I used to use Beamer, and I loved it. However, compared to a WYSIWYG software like Powerpoint, creating slides with Beamer is so time-consuming, especially for graphics and animations (I don't overuse animations, they can sometimes be very useful). So 2 years ago, I switched to Keynote with LaTeXIt for equations. Keynote has saved me a lot of time and trouble for creating my research slides. But, it also has a serious drawback: placing inline equations in text is really a pain. I must use spaces and/or new lines to create blank spaces, then very manually and precisely resize the floating equation images and align them with the text. If later on I change my text, I often have to redo this painful process. Furthermore, Beamer slides often have better quality and typography.

My ideal tool would be a combination of Beamer and a WYSIWYG drawing tool. In particular, a slide deck in PDF would consist of two layers:

  • The background layer is created with Beamer, for the main text, equations, tables, sans (most of) the graphics.
  • The foreground (graphics) layer is created with a drawing tool (like IPE) and overlaid on the previous layer, page by page.

I may achieve this by writing the Beamer slides first, then open the PDF with some drawing tool and draw over the PDF. However, not only it's unintuitive, whenever I change the Beamer slides, I may lose my graphics. Furthermore, it's common that I need to rearrange the Beamer slides, and the graphics will be misplaced. To overcome these, the graphics tool needs to synchronize with the Beamer slides. A solution is to assign a unique ID to each Beamer frame, and the drawing tool would save the graphics to a separate file with embedded frame IDs. While drawing, the corresponding PDF page needs to be displayed in the background. The final slides are produced by overlaying the graphics on the Beamer slides by matching IDs.

My question is: do you know of any tool, or set of tools, that can achieve this workflow? I think some steps could be done with the PDF toolkit, however support is needed from a drawing tool and a script/program that glues the different programs together.

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    I vote for Beamer with IPE for fast drawing with acceptable quality. Too many transition effects and overlays can lead to distraction IMHO. – AboAmmar Aug 19 '14 at 23:57
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    For those who are wondering, IPE is a way to integrate tex potions of code into drawings easily, and then to export to a format (pdf, svg) that may easily be integrated into a Latex document. – Clément Nov 8 '14 at 12:46
  • @AboAmmar if you don't like excessive transitions you'll love impress.js ;-) – Mark Wibrow Nov 9 '14 at 8:40