Quick Tutorial on the Prosper Package for Slide Making in LaTeX

(Note: A newer package, Beamer, is more powerful, though more complex to use. See my mini-tutorial.)

When you make PowerPoint slides, are you frustrated by Microsoft's cumbersome and limited math capabilities? And if you write your papers in LaTeX, do you wish you could re-use the source files when you make slides, instead of having to type everything (especially the math) again in PowerPoint? Would you like to be able to make slides viewable from any platform? Would you like to get away from PowerPoint just to be mean and antisocial?

If so, Prosper may for you.

Prosper allows you to create slides featuring transition effects, animation and so on in LaTeX. You simply insert some calls to Prosper macros in your LaTeX source file, then run latex and a DVI-PDF conversion utility such as dvipdf. You then use Acroread or xpdf to present your slides.

Here are the details:

Obtaining and installing Prosper:

Download the package from the Prosper home page. Unpack it in a convenient directory.

Add the top-level portion of the Prosper directory (the one containing the file prosper.cls) to your LaTeX path. You do have to make sure you don't cancel the existing default path, though. In the C shell, for example, if your Prosper files are in /a/b/prosper, type

set TEXPLACE = /usr/share/texmf/tex/
setenv TEXINPUTS $TEXPLACE/latex//:$TEXPLACE/generic/pstricks:/a/b/prosper:.

If you wish to use the non-default styles, copy the .ps files to your top-level Prosper directory from the img subdirectory.

Quick tour of Prosper's capabilities:

The package comes with a nice "quick-tour" file, prosper-tour.tex. It will show you many of the cool tricks which the package can do. Here is how (on a UNIX system) to process the file (execute these commands from the top-level portion of the Prosper directory tree):

% cp doc/prosper-tour.tex .
% latex prosper-tour.tex
% latex prosper-tour.tex
% dvipdf prosper-tour.dvi
% acroread prosper-tour.pdf

See the next section for information on using Acroread (or xpdf).

Viewing the slides:

In Acroread,hit ctrl-l to make the slides fill the whole screen if you wish (toggle to return to the original window size), and hit the right-arrow key to go to the next slide (or next transition within a slide. Hit the left-arrow to go back a slide, etc. Ctrl-Q can be used to quit.

(If you are placing the slides on the Web, Acroread 6.0 does not seem to fully obey the cltr-l command when used from within a browser, though it works fine standalone.)

You can also use xpdf to view the slides. Be sure to use full-screen mode, by specifying the -fullscreen option on the command line. Hit PageUp/PageDown to move through the slides, q to quit.

Using Prosper's macros:

I will show here how to use Prosper's most commonly-invoked capability, slide overlays.

A single slide will begin and end as follows:


The argument in the begin line is for the title of the slide. Leave this field empty if you have no title, but if you do have one, make sure it does not span more than one line on the slide. (You may have to experiment with this.)

A set of overlaid slides will also begin and end this way (with just one \begin{slide}/\end{slide} pair for the set). Each overlay is specified with \item, all surrounded by \begin{itemstep} and \end{itemstep}. In other words, the general form for a series of n overlaid slides is

(material common to all slides in this overlay set)
\item (first overlay)
\item (second overlay)

Note that the bullets can be suppressed by specifying an empty item symbol: \item[]

For a little more flexibility, within an overlay environment, a line of the form


means that the following material will appear on all the overlays starting with the jth. (Note the `%' sign at the end of the line; it IS necessary.)

using other styles

If you don't want to use the style I chose for my example below, just change the style section. Comment out the the line where I specify ``azure,'' by insert a percent size % at the start of that line, and uncomment the line with the style you want, by removing the %. Also, if you want a white background, then uncomment the ``nocolorBG'' line and comment out the ``colorBG'' line.

What about transparencies?

To prepare transparencies, simply specify ``ps'' instead of ``pdf'' in the {\bf documentclass} field.

Full example:

(The most up-to-date version is at http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/ucdcs.pdf .)

% CVSId: $Id: Example.tex,v 2000/11/28 11:15:12 exupery Exp $

\begin{slide}{Overview of Programs}

Dept. of Computer Science

University of California, Davis



Professor Norm Matloff 



Hard copy of presentation:



\begin{slide}{Computer-Related Majors}


\item Computer Science (CS):  

Administered by CS Dept., degree in Letters and Science

\item Computer Science and Engineering (CSE):  

Administered by CS Dept., degree in Engineering

\item Computer Engineering (CE):  

Administered by ECE Dept., degree in Engineering




\begin{slide}{Curricular Comparison}

{\centering \begin{tabular}{|c|c|c|c|c|}

major & college & software & hardware & freedom \\ \hline
CS & L\&S & heavy & minimal & lots \\ \hline
CSE & Eng. & heavy & strong & $\approx 0$ \\ \hline
CE & Eng. & substantial & heavy & $\approx 0$ \\ \hline



All of these majors have an integrated BS/MS option.


\begin{slide}{Which Is Better, CS or CSE?}

In terms of jobs prospects for new grads, there is essentially no



\begin{slide}{Then What \underline{Does} Count?}

Good grades aren't enough.  The following are crucial:


\item Co-op/internship experience.  Very little chance of even getting
an interview for a technical job without this!

\item ``Brazil''  --- really \underline{knowing} the material, being
able to discuss it intelligently without review.

\item Good verbal abilities (NOT from taking more English classes).




\begin{slide}{UC vs. CSU}


\item CSU has small class sizes (at UCD, a typical upper-division class
is 50 or 60, maybe more).

\item At a UC school, you are hearing it ``from the source.''  Most
faculty are doing cutting-edge research.  They lecture from their own
notes, not lecturing out of a textbook.



\begin{slide}{UCD CS Faculty Research}

``Claims to fame'' (large, nationally-known research groups):


\item Cryptography/Security

\item Graphics

\item Networks 

\item many nationally-known faculty in other fields


As a result, we have a lot of special courses other schools don't have
--- a 2-quarter UG sequence in networks, an UG security course, a host
of UG graphics courses, etc.


\begin{slide}{Commitment to Students}


\item 4 CS faculty have won the campus Distinguished Teaching Award.

\item 2 CS faculty have won the campus Best Faculty Adviser Award.




\begin{slide}{Guess What}

This isn't PowerPoint... 
We're UNIX users. :-)

UCD, like most major universities, is mainly UNIX-oriented.

Most computer-related UC grads get jobs in full or partial UNIX shops.




Students are strongly encouraged to install Linux on their home PCs:


\item Have the same software development environment at school, home.

\item Learn lots of valuable system admin skills!




\begin{slide}{Location, Location, Location}


\item ``1 hr. to Bay Area, 2 hrs. to Lake Tahoe...UCD is centrally
isolated.'' :-)

\item Proximity to Silicon Valley means:

Close relations between faculty and industry.

Most employers give high preference to locals, since they can
drive to interviews.