Friday, January 06, 2006

Making Presentation Slides including Maths

I can sometimes become a computer geek. Here's proof.

Economics uses mathematics. Writing an academic paper in economics requires a word processor capable of inputing and outputing mathematical expressions. Microsoft Word is horrible for this purpose. So most economists use a word processor software called Scientific Workplace.

Still, Scientific Workplace is horrible. Its help files are hieroglyphics. I've already wasted tons of time to figure out how to do one thing or another with this software. But as long as writing a paper is concerned, it is not too bad.

When it comes to making slides for presentation, however, Scientific Workplace is even more horrible. Basically it's useless for making decent slides. Microsoft PowerPoint coupled with TexPoint doesn't work quite properly, either.

I figure out the ideal software environment for making slides for presentation in the economics profession (or any academic discipline using mathematics): MiKTex + TeXinicCenter + Prosper. (For Prosper, this page at University of Colorado is more useful than the official one.) They are all free to download and install.

In case you're interested, here's the recipe:
1. Download and install MiKTex.
2. Download and install TeXinicCenter.
3. Download and install Ghostscript (this is required to use Prosper).
4. Join TeXnicCenter-Users Yahoo! Group (this is necessary to download a batch file in the next step).
5. After your Yahoo! Group membership is accepted, download prospermake.zip by following the link provided in this message.
6. Unzip prospermake.zip and follow the instructions given in readme.txt to create a new output profile for TeXnicCenter.

One warning: do not install any software (MiKTeX, TeXnicCenter, or Ghostscript) under the directory of "C:\Program Files". The reason is this directory name includes a space, which prevents the new output profile from working properly (yes, this is Microsoft's fault). The simplest way to do this is install them all right under "C:" directory.

Now you're ready to use Prosper. You don't need to download and install Prosper itself; MiKTeX automatically does it when you compile a TeX file meant to use the Propser package. (You need an Internet connection, though.)

A couple of technical notes: Steps 3-6 are needed as TeXnicCenter is not compatible with Prosper by default. The main reason is that PDFLaTeX accompanied with TeXnicCenter doesn't work with Prosper. You need PS2PDF to create a PDF file. Ghostscript has this, and a batch file included in prospermake.zip allows you to use it properly.

3 comments:

Inbok said...

You can try beamer(http://latex-beamer.sourceforge.net/). At least, it is widely used in my area (algorithms in computer science).

Masayuki said...

Thank you for a comment. It's good to know how people in other mathematical disciplines prepare slides. I found a very detailed users' manual for Beamer, which is not the case for Prosper (to the best of my knowledge). I'll try to use Beamer in my next presentation.

Hemanshu Kumar said...

That Yahoo group is no longer open for membership. Could you do us a favour and upload the prospermake file somewhere?

Thanks!