Slides: LaTeX vs S5

For my (mostly internal technical) presentations I used to use theS5 system, driven byreStructuredText

For this usecase, this seemed perfect: reStructuredText is, frankly,fun to write, there is someEmacs support, it can bemachine-edited quite easily.

So when I started with my databasecourse at first I producedthe slides with this tool chain. However, it turned out there weresome issues with this approach:

  • Although my course is not heavy on math, I needed at least some mathformatting. There are ways to format math via a special role andLaTeX, but none I could find for S5
  • Layout capabilities as a whole are rather limited
  • And last but not least, there is no sane way of producing trueprinted output of the slides as they appear on screen. My studentshated this — they like to write on slide printouts, and I thinkthats a very valid use case.

So, I’ve gone back to LaTeX and the Beamer class (which I used to usefor previous courses). This is slightly more verbose to produce butalleviates the aforementioned problems. Plus, I’ve got access to awhole lot of LaTeX niceties. For example automatic TOCs, automaticaloverviews on section change, and of course great typography.

The “production environment” now looks like this:

I’ve set up some Emacs macros to deal with the LaTeX verbosity and amquite happy with this setup now.

Some caveats:

  • One has to be careful to use the [fragile] option of frames ifminted-formatted source is to be inserted, otherwise LaTeX willreport a “FancyVerb Error” (I believe this also happens with verbenvironments)
  • Also, for frame titles, the frametitle command seems to be morerobust than the implied frame title option of the frame environment
  • And: creating templates for beamer is still hard :–)