Is Impress.js Impressive Enough?

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Impress.js Screenshot

Impress.js lit up the Internet in early January. Early adopters and the geekiest of the geeks were sufficiently “impressed” with the creators’ ability to match its competition Prezi, feature-for-feature, and add more. Impress.js is certainly impressive, but is it impressive enough?



What is Impress.js?

Impress directly targets the linear presentation platform, Prezi, while managing to add a feature or two, like 3D text. Prezi set itself apart from the typical slide bore-fest by creating a linear landscape that allows for close-up zoom, mapping across different buckets of content, and easy image and video embed. Impress’ step forward seems to be both in the addition of some new “neat” nice-to-have’s and also in the fact that it is open source.

The use of the web’s latest and greatest standards, such as HTML5 and CSS3 Transforms, without the need to subscribe to a software-as-a-service platform like Prezi, is a benefit for sure. Impress.js was released as an open-source toolset comprised of a Javascript Library, CSS file, and minimal HTML file  that you can download and implement in your own projects.  The fact Impress.js is open-sourced is likely its coolest feature that Prezi can’t compete with.  Days after Impress.js was released, someone else created a new version implemented with the wildly popular jQuery Javascript framework.

At present, neither version offers much more than Prezi and, in fact, without the streamlined interface Prezi employs, it’s a lot harder for non-developers (i.e., presenters) to really embrace. One thing Impress has proven, however, is that today’s web technologies are going to put more pressure on application developers and service providers to continue to add value to their offerings and not to rest on their laurels.

Is it the tool or the story that makes the presentation?


If I understand it correctly, Sean, Impress.js was released as an open-source Javascript library for any web developer to consume, modify, extend, and build upon. It is not necessarily meant to be a tool for presenters to be able to pick up and use today. I still have trouble in Keynote and Prezi, so forget about Impress for me!

If presenters have not become better story tellers … should the focus be on the tool or the way in which we present?

Certainly the utility of Prezi makes it a winner, and I do like how intuitive it is. With no coding experience I could not use Impress without a real tutorial. But, I find myself asking, why are we improving the presentation tool?

If presenters have not become better story tellers, if the amazingly well-done Prezi presentation at a conference is followed up with a 100-page slide show that goes on and on, then should the focus be on the tool or the way in which we present? Can we improve the ability of presenters to read an audience and understand when they drift off? Can we create better stories and perhaps not even rely on a visual to back us up?

I keep thinking about Minority Report and wondering, until we get to this level of presentation style, I may find myself simply sticking with Prezi!

What do you think?

How will Impress evolve and shape the presentation landscape?


2 Responses to “Is Impress.js Impressive Enough?”

  1. Bartek Szopka

    Thanks for you article about impress.js. I couldn’t expect it would be ever taken so serious :)

    It really started as a technology experiment that I used to build a presentation for my own. I’ve never expected that it will get so popular.

    Anyway, I really agree with Rebecca. It’s not a ‘tool’ that is meant to change the way people present (it really doesn’t add much more to prezi-style of presentations). To be honest sometimes I feel bad about using the word ‘tool’ to describe it, because it’s way to hard to use for non-coders.

    Presentations are all about the story, and the presentation tools, visuals, slideware, etc are only meant to help the presenter give the story to the audience. If the story would be more clear visualised with static images – that’s great, if it will benefit from fancy moving typography – prezi will be good enough, if more interactive ‘demos’ are needed – you need to be a coder and go with some HTML/JavaScript based tool.

    Basically the story should be first, tool is something that should be chosen and used later to help build and present it.

    Thanks again for you article!

    BTW. Please, change your tags, as it is “JavaScript” not “java script” … it has nothing to do with Java ;)

    • Rebecca Garnick Ast

      Thanks so much for taking the time to connect Bartek. We agree that the story rules the presentation and tools can help tell the story if executed correctly. I think impress.js would certainly be an asset in the right hands and as a complement to a great presenter who wanted to showcase something in a richer way.
      I am glad that impress.js has become so popular. Keep us informed of any new developments in the works too!
      Thx for the tagging catch – it has been changed.
      All the best and keep impressing! Rebecca


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