art with code

2013-10-03

PDF export tweaks

I did a small tweak to Message's Print to PDF -feature. It now uses the CSS @page { size: 1920px 1080px; } attribute on Chrome to make you nice full HD PDF slides, and falls back to normal printing on Firefox.

What I'd really like to see is a way to save the page to a PDF from JavaScript with something like window.print('pdf'). It'd open a "Save as PDF"-dialog to save a PDF of the current page. In a nutshell, it'd be a shortcut to press the "Save as PDF"-button in the print dialog, with print annotations turned off and defaulting to zero margins.

I created a Chromium issue on that: DOM API for Save as PDF.

2013-10-01

Message update - start of October

PDF Export

Let's see... what happened over the last two weeks in Message? The latest news is probably the biggest. Yes! You can now create PDFs of your presentations. Now you can grab a PDF and email your slides to everyone out there without having to worry about the browser they're using. Similarly, you'll have a good fallback for those times when you need to use computer at the venue to do your presentation.

To create a PDF of your slides, go to the "Share"-tab and click on the new "Print to PDF"-button. You'll get a print dialog where you can save your slides as a PDF, or print them if you need a physical copy. To make the PDF look good on screen, choose landscape mode in the print dialog (Page Setup in Firefox). Now click on "Save as PDF" and you should receive a nice PDF of your presentation.

Markdown template

What's that? You want to use Markdown to write your slides? Here's a template that lets you do just that: Markdown template. It's lacking a few things on the CSS side, namely auto-scaling images, so you'll have to decide how to deal with those.

To use the Markdown template, paste this template ID into the "Load Template"-input in the "Theme"-tab and hit enter: 52488616c072d10200000006

Note: loading a new template replaces your existing theme and JS. Fear not, you can revert back to them using the version history.

Spinning theme template

Here's another template, this one's based on the Basics of Three.js slide deck. It's got fancy CSS 3D animations and tilted title slides with animated headings to double up on the awesome. The name of the template is Spinning [preview] and you can load it up using the template ID 5219ec577a35d40200000002

Friendly URLs

The stable Message URLs look quite intense, right? That long list of alphanumerics in v.fhtr.net/5219ec577a35d40200000002, not very appetizing. What if you could refer to the presentation with v.fhtr.net/ilmari.heikkinen/spinning-theme? Turns out, now you can!

One caveat though, if you change the title of your presentation, the friendly URL changes as well. If you don't change the title, all is well (as long as you don't have several presentations with the same title). I'll get around to fixing that soon-ish.

Similarly, you can visit a person's profile at message.fhtr.net/username. To find out your username, head over to the Account page, click on the "Presentations"-link and look at the person=username -part of the page URL.

Business

I'm also trying to make this thing profitable and make it grow faster, thus far with no success. In that vein, I was experimenting with making a paywall for a few days (PayPal-powered Subscribe-button) and seeing if I get any subscriptions. Result: Nope. Though I had just ~6 uniques/day at that time.

After a few days, I turned off the paywall and went with in-app payments by putting the "Subscribe"-button on the presentation list page. Now you see the "Subscribe"-button if you're already signed up (and have a better idea of the app). Few days of that now, no takers yet. Not very many people on the app either.

I also experimented with AdWords to buy traffic onto the site. Got a few hundred hits, no signups. Which tells me that the landing page didn't sell for the people who clicked on the ad, and that the sign up flow is very broken.

In a nutshell: business part of the equation is still lacking very much, ditto for salable product. So... time to start looking for freelance gigs while learning about selling a product and looking for people who could help on that side.

About Me

My photo

Built art installations, web sites, graphics libraries, web browsers, mobile apps, desktop apps, media player themes, many nutty prototypes, much bad code, much bad art.

Have freelanced for Verizon, Google, Mozilla, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Valve Software, TDK Electronics.

Ex-Chrome Developer Relations.