IA Presenter, Deckset and other Markdown presenters

Asking as a follow up to this thread

I am trying out Markdown-based presentation software. I have never really enjoyed using more traditional presentation software like PowerPoint and Keynote - I have always felt clumsy using them, to the extent that I quite often write the main part of the presentation in word processing software and copy across.

I am enjoying just writing the words, without distraction, IA Presenter is particularly good, as it allow one to write all the notes together and define the slides. It is easy to to add photos, and diagrams (as pictures) although charts and tables as a bit more tricky. IA also allows an export to powerpoint and the hand-out notes are exceptional. The downsides include the fact that it is quite pricey to buy outright, or you are into a sub.

Deckset is less sophisticated, but half the price, but does a pretty good job.I had used Version 1 in the past, which was very basic - but this the current version does allow customisation.

I was wondering of any of the contributors to the last thread ever started to use iA presenter or deckset regularly. I was also wondering if there were any other examples I should be looking at.

1 Like

I love the idea of IA Presenter, and I’ve tried to use it a bit, and I like the idea of separating the words from the presentation.

But I hate the look of its presentations. I find them ugly and awkward looking.

Especially the way it handles images.

I wish it wasn’t so.

1 Like

I like the concept quite a bit since I essentially use keynote/powerpoint like an outliner. I’ve used reveal.js which has you creating an HTML file. You then upload it to your site or just present by opening it from your local file system. iA is a nice upgrade to that approach.

1 Like

That is interesting. I have seen some of the graphics you use in your newsletter, and you could not reproduce them in either of these apps. They both have their limitations, which is for sure.

I am going to try iA Pres in anger this weekend. It will be a mostly text-driven presentation, which will then be dropped into PowerPoint with my client’s template.

Have you ever tried Beautiful.ai? As a person who is -ahem- design challenged, I have found that I can get to some good-looking charts pretty quickly using this. I am trying out a few different presentation applications at the moment, including Canva, so if you have any other thoughts throw them in the ring.

2 Likes

Thanks, I will go and have a look at this.

My open source md2pptx might interest you.

It’s written in Python.

4 Likes

I have seen some of the graphics you use in your newsletter, and you could not reproduce them in either of these apps

My assistant makes most of my graphics using Canva, though lately I’ve been using Freeform to make the Venn diagrams of my ATM thrive model. I have no eye for graphics, so it’s very helpful to have an assistant who does!

1 Like

This might be overkill for folks, but Quarto is a open-source technical publishing framework that can display Markdown as well as code output (Python, R, etc) in basically any format you want including Powerpoint and PDF slides. I used its predecessor RMarkdown quite a bit in school and had professors who created all of their lecture slides in it.

4 Likes

I’ve tried several Markdown Presentation apps, but always returned to Keynote. Keynote looks professional and polished, the others do not.

3 Likes

The nice thing about md2pptx - and why I originally wrote it - is it enforces a consistent style.

And note Keynote can import the .pptx files it creates.

(The back story is I had a presentation that evolved over many years and the styling got horribly inconsistent. Refactoring it as Markdown and writing md2pptx got me a cleaned up version.)

1 Like

I’ve been using iA Presenter regularly since it was in beta for classroom lectures, faculty meeting presentations, and conference presentations.

I feel very comfortable working in Markdown, and it’s a real asset to me that I can take, say, a note from one app (Drafts, Bear, iA Writer, etc.), paste it into iA Presenter, and the formatting carries over.

I also find it really, really quick to put together a visually acceptable presentation.

I used to use Deckset, but I found Deckset less intuitive to work with—iA Presenter is more straightforward if you know Markdown. Also, iA Presenter is in beta for iPad and iPhone.

I agree with @Jeagar52 that Keynote can output higher quality presentations, although it requires more time investment to do so. I like Keynote, and used it a lot, but I just find it so much faster to use one of these Markdown based apps to produce an acceptable (if not stunning) presentation.

I also think apps like iA Presenter have a certain “less is more” or “constraints are your friends” quality to them, as you spend less time fiddling with the design possibilities and more on the clarity of the message.

3 Likes

I have read many articles and a few books (including Presentation Zen) on “best practices” regarding presentations. I’ve also prepared and given probably thousands of them. Based on that, and the fine example of Apple’s Keynote slides, “less is more” when it comes to presentation text. Generally, a picture, simple chart, or other graphic combined with only a few words, e.g., 6 to 8, is preferable to slides full of bulleted text.

I share that perspective to ask, “If the above is generally accurate regarding ‘best practice,’ what is the advantage of using markdown, which is a text-based syntax for slides?”

2 Likes

In my opinion, people in iA answered that question nicely on their product page.

The tl;dr version of this is: it’s workflow thing. It’s a great product for people who think what they want to say first (this is written almost like a script) and only then think about what they want to show (your text will not be shown to the audience, only it’s headers and whatever visuals you choose to add to your Deck).

While I can make slides that are far more beautiful in Keynote, I find iA Presenter great for most presentations I do at academia and at my law practice.

3 Likes

That makes sense, thanks for clarifying. I’d give iA Presenter a look, except I’m rather allergic to subscriptions. :rofl:

There’s a one-time purchase option FYI.

Oh, I did not realize that, thanks! I’ll check it out. :slightly_smiling_face:

Well, I just checked the pricing. Unfortunately, the non-subscription option is for one device only. That will not work for me. :slightly_frowning_face:

The monthly pricing makes sense for people who need to use it very occasionally. The lifetime “purchase” price makes sense for those who use it regularly and find it saves them a lot of time. The yearly pricing makes no sense at all.

1 Like

Unfortunately, it’s not actually one time.

That’s right—I forgot about that. Good catch. Here’s to hoping I get “a decade of free updates…”

1 Like

I bought iA Writer when it came out in 2010. Still no upgrade charges after 14 years. Going strong!

3 Likes