < 12 hours and done right). Freakin' amazing!

I work in Powerpointing and even Prezi is just too obscure for most of our clients. Nobody wants to learn a new tool or download anything just because the new tool has a few silly layout improvements. But if you don't need others to work with it, it probably doesn't really matter.

I recently discovered Vizzlo (https://vizzlo.com). Those guys are going to develop smart templates for all common concept charts. Pretty fast, pretty slick. Basically, the opposite of Prezi but worth a trial.

Deckset is awesome. Markdown is easy to write and Deckset can export to PDF. It’s my choice nowadays

https://infinitekind.com/syncspace is an infinite canvas app, though I’m not sure how well it works for sharing/teaching usecases

Crosses some reqs (tho doesn't have full features object editing), handy if you want interactive presentations https://awwapp.com/

Take a look at https://www.mindmeister.com - it is mainly for mind maps (and is very good at that), but also has a presentation mode.

I use Marp, quick and dirty. But it allows for Markdown to PDF presentations.

Reveal.js used with R's version of markdown makes for a really nice setup. Fully contained html if you want, online/offline. Lot of support from community and slick features.


We've built Tiled to be a versatile presentation tool with a focus on interactivity and analytics.

Open source JSON editor: https://github.com/tantaman/Strut

A jupyter to power point converter would be huge. I work in a typical organization where power point is expected, but my results come out of jupyter.

Can someone care to explain what infinite canvas means

Your canvas isn't limited to the screen size or any other fixed size, instead you can keep adding things on all four sized forever.

PowerPoint can still replicate a lot of what you are looking for. Look into Morph. Granted, I prefer Keynote and Magic Move for this.

You should give a try to Ludus --> https://ludus.one

Sway is good. Very different than PowerPoint.


just created an awesome repo for presentation libraries as there doesn't seem to be one yet: https://github.com/Dowwie/awesome-presentation-libs

reveal-md if you like markdown!

I think you can make presentations with Omnigraffle, which has an infinite canvas.

Emacs org-mode w/Beamer or reveal.js export.

beamer, marp

Reveal-MD: write in markdown, compile/output a good looking reveal-js HTML presentation.

Demo: https://mankash.bitbucket.io Reveal-MD source: https://github.com/webpro/reveal-md

reveal.js wins every time.

Yep was going to say Reveal.js too. Earlier today someone posted an integration of Jupyter Notebooks with Reveal.js which looks pretty cool. https://github.com/datitran/jupyter2slides

There is an Emacs org-reveal[0] package that shall help you use it like WYSIWYG.

[0] https://github.com/yjwen/org-reveal/

The thing that always got me with reveal was nested slides and whether I was supposed to nav with the arrow keys or not. Turns out if you ONLY hit the space bar it will visit the slides in-order. I guess.

But I think the OP was looking for a zoomable surface, which reveal doesn't offer.


FYI: Slide Show (S9) also has a reveal.js template/theme pack so you can write your talks / slides in plain text with markdown formatting conventions. See https://github.com/slideshow-templates/slideshow-reveal.js

+1 for reveal.js. I use it for several professional training courses that we deliver, as well as conference presentations.

Given that it's HTML/Markdown, it's great to use in a team with version control. I know folks that have extended it to allow SVG animations.

slides.com is a front-end for reveal.js, made by the authors of reveal. Nowadays I just write reveal.js directly, but it was nice to have a GUI when I was first getting started

Can it do boxes and arrows stuff?

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