MarkShown is a very simple iPhone app for quickly creating textual presentations which can be shown on an external display. A Markdown-like syntax is used to format presentation slides and presenter notes; the presentation slides will show on an AirPlay device, and the presenter notes will show on the local screen.

MarkShown is designed to make creating simple, text-based presentations easy, so it does not currently support images, slide transitions, or any other fancy features. If you need a more powerful presentation tool, then by all means stick with Powerpoint or Keynote.

MarkShown is available for free from the Apple App Store.

The Backstory

There are many good presentation apps available, so why add another one (which has very few features) to the mix? Well, there are many reasons:

Firstly, I am a software developer who is learning the iOS platform, so I need something to work on (other than todo lists). Also, since I am still learning the frameworks, it would be nice to start with smaller projects that cover a wide range of topics. The idea behind this app seemed to fit those goals; it involves the basics of storyboards and navigation controllers, but also touches on some less basic topics such as programmatically created views, CoreText, accessory views, and AirPlay.

Secondly, as a software engineer I prefer to keep artifacts in formats which lend themselves to revision control and differencing, so I use Markdown-type formats quite a bit. I do not really plan on differencing my presentations, but I still keep them under revision control, because that’s just what software engineers do. (MarkShown does not support revision control in any way, I copy the text out of Dropbox and then paste it into a new MarkShow. I know, those are manual steps, which suck, but I have not yet learned the Dropbox API. Perhaps I will work on this over winter break.)

Finally, I am presently taking a course on software evolution which requires reading academic research papers and occasionally giving presentations about them, so I have a need to create presentations as efficiently as possible. I had been using reveal.js, which supports Markdown, to create presentations. However, I wanted something which was a little more straightforward to work with; I wanted to be able to write Markdown and then just hit play and swipe through some slides. Actually using MarkShown for presentations has made me realize how important pictures are, so that will likely be the next feature I implement.

With that said, I hope you enjoy the app, and if not, well, at least it didn’t cost you anything.

Published: 2013-10-27