Printable PDF Handouts from OpenOffice Impress

Last week I was preparing a training course for a client, and I wanted to print the slides nicely for the attendees to refer to and make notes on etc. The slides were done, I’d talked to my friendly printers (Mailboxes etc in Leeds) and all I needed to do was generate the handouts. Which was fine until I googled for help with doing that from OpenOffice, only to find that although it has this awesome “Export to PDF” functionality for documents, slides, etc, it wasn’t going to do it for handouts.

I’m an ubuntu user, and it turns out that there’s a clever package called cups-pdf which installs a pretend printer, and anything you could print, you can turn into a PDF. Brilliant. I installed it with aptitude and instantly I had a printer named “PDF” which printed to a /home/lorna/PDF directory.

Did I mention I love ubuntu?

I also wanted to add a cover page to my document, before I sent the whole thing to the printers in a PDF file for them to print and bind. For this I simply created an OpenOffice document and used the usual export to PDF. By the magic of twitter, I got some great advice from EmmaJane and installed the package PDFShuffler which enabled me to combine the two documents and save the result as a PDF.


By the magic of open source, I have beautiful handouts :) Printing in Linux really has come a long way, I can’t thank the developers and maintainers of all those libraries enough – all I did was install two packages!

Open Office Presenter Console

I’ve been having issues with the presenter console on both my ubuntu machines since upgrading to Karmic (9.10). One is a Thinkpad T400 running kubuntu and the other is an aspireone netbook running ubuntu netbook remix. Neither wanted had a working installation after upgrade and I couldn’t get the plugin installed using the open office plugin manager.

I discovered that this plugin is now available through apitude – simply install the package and it should all work splendidly! I use the presenter console when I am speaking (which is quite often) to show the time and the upcoming slide, its a great tool.

Open Office Presenter View

I was delighted to discover recently that Open Office have released a working version of their long-anticipated Presenter View. Both Powerpoint (from Microsoft) and Keynote (on the Mac) have these views which allow someone giving a presentation to see the current slide, the next slide(s), any notes associated with the current slide and some timing/progress information. Personally I’ve been booting into windows solely to deliver presentations for a couple of years now, partly for the Powerpoint Presenter View and partly because Linux isn’t very friendly about driving second screens.

Well, one of those problems has been eliminated with this new plugin for Open Office. It only works with Open Office 3 or above (I’m using 3.0.1). You’ll also need to download the extension from the project page which you can find here:

Go to Tools -> Package Manager and browse to the .oxt file you downloaded from the site, and restart Impress – hopefully everything should just work! The settings are hidden in the “Slideshow Settings” screen, look right at the bottom. And with luck, you’ll see your slides on your second screen as usual, and something like this on your main screen:

All I need to do now is figure out why I sometimes have issues with xrandr and projectors, and I’ll be ready to go!