I use Latex to write all my technical documents. I use it also to make slides that I show at my presentations. So, I end up with a PDF that contains the slides.

The problem

To show a PDF slideshow, we require some support from the PDF reader software. At the very minimum, it needs to support fullscreen, which the vast majority does. Some go a little further. For instance,Okular shows the current slide number and a visual representation of how many slides are still left.

But that’s it. If we take a look at other presentation software, such as as Libre Office’s Impress, we see that it takes advantage of a second monitor to show a presenter’s console that features: The current and next slide, the time elapsed and remaining, the notes that we wrote for each slide, and some other information.

Using two monitors to present your slides is a very common usage scenario (laptop connected to a overhead projector) and the presenter screen is really, really useful. I can’t stress that enough.

The (incomplete) solutions

Let’s take a look at what software is there available specifically for presenting PDF slides, splitted into three classes:

The first class of programs bring some “eye-candy” to your presentations. I have used impressive, and it works really well. It pre-loads all the slides, so changing slides is really fast. It also animates the slide transition. A fast crossfading between slides looks great, more elaborate transitions just looks like showing off. I have not tried any of the others, but I guess they all should do more or less the same.

Pdf-presenter-console and pdf-presenter support a presenter console. However, none has all the features that I value. One supports notes but does not support time information, the other supports time information but does not support notes.

My solution

I could not find any PDF presenter program with all the features that I would like to have. So I made my own!

I present you the brand new open-pdf-presenter. Version 0.1 was release yesterday! You can find on the wiki instructions about building and running it.

Here are some screenshots:


Currently, it displays a presenter console with the current slide, the next slide, the elapsed/remaining time, and how many slides are left. In the near future, it will support notes on a separate file and some other nice features from existing software:

  • Fade slide screen to white/black (useful when projecting on white/black boards)
  • Grid with thumbnails of all the slides (useful when someone in the audience wants to show that first slide after the second performance chart)

It is open-source, so feel free to inspect and modify my code. It uses git as the revision control system. If you make an useful and working patch, just use git to format that patch and email it to me.

I welcome all feedback (bug reports, feature requests, patches, trolling, rantsdeath threats) so feel free to leave your own. I’ll keep you posted when I make another release.