Research Tools

Making Beamer Better

I use Beamer a lot for presentations, and I’ve gotten pretty good at the editing cycles that it requires. Unlike in PowerPoint, Beamer doesn’t allow me to simply click and drag an object to a new spot. Rather, to move something on the slide, I have to edit the LaTeX code, entering a command like \vskip0.2in to give me an additional bit of space between a couple of equations or text elements. It sometimes takes numerous iterations to get things right. This doesn’t both me, as I love being able to write entire presentations in LaTeX. What I want, however, is an ability to speed up the iterations.

If I could place the document preamble in one file, and the code for each slide in individual files, then it should be possible to create a script for compiling just one slide at a time. Then, I wouldn’t have to wait while Beamer compiled all 100+ slides in a presentation deck every time I make an edit. (Yes, that’s a lot of slides, but the count goes way up when I use multiple slides to reveal an equation one line at at time.) I can comment out code to limit compilation time, but it’s slow and cumbersome, and I once found myself in the middle of a presentation with missing slides because I forgot to uncomment about a third of my presentation file. So I want a supervisory program that will handle the individual code blocks, and allow me to compile the entire document when I’m finished.

If such a program exists, I’d sure like to know about it. If not, then maybe I’ll get around to writing it someday. 🙂

3 replies on “Making Beamer Better”

I, too, wish there was something like this (and was looking for exactly that when I stumbled upon your post). As you suggest, I am using individual files for each slide (or logical succession of a few slides) in a directory tree structure (~/Slides//../slide.tex). Everything is combined in a master file using \include statements. The master file also contains the title page info, the sectioning, and the table of contents. This still doesn’t allow me to prepare the individual slides in the single files (they lack the preamble), but at least I can combine them quickly and don’t have to scroll through long listings of code. I have one master file that I use for preparing the individual slides. It just contains lines like:
where slides is a link to ~/Slides because LaTeX does not do absolute paths. Hope this is useful to you or to someone else who passes by.

Indeed, this is highly needed when you use beamer for all your presentations. Did you find a software/script that does this for you?

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