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Recently, I had to prepare a few beamer presentations, and during this process I realized that the "ideal" presentation would be much more interactive and live than one can possibly do with LaTeX. It is true that there are ways to embed a video or SWF file within a pdfLaTeX source, but this is just a partial solution: the animation has to be produced outside LaTeX and visually is often well separated from the rest of the presentation.

Alternatively, one can use package such as animate (or the \animate beamer command) to create animation in PDF, but this is really a hack and produces results that cannot be compared with a real Flash animation.

Is there a way to create a Flash animation out of a LaTeX file? Ideally, I would like to embed Flash objects and actionscripts within the LaTeX file, and to be able to have at the end of the process a Flash presentation.

P.S. I would see this as the natural evolution of TeX -> pdfTeX -> flashTeX, but I might be dreaming.

I hope you are. I would like to see Flash completely disappear with its terrible performance and incompatibility. Plus, due to license issues, I highly doubt that this flashTeX would be possible to create without cooperation with Adobe which would result in an expensive product far from open source. –  Harold Cavendish Jun 10 '11 at 14:16
@Harrold: I do not see your point. PDF is also a product of Adobe, and although PDF is an open format (which SWF is not), it has its own problems and bugs... The license issues really do not exist: citing from Wikipedia, "Implementing software which creates SWF files has always been permitted, on the condition that the resulting files render error free in the latest publicly available version of Adobe Flash Player." The license restrictions are more regarding players. –  Marco Lombardi Jun 10 '11 at 14:37
"the "ideal" presentation would be much more interactive and live". Completely agree. That's why I got a graphics tablet and installed xournal. –  Loop Space Jun 10 '11 at 17:57
@Andrew: That's why there are blackboards and chalk. ;) –  Caramdir Jun 10 '11 at 19:55
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2 Answers

A lot of what can be done with flash can also be done with SVG + JavaScript.

A great example of that is JessyInk which allows to make dynamic presentations in Inkscape.

Now since PDF also supports vector graphics and a subset of JavaScript, maybe the best way would be to integrate a solution like JessyInk inside LaTeX, or using JavaScript + Tikz to achieve it.

And by the way, Flash is a technology that is (hopefully) dying (soon!). –  ℝaphink Jun 10 '11 at 20:44
JessyInk is a very nice example, but when I suspect it is not so convenient for presentations involving equations and mathematics. Regarding JavaScript+TikZ in LaTeX, things are really cumbersome, this is what I have been doing so far. However, this solution is extremely cumbersome, is not completely portable (PDFs with JavaScript and Layers are rendered correctly only by Adobe Acrobat, and even in this case results change significantly among different versions and operating systems). Also, PDF animations typically are slow and not smooth at all. –  Marco Lombardi Jun 16 '11 at 21:18
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Some french teachers use swftools to convert their tutorials into swf (here are some examples 1 2, in French though); however, the toolchain merely involves a pdf -> swf conversion.

Although I never tried it, the flashmovie is suppose to facilitate the incorporation of swf file in a LaTeX document; an example of use from the above site might be found here: ellipsographes.

For statistical stuff, I've been playing a little with the animation R package (more on-line demos). But in the end I found that manipulating and using animated gif, mpeg or even mov files are the easiest way to go and produce the expected effect when visual explanation of some concepts matters (i.e., no user input).

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