I have deleted my Slideshare account earlier this year (as LinkedIn sold it to Slideshare’s more evil twin Scribd), and today I was also finally able to delete my company’s Scribd account. Having deleted all that, of course the embeds I use here on my blog of my presentations now obviously don’t work.

The key issue with showing slides or documents online is whether you can do so in a suitable viewer. Browsers are all capable of showing PDFs but also all make their own slightly different choices. Ideally you would want to control how your slides are shown, nicely paginated and scrolling horizontally for instance or with some specific control buttons visible and others disabled. Where all default viewers do is showing slides as a long downward scrolling document.

Basically there are three options I can choose:

  1. Find another Slideshare like service
  2. Have browsers use their own viewers
  3. Host the commonly used viewer PDF.js myself

Of these I’m trying out option 1 and 3 in this posting.

By Robert I was pointed to Speakerstack.net by a small US company that has the interesting option of allowing you to set your own canonical and download url, while also uploading your PDF to their server.

In the screenshot above you see how I uploaded my slides for the Dutch Coder Dojo conference last November. You can also see that as a canonical URL I have set the link to my blogpost with the text of the presentation, and the download URL to a short domain name I also control (tonz.nl).

This keeps the URLs and download links for my presentations within my control (so that when, not if, at some point speakerstack.net stops its service, I am in a position to ensure everything keeps working. Unlike what happened now when I closed my Slideshare account, where I broke all the links to my presentations.) It also duplicates the PDFs which seems somewhat wasteful. It’s an interesting approach though.

It results in the embed below, where if you mouse over you can see how the download url indeed points to my domain tonz.nl, and if you would use the Twitter share button it shows the URL to my blogpost.

For the other option I have installed PDF.js on the hosting package where I also have uploaded my Dojo Con slides. So both the viewer and the slides are on the same domain. You can style the PDFjs viewer a little bit, but I think you’re stuck with vertical scrolling. PDF.js is also slow with larger files (which my presentations tend to be as they have many large images. Then again I could probably optimise them in size). Using my self-hosted viewer you get the embed below:

Tips on better self-hosted viewers, or better tweaking of pdf.js are welcome.

4 reactions on “Bringing Slides Home

  1. Out of curiosity. Why don’t you selfhost speakerstack but did you choose their hosted service? Their website says you could use your own installation.

    Wouldn’t having a dedicated WordPress install at slides.zylstra.org or presentations.zylstra.org be even more future proof?

    • Yes, the site does suggest that “Speaker Stack works on a self-hosted WordPress website“. However nothing on the site explains or offers the code to do that. Neither can something about it be found on wordpress.org or github. It is currently in closed beta, and I have an account in that beta. All I can do when logged in is upload to speakerstack, and then influence the settings to point back to my own site as shown in the posting. I’ll mail the team behind it, but right now I think that public release of their viewer hasn’t materialised yet.

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