Best Practices for Presentations

General discussion about Mathematica features and functionality...
Forum Rules
By using the Wolfram Faculty Program Forum, you agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, or sexually oriented material. Wolfram Faculty Program Forum administrators have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time should we see fit.

Personal Information: Posts in this forum may be viewed by non-members; however, the forum prohibits non-members from viewing your profile. Although your email address is hidden from both non-members and members, your account is initially configured to allow members to contact you via email through the forum. If you wish to hide your profile, or prohibit others from contacting you directly, you may change these settings by updating your profile through the User Control Panel.

Attachments: Attachments are not currently enabled on this forum. To share a file with others on this site, simply upload your file to the online storage service of your choice and include a link to the file within your post. If your school does not offer an online file storage and sharing service, the following sites provide free basic online file storage and sharing: Mozy, FilesAnywhere, Adrive, and KeepandShare.

Best Practices for Presentations

Postby Gregory » Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:52 pm

Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forum and pleased to be participating.

I’m in the middle of building an entire theory course in financial economics around Mathematica. My students will use CDFs and full-blown Mathematica notebooks (which I'd be happy to share), and my class presentations will be built from Mathematica notebooks. I’ve got most of my content, and just have to gather data, build Manipulates, and learn more about the lower level coding using DynamicModule.

I've been spoiled with Apple's Keynote, and so, in creating new presentations with Mathematica I have some basic formatting and document structure questions. Craig Bauling has kindly responded to them but I'd be interested in your thoughts and suggestions as well.

1. When I drag in or paste a PDF — my preferred graphics format — into an Apple iWork document, it scales beautifully when a user changes the magnification of the document. This is also true when I save the document as PDF using Preview. I notice, however, that when I paste or import a PDF into Mathematica, the image is fine at actual size but if the document is magnified, the image loses its resolution and become jaggy. I was wondering if there is any function I can apply to imported graphics so that they scale nicely. This would be important for both CDFs and presentations shown with a projector.

2. Is there a set of “best practices” in creating good looking Mathematica presentations? In Apple’s Keynote, for example, the font size for slide titles is often 64 to 72 points, and 40 points for bullets. These formatting considerations are taken care of. But I notice in Mathematica that we go from regular notebooks, where text cells are 12-point Times, to presentations by entering presentation mode where font sizes stay the same. Is it okay to stick with that or should I be creating presentation templates with 40-point text for slide bullets and much bigger text for slide titles and subtitles? I realize that it is easy to change font sizes, but that would mean maintaining two notebooks for each topic, one for class notes that would be distributed as CDFs and the other, with big fonts and big math, for presentations. That would be a hassle.

3. Do I have to worry about cross-platform compatibility of fonts in CDFs? When I create a PDF, the fonts I use are embedded, so I can use Didot, which is installed on most Macs but not Windows, and be sure that my Windows users will be able to see what I intended them to see. Craig answered this, and he says that Mathematica generates all of the fonts for CDFs, so it is not a problem. However, he referred to CDFs running in a browser. Can anyone confirm that the fonts are embedded in CDF files? I don't much like browser stuff and especially Flash, and it has been my experience that students find downloadable files more useful.

4. Whenever I create notes in PDF for my students, I use a consistent look. I’d like to do that with my CDFs and presentations, and I’m wondering whether there is an easy tutorial on creating and importing style sheets. This would be a big timesaver because any change to a style could then be reflected in all of my documents. Is there a Stylesheets-For-Dummies tutorial? Once again, being able to apply a stylesheet to many documents automatically is going to make for a good workflow.

5. Is there a menu item or keyboard shortcut that would allow me to collapse all parent cells of a particular type, for example, “Collapse all Sections,” or close all input cells, in those cases where I don’t want students to see or be able to modify the input? Apparently, yes, but my wish for future versions of Mathematica would be to have menu items for the purpose.

6. This next one is a little advanced, and I suppose it foreshadows some of my future posts. I have my economics students participate in small experiments. Sometimes these are run on the web, for example, an online stock market I've written, and other times they participate by making choices in a downloadable app that I've written in LiveCode. The main thing in both cases is that their choices are sent electronically, either by submitting a web form or the equivalent built into a desktop app, to my computer. I can then easily compile the raw data and use it in class discussions or have the students analyze it. This has been a boom because the students get to be both participants and researchers. So my question is, does anyone have any experience in using Mathematica or a CDF to create questionnaires, simulations, or experiments in which the users choices would be transmitted somewhere?


My apologies for the long post. I appreciate your thoughts even if you choose to respond to only one or two of the questions.

Regards,

Gregory
Last edited by Gregory on Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Gregory
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:13 pm
Location: Montreal
Organization: Concordia University
Department: Finance

Re: Best Practices for Presentations

Postby Michael_Morrison » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:30 pm

Gregory,

Welcome! And good questions. I've interspersed some thoughts below.

1. When I drag in or paste a PDF — my preferred graphics format — into an Apple iWork document, it scales beautifully when a user changes the magnification of the document. This is also true when I save the document as PDF using Preview. I notice, however, that when I paste or import a PDF into Mathematica, the image is fine at actual size but if the document is magnified, the image loses its resolution and become jaggy. I was wondering if there is any function I can apply to imported graphics so that they scale nicely. This would be important for both CDFs and presentations shown with a projector.


What is the genesis of these graphics? (I assume they are being created in an environment other than Mathematica.) I've experienced this issue before with raster graphics, and my workaround is to create larger-sized graphics than I plan on needing, and then I scale them down for display as needed. This gives some flexibility when presenting in a variety of different environments because even if I have to magnify my notebook to accommodate a certain projector size or resolution, I can usually resize my graphics without getting the jagginess, or at least minimizing it.

2. Is there a set of “best practices” in creating good looking Mathematica presentations? In Apple’s Keynote, for example, the font size for slide titles is often 64 to 72 points, and 40 points for bullets. These formatting considerations are taken care of. But I notice in Mathematica that we go from regular notebooks, where text cells are 12-point Times, to presentations by entering presentation mode where font sizes stay the same. Is it okay to stick with that or should I be creating presentation templates with 40-point text for slide bullets and much bigger text for slide titles and subtitles? I realize that it is easy to change font sizes, but that would mean maintaining two notebooks for each topic, one for class notes that would be distributed as CDFs and the other, with big fonts and big math, for presentations. That would be a hassle.


The best approach here, I think, is to use stylesheets. Changing the Screen Environment from Working to Presentation or Slide Show will automatically resize certain types of cell styles, so you could learn more about those specifics and then format your document accordingly. However, I prefer to use a very heavy-handed approach. ;) I edit my stylesheets so that I set explicit styles for both Working and Slide Show environments for the cell styles that I want to control. That way, I can have a single document in which text cells are displayed as 12 point (or whatever) when in the Working screen environment, but when the document is switched to the Slide Show screen environment, the text cells are displayed as 36 point. You wouldn't need to maintain two versions of each file, but would include multiple cell style definitions in the document's stylesheet. And then, of course, you could use this as your default stylesheet for lectures or whatever, so it would be easy to copy and paste the stylesheet as you create new documents that you want to look the same. Let me know if you want more information about using stylesheets to tie cell styles to certain screen environments.

3. Do I have to worry about cross-platform compatibility of fonts in CDFs? When I create a PDF, the fonts I use are embedded, so I can use Didot, which is installed on most Macs but not Windows, and be sure that my Windows users will be able to see what I intended them to see. Craig answered this, and he says that Mathematica generates all of the fonts for CDFs, so it is not a problem. However, he referred to CDFs running in a browser. Can anyone confirm that the fonts are embedded in CDF files? I don't much like browser stuff and especially Flash, and it has been my experience that students find downloadable files more useful.


If you poke around the Option Inspector, you'll find an option for "EmbedExternalFonts". I believe this embeds non-Mathematica fonts assuming that the font's properties allow for embedding, and I also believe this is new functionality that wasn't available in previous versions.

4. Whenever I create notes in PDF for my students, I use a consistent look. I’d like to do that with my CDFs and presentations, and I’m wondering whether there is an easy tutorial on creating and importing style sheets. This would be a big timesaver because any change to a style could then be reflected in all of my documents. Is there a Stylesheets-For-Dummies tutorial? Once again, being able to apply a stylesheet to many documents automatically is going to make for a good workflow.


Stylesheets can be pretty easy for the basics: you simply choose or create a new cell style, and then you can edit that particular cell using regular methods (changing properties using the Format menu, using buttons in palettes, applying options via the Option Inspector, or editing the underlying cell expression). Maybe I can record a short video about editing stylesheets since this is a topic that I've discussed with a fair number of other professors. Would that be of interest to you?

5. Is there a menu item or keyboard shortcut that would allow me to collapse all parent cells of a particular type, for example, “Collapse all Sections,” or close all input cells, in those cases where I don’t want students to see or be able to modify the input? Apparently, yes, but my wish for future versions of Mathematica would be to have menu items for the purpose.


I think the easiest way here is to Alt+click (or Option+click on Mac OS) the brackets of the type of cells you're interested in selecting (such as Section cells) and then choose Cell > Grouping > Open/Close Group.

Hope this helps!
Michael
User avatar
Michael_Morrison
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:50 pm
Organization: Wolfram Research, Inc.
Department: Academic Initiatives

Re: Best Practices for Presentations

Postby Gregory » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:22 pm

Hello Michael,

Thank you for your detailed reply.

Regarding the PDF images that I import or paste into documents, including Mathematica, they could be anything: high res graphs, photos, etc., that I convert to PDF from JPEG, but mostly they have been created in programs like Pages, Numbers, OmniGraffle, Intaglio and saved directly as PDF. I'll try your suggestion of importing them bigger than I really need.

Good suggestion about creating separate stylesheets for the regular documents and slideshows, then every document would have a built-in template for both. Although, I have to admit that my question was premature because when I ran a default document in slideshow mode and checked individual font sizes, they were scaled up as you describe. It will just be a matter of tweaking.

Big thanks for pointing out "EmbedExternalFonts". Never would have occurred to me, and even if it did, probably never would have found it!

CDFs are cool. It was only last night that I came across Wolfram's web page on embedding them. One limitation, or more accurately, a missed opportunity, that I see in their use in education and research is the inability to export and import, although I can see why Wolfram needs to block that. I was kind of getting at this in item 6 of my original post. If you could gather information about students' or participants' responses or interactions with a CDF file that has been designed to present an experiment or survey (e.g., choose a risky stock out of this selection of eight), CDFs would be a killer tool. Even for things like course management. With CDFs as they are now, I can create a nifty grade report where students can look up their grades by choosing their student ID in a popup menu in a Manipulate, as long as I update the CDF with new grades and repost it every time a new assignment or test has been down; but if the CDF allowed importing, all I'd have to do is update the file of raw grades. Not a big difference, but all the same.

Regards,

Gregory
User avatar
Gregory
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:13 pm
Location: Montreal
Organization: Concordia University
Department: Finance

Re: Best Practices for Presentations

Postby Michael_Morrison » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:29 pm

Gregory,

Great, I'm glad to hear some of those suggestions might work for you.

CDFs are cool. It was only last night that I came across Wolfram's web page on embedding them. One limitation, or more accurately, a missed opportunity, that I see in their use in education and research is the inability to export and import, although I can see why Wolfram needs to block that. [...] With CDFs as they are now, I can create a nifty grade report where students can look up their grades by choosing their student ID in a popup menu in a Manipulate, as long as I update the CDF with new grades and repost it every time a new assignment or test has been down; but if the CDF allowed importing, all I'd have to do is update the file of raw grades. Not a big difference, but all the same.


I would stay tuned for Player Pro...if you check out the blurb about the forthcoming version on this page, you'll see that data import is mentioned. More to discuss when that's available... :)

Cheers,
Michael
User avatar
Michael_Morrison
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:50 pm
Organization: Wolfram Research, Inc.
Department: Academic Initiatives

Re: Best Practices for Presentations

Postby Gregory » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:11 pm

Hi Michael,

I've got "EmbedExternalFonts" set to true in the Option Inspector but it didn't do anything. I'm a Mac user. My Section and Subsections styles are Didot, and Text is Palatino Linotype. Didot is Mac, Palatino Linotype Mac and Windows. When I presented as a slideshow at the university, it looks like Helvetica, a non-serif font, was substituted for Didot; not clear about the Palatino, because no opportunity to check. Have to experiment some more.

If you poke around the Option Inspector, you'll find an option for "EmbedExternalFonts". I believe this embeds non-Mathematica fonts assuming that the font's properties allow for embedding, and I also believe this is new functionality that wasn't available in previous versions.
User avatar
Gregory
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:13 pm
Location: Montreal
Organization: Concordia University
Department: Finance


Return to General Mathematica Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron