Using Showoff for Markdown Presentations


Recently, I had to give a presentation and decided to do some research on using Markdown. By coincidence, I had also been looking into Puppet, a flexible and powerful configuration manager, when I stumbled across Showoff, another Puppet Labs project.

Showoff is a Ruby application that takes a Markdown file with some special formatting and transforms it into a web-accessible slideshow. As expected, you can open up a presenter view in your browser. You can also easily open up a second window to use on your projector in full screen. You can even give your audience the address for the server so they can follow along on their own screens.

There are also some nice audience interactivity features, like the ability to ask questions through the web interface. These questions will be shown on the presenter’s screen. Audience members also have the ability to indicate whether the presenter is moving too quickly or too slowly so that an adjustment can be made accordingly.

Finally, Showoff is designed with software presentations in mind, with the ability to dynamically run Ruby, JavaScript, or Coffeescript code included in your slides. You can attach other files or labs to your slides, so audience members following along on their own devices can easily access reference materials at the appropriate time.

For a small presentation like the one I was doing, a lot of the more advanced features of Showoff would have been overkill, but it still made an awesome presentation method. It was also really neat to be able to say that the slides were available on Github if anyone wanted to look at them afterwards.