Hieroglyph 0.6

I just uploaded Hieroglyph 0.6 to PyPI. This release contains a handful of new features, as well as fixes for a few bugs that people encountered. Some highlights:

  • Doug Hellmann contributed support for displaying presenter notes in the console using the note directive.
  • tjadevries contributed a fix for the stylesheet used when printing slides, which should prevent modern browsers from inserting a page break in the middle of a slide.
  • Slide numbering has been reimplemented, and received additional testing.
  • A hieroglyph-quickstart script has been added to make it easier to generate an empty project with hieroglyph enabled.

See the NEWS for the full details.

I’ve also started writing some automated tests for Hieroglyph. These are a little too involved to properly be called “unit tests”, but they’re being run using Travis CI now, which should help avoid regressions as I fix bugs in edge cases.

I spent a few days at OSCON about a week ago, and once again had the pleasure of attending Damian Conway’s “Presentation Aikido”. There are several things he talked about that I could be doing better with my talks. This release of Hieroglyph addresses one of them (quick fade or cut to the next slide, as opposed to the default slide left behavior). I’m working on what other changes I can make to Hieroglyph so that it’s dead simple to just write your slides, and maximize what your attendees take away.

author:Nathan Yergler
tags:rst, hieroglyph, sphinx

Hieroglyph 0.5.5

As I mentioned last month, there were a few improvements to Hieroglyph sitting in the master branch, awaiting a release. Now that PyCon is over, I’ve cut the Hieroglyph 0.5.5 release. This is primarily a bug fix release, and it feels good to fix a bunch of issues that I discovered as I used Hieroglyph to develop and present Effective Django.

In addition to fixing half a dozen bugs, I also reviewed and revised almost all of the documentation for this release. Asheesh used Hieroglyph for his talk on web scraping at PyCon last week, and it was really interesting to get feedback from him about what worked and what was confusing. As a result, there’s a new Getting Started guide. There’s still work to be done, in particular in the Advanced Usage document; hopefully that will get rewritten and expanded soon.

Asheesh’s feedback demonstrated to me how little I know about why people use (or don’t) use Hieroglyph, and what’s difficult or confusing to them that I take for granted. If you’ve used Hieroglyph, thought about it and rejected it, or tried it and been frustrated, I’d like to hear about your experience. You can email me at nathan@yergler.net, or ping me on Identi.ca or Twitter: @nyergler

author:Nathan Yergler
tags:hieroglyph, sphinx, rst

Hieroglyph Improvements

If you’re using Hieroglyph for generating slides with Sphinx, you may want to use the version in git rather than the release. A few things have landed there recently:

  • tjadevries contributed fixes for incremental slides in Chrome.

    It seems that a recent change in Chrome caused the incremental slide Javascript, which originated in the Google HTML5 Slides project, to stop working. master has a fix for that.

  • Proper pruning when autoslides are disabled.

    If you have autoslides turned off in a document, Hieroglyph will now properly prune the document when generating slides to only show explicit slide directives. This was broken in 0.5.

  • Fixed header sizing for slide directives.

    The slide directive allows you to specify a level attribute. This is supposed to be used for determining how to render the slide title (for example, a level of 2 should render the title as an <h2>). This was broken in 0.5, and is fixed now.

I’m using Hieroglyph for my PyCon tutorial, “Effective Django[1], but the way I’m using it is pretty different than it has been previously. The slides and HTML output differ more, so I’m not relying on automatic slide generation the way I was initially. I expect I’ll make a new release around PyCon (mid-March) when I’ve done an entire talk in this manner.

[1]I’ve started practicing my tutorial with the engineering team at Eventbrite in one hour chunks, once a week. I’ll probably post something about that experience once I have an opinion about how it works.
author:Nathan Yergler
tags:sphinx, hieroglyph, rst

Hieroglyph 0.5

During the last week of 2012 I pushed out a new release of Hieroglyph. I realized later that I haven’t really been talking about it here, so I wanted to mention some of the new features and functionality I’ve been working on. When I published the 0.3 release, I said I was planning to work on hooking analytics into the slide viewing so that creators could get a better sense of how their slide decks were being used. I have done some work to that end, but would up getting side tracking.

The 0.4 release consisted primarily of internal cleanups in preparation for adding analytics support. There were some places where the Javascript or styles were duplicated, so I put some effort into cleaning that up. I also split up the Javascript to separate slide control from user interaction. This was done to support both analytics and the initial implementation of the Presenter’s Console: a separate window that displays the previous, current, and next slides, and allows the presenter to control the primary display window. With Hieroglyph 0.4 and later you can open by pressing c within a slide document.

Hieroglyph 0.4 also added support for slide numbering and for applying a theme to individual documents inside of a project using the slideconf direction. For example:

.. slideconf::
   :theme: single-level

In December I put together some training for other engineers at Eventbrite around Python byte and unicode strings, and how to safely work with them both in our codebase. While I was putting that together, I realized that there was a lot of text and code samples in the documentation that I wanted to go through interactively, and not include in slides. I wound up going without slides, and found that presenting from the Python interactive interpreter was very effective for this sort of hands on training. That said, it would have been nice to have had a few key slides: an introduction, a summary of key points, and maybe where to go next. That’s the sort of content I’d like to keep with the main document so it doesn’t drift too far out of sync, but Hieroglyph didn’t really support that approach: it assumed that you wanted to generate a slide per section, unless you explicitly marked things as notslides.

Hieroglyph 0.5 adds a couple of features to support these different work modes. First, it adds an autoslides configuration parameter, that allows you to disable automatic slide generation of a project or document level. If autoslides is True (the default), you’ll see the previous Hieroglyph behavior, one slide per section. If it’s set to False, you’ll need to write slides using the second new feature, the slide directive.

The slide directive describes a single slide, including the title, level (which may be used for styling), and content. An example from the Hieroglyph smoketest document:

.. slide:: The ``slide`` Directive
   :level: 2

   In addition to headings, you can use the ``..slide::`` directive to
   define a slide.

Because the conditional slides directive differed by only one letter, Hieroglyph 0.5 also renamed the conditional directives to ifslides and ifnotslides. The previous names will continue to work (at least for a couple releases), but I’m using the new names myself to make it easier to understand what’s going on.

Thanks to bug reports filed in the Hieroglyph github project, the 0.5 release also includes fixes for styling nested lists and compatibility with the latex-pdf builder.

At this point Hieroglyph seems to be working pretty well for me and others. There are a few things I’d like to add yet, but for the next couple of months my focus is going to be more on using it rather than developing it. I’m working on more training for new engineers at Eventbrite, and I’ll be giving a tutorial of Effective Django at PyCon this year. I think both of those are going to be good opportunities use Hieroglyph in different contexts and hopefully get some more data on what’s working or not. If you’re using it (or just trying it out) and have comments or feedback, filing a bug is something I find really helpful.

author:Nathan Yergler
tags:hieroglpyh, sphinx, rst, slides

hieroglyph: Easy, Beautiful Slides with Restructured Text

I was happy to have my talk proposal accepted for PyCon this year, and happy with the feedback I received on my talk (Django Forms Deep Dive). But as I was putting my talk together the distracting question was not, “what should I say”, but “what should I say it with”. As a mentor once pointed out, “it’s more fun to write programs to help you write programs than it is to write programs.” The corollary I found over the past couple weeks: “it’s more fun to write programs to help you write slides than it is to write slides.”

I was putting together notes using reStructured Text and kept thinking that it’d be nice to generate both slides and longer written documentation from the same source. I’ve used docutils’ S5 generator in the past, but was looking for something a little more polished looking. Something like the HTML5 Slides.

So I wrote a Hieroglyph, a Sphinx builder for generating HTML5 Slides. I presented hieroglyph at the Sunday morning lightning talks at PyCon: you can see the slides, the reStructured Text source, as well as the HTML documentation generated from the same source.

I’m really happy with the output — it looks great in the browser, projects well, and because I’m using the html5slides CSS, looks great on mobile devices, too. I’m even happier that I’m able to work on my content in plain text. You can find the source on github.

date:2012-03-13 22:31:16
category:projects, hieroglyph
tags:python, rst, slides, sphinx