Introducing Slides and Coverage

Stefan Baumgartner

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More on Slides, Workshops, Talks, Remake, Website

There’s a new section on this website! Since today, you’re able to see full coverage of my workshops and talks in the new slides and coverage section. That’s the announcement. If you want to see more, head over to the new section. If you want a little “Making of”, please continue with this article.

The motivation #

I’m very open to publishing material from my talks and workshops. It’s the common courtesy with talks to show what you’ve presented. Some folks are a bit more hesitant with what they publish as workshop slides, as it’s how they make money.

I understand that, but I also think that slides just show a part of the whole picture. You get an idea, but you’d need my talking over it and seeing the examples evolve so you understand what’s really happening. At best, I get some opportunities for sharing. There’ve been some occasions where I was able to give a workshop because they’ve seen the material. And my first book was a direct result of publishing my slides for a Grunt and Gulp workshop on Speakerdeck.

In the beginning, I was using Speakerdeck, which was owned by GitHub back then. Speakerdeck was nice, and not so ad-ridden as some competitors were. At one point in time, it was sold, and the quality of the servers dropped significantly. I wasn’t able to reasonably view any slides on this platform. When the quality was stable again, which took a while, I already moved on.

I moved to Slideshare, then owned by LinkedIn. I didn’t particularly like the design nor the UX, but the slides were well discoverable and the performance was ok. Slideshare was sold last year and now it’s filled with dark UX patterns, annoying pop-ups, and the like. Ugh. This is not what I want my visitors to see.

I then remembered that I own a Notist account. I used the site to collect coverage. This means that I published slides elsewhere, included them on Notist, and added extra links and material. This was nice! A clean UI, nice editing capabilities. Just what I was looking for! You also could host the slides with Notist, so it really is an all-in-one platform. The quality comes at a price. A literal one. If you want to publish more than 5 talks a year, you have to go Pro.

I think the Pro account from Notist is totally worth its money. It’s 99 USD for a year, which is fair, and you really get a ton of benefits using it. The problem is that while Notist was great for its UI, the way Notist understands coverage is not how I do talks and workshops. I usually have one topic that I reuse for a multitude of talks and workshops. My TypeScript talks usually show the same examples under a different spotlight. The slides for the TypeScript Type System Deep Dive are plenty, and they’re remixed in so many ways depending on the audience.

I try to publish coverage as a whole, so the audience has enough context. Look at the Serverless Rust coverage. Those are the same slides, but I can do a 30-minute talk as well as a full-day workshop with it. This means that I’m probably below 5 distinct talks. But not within the range of the free tier.

I was looking for alternatives. It turned out there is only one reasonable alternative: Doing my own.

This also has another benefit: Instead of continuously writing articles in the last months, I was preparing workshops. This takes a ton more time, but this also means I have lots of content I wanted to share that isn’t within the usual form of articles. My website now keeps up to date, I can add new content even if it isn’t articles.

Rolling my own #

Arnd Issler pointed me towards PDF.js by Mozilla. This is not just “some” PDF library, it’s actively used as the PDF viewer in Firefox. The more you know! Some of the examples already looked like the things I’d need, so the direction became pretty clear.

It was Philipp Krenn who completed the picture. He’s been using PDF.js for quite a while on his own website successfully. He also pointed me to I Love PDF’s Compress page. They managed to reduce 90% of some of my PDF’s size. Which is astonishing.

And that’s what the new section is made of: PDF.js loading a compressed PDF, drawing it in a Canvas. Since PDF.js can be quite huge, I load everything asynchronously and on-demand. This is why you get a big “Load slides” button. The rest is “just another” section or collection within my 11ty setup.

I consider my website a wild mess of bad code, not using any best practices at all. But I’m still astonished at how easy it is to extend the existing website. The new section is obviously still beta, but I expect to improve controls over time. For a quick weekend hack, I’m pretty happy how it turned out!

Frequently asked questions #

Q: Why PDF slides? Why not use a Markdown-based tool and generate PDF, HTML, etc.?. Because I can’t create slides that way. I’ve tried! I miss the possibilities of designing slides, moving boxes around, creating animations. The tools are good, but I’m so much faster if I stick to Keynote. I also can’t use Powerpoint for that matter.

Q: Why don’t you just buy a Notist account?. I’m in the sweet spot between Pro and Casual. I don’t think I have the same needs as a real Pro user, but I’m beyond just trying it out. If you look at e.g. Hidde de Vries’s talks, that’s way more than I would ever create. Also, I like owning my content on my platform. It has served me well in the past.

Q: Why is there so little content?. Well, it’s 200+ slides over the course of 3 workshops. I consider that a lot, to be honest. If you are talking about the number of topics, that’s because it’s just the most recent content. I’m going to migrate some of my older slides, but I won’t move everything.

Q: Are you sharing all that, just for free?. Pretty much. You can still book a workshop if you like. I would highly recommend it.

Q: Where’s the cinema section?. Yeah, it’s still here, but I decided to drop it for my own content. I wasn’t updating it in over a year, and the “great talks” section moved over to the newsletter. So if you want to have talk recommendations, be sure to sign up!

Q: I found a bug!. Cool, send me a tweet and I’ll try to fix it.

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