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Presentation Software Definition and Examples

Presentation software brings complex ideas to life, one slide at a time

  • Brock University

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Many software suites offer a program designed to accompany a speaker when he or she delivers a presentation. The specific presentation program in this suite of programs is usually (but not always) in the form of a slide show. This category of program is well-established; it doesn't change much, and it supports not only online visual display but also, generally, the printing of related handouts and speaker notes.

Benefits of Presentation Software

These programs make it simple and often fun to create a presentation for your audience. They contain a text editor to add your written content; they support charts and graphic images such as photographs, clip art or other objects to enliven your slideshow and get your point across crisply.

For a deeper dive into some of the leading applications in this software category, check out:

Other Forms of Presentation Software

PowerPoint and its clones work on a slide-based logic: When you move to the next point in your conversation, you advance to the next slide. An alternative model of presentations sets aside the slide model in favor of some other navigation system. Examples include:

Prezi offers a visual navigation tool that allows for zoom-in/zoom-out detail across a logical map of your presentation.

Microsoft Sway

Besides PowerPoint, Microsoft also offers Sway, which is a presentation and newsletter designer that supports simpler and more image-focused designs along a familiar linear flow path.

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What is Presentation Software Anyway? A Complete Guide to Essential Features and Why Your Team Needs Them

What is Presentation Software Anyway? A Complete Guide to Essential Features and Why Your Team Needs Them

It’s estimated that 30 million PowerPoint presentations are created on any given day— and those numbers have likely spiked even higher given our new norm of virtual communication and remote work. Between startup pitches, business plans, all-hands meetings, and school presentations, everyone has a different story to tell. Regardless of who you are and what you do, we’d be willing to bet that you’ve created a deck or two in your day. But having a handful of presentations under your belt doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an expert. 

In fact, it’s very likely that the majority of those presentations created on a daily basis are cobbled together the night before the deadline. The result? A poorly executed deck (or frankendeck, as we like to call them) that doesn’t support your overarching purpose. In fact, 79% of people think that most presentations today suck. Your content means nothing if it gets lost in transition, and a bad deck can derail your entire presentation in the blink of an eye. Luckily, presentation software can help you create something brilliant in a fraction of the time— with no design experience required. 

Sounds great, right? But what is presentation software , anyway? Let us tell you. 

What is presentation software?

Presentation software is the deck designer you’ve been looking for, without actually having to hire a designer. At its core it’s a platform or software that enables you to create visual presentations. Everyone knows the household names like PowerPoint , Keynote , and Google Slides , but there are plenty of PowerPoint alternatives out there making presentation design simpler and more innovative. Alternative software, like Beautiful.ai, offers unique features that are not available in the dated software like PowerPoint. 

What features should you look for?

Depending on whether you work for a small business, startup or larger enterprise, finding a good presentation software program is a must. There are many different softwares to choose from, but these are the key features that you should consider when choosing your app or platform. 

A lot of inexperienced designers might dread starting a presentation from scratch (can you blame them?). A big selling point for a lot of PowerPoint alternatives is that they offer pre-built templates to help get you started. But even still, presentation design can be a big undertaking if you don’t know how to structure your story. Beautiful.ai offers a free gallery of pre-built presentation templates by our resident designer to help you start inspired. Each template is fully customizable so you can make it your own, while using our layouts to spark your own creativity.

If you’re not a designer by trade, a presentation software with artificial intelligence is smart (literally, and figuratively). Beautiful.ai’s smart slides take on the burden of design for you so that you can focus on what’s really important: your message. With smart slide templates , we apply principles of good design to each slide restraint so that it’s nearly impossible to create something that doesn’t look good. Simply add your content and watch the slides adjust without having to worry about aligning text boxes, configuring charts, or resizing text. 

Some presentation softwares do animations better than others (no, we aren’t going to name any names). Your animations should be subtle, but effective. The last thing you want is your animations to give the audience motion sickness. But when done correctly, dynamic animations build in a way that directs the audience’s attention back to your slides.

We may be biased, but Beautiful.ai’s animations bring your slides to life without overwhelming viewers. We give you the power to decide how your animations will build on each slide. You control the speed, the order, and whether they build automatically or advance with a click. You can create a custom timeline, which is a manual control of your animation build. And you can also customize the animation timing and style to choose overlapping, simultaneous, sequential, or no animation at all. Depending on your content, and talking points, you may select a slow, normal, or fast animation speed— it’s all up to you. 

Collaboration

We can all agree that working in the cloud is better than working without it. Eliminating lengthy email chains and attachments from your workflow can save a lot of time. Especially when you’re working in tandem with colleagues or clients, the cloud ensures that you are always working in the most updated version. Collaborating in presentations means that you can work on building a deck in unison with your team, which is something that’s critical in a work-from-home environment. 

With Beautiful.ai, not only can you collaborate with teammates— internal and external— in real-time, but you can also comment on slides to provide feedback or questions. Each collaborator on the presentation will receive a notification via email and within the product when a comment or edit is made on the slide so nothing falls through the cracks. 

Shareability

Shareability is something that older presentation software— like PowerPoint— lacks. Instead of having to send a file attachment with every update, newer presentation software will allow links for simplified sharing. This also helps teams with version history and content management. 

In Beautiful.ai, it’s easy to share your link out via email, social media, or embed it on a webpage. Because everything is saved on the cloud, you can edit your presentations on the fly and it will be updated immediately without having to resend a new link to your colleagues or clients. This is a game changer for board meetings, pitches, or sales proposals when a piece of information might come in at the last minute but you have already sent a link out to the deck.

Analytics is an essential tool for any business. With analytics you can see which slides performed well, and which slides your audience skipped altogether. This allows you to evaluate which information is resonating well with your audience and what might be getting lost in transition. As a business, this can help you understand your final call-to-action, and how you need to pivot to encourage a more favorable outcome. 

Beautiful.ai’s analytics shows you time spent on the presentation, total views, when the presentation was last viewed, and completion rate all within the product. 

Jordan Turner

Jordan Turner

Jordan is a Bay Area writer, social media manager, and content strategist.

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Man presenting at Nordic design for best presentation header image

Best presentation software of 2023

Let’s put on a slideshow.

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Whether you’re a student or a working professional, everybody has to make presentations from time to time and that usually involves presentation software. But when you’re frantically Googling around to refresh your PowerPoint knowledge, it’s only natural to wonder what is really the best presentation software out there. Yes, everybody knows that Microsoft’s the biggest player in the slideshow game but there are actually a lot of alternatives to explore. If you expand your horizons, you may find another app that makes more sense for you. Expand your office app horizons and see how the best presentation software can make your job a little easier.

Best overall: Microsoft PowerPoint

Best for professionals: canva, best for zoom: prezi.

  • Best for Mac: Apple Keynote  

Best for students: Beautiful.ai

Best budget: google slides, how we chose the best presentation software.

As a journalist with over a decade of experience, I know how to present information to all sorts of audiences effectively and efficiently. Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of clients to craft copy for presentations, as well as the slideshows themselves. I’ve used the best software in the business, as well as quite a lot of the bad stuff, so I know what will work for you and your needs. 

In making this list, I relied on my own firsthand experience with presentation software, as well as consulting professional tutorials and critical reviews. I also personally created a number of sample slideshows using prebuilt templates and custom layouts of my own in order to put the programs through their paces. I used both the stalwart software suites that everyone knows, as well as a number of lesser-known alternatives that have emerged over the past few years. If an impressive new program hits the block, we will update this list accordingly once we get some hands-on time with it.

Things to consider when buying presentation software

There has been an explosion of presentation software over the past few years, and each of the program’s developers has their own pitch to lure people away from PowerPoint. The most important things to consider when choosing presentation software will vary from person to person. A small business owner putting together a professional presentation with original branding may need different tools to make an appealing pitch, versus a student building a last-minute slideshow for a group project to present the results of their research in Econ class.

There are a wide variety of bells and whistles that presentation building programs boast as their killer features, including brand kit integration, easy social media sharing options, offline access, seamless collaboration, AI suggestions, and analytics. These extra features will seem very helpful to enterprise customers, but the average person should realistically prioritize more traditional factors like ease-of-use, customizability, and cost. There are, however, a few elements that every single person who uses presentation software needs, so let’s walk through the fundamentals.

Ease of use

No one wants to spend hours learning how to make a basic slideshow. While all of these programs take time to master, some of them are easier to pick up quickly than others. An intuitive piece of software grabs your attention and allows you to perform basic actions like adding slides and assets without time-consuming tutorials. The more professional-grade programs out there might take a little more time to master, but they’re rarely difficult to use.

Prebuilt templates

The number one thing that you want from a presentation software is a good-looking final product, and templates help you achieve that goal quickly and easily. All of the competitive presentation software suites out there have a library of pre-built templates that let you plug in information quickly. Quality and quantity separate the good programs from the great ones, though. Some apps have more templates than others, and some templates look better than others. On top of that, some programs lock their best templates behind a premium subscription, which leaves you relying on the same basic structures over and over. 

The truly professional-grade software also includes a selection of prebuilt art assets to help you bring a personal touch to the presentation. If a program doesn’t have an impressive set of templates, it isn’t worth using.

Customizability

While most people want to start building their presentations with a template, you need to change some things around if you want to keep things looking fresh. Professionals, in particular, will probably want to customize every aspect of their slideshows, from the color of the background to the exact pixel position of images. This obviously increases the amount of time it takes to craft a presentation, so it’s important that the systems for making those tweaks are intuitive and easy to use. Not every user is going to need the level of customizability, but it’s definitely something worth considering.

Who’s it for?

Every presenter needs to build a slideshow for their audience. They should probably ask that question when they pick which presentation software to use as well, as it can help determine what software they should use. Students might need the expansive collaboration tools of certain platforms but might not need the pinpoint design controls in others. While the presentation software listed below can all make a great slideshow with enough time and effort, your own use case and the intended audience will have a big impact on your choice.

Cost & affordability

Very few presentation builders have a simple, one-time price tag. Most operate on a subscription model, where you can buy a month’s use for a certain amount, or save money by buying a year at a time. A few are free, though many appear to only offer a free trial or stripped-down version that will allow you to put together something basic before quite literally buying in.

If you’re looking to build just one or two presentations a year, it’s probably best to stick to one of the free options. However, if you have to build slideshows on a regular basis, it’s probably worth sinking your money into a subscription to the program you really like.

Generally speaking, as you might expect, the more impressive and in-depth software costs more than the more traditional fare. However, because many of the most popular programs in the space (such as Microsoft PowerPoint) come as part of a suite, you will need to weigh the benefits of not only the presentation software but also the other programs that come along with it. If you’re a die-hard Microsoft Word user, for example, you’re already paying for the Microsoft Office suite, but the calculus gets more complicated if you prefer Google Docs.

The best presentation software: Reviews & Recommendations

By now, you probably have a good idea of what you should be looking for in presentation software, so now we’ll get into the interesting part. As mentioned above, we’ve broken down our picks based on a few common use cases, as well as the criteria we mentioned above. Regardless of which one you decide on, all of these programs are powerful tools that can produce a slick slideshow with a little time and effort, and you’d be well served by any of them.

Microsoft PowerPoint is the best presentation software overall.

MobiSystems

Why it made the cut: Whether you’re a broke student or a busy professional, Microsoft PowerPoint can do whatever you need. It’s also reasonably priced.

  • Platforms: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Web
  • Suite or standalone: Microsoft Office 365 Suite
  • Special features: Designer, MS Office integration
  • Free version: Yes
  • Well-known interface imitated by competitors
  • Powerful and accessible
  • Good templates
  • Part of a popular software suite
  • Slight learning curve

Even after testing more than a dozen programs, Microsoft PowerPoint remains the go-to presentation software for most people. Setting the industry standard, it offers great templates, an accessible interface, an impressive library of prebuilt art assets, and plenty of tools for building a slick slideshow. It also supports real-time collaboration, offline editing, and third-party content embedding. At $70 a year, PowerPoint is significantly cheaper than most of its competitors and it’s part of Microsoft Office, a software suite that most companies pay for and workers can’t live without. 

Of course, it isn’t perfect. PowerPoint makes it very easy to make a basic presentation, but it will likely take you longer to make something that looks polished and professional in PowerPoint than with design-forward programs like Canva or Prezi. Even top-flight presentations are achievable, though, in a reasonable timeframe. PowerPoint might not be the best presentation program for every situation, but it’s certainly the best for the average person.

Canva is the best presentation software for professionals.

Why it made the cut: Canva creates beautiful, professional-grade presentations faster than its rivals, and it’s easier to use than most.

  • Platforms: Web, Windows, iOS, Android
  • Suite or standalone: Standalone
  • Special features: Amazing templates, very customizable
  • Excellent free version
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Makes beautiful presentations fast
  • Eye-catching templates
  • Harder-to-use advanced features
  • Limited offline use

If you need to make a striking business presentation in an hour, Canva is absolutely the software for you. Designed from the ground up for business professionals who don’t want to have to use another program (i.e., Photoshop or GIMP) to create visually compelling content, Canva delivers on this promise in spades. 

Canva’s gorgeous templates are the best of any of the programs we tested, and its free version is far more robust than you’d expect for a costless trial. Unlike many of these other programs, it creates virtually any marketing material you can imagine, including videos, logos, social media posts, and even resumes. It also includes splashy features that most people won’t use, like brand kit support and easy sharing to social media.

Canva’s simplicity has drawbacks, too, though. It can be a bit difficult to get it to make complicated charts, tables, or diagrams, and it lacks the familiar (but clunky) customizability of PowerPoint. However, if you’re looking to make the most beautiful presentation you can, Canva is a great choice for your business.

Prezi is the best presentation software for zoom.

Why it made the cut: Prezi is a strong program that structures its basic features in a completely different manner than its competitors. It also has very good Zoom integration.

  • Platforms: Web
  • Special features: Zoom integration, unique structure
  • Free version: No (Two-week free trial)
  • More creative structure than competitors
  • Intuitive interface
  • Expansive feature set
  • Doesn’t work for everyone
  • Must pay more for advanced features

If you’re really tired of the straight-line structure mandated by other presentation software, Prezi gives you a little more freedom to build things your way. Prezi uses a topic-oriented form that allows you to easily string your ideas in an order that makes sense to you. The basic idea behind Prezi is that you create bubbles of individual content, and then you thread a path through those ideas to create a presentation with a physical form that’s more enticing and conversational than just a linear succession of slides.

While this unique approach makes Prezi a worthy alternative on its own, the app also boasts plenty of specialized features you’d want in a premium program, including a large asset library, social media integration, and collaboration support. 

Though any presentation software can work with Zoom via the screen-share function, Prezi features a very useful video call-focused mode, Prezi Video, which allows you to build a presentation as an overlay that appears in your Zoom window so people can see you and your slides.

Prezi’s freeform structure isn’t going to work for everyone, but if Powerpoint feels stifling, it might open new doors for you.

Best for Mac: Keynote

Keynote is the best presentation software for Mac.

Why it made the cut: Apple’s answer to PowerPoint might not be as popular as its competitor, but it’s still pretty powerful in its own right.

  • Platforms: macOS, iOS, Web
  • Suite or Standalone: Apple Software Suite
  • Special features: iCloud support, multiple formats
  • Free version: Yes (with an Apple account)
  • Familiar to most Mac users
  • Better asset library than most
  • No-frills feature set
  • Lacks unique selling points

If you’re a Mac user , you’ve probably at least considered using Keynote to put a presentation together. While all of the other programs on this list work on a Mac as web apps, Keynote is the only app made specifically for the platform.

Like PowerPoint, Keynote is a wide-reaching program designed to help anyone make a sharp-looking presentation, from students to professionals. It has a more robust feature set than other PowerPoint competitors–including better default templates, a bigger asset library, and desktop support. It doesn’t quite have the versatility of enterprise-facing apps like Canva, but you can put together a great-looking slideshow for school or a recurring meeting.

On the other hand, it can be a little tricky to pick up: The interface isn’t quite as intuitive as Google Slides, which is also free. If you have access to both, you get a choice: Build a more striking presentation in Keynote, or put something together quickly in Slides.

Beautiful.ai is the best presentation software for students.

Beautiful.ai

Why it made the cut: Beautiful.ai’s AI-powered presentations allow you to make a sharp slideshow in no time flat, and its generous free trial gives time to try it out.

  • Special features: AI integration
  • Clean interface
  • Modern features
  • Simple and effective
  • Expensive for what it is
  • Limited assets and templates

Looking to build a clean, modern presentation in as little time as possible? Beautiful.ai uses AI to help you build a visually stunning presentation in no time flat. While it’s less of a household name than our other picks, it’s the choice of many tech companies for its uncluttered interface, eye-catching templates, and overall no-fuss approach. 

Compared to PowerPoint or Canva, Beautiful.ai does not have a rich feature set or an infinite variety of template options. What the content library lacks in volume, it makes up for in style, though. Its appealing, elegant content elements lend themselves to clean, modern presentations. More importantly, the program’s AI assistant knows how to use those assets. It automatically tailors your slideshow’s design to fit the information you want to present, so you’ll wind up with something thoughtfully prepared before you know it.

Google Slides is the best free presentation software.

Why it made the cut: Google Slides is not only an excellent presentation program—it’s also one of the only ones actually free with no strings attached.

  • Platforms: Web, iOS, Android
  • Suite or standalone: Google Workspace
  • Special features: Easy collaboration, Google integration
  • Free for anyone with a Google account
  • Familiar interface
  • Easy to share and collaborate
  • Decent templates
  • Somewhat basic in functionality
  • Clunky for some users

When it comes to software, there’s “free to use,” and then there’s free. Most of the software on this list offers either a restricted free mode or a time-limited trial. Google Slides is actually free, fully free, for another with a Google account. And it holds its own, even compared to its premium competitors.

Google Slides feels like a simplified version of PowerPoint. It’s a little easier to learn the basics, but also offers fewer templates, screen transitions, and content. It also lacks a built-in asset library to fill dead space, though the program’s Google Drive integration makes it easy to add your own. Like most Google programs, it also supports add-ons that give it enhanced features, like the ability to solve equations within the slideshow.

If you’re looking to make an extremely sharp presentation, Google Slides will take a bit more effort than most. If you need to make a basic slideshow and you grew up on earlier versions of PowerPoint, you’ll feel right at home using Slides.

Q: What are the three most popular presentation software options?

Based on our research, the three most popular programs are Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Keynote, roughly in that order. PowerPoint is far more popular than the other two, though. All three are good options, depending on what you’re looking for. All things being equal, though, we recommend PowerPoint.

Q: How much does presentation software cost?

Generally, most of the programs listed here cost between $7 and $15 a month for their premium packages. However, Google Slides and Keynote are free, so we recommend those for customers on a budget.

Q: Is Canva better than PowerPoint?

Canva and PowerPoint are both great programs that offer about equal value. It’s much easier to create a beautiful, eye-catching presentation in Canva, but PowerPoint’s advanced features give you more options. If you need to make slick-looking professional presentations on a frequent basis, we recommend Canva for its superior ease-of-use.

Q: Does Adobe have presentation software?

Adobe had its own competitor to PowerPoint, Adobe Presenter. The company recently ended support for Presenter on June 1, 2022.

Final thoughts on the best presentation software

While everyone wants to use the best program for the job, the truth is that all presentation builders have a lot in common with each other. If you’re familiar with one, it often makes sense to stay put. Despite all the similarities, it can take some time to learn a new system. If you’re constrained and frustrated, or are using presentation software for the first time, you should consider a wide range of options beyond PowerPoint.

Though alternatives like Beautiful.ai, Canva, or (especially) Prezi cost a bit more, they each have strong features that may work better for your purposes. That said, sometimes the most popular presentation software options are the best. If you don’t have specific expectations or need to clear a high bar for design, PowerPoint and free options like Google Slides should work well, and have the benefit of wide adoption in corporate workplaces.

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The best presentation software

These powerpoint alternatives go beyond the basics..

Hero image with logos of the best presentation software

The latest presentation apps have made it easier than ever to format slides and create professional-looking slideshows without giving off a "this is a template" vibe. Even standard PowerPoint alternatives have updated key features to make it easier than ever to collaborate and create presentations quickly, so you can spend more time prepping for your actual presentation.

If, like me, you've been using Google Slides unquestioningly for years, it's a whole new world out there. The newest crop of online presentation tools go way beyond the classic slideshow experience, with new features to keep your audience's attention, streamline the creation process with AI, and turn slide decks into videos and interactive conversations.

I've been testing these apps for the past few years, and this time, I spent several days tinkering with the top presentation software solutions out there to bring you the best of the best.

Beautiful.ai for AI-powered design

Prezi for non-linear, conversational presentations

Powtoon for video presentations

Genially for interactive, presenter-less presentations

Pitch for collaborating with your team on presentations

Zoho Show for a simple presentation app

Gamma for generative AI features

What makes the best presentation app?

How we evaluate and test apps.

Our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. Unless explicitly stated, we spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog .

When looking for the best presentation apps, I wanted utility players. After all, slideshows are used for just about everything, from pitch decks and product launches to class lectures and church sermons. With that in mind, here's what I was looking for:

Pre-built templates. The best presentation tools should have attractive, professional-looking templates to build presentations in a hurry.

Sharing and collaboration options. Whether you plan to share your webinar slides later, or you just want to collaborate with a coworker on a presentation, it should be easy to share files and collaborate in real-time.

Flexibility and customization options. Templates are great, but top presentation apps should enable you to customize just about everything—giving you the flexibility to build exactly what you need.

Affordability. Creating compelling presentations is important, but you shouldn't have to bust your budget to make it happen. With capable free tools on the market, affordability is a top consideration.

Standalone functionality. There's no reason to use multiple tools when one can do it all, so I didn't test any apps that require and work on top of another presentation app like PowerPoint or Google Slides.

Familiar, deck-based UI. For our purposes here, I only tested software that uses slides, with the familiar deck-based editor you expect from a "presentation" tool (versus, for example, a video creation app).

While many apps now offer AI features in one way or another, I found many of these features to be lacking still—they're often slow, struggle to pull in relevant imagery, and yield wildly inconsistent designs. For that reason, I opted not to make AI features a strict requirement (for now!), and I've still included apps that don't offer AI. (Of course, if you opt for one of those, you can still easily get AI-generated images from a separate tool and copy them into your presentation app of choice.)

Beyond that, I also looked for presentation apps that brought something unique to the table—features above and beyond what you can get for free from a legacy solution like PowerPoint or Google Slides. (And I opted not to test any brand new apps that are still in beta, since there are so many established options out there.)

Here's what my testing workflow looked like:

I went through any onboarding or guided tutorials.

I created a new deck, scanning through all available templates, noting how well-designed they were (and which were free versus paid).

I added new slides, deleted slides, edited text and images, and played around with other content types.

I changed presentation design settings, like color schemes and background images.

I reviewed and tested the sharing and collaboration options.

I tested out presenter view (when available).

After my first round of testing, I went back into the top performers to test any unique or niche features like AI, brand settings, interactive content, and more. With that, these are the best presentation apps I found—each one really brings something different or radically easy to the table.

The best presentation software: at a glance

The best free presentation software, canva (web, windows, mac, android, ios).

Canva, our pick for the best free presentation app

Canva pros:

Excellent free plan

Tons of amazing templates for all use cases

Feature-rich

Canva cons:

The Magic Design AI tool is still inconsistent and not super impressive

Canva offers one of the most robust free plans of all the presentation apps I tested. The app delays account creation until after you've created your first design, so you can get started building your presentation in seconds. Choose from an almost overwhelming number of beautiful templates (nearly all available for free), including those designed specifically for education or business use cases.

Anyone who's accidentally scrolled too far and been bumped to the next slide will appreciate Canva's editor interface, which eliminates that problem altogether with a smooth scroll that doesn't jump around. Choose from a handful of preset animations to add life to your presentations, or browse the library of audio and video files available to add. And Canva also has a number of options for sharing your presentation, including adding collaborators to your team, sharing directly to social media, and even via QR code.

Present directly from Canva, and let audience members submit their questions via Canva Live. Once you share a link to invite audience members to your presentation, they can send questions for you to answer. As the presenter, you'll see them pop up in your presenter view window, so you can keep the audience engaged and your presentation clear. Alternatively, record a presentation with a talking head bubble—you can even use an AI presenter here—to share remotely.

Canvas has added a number of AI-powered tools , but I wasn't super impressed by them yet. When I asked the Magic Design tool to generate a presentation from scratch, for example, the result was a bunch of unrelated images, inconsistent design, and surface-level copy. These features will likely improve in time, but for now, you're better off starting from one of Canva's many great templates.

Canva pricing: Free plan available; paid plans start at $119.99/year for 1 user and include additional features like Brand Kit, premium templates and stock assets, and additional AI-powered design tools.

The best presentation app for AI-powered design

Beautiful.ai (web, mac, windows).

Beautiful.ai pros:

True AI design

No fussing around with alignment

Still allows for customization

Beautiful.ai cons:

No free plan

Generative AI features aren't great yet

If you're like me, editing granular spacing issues is the absolute worst part of building a presentation. Beautiful.ai uses artificial intelligence to take a lot of the hassle and granular design requirements out of the presentation process, so you can focus on the content of a presentation without sacrificing professional design. If I needed to make presentations on a regular basis, this is the app I'd use.

Many apps have recently added AI design features, but Beautiful.ai has been doing it for years—and they've perfected the UX of AI design, ensuring the tool's reign as the most streamlined and user-friendly option for AI design.

The editor is a little different from most presentation apps, but it's still intuitive—and you'll start off with a quick two-minute tutorial. When creating a new slide, scroll through "inspiration slides" to find a layout you like; once you choose, the app will pull the layout and automatically adapt it to match the design of the rest of your presentation.

With 10 themes, several templated slides, over 40 fully-designed templates, and 23 different color palettes to choose from, Beautiful.ai strikes a perfect balance between automation and customization.

While Beautiful.ai doesn't offer a free plan, paid plans are reasonably priced and offer sharing and collaboration options that rival collab-focused apps like Google Slides. And speaking of Google, you can connect Beautiful.ai with Google Drive to save all your presentations there.

Note: I did test the newly released generative AI feature (called DesignerBot) and felt it wasn't much to write home about. It's great for adding individual slides to an existing presentation—automatically choosing the best layout and matching the design to the rest of the deck—but as with most other apps, it struggled to generate a quality presentation from scratch.

Beautiful.ai pricing: Plans start at $12/month for unlimited slides, AI content generation, viewer analytics, and more. Upgrade to a Team plan for $40/user/month to get extra collaboration and workspace features and custom brand controls.

If you're a founder looking for an AI presentation tool for your pitch deck, Slidebean is a great Beautiful.ai alternative for startups. The app offers a number of templates; a unique, content-first outline editor; and AI design help that you can toggle on or off for each slide. I didn't include it on the list mainly because of the price: the free plan is quite limited, and the paid all-access plan starts at $228/year.

The best presentation app for conversational presentations

Prezi (web, mac, windows, ios, android).

Prezi interface

Prezi pros:

Doesn't restrict you to standard presentation structure

Lots of customization options

Prezi Video lets you display a presentation right over your webcam video

Prezi cons:

Steep learning curve

Struggling to squeeze information into a basic, linear presentation? Give Prezi a try. Unlike nearly all other presentation apps on the market, Prezi Present doesn't restrict the structure of your presentation to a straight line. The editor focuses on topics and subtopics and allows you to arrange them any way you want, so you can create a more conversational flow of information.

With the structural flexibility, you still get all the same customization features you expect from top presentation software, including fully-editable templates. There's a learning curve if you're unfamiliar with non-linear presentations, but templates offer a great jumping-off point, and Prezi's editor does a good job of making the process more approachable.

Plus, Prezi comes with two other apps: Prezi Design and Prezi Video. Prezi Video helps you take remote presentations to a new level. You can record a video where the presentation elements are displayed right over your webcam feed. Record and save the video to share later, or connect with your video conferencing tool of choice (including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet) to present live.

Prezi pricing: Free 14-day trial and a free plan that includes up to 5 visual projects; paid plans start at $5/month and include additional features like private presentations and Prezi Present.

The best presentation app for video presentations

Powtoon (web, ios, android).

Powtoon pros:

Timing automatically changes based on the content on the slide

Can toggle between slideshow and video

Can orient presentation as horizontal, vertical, or square

Powtoon cons:

Limited free plan

Powtoon makes it easy to create engaging videos by orienting the editor around a slide deck. Editing a Powtoon feels just like editing a presentation, but by the time you finish, you have a professional video. 

You can edit your slides at any time, and when you hit play, a video plays through your deck—the feel is almost like an animated explainer video. Each slide includes the animations you choose and takes up as much time as is needed based on the content on the slide. Powtoon figures the timing automatically, and you can see in the bottom-right of the editor how much time is used on your current slide versus the total presentation. If you ever want to present as a slide deck, just toggle between Slideshow and Movie.

You'll likely need to subscribe to a paid plan to get the most out of Powtoon—like creating videos longer than three minutes, downloading them as MP4 files, and white-labeling your presentations—but doing so won't break the bank. Plus, you'll unlock tons of templates complete with animations and soundtracks.

One of my favorite Powtoon features is the ability to orient your video: you can choose horizontal orientation (like a normal presentation) or opt for vertical (for mobile) or square (for social media). When your presentation is ready, you can publish straight to YouTube, Wistia, Facebook Ads, and any number of other locations.

Powtoon pricing: Limited free plan available; paid plans start at $20/month and include white-labeling, priority support, additional storage, and more.

The best presentation app for interactive presentations

Genially (web).

Genially, our pick for the best presentation app for interactive presentations

Genially pros:

Don't need a presenter (it's interactive)

You can set universal branding guidelines

Unlimited creations on the free plan

Genially cons:

Free plan has some limitations worth looking into (e.g., can only make public presentations)

While many presentation apps are built for presenter-led decks, Genially 's interactive features and animated templates make it easy to build a self-led presentation. A variety of interactive buttons allow you to show viewers additional context on hover, have them skip to any page of your deck, and let them navigate to external links.

This presentation program offers a bunch of searchable templates, including some for business proposals, reports, social media presentations, and more (though most of those are available on premium plans only). Genially also includes Smart blocks —templated blocks of content for elements like data visualizations and image galleries.

My favorite feature is the brand settings. Premium users can set universal branding guidelines that include your logo, color scheme, fonts, images, and backgrounds, among other options. Think of them like a custom template, created and customized by you, that the whole team can use. Once set, your team can easily create on-brand presentations that automatically apply your brand settings, without even thinking about it.

Plus, Genially supports additional content like training materials, infographics, and interactive images—all subject to your brand presets.

Genially pricing: Free plan available with unlimited creations and views and access to templates; paid plans start at $7.49/month and include additional download options, privacy controls, offline viewing, premium templates, and more.

The best presentation app for collaborating with your team

Pitch (web, mac, windows, ios, android).

Pitch, our pick for the best presentation software for collaborating with your team

Pitch pros:

Google levels of collaboration

Assign slides to specific team members

Start live video calls straight from decks

Pitch cons:

User interface is a little different than you're used to

Need to collaborate on presentations with your team? Pitch is a Google Slides alternative that gets the job done. As far as decks go, Pitch includes all the beautifully-designed templates, customizability, and ease of use you expect from a top-notch presentation tool. But the app really shines when you add your team.

The right-hand sidebar is all about project management and collaboration: you can set and update the status of your deck, assign entire presentations or individual slides to team members, plus comment, react, or add notes. Save custom templates to make future presentations even easier and faster.

You can also invite collaborators from outside your company to work with you on individual decks. And if you opt for a paid plan, Pitch introduces workspace roles, shared private folders, and version history.

The "Go live" feature is a personal favorite—with just a click on the camera icon in the top-right, you can start a live video call. Any team members who open the presentation can hop in and collaborate in real-time. 

Pitch pricing: Free plan offers unlimited presentations, custom templates, and live video collaboration; paid plans start at $8/user/month for additional workspace features, presentation analytics, and more.

The best simple presentation app

Zoho show (web, ios, android, chrome).

Zoho Show, our pick for the best simple presentation app

Zoho Show pros:

Simple and easy to use

Version history and ability to lock slides

Completely free

Zoho Show cons:

Templates are pretty basic

If you're looking for a simple, yet capable presentation app that's a step up from Google Slides, Zoho Show is a great option. It's completely free to use, offers a clean, intuitive editor, and includes a number of great templates.

While the handful of "Themes" offered are on the basic side, Zoho templates boast a more modern and professional design than much of what Google Slides or PowerPoint offer. And I love that you can set the font and color scheme for the whole template, right from the start.

The app doesn't skimp on collaboration or shareability either. You can invite collaborators via email or shareable link, and comments and version history make it easy to work together on presentations. Once you're ready to share, you can even broadcast your presentation to a remote audience right from within Zoho. Plus, you can one-click lock slides to prevent any more editing or hide individual slides to customize your presentation for different audiences.

You can even connect Zoho Show to Zapier , so you can do things like automatically create a presentation when something happens in one of the other apps you use most.

Zapier is the leader in workflow automation—integrating with 6,000+ apps from partners like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Use interfaces, data tables, and logic to build secure, automated systems for your business-critical workflows across your organization's technology stack. Learn more .

Zoho Show pricing: Free

The best presentation app for generative AI

Gamma (web).

Gamma, our pick for the best presentation app for generative AI

Gamma pros:

Creates fully fleshed-out presentations from a prompt

Chatbot-like experience

Can still manually edit the presentation

Gamma cons:

Not as much granular customization

I tested a lot of apps claiming to use AI to up your presentation game, and Gamma 's generative features were head and shoulders above the crowd.

Simply give the app a topic—or upload an outline, notes, or any other document or article—approve the outline, and pick a theme. The app will take it from there and create a fully fleshed-out presentation. It's far from perfect, but Gamma produced the most useful jumping-off point of all the AI presentation apps I tested. 

Here's the key: Gamma is much more geared toward the iterative, chatbot experience familiar to ChatGPT users. Click on the Edit with AI button at the top of the right-hand menu to open the chat, and you'll see suggested prompts—or you can type in your own requests for how Gamma should alter the presentation.

Once you've done all you can with prompts, simply close the chat box to manually add the finishing touches. While you do sacrifice some granular customizability in exchange for the AI features, you can still choose your visual theme, change slide layouts, format text, and add any images, videos, or even app and web content.

Gamma pricing: Free plan includes unlimited users, 1 custom theme, 400 AI deck credits, and basic view analytics; upgrade to the Pro plan ("coming soon," as of this writing) for $10/user/month to get additional AI credits, advanced view analytics, custom fonts, and more.

What about the old standbys?

You might notice a few major presentation players aren't on this list, including OGs Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, and Google Slides. These apps are perfectly adequate for creating basic presentations, and they're free if you have a Windows or Mac device or a Google account.

I didn't include them on the list because the presentation space has really developed in the last several years, and after testing them out, I found these behemoths haven't kept pace. If they weren't made by Microsoft/Apple/Google, I might not even be mentioning them. They're pretty basic tools, they're behind the curve when it comes to templates (both quantity and design), and they don't offer any uniquely valuable features like robust team collaboration, branding controls, video, and so on.

Some of these companies (think: Microsoft and Google) are openly working on some pretty impressive-sounding AI features, but they haven't been widely released to the public yet. Rest assured, I'm watching this space, and the next time we update this article, I'll retest tools like PowerPoint and Google Slides to see what new features are available.

In any case, if you're reading this, you're probably looking for an alternative that allows you to move away from one of the big 3, and as the presentation platforms featured above show, there's a ton to gain—in terms of features, usability, and more—when you do.

Related reading:

8 Canva AI tools to improve your design workflow

The best online whiteboards for collaboration

How to share a presentation on Zoom without sharing your browser tabs and address bar

This post was originally published in October 2014 and has since been updated with contributions from Danny Schreiber, Matthew Guay, Andrew Kunesh, and Krystina Martinez. The most recent update was in May 2023.

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Kiera Abbamonte

Kiera’s a content writer who helps SaaS and eCommerce companies connect with customers and reach new audiences. Located in Boston, MA, she loves cinnamon coffee and a good baseball game. Catch up with her on Twitter @Kieraabbamonte.

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Best Presentation Software of 2024

Table of Contents

  • Best Presentation Software
  • Things To Consider When Buying
  • How We Chose

Everyone has a message to share in some form. With presentation software, you can communicate that message a little easier and with more spark. If you don't have design and animation skills, don't worry; apps like Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint make it easy to craft a slideshow that helps people understand the concepts you're trying to convey.

Many of the apps in this buyers' guide are geared toward business presentations since that is often the primary use case. However, a few provide some slick tools for educators, entrepreneurs, community groups, and even family members to make a photo slideshow for a family reunion. Read on for the best presentation software available today.

  • Best Overall: Google Slides »
  • Most Compatible: Microsoft PowerPoint »
  • Best For Mac Users: Apple Keynote »
  • Most Flexible: Prezi »
  • Best Budget: Visme »
  • Best For Entrepreneurs: Slidebean »
  • Most Powerful: Canva »

Google Slides Logo

Best Overall: Google Slides

Highly integrated With Other Apps

Totally free

Not integrated with Microsoft products

Minimal support

When Google Slides debuted in 2006, it took the world by storm. That’s because it was integrated even back then with Gmail, Google Docs, and other popular Google apps many of us use in business, at school, and in our personal lives.

Google Slides is entirely free, and there are no hidden costs or upgrade plans. What’s surprising, though, about Google Slides is that it is a highly capable app for presentations – easy to use, with plenty of templates, fonts, animation options, and integrations.

Apart from that, the key feature here is real-time collaboration. Other users can join you as you create and edit slides. They can comment and make suggested changes, or simply start editing the slides on their own. (You can decide if other users can suggest changes or make them directly.) You also can view speaker notes on a laptop when you run the slideshow on an HDTV or projector. Google Slides integrates nicely into the online meeting app Google Meet, and it can open Microsoft PowerPoint files and export in that format as well.

Overall, Google Slides wins extra points because of how intuitive it is. There’s hardly any learning curve with the app, and since it runs in a browser window, everything you create and edit will be saved automatically. For business users, teachers, or just about anyone in a hurry to share a complex message, creating a Google Slides presentation is a snap – which is why it is our overall top pick.

Specifications:

  • Operating systems are supported: Windows, Mac, Web, iOS, Android, Linux
  • Number of templates and designs available: 23
  • Integrated apps: Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, Box, LumApps
  • Collaboration features: Live editing, suggested edits
  • Multimedia supported: Photos, videos, audio, GIFs, and stickers
  • Export options: PDF, PowerPoint, Webpage, JPEG
  • Customer support options: Google Workspace only
  • Added features: Google Duet AI
  • Interface enhancements: Real-time editing and collaboration

Microsoft PowerPoint Logo

Most Compatible: Microsoft PowerPoint

Highly compatible

Online and desktop versions

Easy to use

No free version

Templates are not as trendy

Microsoft PowerPoint is the app you want for compatibility with other apps and programs. Released in 1990, this presentation app is well-known in business circles and runs on just about any computer in the world. Because it’s so compatible, you will likely not have any trouble running the app on your phone or a tablet, in a browser, or even on seriously outdated PC laptops and desktops.

While apps like Prezi add slick animations and transitions that make a presentation come to life, PowerPoint is more like a trusted business partner; it works on just about any computer, the interface is well-known and straightforward, and it’s likely that everyone you know and collaborate with is already familiar with the app. Every other presentation app we reviewed also supports PowerPoint in terms of directly opening or importing the file, and exporting as a PowerPoint file.

You'll need a Microsoft 365 Personal Edition subscription to use PowerPoint. It may be an app that’s already installed and included with a new computer, at least for a trial period.

  • Operating systems are supported: Windows, Mac, Web, iOS, Android
  • Integrated apps: Adobe PDF, Shutterstock, YouTube, and many others
  • Multimedia supported: Photos, videos, audio
  • Export options: PowerPoint, XML, PDF, JPEG, and many more
  • Customer support options: Personal or business support
  • Added features: Integrated live camera, Microsoft Teams integration
  • Interface enhancements: Microsoft Copilot, speaker coach

Apple Keynote Logo

Best For Mac Users: Apple Keynote

Exceptional designs

Desktop only

Graphic designers love Apple Keynote, mostly because the included templates and design options are so stellar. Your presentation will really come to life, helping you communicate about even complex subjects with flair and a trendy look.

Using the app feels a bit like you're the late Steve Jobs creating an award-winning presentation that will grab an audience. Jobs had a way of captivating those in the audience, and Keynote helps you do that with some of the best presentation templates around. For example, there are 40 templates to choose from, many of them full of color and using the trendiest fonts. Keynote also includes 100 transitions and animations to liven up a presentation. The app also includes 700 different shapes and icons that will help you enhance your slides.

Apple Keynote is powerful enough for any user, but it’s important to know the limitations. For starters, Keynote only runs on Mac computers. That makes it less compatible with Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint. You can export the presentation from Keynote as a PowerPoint file, which is fine, but it means no one can edit the Keynote slides directly; they will have to use PowerPoint.

Keynote also only runs as a desktop app. That means you won’t benefit from the live editing and commenting features of Google Slides, where you can collaborate with anyone in real time on the same file. Instead, Keynote is more static, as slideshows can't be edited as a group in a browser window. It’s still incredibly powerful and intuitive but with a few key downsides.

  • Operating systems are supported: Mac, iOS
  • Number of templates and designs available: 50
  • Integrated apps: FaceTime, WebEx, Zoom, iCloud
  • Collaboration features: Collaborate through iCloud
  • Multimedia supported: Video, audio, images, 3D objects, stickers
  • Export options: PDF, PowerPoint, Movies, animated GIFs, images
  • Customer support options: Online help, support communities
  • Added features: Cinematic transitions, Keynote Remote on iPhone
  • Interface enhancements: Inspectors help with formatting

Prezi Logo

Most Flexible: Prezi

Unique concept

Trendy visuals

Unique design templates

Harder to learn

There’s something very compelling about Prezi, the presentation app that provides the most flexibility in terms of the message you are communicating. For starters, this is an app that knows it’s all about the message, whether you're an educator, business owner, entrepreneur, or even a scientist or engineer. Instead of a slideshow, you create a “canvas” with topics and subtopics. Think of it as a way to augment what you are saying with animated annotations, swoosh effects, and charts.

Prezi is the best at guiding you to the most powerful design features and giving you the tools to make even a complex subject more interesting and easier to understand. Part of this extreme flexibility has to do with how you're not creating slides at all, but enhancing a topic. Another way to think of Prezi is more like an animated whiteboard; when you show a presentation, it can come to life as you speak through a webcam.

All of this flexibility means you aren't limited to a boring slideshow, although there may be times when you are asked to make a slideshow and nothing more. For example, a school assignment or a boss might dictate that you need to create basic slides, not an animated whiteboard session. This is where you have to decide if Prezi matches the goals of the message you are communicating about.

  • Pricing options and plans: Standard ($7/month), Plus ($15/month), Premium ($19/month)
  • Operating systems are supported: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Number of templates and designs available: 210+
  • Integrated apps: Google Drive, Slack, Canva, Zoom
  • Collaboration features: Real-time editing, comments
  • Multimedia supported: Photos, icons, video, GIF
  • Export options: PNG, JPG, PDF, GIF, and MP4.
  • Customer support options: Knowledgebase, online support
  • Added features: Offline mode, analytics
  • Interface enhancements: Broadcast link, tool tips

Best Budget: Visme

Free version available

Added visual tools

Good overall value

It takes more time to learn

Expensive pro plans

Visme is the best budget option because there is a free version that still provides many of the features you might need. It’s also a good value, because (similar to Canva) you can access all of the graphic design features to create infographics, brochures, logos, and rich documents all without paying for the premium version.

Even more important, Visme is a good value if you do choose the Starter or Pro plans because you can then unlock advanced features you might only find in Adobe Visual products. For example, at the Pro level, you can create an entire brand kit for a company including logos, brochures, and flyers that all have the same look.

While it's called an all-in-one marketing design platform and has hints of Canva, the first tool you would likely use is for creating presentations (e.g., It's the most prominent tool listed on their site). Because everything is geared more toward marketing and sales, Visme templates emphasize things like growth metrics, charts, and bullet points used to explain a product or service. Visme is also meant more for a group of business users. You can collaborate in real-time, leave comments on presentations, and even follow a workflow to mark presentation tasks as in progress or done.

Like Canva, because the Visme app is part of a suite of visual design products, it might take a little more time to learn all of the added tools. The presentation tool is just one of many included, even if this tool alone is easy to learn.

Visme is an extensive product with an upgrade path that unlocks more templates, customer support, and more supported file formats. Overall, it’s a good value because you can still create presentations without having to pay extra.

  • Operating systems are supported: Mac, PC, iOS, Android
  • Number of templates and designs available: 13,000
  • Integrated apps: Google Drive, Vimeo, Dropbox, Survey Monkey, and many more
  • Collaboration features: Real-time collaboration, assign tasks
  • Multimedia supported: Photos, videos, audio, GIFs, 3D graphics
  • Export options: JPEG, PNG, PDF, MP4, GIF, PPTX, HTML5
  • Customer support options: Email, chat, in-app
  • Added features: AI features, forms
  • Interface enhancements: Tool tips, video training

Slidebean Logo

Best For Entrepreneurs: Slidebean

Design for entrepreneurs and salespeople

Unique features

Not as powerful as some

Not as well-known

Most presentation software is flexible and powerful enough for any message and for any purpose. However, Slidebean focuses on a more narrow segment. The app is designed to create a “pitch deck,” which is something an entrepreneur or salesperson uses to pitch a product.

For example, let’s say your company sells a new widget. Using Slidebean, you can explain the features and benefits, include a slide about pricing, and use the tools that are intended more for selling a concept than perhaps merely explaining it.

Once you finish creating the pitch deck, you can share it as a link for others to view. You can then measure how much time people spend viewing the slides, including time spent on specific slides in the presentation. Another major differentiator with Slidebean is that you can work with professional designers and writers (for a fee, of course) who will create the pitch desk and write all of the copy for you.

  • Operating systems are supported: Windows and Mac browsers
  • Number of templates and designs available: 160
  • Integrated apps: None
  • Collaboration features: Editing (not simultaneous), sharing
  • Multimedia supported: Images, icons, GIFs
  • Export options: PPT, PDF, and HTML
  • Customer support options: Knowledgebase
  • Added features: Consult with experts, finance templates
  • Interface enhancements: Startup video lessons

Canva Logo

Most Powerful: Canva

Thousand of templates

Integrates with other Canva tools

Limited export options

Known as an “online graphical design platform” for everyday users, Canva provides plenty of tools for creating logos, brochures, postcards, and presentations.

Because these tools are all integrated, Canva is powerful enough for any message you want to communicate. It’s ideal for business, personal use, and schools. If you decide to build a presentation, you can also incorporate logos, fonts, clip art, and animations that are built into Canva. It means the palette for creating a presentation is more flexible because all of the other design tools are right at your fingertips. Let’s say you want to create a pitch deck about a new startup. You can create the logo, choose the colors and fonts, and then create the slideshow. Most presentation apps in our buyers' guide other than Visme don’t provide this level of flexibility and power in one online app.

Canva lets you run the presentation from within Canva itself, or you can export the slides and use them in Microsoft PowerPoint. There are thousands of templates available. Once you select a look and feel for your presentation, you can pivot and use those same graphics, fonts, and designs in a brochure or other material.

With all of this power in terms of visual design software comes a slight learning curve. Canva is intuitive and the interface is well-designed, but there are so many tools available that it takes some time to learn them all.

  • Operating systems are supported: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, browser
  • Number of templates and designs available: Thousands
  • Integrated apps: Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, HubSpot, and many more
  • Collaboration features: Real-time editing, whiteboards
  • Multimedia supported : Photos, icons, graphics, data visualizations, media elements
  • Export options: PDF, JPG, PNG, PPTX, MP4
  • Customer support options: Email
  • Added features: Magic Switch, Magic Write, Magic Animate
  • Interface enhancements: Search for designs, generate with Magic Design

The Bottom Line

If you're short on time and just need to create a presentation without a lot of hassle, Google Slides is the app for you. It’s completely free without any trial versions of “pro” upgrades, yet it's also quite powerful and intuitive to learn. Google Slides is also our top pick because it integrates into other Google apps like Gmail and Google Docs, is widely used and highly compatible, and still gets the job done when the main goal is to finish a slideshow and share your message.

Things To Consider When Buying Presentation Software

Features and functionality: When it comes to presentation software, it’s all about the templates. As you are considering which app to use, it’s a good idea to evaluate which templates are available and if they meet your needs. We’ve also noted how many templates are included with each app. Beyond that, look for the supported file formats since that will determine who can use and open the presentation. Collaboration features are also important, making it easier to work on a presentation within a group and make comments for everyone to see.

Ease of use and user interface: Creating a presentation shouldn't feel cumbersome. When you start the app, it should be easy to create the first slide from a template, add more slides, fill in the text and images, and finish the entire project without having to learn complex features. Apple Keynote is a good example of an app that's intuitive at first, and then you can always explore more advanced features later on.

Compatibility with different file formats: The most well-known presentation app is Microsoft PowerPoint. So it’s important that the app you choose supports the popular PowerPoint format. Beyond that, look for software that also supports PDF files in case you want a printed version of your slideshow or to share it online.

Collaboration and sharing capabilities: With presentation software, being able to work on a slideshow with a group of people all at the same time can be a time-saver but also produce better results. It should also be easy to leave comments for others to review. Once you're done with the presentation, it should also be easy to share the file or an online version of the presentation with others.

Customization options for design and branding: Visme and Canva allow you to customize the graphics and even make logos and experiment with a variety of fonts. All presentation apps provide ways to edit graphics, resize photos, and even incorporate video into your slideshow. Not every app makes it as easy to edit graphics as Google Slides does, however.

Availability of templates and pre-designed layouts: As with many software programs, templates save time and effort. An app like Microsoft PowerPoint includes pre-designed templates and graphics you can use to enhance a slideshow. Visme is a good example of an app with extensive templates (it has thousands built-in). While Apple Keynote doesn't have as many templates, the ones that are included tend to be more well-designed and trendy.

Pricing and licensing: Most presentation apps offer a monthly subscription to help you get started making a slideshow. In some cases, such as Visme and Slidebean, there’s a basic free version to help you experiment with the app right away. Only Google Slides is entirely free with no extra pricing options. Microsoft also offers a fully licensed version of PowerPoint as opposed to paying for a monthly subscription. The full licensed version costs $159.99.

Customer support and training resources: Microsoft is arguably one of the best companies to choose if you're interested in customer support. Because the product costs a little more – especially if you purchase the full licensed version – it includes extensive technical support. That said, even though Google Slides is free and customer support can be hit or miss, there are so many people using that product that you can usually find answers to questions by doing a simple Google search or asking on public support forums. Also, training videos are more readily available for Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint because they're both so popular.

Integration with other software and tools: Integration is key when it comes to presentation software because you want to be able to access important graphics, photos, and videos easily. Canva is perhaps the most integrated option for that reason alone. It's a graphics platform for creating graphics and other design materials, so when you make a presentation, you can easily find what you need.

Security and privacy features: Security and privacy might not be the first concern when it comes to presentation software, since you might be making a simple how-to for employee orientation or a photo slideshow of your vacation. However, for a business creating a new product or for a new startup that has not launched yet, be sure there is a way to protect your presentation from prying eyes.

How We Chose The Best Presentation Software

Our contributor John Brandon poured over specifications and features for the best presentation software around. He’s used presentation apps since the debut of Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides. He also consulted with business owners who have started companies and need to communicate about their firms. This includes David Ciccarelli, an entrepreneur who started a company called Voices (an audio and video tech startup) and is the CEO of Lake , a vacation rental business. He also tapped Stephen Gagnon, a web designer with the search engine optimization company Web Scour , who has visual design and branding experience.

WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST US?

John Brandon worked in the corporate world for 10 years, often creating presentations for large teams and at corporate functions. He worked as an Information Design Director at Best Buy Corporation. Since then, he has tested and reviewed thousands of tech products including presentation apps, Wi-Fi routers, televisions, office products, and everything in between. His writing has appeared in Wired magazine, Inc. magazine, FoxNews.com, LAPTOP magazine, and many others.

For anyone who wants to communicate about a new product or service, help new employees with onboarding, or even share photos from a recent vacation, presentation software helps you communicate visually. The basic idea is that you can create a slideshow that augments and enhances what you have to say.

Presentation software is designed to help you communicate a message to an audience, either in a classroom, a conference room, or at home. You create a slideshow, insert graphics, photos, and videos, and then run the slideshow full-screen. When you run the presentation, you can click the mouse button or press the arrow keys on a computer to go back and forth in the slideshow.

Most modern presentation apps charge a monthly fee, usually around $8 or $12 per month. Google Slides is the exception to this rule since it is entirely free. Typically, with higher costs for the pro and premium plans, you gain access to more templates, more graphics, and the ability to export in more file formats, such as HTML or video files. At the high end, Microsoft PowerPoint also offers a fully licensed version, as opposed to a monthly charge.

The classic, tried-and-true presentation apps like Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote are available as a desktop version you install. In most cases, you will sign up for the app and then download the installation file and run that installer. However, more modern apps like Google Slides and Canva run in a browser window and don't require any installation.

PowerPoint is sometimes included on a Windows laptop. However, if you're looking for a fresh start with new templates and features for animation and video that go beyond PowerPoint and Keynote, you might consider upgrading. Also, presentation tools are now included in apps like Canva and Visme, making them more integrated.

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

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12 Best Presentation Software for 2024

By Krystle Wong , Jan 12, 2024

12 Best Presentation Software

Whether you’re a student, professional or entrepreneur, having access to the right presentation tools can make all the difference.

When you craft a well-executed presentation , your message becomes more memorable. You’re not just sharing information; you’re weaving a story, painting a picture and leaving a lasting impact on your audience’s minds. 

We’re living in the age of information overload, where attention spans are shorter than ever. A good presentation slide takes this into account, breaking down complex information into bite-sized chunks. It guides your audience through a logical flow, allowing them to digest information effortlessly and retain key points without feeling overwhelmed.

To help you stay ahead of the game, I’ve compiled a list of the 12 best software for presentations. These PowerPoint alternatives offer a combination of user-friendly interfaces, stunning visuals, collaboration features and innovative functionalities that will take your presentations to the next level. 

Let’s dive in and explore these top presentation software picks!

1. Venngage 

Venngage

Allow me to be a little bit biased here but my top pick is none other than, you guessed it — Venngage! Venngage goes beyond just presentations to focus on data visualization and transforming complex information into visually appealing and engaging visuals. 

One of the standout features of Venngage as a presentation software is the extensive library of infographic elements. Gain access to a wide range of pre-designed elements such as icons, charts, maps as well as illustrations to simplify the process of creating data-driven and visually appealing presentations.

You don’t have to be a pro when designing with Venngage. Venngage’s drag-and-drop interface allows you to customize your presentations by simply dragging and dropping elements onto the canvas. You can tweak sizes, colors and layouts with ease, making your presentations visually cohesive and personalized, even if you’re not a design wizard. 

Just so you know, some of our features and templates are free to use and some require a small monthly fee. Sign-up is completely free, as is access to Venngage’s online drag-and-drop editor. Here’s how Venngage’s presentation maker can become your secret weapon in the quest for presentation success.

Vast selection of templates

Venngage boasts an extensive library of professionally designed templates, catering to a wide range of industries and presentation purposes. Whether you’re creating a marketing report, educational presentation or business pitch, Venngage’s presentation tool offers templates that provide a solid foundation for your designs. 

Save 20+ hours of designing with Venngage’s fully customizable, pre-designed infographic templates. These presentation templates provide a good foundation with well-structured layouts and visually appealing aesthetics. 

Presentation templates

Data visualization made easy

Venngage simplifies the process of data visualization, making it accessible to users of all backgrounds. With a few clicks, you can transform dull statistics into visually engaging charts and graphs that tell a compelling story.

Data visualization

Seamless real-time in-editor collaboration tools

Venngage brings teamwork to the next level with our seamless collaboration tools designed to foster collaboration across teams, departments and the entire organization. Whether you’re in the same room or across the globe, Venngage enables real-time collaboration that makes working together becomes a breeze. 

Consistently brand your designs with smart Autobrand features

Effortlessly infuse your presentation slides with your brand’s colors, fonts and logos with Venngage’s My Brand Kit . Upload your brand assets and create engaging presentations by applying your branding to any template you create on Venngage.

Who is it for

Marketers, designers, educators and businesses that require data-driven and visually appealing presentations.

Key features 

Infographic elements, data visualization tools, collaboration options, customizable templates.

Create your first 5 designs with Venngage for free and upgrade to a premium or business plan for $10 USD/month per user and $24 USD/month per user to enjoy premium features. For larger teams who need extra support, controls and security, the enterprise plan starts from $499 USD/month for 10+ seats.

Additionally, there are also plans available for classrooms priced at $99 USD/year for up to 35 students per instructor. Non profit organizations can also apply for a nonprofit discount to any Venngage plan.

2. Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint

Source: Screenshot from Microsoft PowerPoint

Even with dozens of presentation software and tools out there, PowerPoint presentations have stood the test of time as one of the best presentation software. In fact, 89% of people still use PowerPoint presentations over competitor services . 

Whether you’re a student, teacher, business professional or just a creative soul, PowerPoint’s user-friendly interface allows both beginners and experienced users to create presentations with ease.

PowerPoint delivers captivating and engaging presentations through its advanced animation and transition effects. You can create interactive PowerPoint presentations by captivating your audience and guiding them through your content with seamless transitions and eye-catching animations. 

Seamless integration with other Microsoft Office tools is another significant advantage of PowerPoint as a presentation software. As part of the Microsoft Office suite, PowerPoint effortlessly integrates with other familiar applications such as Word and Excel. This integration allows you to incorporate charts, graphs and written content from these tools directly into your presentation. 

However, collaboration features in PowerPoint can be somewhat limited compared to dedicated collaboration platforms. While you can share and co-edit presentations with others, the collaboration options may not be as robust as those offered by specialized presentation tools.

Suitable for individuals, students, educators and businesses of all sizes.

Customizable templates, multimedia support, extensive slide editing options, robust animations and transitions.

You can subscribe to PowerPoint as part of your Microsoft 365 subscription with various plans tailored for businesses, ranging from $6 to $22 USD/month. Additionally, there is also the option to purchase an unbundled PowerPoint account separately, priced at $159.99 USD.

3. Google Slides

Google Slides

Source: Screenshot from Google Slides

Unlike PowerPoint which requires file sharing and manual syncing for teamwork, Google Slides enables real-time collaboration and easy access from any device with an internet connection. 

Google Slides shines in its seamless collaboration capabilities. Multiple users can work on the same presentation simultaneously, enabling real-time editing and fostering efficient teamwork. The integrated commenting feature on Google Slides allows for shared feedback and discussions, enhancing collaboration even further.

Google Slides’ cloud-based storage and auto-saving feature ensures that your work is constantly saved, minimizing the risk of losing progress or important changes. No more panicking over unsaved slides and changes. 

But that also means that Google Slides heavily relies on an internet connection for full functionality and access is more limited compared to desktop-based software. Although an offline mode is available, Google Slides has certain limitations and may not provide the same level of functionality as when connected to the internet.

Templates and customization features-wise, Google Slides also have fewer design options compared to other presentation tools. This may limit the level of visual creativity and flexibility for those seeking intricate designs or specialized effects.

Ideal for remote teams, educators, students and anyone looking for easy collaboration and access from any device.

Real-time collaboration, shared commenting, offline mode and built-in sharing options.

Google Slides is accessible to all individuals with a Google account at no cost, providing all users with access to its full range of features. However, for businesses and teams looking for additional organizational capabilities, there are subscription plans available ranging from $6 to $18 USD/month.

4. Keynote (for Mac users)

Keynote

Source: Screenshot from Keynote

For Apple users, Keynote is a presentation tool designed exclusively for your Apple devices and is available on macOS, iOS and iPadOS. Keynote is known for its sleek and intuitive interface, reflecting Apple’s design aesthetics. 

It offers visually appealing templates, animations, and transitions, allowing users to create polished and modern-looking presentations. Keynote users can seamlessly incorporate images, videos, audio files and interactive elements into their presentations. The presentation software also includes a wide range of animations and transitions, enabling smooth and cinematic effects that bring slides to life.

Keynote presentations is known for its seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem. It works effortlessly with other Apple applications, allowing users to combine different elements and data from various sources. Presentations created in Keynote can be easily shared and accessed across Apple devices, ensuring a consistent experience for both the presenter and the audience.

Additionally, Keynote as a presentation software offers collaborative editing capabilities, enabling multiple users to work on the same presentation simultaneously. Users can share their presentations with others, who can then provide feedback, make edits and contribute to the project in real-time.

That said, since Keynote is exclusively designed for Apple devices, it may not be accessible or fully compatible with non-Apple platforms. Hence, sharing presentations created in Keynote with users on different platforms may require exporting or converting the files to a compatible format, which can lead to potential formatting issues or loss of certain features.

Mac users, creatives, professionals, educators and anyone who wants visually stunning presentations.

Elegant templates, advanced multimedia options, cinematic transitions and collaborative editing.

Keynote is available for free on Apple devices, including macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. As it comes pre-installed with these devices, users can access and use Keynote without any additional cost.

Prezi

Source: Screenshot from Prezi

Known for its distinctive zooming presentation style, Prezi revolutionizes the way you create presentations by offering a visually engaging and non-linear approach. 

One of Prezi’s renowned features is its unique zooming and transition effects, allowing presenters to navigate through a virtual canvas seamlessly. This dynamic presentation style enhances engagement by creating a sense of movement and spatial relationship between ideas.

Moreover, Prezi offers cloud-based collaboration, making it easy for multiple users to collaborate on a presentation in real-time. This feature facilitates seamless teamwork, enabling users to collectively develop and refine their presentations regardless of their physical locations.

Prezi presentations also include interactive elements, such as embedded videos, images and hyperlinks. Utilizing these elements would allow presenters to create interactive presentations and engage their audience on a deeper level.

However, Prezi has a steeper learning curve compared to more traditional presentation tools. Users may require some time and practice to become proficient in navigating the canvas, creating smooth transitions and effectively utilizing all of Prezi’s features.

Creative professionals, educators and individuals who want to create visually captivating and non-linear presentations.

Zooming presentation style, interactive elements, cloud-based collaboration and reusable templates.

For individuals & business professionals

Basics: Create and share up to 5 visual projects for free

Standard: Starting at $5 USD/month

Plus: Starting at $12 USD/month

Premium: Starting at $16 USD/month

Teams: Starting at $19 USD/month per user (billed annually)

For Students & Educators

EDU Plus: Starting at $3/month

EDU Pro: Starting at $4/month

EDU Teams: Enquiry required with Prezi sales team

Canva

Source: Screenshot from Canva

One of the great things about Canva as a presentation tool is its user-friendly interface, which makes it super easy to use even if you’re not a design pro. You can simply drag and drop elements to create your presentation slides without breaking a sweat.

Canva’s vast collection of pre-designed templates caters to various purposes and occasions. The availability of these templates allows users to jumpstart their design projects with professional-looking layouts, saving valuable time and effort.

For businesses or educational institutions working on group projects or marketing campaigns, Canva also offers collaboration features that enhance teamwork and co-creation. Users can invite team members or clients to collaborate on a design project, enabling real-time feedback and efficient design processes. 

While Canva does offer some basic slide transition effects, the range and customization options for transitions may be limited compared to dedicated presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote. 

Individuals, students, small businesses and startups seeking professional-looking marketing materials and presentations.

Extensive template options, intuitive drag-and-drop interface, ability to share presentations as downloadable files or online links and built-in multimedia support for adding videos , images, and audio to slides.

The free version of Canva provides a wide range of features and resources, with the only limitations being the use of premium resources that can be acquired either through separate purchases or by subscribing to the Canva Pro plan. The Canva Pro plan is available for $12.99 USD per month or $119.99 USD per year.

For collaborative purposes, Canva Teams is available at a price of $14.99 USD per month, with an additional charge of $14.99 USD per month for every team member beyond the initial five.

7. Adobe Express

Adobe Express

Source: Screenshot from Adobe Express

As part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, Adobe Express is a presentation software that offers a simplified and user-friendly interface. With its intuitive interface, Adobe Express allows users to create visually stunning presentations with ease. Users can access both design professionals and individuals without extensive design experience.

One of the notable advantages of Adobe Express is its seamless integration with other Adobe products, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. This integration enables users to leverage the power of these industry-standard design tools within their presentations, providing access to advanced design features and a vast library of high-quality assets. 

Adobe Express is also great for creating interactive presentations. Its extensive multimedia support, allowing users to incorporate videos, audio files and interactive elements to keep your audience engaged.

That being said,  some of its advanced features may require familiarity with other Adobe tools, which can be challenging for beginners who are not already familiar with the Adobe Creative Cloud ecosystem.

Designers, creative professionals, individuals and businesses seeking professional-grade presentation design.

Professional design options, multimedia support, easy integration with other Adobe products and cloud-based collaboration.

While the free version for Adobe Express includes all the core features, users can gain access to premium templates and features when they upgrade to the Premium subscription for $9.99 USD/month. 

For businesses and teams, Adobe provides tailored plans that include additional features like collaboration tools, centralized license management and enterprise-level support. The pricing for these plans depends on the number of licenses and the specific needs of the organization. It’s best to consult with Adobe or their authorized resellers to get accurate pricing information for business plans.

8. Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck

Source: Haiku Deck

Haiku Deck is all about visual storytelling, offering a simple and minimalist approach to designing presentations. With its clean and minimalist templates, Haiku Deck makes it a breeze to create presentations that focus on eye-catching images.

Haiku Deck is a user-friendly presentation software that offers a straightforward and intuitive interface. It’s designed to be easily accessible on both computers and mobile devices, giving you the flexibility to create quick and practical presentations on the go.

Plus, the presentation tool seamlessly integrates with image search engines, making it a piece of cake to find and add high-quality visuals that enhance the overall look and feel of your presentation.

However,if you’re looking for advanced features like complex animations or interactive elements, you might not find them here. While the clean and minimalist templates are gorgeous, they don’t offer as much flexibility for customization.

Educators, individuals and professionals who appreciate the power of visual storytelling and minimalist design.

Image-focused templates, easy-to-use interface, cloud-based collaboration and seamless image search integration.

Haiku Deck offers a free trial that allows you to experience the software with one presentation. If you decide to upgrade, they have different pricing plans available. Additionally, Haiku Deck also offers special pricing to qualifying nonprofit organizations, students and educators.

The Pro plans are available at $9.99 per month with annual billing or $19.99 per month with monthly billing. For those seeking advanced features, the Premium plans are priced at $29.99 per month.

presentation software is used for

Source: Screenshot from Ludus

Ludus brings together the best of both worlds by offering the traditional slide deck format along with interactive and multimedia elements that take presentations to a whole new level.

The presentation software is rich in multimedia capabilities, allowing users to seamlessly integrate videos, audio and elements to create interactive presentations that captivate the audience.

Ludus offers unique presentation tools that enable users to incorporate interactive elements like clickable buttons, hover effects and embedded web content, enabling a more dynamic and engaging presentation experience. 

This makes Ludus a great choice for designers, creatives, marketing professionals, and anyone who wants to create interactive and visually appealing presentations that leave a lasting impression. Collaboration is another area where Ludus excels. The software offers collaborative editing, allowing multiple users to edit presentations simultaneously. 

However, it’s worth mentioning that Ludus has relatively limited templates compared to some other presentation software options. While the customization options are vast, users might find themselves starting from scratch or investing more time in creating the initial design. Additionally, for individuals new to the platform, there might be a learning curve involved in fully harnessing all of Ludus’ features and capabilities.

Designers, creatives, marketing professionals and anyone looking for interactive and visually appealing presentations.

Interactive and multimedia elements, collaborative editing, extensive design customization, real-time comments and feedback.

Ludus offers a starting price of $14.99 USD/month per user for teams consisting of 1-15 members with all features included. For larger teams requiring additional licenses, Ludus encourages reaching out for more information on pricing. It’s worth noting that Ludus provides a 30-day free trial, allowing users to explore the platform and its features before committing to a subscription.

10. Slidebean

Slidebean

Source: Screenshot from Slidebean

Slidebean offers a unique approach to slide design by automating the process and simplifying the creation of well-designed presentations. With its automation features, Slidebean streamlines the design process, saving users valuable time and effort.

The highlight of Slidebean is its automated slide design functionality. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the software generates visually appealing slide layouts based on the content provided. Slidebean also offers collaboration options, allowing multiple team members to work on a presentation simultaneously. 

Another advantage of Slidebean is its AI-powered content suggestions. The software intelligently analyzes the presentation content and provides helpful suggestions for improving the messaging and overall flow. This feature ensures that users can effectively communicate their ideas and engage their audience. 

Unlike Ludus, Slidebean may not cater to users who prefer extensive customization and control over their slide layouts. Certain advanced features are only available in premium plans, which may require an upgrade for those seeking more advanced functionality.

Startups, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and individuals who want to create polished presentations quickly.

Automated design, content suggestions, collaboration tools and pitch deck-specific templates.

The free version offers limited functionalities, but it provides a sufficient opportunity to experience Slidebean’s capabilities and understand its workflow. However, to export your presentation and access advanced features, upgrading to a higher plan is necessary. 

The all-access plan is available at $228 USD/year, while additional services such as startup expert consultations and pitch deck and financial model services are available for separate purchase. 

11. Beautiful.ai

Beautiful.ai

Source: Screenshot from Beautiful.ai

Beautiful.ai aims to simplify the process of creating visually stunning and professional-looking slides with minimal effort. One of the notable strengths of the presentation software is its collection of smart templates and design suggestions. 

Their templates are intelligently designed to provide visually appealing layouts, saving users valuable time and effort in creating presentations. Unlike other types of presentation software, the platform leverages AI-powered technology to offer layout optimization, ensuring that slide elements are positioned optimally for maximum impact.

Beautiful.ai also offers time-saving features that streamline the presentation creation process. The software automatically adjusts the layout and formatting as users add or modify content, eliminating the need for manual adjustments. 

As the software provides smart templates and design suggestions, customization options may be somewhat limited. Users may find that certain design elements or layout adjustments are not as flexible as they would like. 

Individuals, startups and professionals who want visually impressive presentations without extensive design skills.

Smart templates, automated design suggestions, AI-powered layout optimization and easy slide customization.

Beautiful.ai provides two subscription options for users. The Pro plan is available at a monthly cost of $12 USD /month, while the Team plan is priced at $40 USD/month. Both plans are billed annually. You can also subscribe to the monthly subscription for ad hoc projects and gain access to all pro features for $45 USD/month (billed monthly). 

There is a 14-day free trial period that allows users to thoroughly test and explore the features and capabilities of the tool before committing to a subscription.

Pitch

Source: Screenshot from Pitch

Pitch is a modern video presentation maker that stands out with its collaborative and iterative approach to presentation creation.

One of the key strengths of Pitch lies in its collaborative features. The presentation software provides robust collaboration tools that allow team members to work together in real-time. This makes it easy for users to collaborate on presentation content, provide feedback and make revisions collectively.

Pitch boasts an extensive slide library, offering a wide range of professionally designed templates to choose from. These templates serve as a foundation for creating visually stunning presentations while providing a starting point that saves time and ensures a polished look.

The availability of diverse templates caters to different industries, topics and presentation styles, allowing users to create presentations for their needs.

Seamless integration with project management tools is another advantage of Pitch. The software integrates well with popular project management platforms, enabling users to streamline their workflow by syncing tasks, deadlines and other project-related information with their presentations. 

For teams, startups and businesses that value collaboration, feedback and the ability to iterate on their presentations

Collaboration tools, version control, project management integration and template library.

Users can create unlimited presentations and enjoy the starter plan for free or upgrade to Pro for $8 USD/month, billed annually. 

There you have it — the top 12 best presentation tools for the year! Whether you value simplicity, collaboration, automation, design versatility or data visualization, these presentation software examples have a solution out there for your future presentations.

Got your mind set on your to-go presentation software? Great! Now it’s time to start creating your slides and ace that presentation. 

7 Most Popular Software for Presentations

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7 Most Popular Software for Presentations

Wondering which are the top presentation software options available right now on the market? In this article, we’ll throw some light on the subject.

Multimedia presentations have become an inevitable part of business and education nowadays. With the rising demand for powerful and feature-rich presentation software, developers keep presenting more and more advanced tools that actually make users create impressive presentations faster and more easily than ever.

The market offers a lot of suggestions for good presentation software – free or paid, each packed up with valuable features that help you create good engaging designs in minutes. In today’s post, we’ve outlined 7 top presentation software, which you can use online, on your PC, or both ways. Let’s begin!

“Designed for people who aren’t designers.”

A very famous cloud-based platform that lets you create interactive presentations and track your results. Depending on your plan, you will have access to a huge library of templates on marketing, sales, business, and education themes, as well as icons and images that can be edited right in the app. Plus, building your presentation is very easy with the drag-and-drop function which lets you add smart structures.

Prezi has developed a unique technique that makes presentations more engaging, escaping from the traditional look of a presentation with slides. The platform provides an open canvas that plays the role of your whole presentation. Within this canvas, you can zoom in to different modules and points in order to reveal your story. Check out a quick tutorial:

  • The newest app version Prezi Next is built on HTML instead of Flash;
  • A library of templates, design assets, and pre-designed  building blocks;
  • A zoom reveal function;
  • Prezi Analytics to track your results;
  • Cloud-based software for online work across devices;
  • A desktop app for offline work;
  • PowerPoint to Prezi conversion.
  • Free version with limited features;
  • Standard – from $5/month (free trial);
  • Plus – from $15/month (free trial);
  • Premium – from $59/month (free trial);
  • More pricing options for education and teams.

2. Google Slides

“Create, edit, collaborate and present wherever you are. For free.”

Google Slides is a tool for creating presentations that you can use right in your browser or download on your PC. It comes with a library of interesting themes, fonts, animation effects, video embedding, and even more functions.

The Google presentation app requires you to have an account. Beyond that, everything about Google Slides is intuitive and easy. The app can be used from every browser, as long as you have an internet connection. It even saves your changes automatically and you can easily see old versions of your creations.

Google Slides is very easy to use among teams. You can share your slides with other users in view, comment, or edit modes and collaborate on the same presentation in real-time. You can even chat in the app and see other people’s cursors, as they make changes. Here is a useful tutorial on how to use Google Slides:

  • Pre-made presentation themes, pitch decks, portfolios, and a variety of fonts to choose from;
  • Easy access from every browser – you only need to have an account;
  • Download an app for offline use;
  • Quick and easy sharing options;
  • Collaborate with other people on the same presentation at the same time;
  • Chat with fellow collaborators inside the app;
  • Changes are automatically saved;
  • PowerPoint compatibility.

3. Slidebean

“The world’s first slide design platform powered by Artificial Intelligence.”

Another presentation software that is quite different from the rest on the market – Slidebean. The platform practically does the design for you by using Artificial Intelligence. The algorithms of the software analyze your images and text and design your content in optimal layouts, thus saving you a lot of time. The software designs your content and creates an outline of the presentation. Moreover, it identifies the key elements and arranges your content accordingly. And all of this – without human intervention.

Slidebean allows full customization of your presentations. Other useful features are real-time collaborations between multiple users, activity tracking, and useful analytics. Here is what to expect from the software:

  • Uses Artificial Intelligence to make the outline and design of presentations;
  • Analyzes your content and key elements to design it optimally;
  • Simple and intuitive interface;
  • Support for online collaboration between many users and automatic sync;
  • Full customization of themes, and more.
  • Free (with limited usage);
  • All-Access – $29/month (or $228 annually).

“Beautiful presentations for everyone. By everyone.”

A famous tool for creating engaging presentations. Keynote can be used on Mac, iOS, or iCloud.com from any PC browser. The software comes with a library of over 30 thematic templates, over 30 impressive cinematic transitions for your design elements, interactive charts and stunning animations, over 700 editable shapes, and more exciting assets.

Keynote lets your team collaborate on the same presentation from different locations in the world, and changes are displayed in real-time. If you are using an iPad, you can even draw and write directly on your presentation template with the Apple Pencil. Here is a recent tutorial on Keynote for iPad:

  • A library of pre-made themes and easy customization;
  • Import photos, galleries, math equations, charts, shapes;
  • Animate your slides with transitions and effects (and see animation previews live on canvas);
  • Draw directly on your presentation on an iPad by using Apple Pencil;
  • Real-time collaboration on one presentation from multiple devices;
  • Invite many people to watch your presentation live with Keynote Live from their own devices;
  • You can record and edit audio clips to narrate your presentation and import different sounds;
  • Compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint – export presentations as  PowerPoint files or import and edit pptx files in Keynote (Keynote supports the most popular PowerPoint features);

“Make better presentations.”

Slides is an open-source cloud-based tool for creating and sharing presentations. The tool can be used on any device including mobile devices. Moreover, it is enriched with features that will help you fully personalize your slide decks.

Slides come with a media library that keeps your assets organized and easy to reuse even by your team collaborators. To make your presentation more informative, you can use vertical slides, as well, which look like sub-slides to your main slides.

Since Slides is open source, so it is 100% developer-friendly and it offers full customization by giving you access to your decks’ source code. You can fully edit your presentation by using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and embed content from other devices. All your presentations are safely stored on Slides’ servers, so you can access them at any time from any device, and download them for offline use if you wish.

  • A personal media library that you can share with fellow collaborators;
  • Easily position and edit content blocks;
  • Publish your presentations easily or protect the access with a password;
  • Easily embed content into your presentation and embed the presentation itself on websites;
  • Google Analytics integration;
  • Click, tap and hover interactions on your slides;
  • Unsplash & GIPHY integration;
  • Support for SVG images;
  • Edit presentation’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript;
  • Import PowerPoint files and PDFs;
  • Handy features for presenters;
  • Convenient tools for teams;
  • Free account – your decks will be publicly viewable and searchable;
  • Slides Lite – from $7/month;
  • Slides Pro – from $14/month;
  • Slides Team – from $28/month;
  • Slides Enterprise.

6. SlideDog

“Freedom to present.”

If you are looking for a little bit more untraditional presentation software to engage your audience, then SlideDog’s approach may be right for you. The software lets you combine different media types into one multimedia presentation. This basically means that you can mix different presentation mediums like PowerPoint, Prezi, websites, media files, static PDFs, and more to play as one presentation.

The app allows you to add a live chat or discussion, so your audience can actively engage in the experience. You can also receive anonymous feedback, as well as questions and comments to respond to at a time of your convenience. Learn a little bit more about how it works:

  • Easy combination of different presentation mediums, media files, and static files;
  • All elements display like in the original file;
  • Live stream presenting & the audience can join in any time from any browser;
  • Remote control function;
  • Interactive polls;
  • Questions and comments from the audience;
  • Anonymous feedback on your presentations;
  • Dual screen support
  • SlideDog Free – limited features;
  • Monthly – $19/month;
  • Annual – $99/year ($79.20 for subsequent years);
  • Lifetime access – $299.

7. Visme’s presentation tool

“Not just another boring presentation software.”

A very easy-to-use presentation tool by Visme with a drag-and-drop editor that lets you create presentations quite fast. With over 1000 templates and slides included, as well as graphics, charts, and data widgets, using Visme’s presentation tool doesn’t require much graphic design experience. Of course, if you are more experienced, you can start by scratch and create your own slide library. Also, you can import your Powerpoint presentations to use online.

Editing templates is quite easy – you can customize the colors, change text, add more graphics and use high-quality photos and vector files . Here is a very good explanatory video tutorial that will help you understand the basics of working with Visme’s presentation tool.

  • Over 1000 pre-made HD templates and slides
  • A library of over 500k high-resolution photos and vector icons
  • 50+ data visualization charts, maps, widgets, and more
  • Options for online sharing and download in JPG, PNG, PDF, HTML
  • An option to import your existing Powerpoint presentation
  • Create your own media library, slide library, and custom content blocks for future use
  • Free with limited features;
  • Paid Individual, Business, and Education plan at different rates.

The evergreen leader: PowerPoint

“Create presentations that stand out.”

It’s no surprise that the most popular presentation software worldwide right now is PowerPoint, available in over a hundred languages. For the last few decades, Microsoft has established PowerPoint as a synonym for presentation software. The powerful app has been developed and enriched with amazing features throughout the years. Now, it has everything you would need in order to create beautifully animated presentations with 3D models, impressive motions, and tons of more goodies.

PowerPoint comes as a part of the Office 365 package (including Word, Outlook, Excel, and cloud storage) or as a separate purchase. Microsoft has also provided online versions of the desktop apps which allow you and your teammates to collaborate on the same presentation in real-time. Here is a quick tutorial on how to start using PowerPoint if you don’t have any experience with the software:

  • Rich in features with which you can create amazing designs;
  • Real-time collaboration and commenting via the Office Online applications
  • Easy share via the cloud;
  • Slide-by-slide notes that only you can see;
  • Multilingual support;
  • Individual purchase or as a part of Office 365;
  • A library with templates in more than 40 categories.
  • With a subscription for Office 365 – from $69.99/year;
  • As a separate purchase – $159.99.

You may be interested in some PowerPoint templates to get started: The Best Minimalist Powerpoint Templates for Free Download The Best Free PowerPoint Templates to Download in 2022

To wrap up,

There is indeed a suitable presentation software option for each taste. Some are cloud-based, others you can use on your PC. Some are free to use, others – are paid and loaded with advanced features. No matter which presentation software you will use, remember that creating an engaging presentation is up to you.

You would probably find it interesting to learn which are the  4 Invaluable Presentation Design Tips You Wish You Knew Earlier .

Now leaving the comments to you. Do you have a favorite presentation software not listed here? We’d love to read about it in the comments below.

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Best free presentation software of 2024

Find an alternative to PowerPoint

Best overall

Best for speed, best for functionality, best for collaboration, best user interface.

  • How we test

The best free presentation software makes it simple and easy to create presentations as an alternative to subscribing to Microsoft PowerPoint.

A person doing a presentation on a whiteboard.

1. Best overall 2. Best for speed 3. Best for functionality 4. Best for collaboration 5. Best user interface 6. FAQs 7. How we test

While PowerPoint is the market leader when it comes to presentation software, some people may be unwilling to subscribe to a Microsoft 365 subscription, especially if they don't expect to need to use it very often.

However, there are plenty of great alternatives to PowerPoint available for free that you can use. While these won't have the same advanced features as PowerPoint, they still offer a very competent platform to design most any presentation that you need.

To help you choose, we've listed below the best free presentation software currently available.

Add images to your presentations using the best free photo editor .

Google Apps

<a href="https://gsuite.google.com/pricing.html" data-link-merchant="gsuite.google.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> Google Workspace : Collaboration + productivity apps There are many different presentation software packages but Google Workspace formerly known as G Suite remains the original cloud office software and one of the best business office suites, offering a huge range of features and functionality that rivals can't match, especially when it comes to presentation software. <a href="https://gsuite.google.com/pricing.html" data-link-merchant="gsuite.google.com"" data-link-merchant="gsuite.google.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> Try it free for 14 days .

The best free presentation software of 2024 in full:

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Prezi website screenshot

Our expert review:

Reasons to buy

Reasons to avoid.

Prezi turns the traditional approach to presentations on its head. Instead of creating slide after slide, this presentation software gives you a single giant canvas. You can add blocks of text or images, or even create miniature slides. During your presentation, you can seamlessly fly around the canvas and zoom in to look at individual chunks of content.

For how complex Prezi seems, it’s impressively simple to use the platform. The only major divergence from Microsoft PowerPoint is that you need to add animated paths from one part of the canvas to another. The tools for this are fairly straightforward, especially if you’ve ever used an animation or video editing software.

Of course, this type of presentation structure isn’t always ideal. Prezi makes it hard to visualize structured data like financials, which can make it difficult to use in business applications. Some viewers also might not appreciate the fly-around animation style that’s inherent to the presentation software.

Read our full Prezi review .

  • ^ Back to the top

Canva website screenshot

Canva is perfect for making speedy presentations right in your web browser. This software offers a handful of free layouts to help you get your slideshow started, and it’s easy to customize the templates to fit your needs. There isn’t a huge variety of content elements to add to your presentation, but Canva makes up for this with a searchable library of more than 1 million images you can use.

Your Canva presentations live online, which makes it extremely easy to collaborate. You can invite colleagues to edit your slideshow (although simultaneous editing is not supported) or seamlessly share your finished presentation. However, beware that Canva can’t import presentations from Microsoft Powerpoint or export finished work to a Powerpoint-editable format.

Read our full Canva review .

LibreOffice website screenshot

3. LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a free alternative to Microsoft Office, and it includes a Powerpoint equivalent called Impress with nearly all of the same functionality. The only big difference you’ll find between the two slideshow creation tools is the LibreOffice lacks some modern features like built-in collaboration and integration with Microsoft OneDrive.

However, Impress does have a few advantages of its own. The software can import files from Keynote, the default presentation software on Mac computers. Plus, there are hundreds of free templates that you can download for free. Even better, there’s no limit on what fonts you can use with Impress, so it’s easy to change the look of your presentation from what Powerpoint typically allows.

On the whole, LibreOffice Impress is about as close as it gets to simply replicating Microsoft Powerpoint for free.

Read our full LibreOffice review .

Google Slides website screenshot

4. Google Slides

Google Slides is part of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), and it does a nice job of matching a number of PowerPoint’s capabilities. This free presentation software supports embedding videos, creating diagrams, and adding animations to your slides. While the selection of templates is somewhat limited, you can easily import hundreds of additional templates for free or create your own.

Even better, Google Slides supports the collaboration tools users have come to expect from Google. Multiple people can work on a slideshow simultaneously, and there’s a built-in group chat so you can keep track of what everyone is doing. It’s also nice that you can play your presentation in presenter mode, which allows you to preview how it will look to your audience and rehearse timing.

The only downside to Google Slides is that bloated slideshows can experience some loading delays. Also beware that while you can move between Slides and Powerpoint, the conversion often messes with the layout of your slides.

Read our full Google Slides review .

WPS Office Free website screenshot

5. WPS Office Free

WPS Office Free is a Microsoft Office look-alike that fully support PowerPoint files without any layout issues during import. The WPS Presentation tool has all of the same capabilities of PowerPoint, including tons of animations, slide transitions, content effects, and video embedding. The selection of included presentation templates is also very impressive for a free software.

One of the best things about this presentation software is that the user interface will feel incredibly familiar if you’re coming from Microsoft. All of the tools are displayed in a top ribbon, with your slides shown on the left side of the screen for easy navigation. It’s simple to display your presentation right from WPS Presentation, which means there’s no unexpected troubleshooting when it’s time to show off your work.

There’s not much to dislike about WPS Presentation. However, keep in mind that the software is supported by ads. Some users find the ads annoying, but they’re not overly in the way.

Read our full WPS Office Free review .

We've also featured the best free office software .

Best free presentation software FAQs

Which alternative to powerpoint is best for you.

When deciding which alternative to PowerPoint to download and use, first consider what your actual needs are, as sometimes free platforms may only provide basic options, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a paid platform is much more worthwhile. Additionally, free and budget software options can sometimes prove limited when it comes to the variety of tools available, while higher-end software can really cater for every need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require.

How we test the best free presentation software

To test for the best free presentation software we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. We then tested the service to see how the software could be used for different purposes and in different situations. The aim was to push each software platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.

Read how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar .  

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Michael Graw is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Bellingham, Washington. His interests span a wide range from business technology to finance to creative media, with a focus on new technology and emerging trends. Michael's work has been published in TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Business Insider, Fast Company, Salon, and Harvard Business Review. 

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The Top-Rated Presentation Software for Teachers

Andrew Conrad profile picture

Andrew Conrad

Google slides, microsoft powerpoint, the last thing teachers have time for is fussing with finicky presentation software. these four tools are effective and easy to use..

Top-Presentation-Software-for-Teachers-withouttext-880-440

As a teacher, you need presentation software to keep your students engaged, and you need to be able to use it both online and in the classroom. Between remote classes, a busy schedule, and limited resources, you shouldn’t settle for presentation software that is difficult to set up and use.

That’s why we put together this list of presentation software options.

So what is presentation software?

Presentation software helps users organize information in a slideshow format and present that slideshow to an audience. It comes with tools and templates to add information in the form of text, images, audio, video, and graphs. Presentation software can help educators bring their lessons to life.

To find out which presentation products are right for your business, we curated a list of the most highly-rated products on Capterra based only on reviews from people in the education industry ( read our full methodology below ). All of these options have a free, web-based version. They are listed below in alphabetical order.

top-4-presentation-software-tools-for-teachers

Trial/Free Version

  • Free Version

Device compatibility

Overall user rating from education industry: 4.69 out of 5 (1156 reviews)

Notable features: Collaboration, cloud sync, Google Drive storage

Google Slides for teaching ( Source )

If you’ve ever used Gmail, Google Drive, or any other Google Workspace tools, you’re probably already familiar with Google Slides. Google’s signature simplicity of design and user friendliness makes Google Slides an ideal choice for educational professionals.

Like the other Google tools, Google Slides is web-based, meaning that teachers can access it from any device with an internet browser (though this also means that you’ll have limited functionality without an internet connection). Google Slides is also completely free and allows users to import, edit, and export Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.

Visit our reviews page to see what real users think of Google Slides, along with pros and cons.

Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft Powe...

Overall user rating from education industry: 4.73 out of 5 (1311 reviews)

Notable features: Preformatted layouts, slide morphing, smartphone laser pointer

PowerPoint tips for teachers ( Source )

Microsoft’s signature presentation software, PowerPoint, has become a name synonymous with computer presentations since the software was first launched in 1987. While the name might elicit thoughts of business presentations full of dry bar charts, PowerPoint is also highly rated by educators. Many schools are equipped with machines powered by Microsoft Windows, and users who are familiar with the Windows OS should feel right at home navigating PowerPoint. Microsoft has been iterating and improving PowerPoint for three decades now, so it is one of the most feature-rich presentation tools available.

Visit our reviews page to see what real users think of PowerPoint, along with pros and cons.

Prezi

Overall user rating from education industry: 4.65 out of 5 (151 reviews)

Notable features: Conversational presenting, animations, video conferencing integration

Getting started with Prezi Video for teachers ( Source )

Prezi was launched in Budapest in 2009 with the tall task of earning market share in a presentation software market that already included popular products from Google and Microsoft. Now, Prezi claims more than 100 million users worldwide with more than 360 million presentations created. It has been translated into nine different languages and has been used in every country across the globe. Prezi is popular among educators because it is free, it easily incorporates video, and it can be used seamlessly online or in-person, according to users .

Visit our reviews page to see what real users think of Prezi, along with pros and cons.

Visme

Overall user rating from education industry: 4.76 out of 5 (70)

Notable features: Infographics, social media templates, video editor

Visme 101: How to quickly get started ( Source )

Visme is a Maryland-based online visual design tool designed to handle everything from animations to infographics, and of course, presentations. It is entirely browser-based, so educators can use it from any internet-connected device, from smartphones to tablets. Teachers find Visme versatile and easy to use , and also appreciate the responsiveness of the support team when they have a question.

Visit our reviews page to see what real users think of Visme, along with pros and cons.

Presentation software for education should be effective and easy to use

There is a common thread that runs through all of the presentation tools featured in this article based on their high ratings by educators: They are effective and easy to use. As a teacher, you don’t have time to waste with a complicated setup process. You also don’t want to waste your energy on an overly simple presentation tool that isn’t capable of delivering engaging presentations.

Find more presentation tools

We hope that one of the tools included here strikes the right balance for you and your students, but if you still want to browse more tools after reading this article, check out our presentation software directory .

You can use the directory to find free options , sort by highest rated , and even read a buyers guide to help you better understand the market.

Methodology

The four products with the highest ratings from education industry reviewers are featured in this article.

To be considered for this article, products must:

Meet the market definition for presentation software: “Presentation software helps salespeople, marketing employees, and other professionals with creating and conducting presentations.”

Offer the following core features: Animations and transitions, media library

Have at least 20 reviews from education industry reviewers in the past two years

Only reviews from users in the education industry were evaluated to select the products featured in this article.

Was this article helpful?

About the author.

Andrew Conrad profile picture

Andrew Conrad is a senior content writer at Capterra, covering business intelligence, retail, and construction, among other markets. As a seven-time award winner in the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. and Suburban Newspapers of America editorial contests, Andrew’s work has been featured in the Baltimore Sun and PSFK. He lives in Austin with his wife, son, and their rescue dog, Piper.

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5 key learning management software features and top products that offer them, agile learning: a comprehensive guide, 3 holistic learning and development techniques for adults, capterra value report: a price comparison guide for lms software, 5 top-rated web conferencing software for education, 5 top-rated document management software for educational institutes, 5 top-rated learning management systems for small businesses, 5 top-rated project management software for education management, 5 top-rated remote work software for education management.

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11 Creative Methods for Crafting Interactive Presentations

presentation software is used for

Table of Contents

presentation software is used for

Microsoft PowerPoint is the quintessential presentation software that has set the standard for creating visual aids for speeches, lectures, and meetings. With tons of templates, themes, and tools, it allows you to create interactive presentation slides that grab an audience’s attention.

PowerPoint offers a rich feature set, including text formatting, animations, transitions, and multimedia integration, so you can make both straightforward and sophisticated presentations. 

It’s used across various sectors — educational, corporate, and more — because it’s reliable, compatible with numerous devices, and remains a go-to software for professionals who want a tried-and-true solution to get their point across.

Also read →   How to Create an Interactive PowerPoint Presentation

2. iSpring Suite

iSpring Suite authoring tool

iSpring Suite is a powerful tool designed for creating engaging presentations, especially for eLearning and corporate training. As it integrates seamlessly with PowerPoint, it enables you to transform conventional slides into dynamic online learning experiences with quizzes, role-plays, screen recordings, and interactions. 

Its responsive design ensures presentations are accessible across various devices. Besides, you can save them as SCORM and xAPI packages to upload to a learning management system (LMS) and track learner progress and results with ease. 

iSpring Suite is extremely easy to use, and with all its awesome features, it’s a must-have for anyone who wants to create immersive content for teaching and training.

presentation software is used for

Prezi is an online presentation tool that breaks away from the traditional slide-based format. It offers a dynamic platform for storytelling and information sharing. 

With Prezi, you can create non-linear presentations on an endless canvas that allows you to zoom in to and out from details and move around freely. This approach keeps your audience engaged and makes the entire experience more interactive and memorable. 

With its user-friendly interface, wide range of templates, and the ability to collaborate in real time, Prezi is a popular choice among professionals, educators, and students who want to go beyond static slides.

Visme

Visme is another online tool designed for creating presentations, infographics, and other visual content. Offering a wide range of customizable templates, graphics, and data visualization tools, it stands out with its emphasis on design and ease of use.

It’s Visme’s collaborative capabilities allow teams to work together seamlessly that makes it a good choice for businesses and marketers who want to transmit complex ideas in a more appealing format. 

With its comprehensive suite of design tools, Visme is a great alternative to traditional presentation software that empowers users to bring their ideas to life in a visually compelling manner.

5. SlideDog

SlideDog

SlideDog is a unique presentation tool that stands out for its ability to mix and match all kinds of multimedia and presentation styles within a single interface. Unlike traditional presentation software that locks you into one format, SlideDog lets you combine PowerPoint slides, PDFs, Prezis, web pages, video clips, and even live feeds in a single presentation.

The tool is easy to use with its drag-and-drop interface and has neat features like live sharing, audience engagement tools, and remote control via smartphone. It’s a flexible and innovative solution for anyone looking to bring some energy and interaction to their sessions without being limited to a single platform or format.

To learn about other tools that are available on the market, read this article on the best interactive presentation software .

How to Create an Interactive Presentation with iSpring Suite in 5 Easy Steps

As mentioned, iSpring Suite is a powerful tool for crafting presentations that captivate and involve your audience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to unleash the full potential of this tool and make presentations interactive. 

Step 1. Install iSpring Suite

First, you’ll need to have iSpring Suite installed on your computer. It works as an add-in to PowerPoint, so make sure you have PowerPoint installed as well. Once installed, open PowerPoint, and you’ll see the iSpring Suite tab added to your ribbon, signaling that you’re ready to start.

iSpring Suite tab in PowerPoint

Step 4. Narrate your slides

A voice-over is a great way to guide your audience through the content and ensure they’re following along. With iSpring Suite, you can record audio narration for each slide, adding a personal touch and making your interactive slideshow more engaging. 

Or you can use a built-in text-to-speech tool that allows you to generate a natural sounding voice-over without a narrator. Just choose a language and voice, add text, and your narration is ready!

Text-to-Speech functionality in iSpring Suite

Content creator:

Helen Colman

She enjoys combining in-depth research with expert knowledge of the industry. If you have eLearning insights that you’d like to share, please get in touch .

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How to Create an Interactive PowerPoint Presentation

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presentation software is used for

5 Better Alternatives To Google Slides

I f you're looking to create a compelling presentation to showcase a new idea or persuade others, Google Slides may be the first option that comes to mind. But with few built-in templates, basic themes, and a limited graphics collection, you'll likely have a hard time making your presentation stand out against others.

If you want to make your presentation truly stand out, there are several alternatives to Google Slides that offer extra perks and features to give your presentations an edge. While Google focuses on integrating Slides with its other work-based apps like Sheets and Docs, other presentation apps focus more on design elements, transitions, and themes to help you convey your brand or personal image throughout your presentation.

We've tested these Google Slide alternatives to give you an idea of other available options to deliver impactful presentations. If you're looking for a way to make boring information more fun and engaging, here are the best presentation apps to replace Google Slides.

Read more: Major Graphics Card Brands Ranked Worst To Best

Microsoft PowerPoint

There's a reason so many businesses around the globe use Microsoft PowerPoint. Building its reputation as the go-to option for delivering high-quality presentations, the software generated $100 million in annual sales only three years after its initial release in 1990.

Microsoft PowerPoint may be Google Slides' largest competitor, but there are plenty of unique features that can add an extra flourish to your slides. PowerPoint excels in its impressive library of custom animations and slide transitions, which are fairly limited in Google Slides. Another unique feature is its AI-powered Designer tool. This provides professional design schemes that mirror the words used in your slides. For instance, if your title slide is named "Basketball Team 2024," Designer will automatically suggest pictures and slide layouts associated with basketball.

As PowerPoint has been in development longer than Google Slides, it naturally offers more nuanced features if you're looking for something specific. For example, you can save individual slides as an image file (using .png or .jpeg formats) or as a separate presentation file. There's also a large library of free PowerPoint templates designed to speed up your workflow. Moreover, PowerPoint integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams with its PowerPoint Live function, allowing you to easily share your presentation with your co-workers.

Prezi offers an innovative approach to showing presentations with its unique canvas feature. Unlike traditional presentation software, Prezi lets you zoom and pan around a flexible canvas. The canvas may feel distant to something of a presentation program, but there is still some linear order provided thanks to the Timeline view.

Finding ways to visualize data is one of the biggest challenges when dealing with presentation software. Prezi resolves this struggle with the help of its Story Blocks: a series of infographics available in multiple designs to visually represent data. You can easily edit infographics and even add animations to individual shapes. This can help add a story to your presentation and help you emphasize key points.

To further enhance your presentation visually, Prezi offers several topic path settings, which let you change how Prezi transitions from one topic to another. These options include subtopics, which are super helpful for breaking large chunks of information down. If you're looking for a unique, modern approach to presenting information, Prezi is a top pick.

If you're looking to create a professional presentation to convince potential clients about your business idea, Slidebean is a popular choice among professionals with plenty of customization options. One of the issues with Google Slides is its fairly limited template library, which is filled mostly with basic designs. Slidebean offers a better alternative with a broad selection of innovative templates split into categories for convenience.

The app's user interface is easy to navigate so that you can create slides in less time. Each slide has a dedicated Design and Outline tab. You can use the Outline tab to quickly edit the information on each slide without being distracted by all the visual elements. Another productivity-enhancing feature is the ability to generate a presentation theme from your website. Simply enter your URL, and Slidebean will automatically apply the theming to your presentation.

Slidebean is another presentation app to take advantage of AI. Using the Auto-Design feature, you can generate recommended slide layouts based on your existing content. It also features AI text suggestions designed to suit different industries. Overall, Slidebean offers a quicker, more efficient method for creating stunning presentations compared to Google Slides.

Canva is a well-known app among graphic designers, but it's also capable of making stunning presentations. The app also has mobile editions, so you can easily create and edit presentations on your Android phone , iOS device, or tablet. As long as you have an internet connection, you can modify your designs wherever you are.

To get started, head to Canva's online presentation maker . Canva offers a vast range of templates categorized by topic, which easily surpasses the simple templates in Google Slides . While some of the templates are only available to Canva Pro members, there is an ample amount of free templates to help you get started. You'll also find a large selection of stock photos, shapes, and illustrations to create beautiful customized slides.

Because Canva is built for graphic designers, you can access several features to give your presentation consistent theming. These include color palettes, font sets, and even a brand kit that allows you to add your company's fonts (available to Pro members only). One time-saving feature is Canva's Uploads tab, which lets you access recently uploaded media files. This offers a convenient way to copy content between different presentations.

Visme is a powerful visual design tool able to create videos, infographics, and presentations. One of the perks of using Visme is the company's free educational content, which offers advice on how to create impactful content to boost your brand. After signing up, the company also asks whether you're using Visme for your business, education purposes, or personal use to offer personalized tips.

In terms of charts and graphs, Visme offers some of the most impressive features we've seen from a presentation app, so you can effortlessly convey important statistics. From the Data tab, you can access dozens of graph styles to visually represent your data. Then, simply double-click a chart inside your presentation to edit the values instantly in a simple table format.

Another area that Visme excels in is collaboration. You can either generate a link to publish your presentation on the web or share your presentation privately with others. For each team member, you can choose who can view, edit, and comment slides for a seamless workflow. There's also a Slack integration that lets you receive messages whenever changes are made to your presentation. Visme is free for all users, with limited features available in its premium plans.

Read the original article on SlashGear .

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InfoQ Homepage Presentations How Netflix Really Uses Java

How Netflix Really Uses Java

Paul Bakker discusses Netflix’s use of Java, emphasizing the use of microservices, RxJava, Hystrix and Spring Cloud.

Paul Bakker is a Java Champion and developer in the Java Platform team at Netflix. At Netflix he works on evolving the Java tech stack and developer tooling. He is also one of the original authors of the DGS Framework (GraphQL) and co-authored two Java modularity books published by O’Reilly.

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Bakker: I'm going to talk about how Netflix is really using Java. You probably know that Netflix is really just about RxJava microservices, with Hystrix and Spring Cloud. Really, Chaos Monkeys are just running the show. I'm only half getting here because a few years ago, this was actually mostly true, maybe except the Chaos Monkeys. This stack was something that we were building on in the last several years. Things have changed. Quite often, I have conversations with people at conferences like this one, where they're like, yes, we were using the Netflix stack. Like, which stack exactly are you talking about? It's almost never the stack that we're actually using. These are just things that people associate with Netflix, because we've been talking about our technology for so many years, but things might have changed a little bit. We're going to bust some myths. We're going to take a look at what we're actually doing with Java. Things are ever-evolving. Things are literally just changing all the time.

My name is Paul. I'm in the Java Platform at Netflix. Java Platform is responsible for the libraries, frameworks, and tooling that we built around Java, so that all our Java developers have a good time developing Java applications. I'm also a Java champion. I have been in the Java space for quite a long time. In the past, I wrote two books about Java modularity. I'm also one of the first authors of the DGS framework, that's the GraphQL framework we use for Java. We'll talk quite a bit about DGS, and how that all fits in the architecture.

Evolving Architecture

Before we start diving into JVMs and how we use Java, and the framework that we're using, we have to understand a little bit better how our architecture has been evolving. That explains why we did things in a certain way with Java several years ago, and we're doing things quite differently today. What you should understand about Java at Netflix is that we have a lot of Java. We are basically a Java shop, and every backend at Netflix is basically a Java app. We have many applications. At the size of Netflix, there's lots of internal applications to just keep track of things. We're also one of the largest film studios in the world. There's a lot of software being developed just to produce films, basically, again, all Java. Then of course, we have what we call the streaming app, which is basically the Netflix app, as you probably know it. That is what we're looking at here. This screen here is what we call the LOLOMO, the list of list of movies. That is just one example of an application that is backed by Java. You have to understand that pretty much everything that I'm talking about, that is true for basically every backend in Java. We use the same architecture now for pretty much all our different systems, both internal and consumer facing, and we use the same tech stack everywhere. Although I'm giving that example, because it's just a large example to play with, it's much more universal than that.

The Groovy Era

When I joined Netflix almost seven years ago, we were in what I call the Groovy era. What you probably know about Netflix, and this is still true, is that Netflix has a microservices ecosystem. Basically, every piece of functionality and every piece of data is owned by a specific microservice. There's many of them, literally thousands of them. On the slide here, I just made it up, because it makes sense in my head. It's a much-simplified version of what we actually have in production. Think about this LOLOMO screen, this list of list of movies that we just looked at, at a previous slide, you're probably familiar with that screen, that to render that screen, we would have to fetch data from many different microservices. Maybe there's like a top 10 service that we need, because we need a top 10 list of movies. That's backed by a specific service. Then there's an artwork service that gives us the images as we show in the LOLOMO, and these are all personalized as well. There's probably a movie metadata service, which gives us movie titles and actors and descriptions of movies. There's probably a LOLOMO service which is actually giving us what lists to actually render, which again is personalized. I say that we have maybe 10 services to call out to. It will be usually inefficient if your device, let's say, your TV, or your iOS device will just do 10 network calls to these different microservices. It will just not scale at all. You would have a very bad customer experience. It would feel like using the Disney app. It's just not ideal. Instead, we need a single front door for the API where your device is calling out to. From there, we do a fanout to all the different microservices, because now we are in our network, we are on a very fast network. Now we can do that fanout without performance implications. We have another problem to solve, because all these different devices, in subtle ways, they're all a little bit different. We try to make the UI look and behave similar on every different device. All these different devices, like a TV versus an iOS device have very different limitations when it comes to memory, network bandwidth. They actually load data in subtly different ways.

Think about, how would you create an API that would work for all these different devices? Let's say you create a REST API. We're probably going to get either too little or too much data. If we create one REST API to rule them all, it's going to be a bad experience for all these different devices, because we always waste some data, or we have to do multiple network calls, which is also bad. To fix that problem, what we did is we used what we call a backend for frontend pattern. Basically, every frontend, every UI gets its own mini backend. That mini backend is then responsible for doing the fanout and get the data that that UI exactly needs at that specific point. They used to be backed by a Groovy script. That mini backend was basically a Groovy script for a specific screen on a specific device, or actually a version of a specific device. These scripts would be written by UI developers, because they are the only ones who actually know what data exactly they need to render a specific screen. This Groovy script would just live in an API server, which is a giant Java app, basically. It would do a fanout to all these different microservices by just calling Java client libraries. These client libraries are just basically wrappers for either a gRPC service, or a REST client.

Now, here we started seeing an interesting problem, because, how do you take care of such a fanout in Java? That's actually really not trivial. Because if you will do this the traditional way, you create a bunch of threads, and you start to manage that fanout with just minimal thread management, that gets very hairy very quickly, because it's not just managing a bunch of threads, it is also taking care of fault tolerance. What if one of those services are not responding quickly enough? What if it is just failing? Now we have to clean up threads and make sure that everything comes together nicely again. Again, not trivial at all. This is where RxJava and reactive programming really came in. Because reactive programming gives you a much better way to do such fanouts. It will take care of all the thread management and stuff like that you need to do. Exactly because of this fanout behavior, that is why we went so deep into the reactive programming space, and we were partly responsible for making RxJava a big thing many years ago. On top of RxJava, we created Hystrix, which is a fault tolerant library, which takes care of failover and bulkheading, and all these things. This made a lot of sense seven years ago when I joined. This was the big architecture that was serving most traffic. Actually, it is still a big part of our architecture, because depending on what device you're using, if it's a slightly older device, you probably still get served by this API, because we don't have just the one architecture we have many architectures, because it is nicer that way.

Limitations

There are some limitations, although this obviously works really well, because we have been able to grow our member base based on this architecture primarily. One downside is that there's a script for each endpoint. Because, again, we need an API for each of these different UIs. There are just a lot of scripts to maintain and manage. Another problem is that because the UI developers have to create all the mini backends because they are the ones who know what data they need, they have to write those. Now they are in the Groovy Java space and using RxJava. Although they're very capable of doing so, it's probably not a primary language that they are using on a daily basis. The main problem is really that reactive is just really hard. Speaking for myself, I've been doing reactive programming for at least 10 years. I used to be extremely excited about it, and tell everyone about how great it all is. It is actually hard, because even if with that experience, look at a non-trivial piece of reactive code, I have no clue what's going on. It takes me quite a bit of time to actually wrap my head around, ok, this is actually what's happening. These are the operations that are supposed to happen. This is the fallback behavior. It's hard.

GraphQL Federation

Slowly, we have been migrating to a completely new architecture, and that is, we're putting things to a different perspective. That's all based on GraphQL Federation. Comparing GraphQL to REST, one very important aspect of GraphQL is that with GraphQL, you always have a schema. In your schema, you put all your operations, so your queries and your mutations, and you define them, and you tell it exactly which fields are available from the types that you're returning from your queries. Here we have a shows query, which returns a show type, and a show as a title, and it has reviews. Reviews again is another type that we define. Then we can send a query to our API, which is on the right-hand side of the slide. What we have to do there, and this is, again, really important, we have to be explicit about our field selection. We can't just ask for shows and get old data from shows. Now we have to say specifically that you want to get a title and the star score on reviews on a show. If we're not asking for a field, we're not getting a field. It is super important because again, compared with REST, very basically, you get whatever the REST service decides to send you. You're just getting the data that you're explicitly asking for. It's more work if you specify your query, but it solves the whole problem of over-fetching, where you get much more data than you actually need. This makes it much easier to create one API that serves all the different UIs. Typically, when you send a GraphQL query, you will just get the result back encoded as JSON.

We're not just doing GraphQL, we're actually doing GraphQL Federation to fit it back into our microservices architecture. In this picture, we still have our microservices, but now we call them DGSs. They're just a term that we at Netflix came up with. It's a domain graph service. Basically, it's just a GraphQL service. There's really nothing special about it, but we call them DGSs. A DGS is just a Java microservice, but it has a GraphQL endpoint. It has a GraphQL API. That also means it has a schema, because we said that for GraphQL, you always have a schema. The interesting thing is that we have, of course, many different DGSs, many different microservices. From the perspective of a device, so from the perspective of your TV, for example, there's just one big GraphQL schema. The GraphQL schema contains all the possible data that we have to render, let's say a LOLOMO. Your device doesn't care that there might be a whole bunch of different microservices in the backend, and that these different microservices might provide part of that schema. On the other side of the story on the microservices sides, in this example, our LOLOMO DGS is defining a type show, with just a title. The images DGS can extend that type show and add an artwork URL to it. These two different DGSs don't know anything about each other than the fact that there is a show type. It can both contribute parts of that schema, even on the same types. All they need to do is publish their schema to the federated gateway. Now the federated gateway knows how to talk to a DGS because they all have a /GraphQL endpoint. That's it. It knows these different parts of the schema, so if a query comes in where we ask for both title and artwork URL, it knows that it has to call out to these different DGSs, and fetch the data that it needs. On a very high level, not that different from what you previously had, but there's a lot of differences in the details.

I'll also change our story here. First of all, we don't have any API duplication anymore. We don't need a backend for frontend anymore because GraphQL as an API is flexible enough, because of field selection that we don't really need to create those device specific APIs anymore. It also means we don't have server-side development for UI engineers anymore. That's great. We do get a schema to collaborate on. That's a big deal, because now we have closed the gap between UI developers and backend engineers, because now they can collaborate on a schema and figure out, ok, what data do we need in what format? Very importantly, we don't have any client libraries in Java anymore, because the federated gateway just knows how to talk to a generic GraphQL service. It doesn't need specific code to call out to the specific API. It's all just GraphQL. All it needs to know, how to talk to a GraphQL service. That's all. It's all based on the GraphQL specification. We don't need specific code to call to a specific microservice anymore.

What Does that Mean for Our Java Stack?

Now we get into, how does that change our Java stack? There's really no place anymore where we need Rx, or Hystrix, or such things, because previously, we needed this because we needed that specific code to call out, ok, I want to call this microservice and then this microservice, and at the same time, this other microservice. We needed an API for that. We don't need it anymore, because that's now taken care of by the GraphQL Federation specification. That's not completely true, because the federated gateway itself is actually still using a web client to call the different DGSs, and that is still reactive. However, it is not using any specific code for this microservice anymore. It's actually a very straightforward piece of web client code where it knows, ok, I have to call these three services, just go do it. It's all GraphQL, so it's very simple. All the DGSs and the other microservices in the backend, they're all just normal Java apps. There's not really anything specific about them. They don't need to do any reactive style of programming pretty much anywhere.

The Micro in Microservices

Before we dive deep into the rest of our Java stack, I want to speak a little bit about the micro in microservices, because it's another thing that people seem to be confused about how it actually works in practice. It is true that a microservice owns a specific functionality or dataset. More importantly that such microservices are owned by a single team. That is a really important part about microservices. It is all even more true with this GraphQL federated architecture, because it's now even easier to just split things out in different microservices and make it all work very nicely. However, don't be fooled by the size of those microservices, because a lot of those so-called microservices at Netflix are a lot larger, just looking at the code base, than the big monoliths that I've worked at, at many other companies. Some of these systems are really big. There's a lot of code there. Of course, when they get deployed, they might be deployed on clusters of thousands of AWS instances. There's really nothing small about them. That also answers the question, should I do microservices? It depends on your team size. Do you have like the one team that takes care of everything, and it's just a small team? If you would add microservices there, you're just adding complexity at that point for no good reason. If you want to split your team into smaller teams, basically, and just because of team size, then it also makes sense to split up your larger system into smaller pieces so that each team can own and operate one or more of those services.

Java at Netflix

Time to actually really get into the Java side of things. We now know, on a higher level, how and where we're using Java. Now we talk about how it actually looks like. We are now mostly on Java 17. It is about time. We are already also actively testing and rolling out with Java 21. Java 21 just came out officially. We're just using a regular Azul Zulu JVM. It's just an OpenJDK build. We are not building our own JVM, we don't have any plans to build our own JVM. Although there was a very interesting Reddit thread claiming that we do. We really don't, and have no interest in doing so. OpenJDK is really great. We have about 2800 Java applications. These are mostly all microservices of a variety of sizes. Then about 1500 internal libraries. Some of them are actual libraries, and many of them are just client libraries, which is basically just sitting in front of a gRPC or REST service. For our build system, we use Gradle, and on top of Gradle we have Nebula, that's a set of open sourced Gradle plugins. The most important aspect of Nebula, and I highly recommend looking into this, is, first in resolution of libraries. As you know, Java has a flat classpath. You can only have the one version of the library at a given time, if you have more than one version, interesting things happen. To prevent these interesting things from happening, you really want to just pick one, basically, and Nebula takes care of that. The next thing that Nebula does is version locking. Basically, you will get reproducible builds that you always build with the same set of versions of libraries until you explicitly upgrade. That makes it all very reproducible. We're pretty much exclusively using IntelliJ as our IDE. In the last few years, we have also invested a lot of effort in actually developing IntelliJ plugins, to help developers doing the right thing.

The Java 17 Upgrade

We are mostly on Java 17. That is actually a big deal, because this is embarrassing, but at the beginning of the year, we were mostly on Java 8. Java 8 is old. Why were we still on Java 8? Because we had Java 11, and then Java 17 available for a very long time already. Somehow, we just didn't move. One of the reasons is that until about a year ago, about half of our microservices, especially the bigger ones, were still on our old application stack. It was not Spring. It was a homegrown thing based on Guice, and a lot of old Java EE APIs, lots of old libraries that were no longer maintained. At the very beginning when we started upgrading to Java 11 initially, a lot of these older libraries were just not compatible. Then developers just got the impression that this upgrade is hard, and it breaks things, and I should probably just not do it. On the other hand, there was also very limited perceived benefits for developers, because if you compare Java 8 to Java 17, there's definitely some nice language features. Text blocks alone are enough reason for me to upgrade, but it's not that big of a deal. The differences between 8 and 17 is nice, but it's not like changing your life that much. There was more excitement about moving to Kotlin than we did in just upgrading to JDK.

When we finally did start pushing on updating to Java 17, we saw something really interesting. We saw about 20% better CPU usage on 17 versus Java 8, without any code changes. It was all just because of improvements in G1, the garbage collector that we are mostly using. Twenty-percent better CPU is a big deal at the scale that we're running. That's a lot of money, potentially. Speaking about G1, G1 is the garbage collector that we use for most of our workloads, at the moment. We've tested with all the different garbage collectors available. G1 is generally where we got the best balance of tradeoffs. There are some exceptions, for example, Zuul, which is our proxy. It runs on Shenandoah, that's the low pause time garbage collector. For most workloads, Shenandoah doesn't work as well as G1 does. Although G1 isn't that exciting anymore, it is still just really good.

Now that we have finally made a big push to Java 17, and we've got most services just upgraded, we also have Java 21 available. We've been testing with that for quite a few months already. Now things really get exciting. The first exciting thing is that if you're on Java 17, upgrading to Java 21 is almost a no-op. It's just super easy. You don't have the problems that we had from Java 8 to newer versions. There's also just a lot more interesting features. The first obvious one that I'm super excited about is virtual threads. This is just copy-paste, it's from the JEP, the specification from Java 21 of virtual threads. It's supposed to enable server applications written in a simple thread-per-request style to scale at near optimal hardware utilization. It sounds pretty good. This thread-per-request style, if you're using something that's based on servlets, so Spring Web MVC, or any other framework based on servlets, thread-per-request is basically what you get. A request comes in, Tomcat or whatever server you're using gives it a thread. That thread is basically where all the work happens, or starts happening for the specific request, and stays through that request until the request is done. That is a very simple style and easy to understand style of programming, and all the frameworks are based on that. It has some scalability limitations, because you can only have so many threads effectively running in a system. If you have a lot of requests coming in, which we obviously have, then the number of threads is just a limiting factor in how you can scale your systems. Changing that model is really important. The alternative to that is, of course, doing reactive again, so do something like WebFlux. That also gets you in reactive programming, again, with all the complexities that we already talked about.

Now, I think that virtual threads is probably the most exciting Java feature since probably lambdas. I think that down the line, it is really going to change the way we write and scale our Java code. I think that, in the end, it is probably going to further reduce reactive code, because there's just not really any need for it anymore. It just takes away that complexity. We have already been running virtual threads in production for the last month or so, experimenting with it a little bit. I'll get back to that in more detail. Then the other interesting feature in Java 21 is the new garbage collector or the updated garbage collector, because ZGZ is not new. That was already available in previous versions. They now made it generational, and that makes it give more benefits over G1 as a garbage collector has. That will make ZGC a better fit for a broader variety of workloads. It's still focused on low pause times, but it will just work in a broader variety of use cases. It's a little bit early to tell because we haven't done enough testing with this yet, but we are expecting that ZGC is now going to be a really good performance upgrade, basically, for a lot of our workloads and a lot of our services. Again, these things are a really big deal, where we could save a lot of money on resources. Shenandoah is also now generational, but that is still in preview. Again, we're going to just run with that and see what happens. Garbage collection is really just too complex of a topic to just know that, drop in this garbage collector with this flex, and it's all going to be magic and super-fast. Just doesn't work that way. It's a business where you just try things out and then you tweak it a bit, and you try it again, and then you find the optimal state. We're not quite there yet. We are expecting to see some very interesting things there. Then, finally, in Java 21, you just also have a lot of nice language features. We get this concept of data-oriented programming now in the Java language. It is really nice. It's the combination of records and pattern matching and things like that. Java is pretty nice right now.

Virtual Threads

Back to virtual threads. Although I said that this is a big deal, and is probably going to change the way we write our code and scale our code, it is also not a free lunch. It's not just that you enable Java 21 on your instances, and now by the magic of virtual threads, everything runs faster. It doesn't work that way. First of all, we have to change our framework library, and to some extent application code to actually start leveraging virtual threads, so step one. There are a few obvious places where we can do that and already started experimenting, so the Tomcat connection pool. Again, these are the pool of threads where it gives threads-per-request. That seems a fairly obvious place where we can just use virtual threads instead. Instead of using a thread pool, you use virtual threads. Before you enable that, you are already running some big services in production with virtual threads enabled. It doesn't automatically make things a lot faster, because you need to do other things as well to really leverage it. It also doesn't make things worse. If you can just safely enable this basically, sometimes get some benefits out of it, sometimes it doesn't really change it because it wasn't a limiting factor. That's something that you should probably start with. Async task execution in Spring that is, again, just a thread pool, and very often you get blocking code for other network calls there anyway. It seems to be a good candidate for virtual threads, so we enabled it there. Then a really big one that we haven't really gotten into yet, but I expect that will be game changing is how we do GraphQL query execution. Potentially with GraphQL, every field can be fetched in parallel. It makes a lot of sense that we would actually do that on virtual threads because, again, this is often work in code where you do more network calls and things like that. Virtual threads just make a lot of sense there, but we have to implement this and test it out, and it'll probably take a little bit of time before we get the optimal model there.

Then we have some other places that seemed obvious. For example, we have a thread worker pool for gRPC clients where the gRPC calls to outgoing services happen. It seemed like such an obvious place like, let's drop in virtual threads there. Then we saw that we actually decreased performance by a few percent. It turns out that these gRPC client worker pools are very CPU intensive. If you then drop in virtual threads, you actually make things worse. That's not a bad thing, necessarily. This is just something that we had to learn. It does show that this is not a free lunch. We actually have to figure out, where does it make sense, where does it not make sense, and implement virtual threads at the right points, basically. The good news is this is mostly all framework work at this point. We can do it as a platform team, and we can do it in open source libraries that we're using. Then our developers will just get faster apps, basically. It's good. In Spring 6.1, or Spring Boot 3.2, there's a lot of work being done to leverage virtual threads out of the box, that will come out next month. We will probably adopt that somewhere early next year. Then there's a really interesting discussion going on on GitHub, in GraphQL Java, about changing the GraphQL query execution, or potentially even rewriting it to fully leverage virtual threads. That is not figured out yet. It's a discussion going on. If you're in that space, that's definitely something to contribute to, I think. Then for the user code, because all this other stuff is mostly framework code, for user code, I think structured concurrency is the other place that we're going to see a lot of replacement of reactive code. Because structured concurrency is finally giving us the API to deal with things like fanouts, and then bringing everything together again. Structured concurrency is still in preview in Java 21. It seems very close to final, so I think it's at least safe to start experimenting with this and try things out. Then a little bit further down the line, we also get scoped values, which is another new specification coming out related to virtual threads. That is going to give us a way to basically get rid of ThreadLocal. This is again mostly framework related work. It's just a much nicer and more efficient way of something similar to ThreadLocal.

Spring Boot Netflix

I've already mentioned a little bit that we use Spring Boot. Since about a year or so we have completely standardized on Spring Boot. Up until a year ago, about 50% of our applications were still on our own homegrown, not maintained at all, Java stack based on Guice, and a bunch of very outdated Java EE libraries. We didn't really make a good push in getting everything on Spring Boot. All the new applications were based on Spring Boot already. That became very messy, especially because that old homegrown framework just wasn't maintained very well. We made a really big effort to just get all the services migrated to Spring Boot. That migration was mostly just a lot of blood, sweat, and tears of a lot of teams. It's just not easy to go from one programming model to another one. As platform teams, we did provide a lot of tooling, for example, IntelliJ plugins to take care of, where possible, the code migrations and configuration migrations and things like that. Still, it was just a lot of work. Pretty painful. Now that we are on Spring Boot, though, we have like the one framework that everyone is using that makes things a lot nicer for everyone. We are trying to mostly just use the latest version of OSS Spring Boot. We're going to be using 3.1, and try to stay as close as possible to the open source community because that's where we get the most benefit. On top of that, we need a lot of integration with our Netflix ecosystem and the infrastructure that we have. That is what we call Spring Boot Netflix, and is basically just a whole set of modules which we build on top of Spring Boot. That's basically just developed in the same way as Spring Boot itself is built, so lots of auto-configurations. That's where we add things like gRPC client and server support that's very integrated with our SSO stack, for AuthZ and AuthN. You get observability, so tracing, metrics, and distributed logging. We have a whole bunch of HTTP clients that take care of mTLS and again observability and integration with the security stack. We deploy all these applications with embedded Tomcat, which is pretty standard for a Spring Boot application.

To give an idea of the features, how that looks like. We have, for example, a gRPC Spring client. This looks very Spring-like, but it is something that we added. Basically, this is referencing a property file, which describes the gRPC service, it tells where the service lives. It configures failover behavior. That way, you can just use a Java API with an extra annotation to call another gRPC service. With that, you also get things like observability completely for free. For any request, either gRPC or HTTP, you get observability for free with tracing, and metrics, and all these things available. Another example is maybe integrate with Spring security, so we can get our SSO color. You get the user basically, that's called your service, even if there were many services in between in a cold chain. As I said, we integrated with Spring Security to also do role-based authentication based on our own authentication models.

Why Spring Boot?

You might be wondering, why are we using Spring Boot, why not some other more fancy framework? Because, of course, there's been a lot of innovation in the Java space in the last few years with other frameworks available. Spring Boot is really the most popular Java framework, that doesn't necessarily make it better, but it does give a lot of leverage when it comes to using the open source community, which is really big, of course, for Spring Boot, and accessing documentation, training, and all these things. More importantly, I think, is just looking at the Spring framework, it has been just so well maintained over the years. I think I started using the Spring framework 15 years ago. It is quite amazing, actually, that that framework has been so stable and so well-evolved, basically, over time, because it's not the same thing as it was 15 years ago, but a lot of the concepts are still there. It gives us a lot of trust, basically in the Spring team that also in the future, this will be a very good place to be basically.

The Road to Spring Boot 3

Almost a year ago, Spring Boot 3 came out, and that was a big deal, because Spring Boot 3 really just involves the Java ecosystem, I think, because the Java ecosystem was a little bit stuck in two different ways. The first reason is that if you look at the open source ecosystem in Java, it was stuck on Java 8, because a lot of companies were stuck on Java 8, and no one wanted to be the first one who would break that basically. Companies didn't upgrade because everything just worked fine on Java 8 anyway. Now, finally, the Spring team has said, we are done with Java 8, Java 17 is your new baseline. Now we force the whole community basically, to say, ok, fine, we'll do Java 17, and everything can start moving again. Now we can start leveraging those new language features. It also makes it possible that although it's just baseline on Java 17, we can actually also start using Java 21 with virtual threads under the hood. That's exactly what they're doing. The second part is the whole mess around Javax to Jakarta, thanks to Oracle. This is just a simple namespace change, but it is extremely complex for a library ecosystem, because a library can either use Javax or Jakarta, and that makes it either compatible with one but not the other. That's super painful now, because the Spring team is now saying, ok, if you're just doing Jakarta, now the whole ecosystem can start moving because it had such a big impact. We finally get past that point that they were stuck on. It is a big change to get on these new things still, so moving to Spring Boot 3 isn't fulfilled, and we've done a lot of tooling work to make that happen. Probably the most interesting one there is we open sourced a Gradle plugin that does bytecode transformation at artifact resolution time. When you download an artifact, a JAR file, it will do bytecode translation if you're on Spring Boot 3 from Javax to Jakarta, so it basically just fixes that whole namespace problem on the fly, and you don't have to change your library. That gets us unstuck.

DGS Framework

Then I talked quite a bit about DGS. DGS is not some concept, GraphQL Federation is the concept. The DGS framework is just a framework that that we use to build our GraphQL services in Java. About three or four years ago, when we started the journey on to GraphQL and GraphQL Federation, there really wasn't any good Java framework out there, that was mature enough for us to use it at our scale. There was GraphQL Java, which is a lower level GraphQL library. That library is great, and we are building on top of it. This is completely crucial for us, but it's too low level to use directly in an application, at least in my opinion. With v1 that is a GraphQL framework for Spring Boot, and basically giving a programming model based on annotation as you are used to in Spring Boot. We needed things like code generation for schema types, and support for federation and all these things. That's exactly what you're getting with the DGS framework. About, I think it's almost three years ago, we decided to open source the DGS framework. It's on GitHub. There's a really large community. There's lots of companies using it now. It's also exactly the version that we were using at Netflix, so we're not using a fork or anything like that. It's really evolved really nicely over the last few years.

You might be wondering if you are actually in the GraphQL and Spring space, you probably have seen that in Spring Boot 3, the Spring team also added GraphQL support, which they called Spring GraphQL. That was not ideal for the larger community, because now the community would have to choose between, ok, do I bet on the DGS framework, or do I go with Spring GraphQL? Both seem interesting, both seem great. Both have an interesting feature set, but a different feature set. What do I bet on? I could go and sell you the DGS framework, how that's better and better evolves, and faster, and all these things which are right now probably true, because we've been around for a little bit longer. That's really not the point, the point is that you shouldn't have to choose. In the last few months, we have been working with the Spring team to get full integration between those two frameworks. What you basically get with that is that you can combine the DGS and Spring GraphQL programming models and its features in the same app, and it will just happily live together. That's possible because we're both using GraphQL Java as the low-level library. That's how it all fits together. We just integrated the framework really deeply. We're still finishing that, and that is probably going to be released early 2024. At least that gives you that idea. It doesn't really matter if you would pick the DGS framework today. It doesn't get you stuck in there and not be able to leverage features coming from Spring team, because very soon you will just be able to combine both very nicely.

Questions and Answers

Participant 1: Are you guys still using Zuul?

Bakker: We are, yes. Zuul is sitting in front of literally every request. Zuul is just a proxy. It's doing a lot of traffic control, basically. It's not the API server that we talked about earlier. Zuul sits in front of either the DGS federated architecture or like the old architecture.

Participant 2: You talked about the upgrade for Java having a limited perceived value there. I think that's interesting. I think a lot of enterprises tend to have this mindset of if it isn't broke, don't fix it, [inaudible 00:44:02]. What did you do to change that perception, or was it just the Spring upgrade that kicked your guys about to do the upgrade?

Bakker: No, actually, the main story was the performance benefit. The fact that we could say that, you get 20% better performance. It depends a little bit on the service, how that number actually looks like and what it actually means. The number is real. The fact that you could say that, that made a lot of service owners more interested in it, but it also gave leadership higher up just to push like, this is going to save money, go do it. That was actually the most helpful thing. The Spring Boot upgrade came later, and also forces the issue, but it was after the fact.

Participant 3: A lot of advancements to OpenJDK, so from 8 to 17, did it directly go from 8 to 17?

Bakker: We had services running on Java 11 because the plan was 8, 11, 17. Java 11, we had services running there, it never really took off because there just wasn't enough benefit. We mostly went from 8 to 17.

Participant 3: Then that's one of the things depending on the collectors as he was talking about, there was some impact with respect to stop-the-world pauses and some background collections that's happening with Shenandoah and ZGC. There's a tradeoff, but a lot of improvements went into reducing the memory sets and everything like that.

Participant 4: You mentioned that 20% was what you needed, but how did you even secure the time to actually experiment with that? How did you convince stakeholders to say, we're going to spend some time doing an upgrade on some services, and then we'll demonstrate the values with that?

Bakker: There is the benefit of having a platform team as we have. If I look at my own time, I could do whatever I want. If I think there is some interesting failure to be had in experimenting with garbage collection, I'm actually not mostly doing performance work, there's actually other folks who are much better at that. It's just an example. If there is potential failure in there, if you can get a time to just experiment with it and play with it, basically, because our time of like one or two people is like drops in the water.

Participant 5: Did you see any difference in the memory footprint between virtual threads versus a traditional one for the same number of request-responses. The second is regarding the GraphQL versus traditional SOAP, because SOAP was superseded by REST back in the days when I was thinking that was very precious, and your network was very important if you don't have a large number of data going through easily. Now that data is cheap, so it has the disadvantage of the schema going between the client and the server. I see that GraphQL also had the same problem now that we have the other query and the schema, going between the client and the server. How do you see the REST, SOAP, and GraphQL in that conjecture?

Bakker: I think SOAP had, conceptually, a few things. For example, the fact that there is a schema, that was a good thing. It was so incredibly hard to use and complex, that the overhead of doing the right things was just too much. Then REST, at least the way everyone is using REST, went the other extreme like no schema, no nothing at all, nothing is defined. You just throw in some data and we're all good. I think GraphQL sits in the middle there. It doesn't have a lot of overhead for developers to implement the schema. It's very easy. It's much easier than SOAP was, just from using it. You do get a schema and that takes away a lot of the downsides of just having REST in the schema. It feels like it has found the sweet spot for APIs. Probably if I'm back here 10 years from now, I will be like, "GraphQL, a terrible idea. How did we ever get to that?" You know how that goes. Right now, it feels like a sweet spot.

There is a difference, that is why we have to be very careful about ending virtual threads where we replace traditional thread pools. Depending on if these thread pools are very CPU intensive or not, it does or does not make a lot of sense. The memory footprint doesn't seem to be a big factor. We haven't seen any significant bumps there at all. Again, it's all very early days, and we're just experimenting with everything. We haven't quite figured it out yet. It seems to be very straightforward from memory.

Participant 6: Then I was just wondering about your Kotlin usage percentage, and what that is looking like?

Bakker: It is fairly low. For a while we had a bunch of teams, including my own team, very excited about Kotlin. The DGS framework itself is written in Kotlin, although it's targeting mostly Java apps. That's my choice. We have microservices written in Kotlin, as well. The only downside that we see with Kotlin is we invest more in developer tooling, so IntelliJ plugins and automated tooling based on Gradle to help with these version upgrades with Spring, and all these things. That story is much harder for a platform team if you have to deal with multiple languages. Because either for an IntelliJ plugin, even if it's both from JetBrains, you need to write your inspections in IntelliJ twice if you want to use both Java and Kotlin. It's just a lot more work. It's just a lot easier for platform teams if everyone is just happily using Java. That doesn't make Kotlin bad, though. We have only seen good things about Kotlin and it works just pretty well. It's a great language.

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presentation software is used for

Feb 26, 2024

Paul Bakker

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