I'm looking for an alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint.

Current solution

  • I use PowerPoint on OS X, my collaborators use PowerPoint on Windows.

  • I do heavy presentations for educational courses (university prof). Thousands of slides, lots of blocks of code. Frequent updates to old version, changing templates.

  • I have a lot of code and I use the OS X version (which has issues with compatibility with MS Office 2010-2013 - my students use mostly Windows and sometimes images move, bullets overlap …).

  • Currently editing, updating is quite cumbersome. I'm looking for a solution that is tailored towards computer science training - lots of code (copied from IDE, has to preserve rich text formatting).

The ideal solution

  • Works on OS X and Windows, nice to have *nix.

  • Somehow eases the boilerplate tasks - copying code, updating, dependency management, tasks, …

  • Should be able to handle thousands of slides (I split the large ones, but still).

  • The IDE (the software) has to be nice to work with. Smooth.

  • Possibly working in a team somehow - seeing differences between versions …

Options explored

  • PowerPoint - really good, but the OS X version is AWFUL, it has issues with compatibility. I've tried Wine to run the Windows version, but again the experience is not pefect. Again, that sucks mainly for me, most of my students that I collaborate with work mainly with Windows.

  • I have tried Prezi, and I love how fluid it is. But I write slides in the thousands and I don't think it can handle the load. I don't think the interface of the presentation creator is really good - a couple of years ago it was some kind of Flash.

  • LibreOffice, possibly a candicate, I don't know its interface, but if the file is compatible over OSes that is a good solution. I don't if it has some advantages over PowerPoint.

I accept any crazy ideas - HTML editors, Flash, … Help? Please?

  • 1
    Crazy ideas? Hmm... Are you familiar with TeX? Feb 5, 2015 at 4:08
  • As for LO Impress, of course it is compatible over OSes (whatever ‘compatible’ means). That is the same program, that is just built for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and some other OSes natively. Feb 5, 2015 at 4:12
  • Which is not true for MS Office - not the same software for Win and OSX.
    – mist
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:19
  • @DmitryAlexandrov, Tex? Really? I cannot force normal people to learn it.
    – mist
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:33
  • Yes, forced learning is not very effective. :-) So you do know it, I understand. Then, seriously, look at Beamer. Nothing is better than plain-text sources when you need collaborative work. Feb 6, 2015 at 1:01

5 Answers 5


Apache OpenOffice Impress, works on Windows & Mac.

Google Drive Google Slides (not sure how this would handle huge presentations).

Have you thought about writing lessons for a website? Wordpress could be a nice option to categorize all lesson plans. Would also be able to use a Syntax Highlighter for online markup.

  • Openoffice is basically libreoffice, right? Google docs is notorious for loosing data. I am using wordpress for sharing code - it's not easier
    – mist
    Feb 3, 2015 at 19:00
  • You're correct, LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice, I was not aware of LibreOffice before.
    – AndrewH
    Feb 3, 2015 at 20:04
  • This might be some help, not a software solution but could help - pptfaq.com/FAQ00281_PC_to_Mac_and_Back.htm. The issue is there really isn't anything better than Powerpoint that is offered for both mac and windows. Not ideal but you can always use PowerPoint for Windows in bootcamp or a VM.
    – AndrewH
    Feb 3, 2015 at 20:20
  • 1
    And both work on Linux, too. @AndrewH may I ask you to point out how the other requirements are met (team work, thousands of slides, etc.), and edit that into your answer? Thanks!
    – Izzy
    Feb 3, 2015 at 20:51
  • @AndrewH, thank you for the link. I've been using PP on OS X. It is almost the same, but the devil is in the details (bullets and images change position) . And the interface sucks: oi58.tinypic.com/esvwc1.jpg
    – mist
    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:55

You can also have a look at Kingsoft Presentation Professional.

They are one of the biggest vendors on office suites after Microsoft if not even bigger. I personally don't have a recent experience with them, but the people around me that use their office are really happy with it.

A workaround that comes to my mind is to export the presentations to PDF files after you create them so you can avoid the problem with the differences between the OSes.

  • 1
    Is this available for Mac OS X?
    – unor
    Feb 4, 2015 at 13:51
  • @unor I do not think so, their website only has pages for Windows, Android & Linux.
    – AndrewH
    Feb 4, 2015 at 19:01
  • Not available for OSX, not free, basically cheaper MS Office, potentially with better interface/features.
    – mist
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:22
  • As everyone above said it already I'm afraid it is not available for Mac, that's why I've recommended exporting to PDF. @mist as far as I'm aware they have a free edition which is quite good, the professional edition is paid, but my idea wasn't pointing to it. Honestly I'm not sure what are the differences between the free and professional edition. I know a lot of people around me that use the free version and they are quite happy with it.
    – Ramzy Shah
    Feb 6, 2015 at 7:45

I use the iMapping Tool – both as a personal (visual) knowledge base and for presentations. Like Prezi, its UI is based on zooming, but as it is primarily a knowledge mapping tool, iMapping is prepared for thousands of "items", including "equivalent items", i.e. items that occur in several contexts but are logically the same - so that you can jump between them and such. Code blocks can be put in tripple curly brackets. There is a free version, that can build smaller maps (up to 300 items per map) but act as viewer even for large ones.

The website is in german, although the tool itself is completely in english: http://www.imapping.info/download

Here is a video that shows the tool in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTQWL5wmdZY

  • A mind-mapping tool. This is a promising idea, because mind mapping is a better way to represent information, but I have to make sure it is presentable, I have to be able to printout pdfs, it has to be free, at least a viewer.
    – mist
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:28
  • Is this the best tool you have found?
    – mist
    Feb 5, 2015 at 20:29
  • Frankly, I am working in the development of the iMapping Tool, so my opinion might not be unbiased ;) Feb 6, 2015 at 11:14
  • Strictly speaking, iMapping is not mind mapping. Feb 6, 2015 at 11:17
  • Yes, printouts are possible, also into pdfs (Macs include this capability, For other systems there are tools to print into PDFs). And yes, a viewer is and will always be free of charge. Feb 6, 2015 at 11:18

If you are willing to try "crazy things", you would like of impress.js. It's a open source alternative for prezi (with all cool stuff) made with web technologies (HTML5, CSS and JS).

See a example presentation here.

The downside is that you need to build the slides direct in HTML. There are some editors for it, but I didn't try none.

I believe that support many slides and you can use any version control for presentations, since it is all HTML+CSS+JS code.

The only requirement not filled by impress.js is the "smooth" part, but is a good option.


Large things call for LaTeX: Have a look at latex-beamer. Especially code can be nicely rendered using minted. I don't know how much drawing of figures is a requirement. TikZ/PGF is a solution, but you more code your image than draw it manually. See http://www.texample.net/tikz/examples/tag/beamer/ for examples.

If you quickly need to create bullet lists, etc. following options might be interesting

If you need something more lightweight, pandoc might be a solution. See Producing slide shows with Pandoc.

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