Published on 01/10/2013

Themes, themes, themes

  • Themes, themes, themes

Tao Presentations version 1.17 is out. The main new feature in this version is a set of easy to use themes that can be easily customized as well. These themes can be used to create sophisticated slides very quickly. With a very short script, you get a beautiful slide in no time. You save time, because you only focus on the story that you want to tell, not on how to make it beautiful.

 

 

How does it work?

This short video explains how you can take advantage of the new themes in Tao Presentations:

 

Creating a basic slide

In order to create a basic slide, the quickest way is to use the New from template menu entry, as illustrated in the YouTube video above. You can then look at the script describing the slide using the Document Source entry of the View menu.

Typically, the script describing a slide will look something like this:

slide "Bullet points", 
    * "First level bullet" 
    ** "Second level" 
    *** "Third level" 
    --
    -- "Free text without bullet" 

As you can see, this is really not rocket science. Despite this simplicity, below is what this script will get you if you use for instance our Keyboard theme. All the formatting is done for you, you simply type your ideas.

Keyboard Theme

With barely more work, you can get slides that have an amazing look. Our SeasonsGreetings theme looks like this:

Notice how the snow accumulates at the bottom of the window? You can do practically anything you want in a theme. And it's even useful: you can use the snow level as an indication of how long you talked!

 

Customizing slides

Customizing slides is not much more difficult.You can add your own local modifications to customize the themes to your liking. For example, let's say that you want to define a new background picture for one of the slides. For the sake of illustration, we will start with the sample slides for BlackAndWhiteThemes (choose Black and White theme from the menu Files/New from Template Chooser...). You can modify the script for the main slide and add the following code at the beginning:

    background -400,
        color "white"
        image 0, 0, 300%, 300%, "http://cc3d.free.fr/English/Welcome_files/HPIM0352.png" 

After adding this background, the script for the page should look like this:

main_title_slide "Main title",
    theme "BlackOnWhite"
    background -400,
        color "white"
        image 0, 0, 300%, 300%, "http://cc3d.free.fr/English/Welcome_files/HPIM0352.png"
title text "Basic theme" subtitle text "Neutral and non-intrusive themes"

This places the given image in the background, 400 pixels "behind" the screen. This matters mostly if you plan to use stereoscopy to display 3D slides. But it's a good habit to take even if your slides are all 2D. Here is what the result should look like:

Slide with picture on background

But again, because we have the power of a scripting language, we can do something much more interesting. For example, say that we want a "highlight" spot where he mouse cursor is, and we want that highlight to stand behind the text boxes. We can add another background that is slightly closer than the previous one:

    background -200,
        radial_gradient 100, 100, 100, 200, 200,
            gradient_color 0%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 70% + 20% * sin(3*time)
            gradient_color 100%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 0%
        color "lightyellow"
        circle mouse_x, mouse_y, 200

Now, the page should look like this:

main_title_slide "Main title",
    theme "BlackOnWhite"
    background -400,
        color "white"
        image 0, 0, 3, 3, "http://cc3d.free.fr/English/Welcome_files/HPIM0352.png"
    background -200,
        radial_gradient 100, 100, 100, 200, 200,
        gradient_color 0%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 70% + 20% * sin(3*time)
        gradient_color 100%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 0%
        color "lightyellow"
        circle mouse_x, mouse_y, 200
title text "Basic theme" subtitle text "Neutral and non-intrusive themes"

Here is the result that you should get from this modification:

 

Customizing themes

Very often, you want the same modifications to apply to a number of slides. So you want to change the theme and not just one slide at a time. A good place to customize the theme is the file theme.xl found in the same directory as the document. Right now, if you started with the sample slides for the Black and White themes, it should contain a single line:

import BlackAndWhiteThemes

We will transfer our modifications from the slide to this file, and then put them in a theme hook. The scripts defining the existing themes can be found in the modules directory of Tao Presentations. The general architecture for slides is defined in slides.xl, while the default theme structure (showing available theme hooks) is in default-theme.xl.

theme_background "BlackOnWhite", Master ->
    background -400,
        color "white"
        image 0, 0, 3, 3, "http://cc3d.free.fr/English/Welcome_files/HPIM0352.png"
    background -200,
        radial_gradient 100, 100, 100, 200, 200,
            gradient_color 0%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 70% + 20% * sin (3*time)
            gradient_color 100%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 0%
        color "lightyellow"
        circle mouse_x, mouse_y, 200

If you are modifying the original sample code for the Black and White themes, this change only modifies the background of the first page in our presentation, because the other pages use a different theme. For example, the second page in the document explicitly uses the theme WhiteOnBlack. You can use multiple themes in the same document, and redefine each one separately in the theme.xl file.

We can change the pattern of our theme hook so that it catches all themes:

theme_background Theme, Master ->
    background -400,
        color "white"
        image 0, 0, 3, 3, "http://cc3d.free.fr/English/Welcome_files/HPIM0352.png"
    background -200,
        radial_gradient 100, 100, 100, 200, 200,
            gradient_color 0%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 70% + 20% * sin (3*time)
            gradient_color 100%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 0%
        color "lightyellow"
        circle mouse_x, mouse_y, 200

Now all pages use our magic background with highlighter.

 

It's still all in 3D, of course

Naturally, this is all built on top of the standard Tao Presentations rendering engine. So everything is in 3D, and everything can be shown on a 3D display. At this point, we only have one theme really taking advantage of this, LuckyStar. It is a simple design, but it illustrates the kind of interesting effects that you can achieve in Tao Presentations themes.

Now, gentlemen, start your keyboards and create amazing themes! And when you do, please share with us!

Christophe de Dinechin

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