The ratio of markup to content in a beamer presentation is fairly high relative to a standard LaTeX document. What strategies do you use for speeding up the task of typing and editing beamer presentations?
These are some of the things I do
Have semantic markup for typing equations. It probably depends on your field, or the target audience, but on some of my slides about half of the content is equations. Defining macros that explain the meaning rather than the syntax of my math formulas helps to keep the source readable and often also concise. (And this is not only true for slides but for any kind of document!)
itemizeand "block environments" for pretty much all the text I need. You don't really need any bloat of markup for these.
Don't abuse overlays. Probably most of the code and "hacks" you find in the sources of a beamer presentation are because of this. I tend to use overlays only sporadically, perhaps twice, definitely not more than five times in the whole presentation. Some advice I once overheard about making slides: "Don't play striptease with your audience."
Code for TikZ figures go outside in their own
picture.texwhich is then
\input-ed at the appropriate place.
And define macros. For the ocasional times when I need to do some "hack" that will be needed in many places all over the presentation (for example once I wanted to have some particular formulas display with some color and framed by a box) I would define, of course, a macro just once to do the dirty work, and then use the macro everywhere I need in the slides.
Emacs Org-Mode makes it possible to write Beamer presentations with almost no LaTeX markup. You make a normal Org outline, then use the Beamer export for Org to create a tex file with the markup you want. Of course, if you want to do more than the basics you'll eventually have to use some LaTeX, but even then Org makes it much easier.
The above should give a taste of how it works. Reading about Orgmode may make it appear confusing and complicated, but it's one of those things that's much simpler (and amazing) once you start using it.
I would suggest checking this out even if you're an Emacs-hater. I don't care much for Emacs, much prefer Vim, but Orgmode really transforms Emacs into a killer application for certain uses. Besides having a great export to Beamer, Orgmode also can export an article-type outline into LaTeX, complete with sections and more, while having virtually no LaTeX markup in your original file. You can choose "Export to LaTeX and view PDF" in a single step. Very slick.
You've got some good answers already. Here's my 2c.
As the question says, the markup to content ratio is way higher is a beamer presentation than a "regular" document, and that cannot be avoided. Attending to the difference is the medium (page vs. screen) makes it inevitable that many choices that are better left to a TeX engine for printed content must be made by the user for the screen.
That said, the more markup, the more likely you've got a presentation using bells, whistles, and gongs in place of content. Much use of markup past frames and lists is definitely a smell for me that I need to focus on the content, not on the wizz bang of its display. Having sat through a few (a few, but enough) presentations from the land of Power Point, it seems obvious to be that a glitter or wipe slide transition doesn't stand a chance of hiding the ugly fact that the content is poor. The more "cuteness" on the screen, the harder it is to focus on the content, and, typically, the less content there is to focus upon.
So, if you are finding your beamer presentation onerous to code, your audience is likely to find it onerous to sit through. Be minimal and be clear.
Speed up typing using an editor with auto-completion and templates for environments.
Perhaps additionally use a utility like AutoHotkey. This is a free and Open Source hotkey utility for Windows. Just define a key combination for
itemize environments, perhaps with already some empty items inside
various block environments, columns, math, ...
Extend the auto-completion of the editor by typical beamer commands and environments, especially long words like
If you expect you'll create several similar similar presentations, create a folder or project containing a presentation template containing preamble and dummy frames.
Put settings of your preamble into a file and reuse it. You could "install" that file in your TEXMFHOME directory, available for all your presentations. If you decide to change your style, all previously created presentations could benefit.
I use otl2latex.py which converts Vim Outliner documents into TeX files ready for compiling. You can find it here.