Impressive – presentation using pdf and python

Next week I will be finishing my studies in physics at the University of Copenhagen. In this connection I am to defend my thesis at a public examination. I have created my presentation in LaTeX using the beamer class, see Presentations with LaTeX beamer class – KU style and normally I would just have shown the PDF in full screen. But recently I read about impressive at and and this little piece of software actually provides some useful features to a presentation.

impressive is a 150 kb python script that utilizes the graphical engine in the pygame library to create stunning presentation normally not possible when using PDF files. This it not easy to describe in word so here is a screencast:

The features seen in the screencast includes:

  • Page transitions
  • Overview screen
  • Highlight boxes
  • Spotlight effect
  • Zooming

It can be argued that the page transitions are irrelevant but the other features are not merely geeky bling bling. Being able to highlight certain areas of the text as well as the zoom function makes it much more easy to center the attention to certain details. The overview screen is also very useful since it not uncommon to see presenters flipping through tons of pages to find the one to which a question is asked.

Installing the program is as simple as downloading the tar.gz file and moving the to where ever it is needed. If one is sure that this program is a keeper the file can be moved to /usr/local/bin/ folder. In either case running impressive is quite easy:

tjansson@euler:~$ presentation.pdf

There are quite a few command line options available on their website and I use the option to cache everything into the memory and have a timer bar in the bottom of the screen running to 45 minutes:

tjansson@euler:~$ -c memory -d 45:00 presentation.pdf

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  1. hmm it turned out that this script is already present in the Ubuntu libraries under the name “keyjnote”. It even comes with a gui called keyjnotegui. Installation is as simple as:

    tjansson@euler:~$sudo aptitude install keyjnote
  2. You may want to avoid calling it keyjnote. The author noted on his blog that he renamed it to impress!ve after being hassled by attorneys representing a firm concerned about its trademark on a similar word. It has had substantial improvements since the name change.

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