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This is not your dads PowerPoint

This week at Mobile World Congress 2015 (in Barcelona), the AllSeen Alliance invited me to give a talk on Open Sourcing the User Experience for the Internet of Things. In order to drive the message home (that the software and supporting infrastructure for the Internet of Things is going to be large and complex, therefore we need to figure it out together), Felix Rieseberg and I constructed our presentation using Reveal.js.

Felix, a rock star in web technologies, has created a Reveal theme just for our team, you can find it here: Pike Street Theme.

Reveal.js allows presenters to create presentations using HTML5 and present them with a browser. That sounds simple and it's not. Anyone who has built a presentation is aware that the process is complex and time consuming - integrating many pieces of source material into a coherent "deck" that conveys a message well. Reveal allows the author to do the same authoring process but using standard web technologies: HTML5, CSS, & Javascript.

The benefits of using Reveal.js:

  1. Standard text editors work
  2. There are many references for CSS and HTML5 so finding answers to problems is easy.
  3. The presentation is code (Ok, it includes code)
  4. You can debug your presentation in a browser
  5. Because of it's code-like nature, the presentation can be in Git and source controlled.
  6. There are a set of Reveal.js examples that make it easy to find innovative ways to use it.
  7. It is fast.
  8. Features of Reveal are pretty amazing:
    1. 'esc' - "Slide View'
    2. Presenter view works

The challenges of using Reveal.js:

  1. Presentation setup (hardware, monitors, etc) needs to be done well
  2. It's not as common
  3. Most (thankfully not all) presentation audiences don't get why it matters

Considerations that I classify as neither benefits or challenges, but are positive (for engineers):

  1. Authoring a presentation can follow a normal git flow.
  2. Authoring a presentation is more like your programming tasks and less like your meeting tasks.
  3. Adding pretty amazing assets to your collection.
  4. There is no process switching between programming and authoring your talk -- it's all programming.

For these reasons, I find myself considering how many of my future presentations I can author using Reveal. I find it's the kind of tool that breaks the mental mindset in ways that are productive and open creative channels not possible with more slow moving, mature tools.

In the grand experiment of being an Open Source Engineer at Microsoft it will be exciting to try this out and see where it gets traction.

Resources for Reveal.js:

But, as always, you can reach out to me. In my role at Microsoft I'm here to help build awesome solutions to tough problems -- your problems.