Creating presentations with Inkscape

I always thought that Inkscape is a great tool for visualization, and that it was a pity that it does not provide a way to create multi-page PDFs which are a prerequisite if you want to give presentations without a dedicated presentation application, such as Powerpoint, LibreOffice Impress, or Keynote. But wait — let’s google this.

It turns out that there is an extension — and this extension is even included in the default installation of Inkscape — called JessyInk which does exactly that. Unfortunately, JessyInk seems to be not maintained too much but it works well as it is.

Since some aspects of JessyInk are not self-explaining, I decided to document some of the things that I needed myself. As an alternative, you can also watch the presentation by Hannes Hochreiner.

Add LaTeX formulas for scientific presentations

While Inkscape has advanced text capabilities, nothing can come close to LaTeX for mathematical content. Fortunately, there exists a very nice extension to insert LaTeX output into the Inkscape SVG which can even be edited afterwards. Despite of this, the LaTeX output is exported as a vector path, so fonts and more advanced LaTeX layouts are not an issue.

If you care for LaTeX typesetting in Inkscape, head over to the Bitbucket account of Pit Garbe and download textext which has been updated for Inkscape 0.92. Copy the Python and related files to ~/.config/inkscape/extensions and install the pstoedit package. After restarting Inkscape you should be able to find the extension in the “Extensions” menu.

Preview and present

The easiest way to give a presentation is to simply load the (uncompressed) Inkscape SVG in a web browser such as Firefox. With the help of the mouse wheel you can switch slides, but you can also use the cursor keys if you want.

There are a few other key bindings that may be helpful:

key meaning
d set the duration of the presentation; the timer starts as soon as the slides are loaded
t reset timer
p show progress bar
i show slide index
d switch to drawing mode; draw with the mouse
n insert an empty slide for drawing
z undo drawing
e “download” (export) slide-set with the added content

In drawing mode, one can switch the path width with the odd keys 0-9, and the color with letter keys, such as g for green, r for red, k for black, etc. In index mode, one can use plus + and minus - keys to change the size of the preview, and the zero 0 key to reset the size. To exit the drawing or the index mode, use keys d or i respectively.