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Creating Presentations with OperaShow

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While PowerPoint is a popular slide-making tool that's packed with bells and whistles, it's not always the best tool for creating presentation slides. Scott Nesbitt looks at OperaShow, a unique feature of the Opera web browser that turns the software into a presentation powerhouse.
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When you think about making presentation slides, the first piece of software that probably comes to mind is PowerPoint. While Microsoft's presentation software is immensely popular, it's not without flaws.

Aside from the arguments that it's easy to make ugly slides with PowerPoint, or that PowerPoint is evil, PowerPoint slides just aren't very portable. It's hard to move slides from operating system to operating system, and if the computer to which you're moving the PowerPoint files doesn't have a copy of PowerPoint installed, you're out of luck. Importing PowerPoint slides into another presentation tool, such as OpenOffice.org's Impress, is tricky, and you can lose formatting. And if you plan to export your slides to HTML and post them on the web, you'll find that the results are not accessible and don't conform to web standards.

If PowerPoint isn't always the best the way to go, what is? One excellent alternative is OperaShow.

What Is OperaShow?

OperaShow is a feature of the Opera web browser that turns Opera into a presentation tool. You author slides in HTML or XHTML, and format them using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). But each slide in your presentation isn't in a separate file—you put all of your content into a single file.

While this approach sounds strange, it really isn't. Thanks to CSS2 (the extended web stylesheet specification), you can target your content for multiple devices, ranging from the traditional monitor screen to PDAs to printers to projection devices. (OperaShow presentations are targeted to projectors.) And you can tell the browser where to split slides.

When you view an OperaShow presentation in the Opera browser, it looks like any other HTML file. That is, until you press the F11 key. Doing this puts the browser into full-screen mode and displays your slides in the same way that you'd expect a PowerPoint presentation to appear.

Once very useful aspect of OperaShow is that you can have both your slides and presentation handouts in one file. Thanks to some simple CSS tricks (explained later in this article), the Opera browser can hide the handout content when you're viewing slides, and vice versa. In this article, I'll create one file that contains both handouts and slides.


This article assumes that you have at least a basic knowledge of HTML and XHTML, and are familiar with the basics of Cascading Style Sheets. If you don't already have it installed, you should also download and install the Opera web browser.

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