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Re: Re: Using Mathematica notebooks in presentations?

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  • Subject: [mg97739] Re: Re: Using Mathematica notebooks in presentations?
  • From: Alexei Boulbitch <Alexei.Boulbitch at>
  • Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009 02:39:37 -0500 (EST)

Hi, everyone,

This discussion has already been held, and positions of two major group are clear: those preferring specifically 
Mathematica presentations and those preferring generic PowerPoint-type programs. I am following this discussion with 
a practical interest of a one doing such presentations and having to be alert. 

However, at present this new discussion is unfortunately kept on the level of personal tests. These tests (as much as 
I can see from the present discussion) are very much based on personal Mathematica-programming skills. It is not quite 
unexpected. Those with greater experience in such a programming see no problems to write a peace of code to make a 
demonstration for the presentation. But in this case this demonstration will be much better suited for the presentation aim.
In contrast, those with a considerably smaller experience realize this also, but will have to spend too much time, and 
presentation will look much less professional. This dominates the decision and I find that the both groups are right.  

I think that there are also some problematic things that at present in the both styles of presentations. I am going to 
note now those I met. I hope with these in focus the discussion may help the Wolfram crew in future.
The drawbacks of PowerPoint-oriented presentations are well described by math-presentations followers. I agree 100%, 
and for this reason I will not comment on this any more. Let me instead formulate few narrow places I met doing Mathematica 

First let me recall (if somebody have left this out) the Mathematica is intended for everybody, not only for programmers 
and not even only for those making presentations concerning Mathematica itself. There are also other communities: physicists, 
biologists etc. A problem with people from those communities is that they sometimes want in their presentations to include 
items created outside of Mathematica. Sometimes it works, say with simple images, but sometimes it fails. I personally 
needed to include avi movies created by simulations made outside of Mathematica. I failed, and the Wolfram 
HelpDesk explained me that not any avi file may be imported into Mathematica. This is a serious limitation. One can of 
coarse, go around. For example, from Mathematica one may call an external program to run a movie say, by a hyperlink. But 
this spends too much time before your application starts. It decreases a temp of the presentation. If you need to run about
5 such external movies per presentation, which is not too rear... One may alternatively, have open all windows with external
programs that he intends to run, but then he may have too much windows open and lost among them. And this is simply inelegant. 
I mean that for people who really need such movies run, it is a real problem with Mathematica, while PowerPoint does all 
this easily.
Second important thing is template. Templates of the PowerPoint are primitive, standard, often ugly, but they are there. We
have no Mathematica templates for very basic things regularly needed during presentations. For example, one often needs to 
show formulas and to highlight those their parts that are discussed in a moment. PowerPoint has an instrument to insert 
formulas, Mathematica has its own also. PowerPoint has no template to accentuate their parts, but using the PP templates 
this is done in few seconds. In contrast, it took us a long discussion and many attempts and a good peace of programming at
this forum about a year ago, to develop good functions to accentuate desired parts of expressions. It is now good though 
not much better than I achieved in PowerPoint in the past. Ok, once your have such functions, you do it easily in future. 
However, to make a push to Mathematica-based presentations, (I believe) it would be desirable to have such and some other 
basic templates already at hand to simplify the work for those who are not that readily programming.

Third, if your presentation is not about Mathematica, but you have a lot of code in its interactive parts, you typically 
do not want to show this code to the auditory. And besides, you have no time to execute the code right before the given 
interactive demonstration is shown. There is of coarse, a way around. You may keep the whole code in one notebook, and the 
presentation in another one. This second will then contain the names of your functions just to call them. First of all you 
need then to execute all functions both from the first and from the second notebooks. You need to write a special function 
that will do this. Ok, once you have such a function... The next problem is that you often do not need that the auditory 
sees your functions (or function names) in the SlideShow notebook. Even more, you need to exclude any extra visual 
information, since it misleads. You need then to make tricks. Say, you may close the cells around interactive presentation,
rather than around the function. But like this you lose a control. And it is a considerable peace of work for you right 
before the presentation. And in this very moment you have typically other things to do. You may make the function names to be
simultaneously titles of the demonstrations. This is better, but then there are problems with formatting. However, may I 
dream that future SlideShow templates would have a button that shows/hides such code-containing cells, and those that 
execute all functions of the SlideShow? And those switch on/switch off the In-Out tags? No, I understand quite well that some 
of you may in a second or so write me a nice function that makes the job. I may do it also. I did actually. Nevertheless, I 
firmly believe that having such things built-in will be a benefit.

In general I am much more Mathematica-oriented than PP-oriented talk-giver, and I hope that this discussion may be helpful.

Regards, Alexei


I do agree, and I do not want to get started on awful and/or
sleep-inducing Powerpoint presentations - believe me, I've had far too
many of those already (and I'm not that old...).

Nevertheless, used wisely it can make handy tool for delivering
presentations, and perhaps lowering the threshold for the average user
to access live Mathematica content from Powerpoint could make
Mathematica more popular (which I would consider a good thing).


Murray Eisenberg schrieb:
> I'm curious as to what is considered "too basic" in the Mathematica
> slide show tools.
> If what is meant is the absence of fades, dissolves, fancy borders and
> backgrounds, etc. -- GOOD, I'm glad they're not available.  In almost
> every case I've ever seen, such features are just distracting junk.
> magma wrote:
>  > The current slideshow tools  in Mathematica are still too basic to
> compete
>  > with the commercial presentation packages

Alexei Boulbitch, Dr., habil.
Senior Scientist

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