S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System

For several days, I’ve been seeing in my news aggregator these weird headlines from Eric Meyer about something called S5. I didn’t check it out until last night, figuring it was probably some Mac thing that didn’t apply to me. But I checked it out yesterday, and it rocks.

S5, which stands for “Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System” is a cross-platform method for displaying presentation slides without needing special software. Using XHTML and some nifty DOM-parsing javascript, Eric and friends have come up with a method that handles all the mechanics and layout of a basic slide presentation for you. All you have to do is provide the content in XHTML — wrapping individual slides in div tags — and his engine takes care of the rest.

If you’re looking for fancy transitions and sound effects, S5 won’t be up your alley, but for a nice clean, fully skinnable, simple slide presentation, this is an excellent tool that generates slides that are ready for projection but are also great for downloading because they render in the browser. And it’s great because you don’t have to keep track of your next and back links, etc. Further, it’s got a print-friendly style sheet that allows you to display additional notes not displayed in the screen version. So if you’re already comfortable writing XHTML (and I’m not talking about making your layout work, but just about wrapping your content in div tags and using list tags to format your bullet points), you can just take your notes in an S5 document and immediately have your presentation and your presentation notes ready for projection and download.

I’m working on a presentation now and will be giving Eric’s tool a try in lieu of going the usual OpenOffice.org route.

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