At first, it may seem odd to use LaTeX for writing transparencies. The cycle "writing the code-compiling-checking the appearance" may soon be tedious. However, using LaTeX makes sense when you want to reuse some material of an article written in LaTeX for your slides. What is more, if you have to write many mathematical formulas, you may find yourself less at ease with dedicated software such as MicrosoftPowerPoint or SUN StarImpress than with LaTeX. The visual appearance of slides written with Prosper also benefits from the superior quality of LaTeX formatting: ligatures, for examples, are obtained at no extra work while you could hardly obtain them with the abovementioned programs.
I suppose you have already seen presentations written in LaTeX with the slide standard environment. More often than not these slides appear harsh and dull: no color, nothing to attract the eye of the audience, no animation effect, no sound (ok, perhaps sound is not really mandatory at all). But you are not bound to produce such kind of slides simply because you are using LaTeX. Timothy Van Zandt devised some time ago the seminar LaTeX class to ease the production of beautiful slides. However, it can still take some time to obtain the visual impact you want. What is more, slides obtained by using seminar do not offer the animation effects which make a presentation lively.
Now, Prosper goes a step further by not only offering to the user the possibility to easily write slides with or without animation effects and choosing their visual appearance among many predefined styles, but also to create his own style which can then be used by the whole Prosper community. Last but not least, slides written with Prosper are intended to be eventually translated into Adobe PDF files, thereby offering portability and hypertext facilities. Most presentation softwares require from you to use only particular platforms with particular O.S. When using Prosper, you are free to prepare and to present your slides on any platform where LaTeX and an Adobe PDF viewer are available. For example, you can produce your slides on a PC compatible machine running Linux and display them on a SUN UltraSparc running Solaris or a Macintosh with System 7.
If you do not know anything about LaTeX, do not use mathematical formulas in your slides, and are not concerned about enhancing the quality of the appearance of your presentations, then using Prosper may not be worth the trouble. Other excuses for not using Prosper are (in no special order) :
Prosper is entirely free in both senses: you do not have to pay for it, and you can do what you want with its source code, provided you comply with the terms of the original copyright.
Not at all. Animations are based on frames : a slide to be displayed in several steps is composed of as many virtual frames as necessary; in the definition of such a slide, you just have to specify which material should appear on which frame. That is the whole of it. You compile your LaTeX file as usual; there is no post-processing of any kind.
Prosper already offers several styles tuned for printing slides in both color and black & white, as well as displaying on a screen. Nevertheless, the class has been devised in such a way that it is fairly easy to add your own style (see the documentation to know how to do that) if you are disatisfied with the existing ones. You are strongly encouraged to share Prosper styles you are proud of with other users by sending them to me such that I can add them to the next release.
Your feedback is valuable to me. If you find bugs in Prosper, please do report them by filling the appropriate form.
I could not have written Prosper without the seminar and pstricks packages. Many thanks to Timothy Van Zandt for having written them.
Some styles of MicroSoft PowerPoint and SUN StarImpress "inspired" me for devising Prosper styles. Actually, I have shamelessly copied verbatim some of their styles for historical reasons: the devising of Prosper began when I was told by somebody I prefer not to disclose the name that LaTeX was really good for writing scientific papers, but that it was impossible to write with it beautiful slides such as the ones produced by MicroSoft PowerPoint. My first work was then to create LaTeX slides whose appearance would be as close as possible to the one of MS PowerPoint-made slides. I have to admit I failed to perfectly mimic MS PowerPoint slides since mathematical equations always appear more beautiful with Prosper :o)