#beam #presentation #latex #slide #generator #faster #beamer

app rust-beam

A LaTeX slide generator you can write in faster than beamer

4 releases (2 breaking)

0.3.0 Feb 5, 2024
0.2.0 Sep 13, 2022
0.1.1 Sep 13, 2022
0.1.0 Apr 10, 2022

#35 in Visualization


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beam is a plaintext slideshow format you can write in faster than beamer.

This is the Rust implementation of the informal beam specification.



Rust stable.


A working installation of LaTeX with beamer.


Run cargo install rust-beam to install the latest stable version of rust-beam.

Run cargo install --git https://gitlab.com/chennisden/rust-beam.git to install rust-beam from source.


Here is an informal specification for the beam file format.


  • Slides are separated by a ~ mark. Whatever text follows ~ is the title of the slide. Leave no text after ~ if you do not want to set a title.
  • Leading and trailing whitespace in a line is ignored.

Special characters

  • # will start a new section, and the title will be the text that follows it on the same line.

  • ~ will create a new slide, and the title will be the text that follows it on the same line.

  • - can be used to make a list of bullet points. Under the hood, it calls the "itemize" environment in LaTeX.

  • > starts a block. The first line is used as the title (leave it blank for no title).

  • < starts an exampleblock. Again, the first line is used as the title.

  • ! starts an alertblock. Again, the first line is used as the title.

  • @ can be used to create a slide with a certain image. It is possible, but discouraged, to add text to such a slide. Under the hood, it uses

  • * can be used to insert an image into the slide. Under the hood, it calls

  • ^ will directly input text verbatim into the preamble. This lets you set the theme, title, and author of a presentation. If a line starts with ^, it will end the current slide, without exception.

  • Character escaping is handled by LaTeX, not beam. That means it's impossible to display a line that starts with a raw -, !, >, or < character. This is regarded as a design flaw, but a very minor one.

You can also use % to act as a comment, since it's also a comment in LaTeX. Be careful not to start a new slide by accident though.


All examples can be found in examples/, and it is assumed that you are in that directory.

An example is contained in "example.beam". Provided that rust-beam is on your system, run

rust-beam example.beam

beam will generate an intermediate TeX file and then compile it through latexmk. The example is reproduced below.

^ \documentclass{beamer}[12pt]
^ \title{beam}
^ \author{Dennis Chen}


# Introduction

~ What is beam?
- beam is a file format to write presentations with
- beam is a program that converts beam files into beamer

~ Why?
beam does for beamer what Markdown does for HTML
- beamer takes far too long to write.
- We only need a subset of beamer's features

# Features

~ Frametitles
Use the ``~'' character to set the frametitle.

~ Bullet points
- You've already seen it in this presentation.
- Bullet points invoke the ``itemize'' environment.

~ Block
> How to make a block
> This symbol makes a block.

~ Exampleblock
< How to make an exampleblock
< This symbol makes an exampleblock.

~ Alertblock
! How to make an alertblock
! This symbol makes an alertblock.

~ Images
Use the ``\@'' character to set a background image.


You can also use the ``\*'' characater to include an image in the slide.

# Miscellaneous

~ Stylization
beam should be written in all lowercase, even at the start of a sentence. 

No runtime deps