Monday, October 20, 2014

Published my first presentation on SpeakerDeck - using Python

By Vasudev Ram

SpeakerDeck is an online presentation service roughly like SlideShare. SpeakerDeck seems to have been created by Github Inc.

I just published my first presentation on SpeakerDeck. It is a quickstart tutorial for the vi editor. Note: vi, not vim. I had written the tutorial some years ago, when vim was not so widely used, and vi was the most common text editor on Unix systems.

About the tutorial:

I first wrote this vi quickstart tutorial for some friends at a company where I worked. They were Windows and network system administrators without prior Unix experience, and had been tasked with managing some Unix servers that the company had bought for client work. Since I had a Unix background, they asked me to create a quick tutorial on vi for them, which I did.

Later on, after learning the basics of vi from it, and spending some days using vi to edit Unix configuration files, write small shell scripts, etc., they told me that they had found the tutorial useful in getting up to speed on vi quickly.

So, some time later, I thought of publishing it, and sent an article proposal to Linux For You magazine (an Indian print magazine about Linux and open source software). The proposal was accepted and the article was published.

About generating the tutorial as PDF and uploading it to SpeakerDeck:

The original vi quickstart tutorial was in text format. Last year I wrote XMLtoPDFBook (as an application of xtopdf, my Python toolkit for PDF creation), which allows the user to create simple PDF e-books from XML files. So I converted the vi tutorial to XML format (*) and used it to test XMLtoPDFBook. I therefore had the tutorial available in PDF format.

(*) All you have to do for that - i.e. to convert a text file to the XML format supported by XMLtoPDFBook - is to insert each chapter's text as a <chapter> element in the XML file. Then give the XML file as the input to XMLtoPDFBook, and you're done.

SpeakerDeck requires that presentations be uploaded in PDF format. It then converts them to slides. So I thought it would be a good test of SpeakerDeck and/or xtopdf, to upload this PDF generated by xtopdf to SpeakerDeck, and see how the result turned out. I did that today. Then I viewed the resulting SpeakerDeck presentation. It was good to see that the conversion turned out well, AFAICT. All pages seem to have got converted correctly into slides.

The presentation can be viewed here:

A vi quickstart tutorial

If you prefer plain text to presentations, you can read the vi quickstart tutorial here.

- Vasudev Ram - Dancing Bison Enterprises

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