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Don’t Just Talk the Talk: Walk the Walk!

XML-based Presentation Tools

There’s nothing wrong with a proprietary, application-oriented presentation format, if what you want is a one-time presentation – as a tutorial, conference talk, or (egad!) marketing pitch. But what if you want to do more? We happen to know of a data format that is ideal for:

As it happens, presentation (“slideshow”) applications are one of the most popular uses of XML. This must be partly because they are relatively easy to build; partly because slideshows make such interesting experiments in markup, transformation, presentation, functionality ... and partly because, when done right, they make such good demos (there is nothing like a good presentation to make you shine). Whatever the reason, whether because (like us) you reuse the data, or because you want broader options and better control of the media, it makes sense to set up a presentation in an XML-based system of some kind.

Collected here is a sampling of XML-based presentation applications we’ve heard of or noticed. Try one of these, or develop your own (and let us know about it at!

Tools Sampler

Apple’s Keynote application
System Loads/saves all data in the Apple Presentation XmL file format (based on XML)
Features Creates “keynote documents”, specially-constructed folders containing a file called “presentation.apxl” and any support files (e.g., images, audio). Uses the APXL schema (see below), which includes comments where the schema differs from the W3C schema.
Contact Download here: (Keynote application available at [last checked 2009-02-24]

DocBook Customization for Slides
Features DocBook customization for making slide presentations; part of the DocBook Open Repository
Contact Norman Walsh: see [last checked 2014-01-24]

Michael Hahn’s Basic Writing Structures Slides application
System XSLT with a Saxon extension creates HTML (tested on Saxon 6.2.2); tweak to use other XSLT engine.
Features Simple, flexible DTD; includes XMetaL authoring stylesheet.
Contact Download here: slideshow/ Credit Michael Hahn. [last checked 2009-02-24]

Mulberry Slideshow
System XSLT 1.1WD (for HTML; tested with Saxon 6.2.2) or DSSSL (for HTML and print)
Features Supports Mulberry courseware. Unusual, flexible document model; exhibits, exercises, and appendices in addition to slides; several ways to tweak output; authoring stylesheet.
Contact Mulberry Technologies, Inc.: see our page on this site. [last checked 2009-02-24]’s Presentation Module
System Loads/saves all data in the XML File Format (using a format being standardized at OASIS)
Features Authoring possible with the application or any text editor. Imports from legacy formats (e.g., PowerPoint); exports to delivery formats (e.g., PDF and soon MacroMedia’s Flash) also possible. (Part of an Open Source office productivity suite)
Contact Download here: (commercial offspring, such as StarOffice, available from sponsor, Sun Microsystems). [last checked 2009-02-24]

Opera Software’s OperaShow
System Opera browser (available for Windows, Linux, Mac) turns into a presentation engine upon finding a CSS stylesheet labeled for “projection” mode
Features Turns any XML or HTML file into a presentation. Splits the documents into pages based on the structure of the document and the accompanying stylesheet. PgUp and PgDn will move through the presentation.
Contact Sample XML-based presentation available from The OperaShow Generator and QuickShow are tools to create OperaShow presentations. [last checked 2014-01-24]

Presentation Development Application
System Anything supporting DSSSL
Features Full-fledged system for Holman’s courseware. Actually an SGML application: uses DSSSL stylesheets to create HTML and RTF output.
Contact Ken Holman, Crane Softwrights: [last checked 2009-02-24]

ReportLab’s PythonPoint
System Python on any platform supporting Python. Creates PDF.
Features Simple DTD with slides, graphics, etc.; Type-1 and Asian fonts; makes use of PDF page transition effects; has convenient handout mode; Open Source; produces native PDF. Documentation available from download site.
Contact Download here:;see also users’ list. [last checked 2009-02-24]

Reuters XML Slide Toolkit
System XSLT creates XSLFO: tested with XEP to create PDF output
Features Uses DocBook subset as source; forgiving exception-handling (generates warnings for unsupported input)
Contact Download here: slideshow/ Credit to Anthony B. Coates. [last checked 2009-02-24]

TEI Slide Conversion Using XSLT
Features Converts slides written in TEI Lite for display in an XSL-capable Web browser. In addition to stylesheets, there are samples slides of the HTML version produced by the stylesheet, tlslides.xsl, and the printer-friendlier version produced by the stylesheet, tltohtml.xsl
Contact C. M. Sperberg-McQueen: see webpage bottom at for links to stylesheets. [last checked 2009-02-24]