As I do not really like default Beamer themes1, I tend to rely on Context to build my slides. I’ve built a set of custom themes for use with Hans Hagen’s pre styles as well as Thomas Schmitz and Aditya Mahajan’s simpleslides. The latter caused me problem when I tried to recompile older slides.

The simpleslides “third-party” module has been updated recently (January, 2012) but I didn’t notice that until I got the following error message

! Undefined control sequence. l.223 \definenamespace


when trying to rebuild a series of lectures for an upcoming course and a short talk. I then found this thread which basically says there might have been a problem well before simpleslides was updated on CTAN; but I haven’t noticed that problem anyway. I don’t really know what the problem is with the current version of simpleslides. What I know is that I don’t have time to update all my themes and go deep inside MkIV arcane. So I was looking for a quick way to get my earlier versions work as they did in December.

Here is my very hacky solution to solve this annoying problem: Fetch previous versions of simpleslides-s-default.tex and t-simpleslides.tex from TexLive svn, and put this your texmf local directory. In my case, on OS X 10.7.3, it happens to be

~/Library/texmf/tex/context/third/simpleslides


As I’m using Metapost to create colored background and the like, I also have to remember to enable system commands in TeX’s texmf.cnf (/usr/local/texlive/2011/texmf/web2c/texmf.cnf) so that around line 499 I have

shell_escape = t


I know there are better ways to enable system commands, but I always forget about them (like for openin_any/openout_any).

It looks like simpleslides may be replaced by a new MkIV module, complexslides. I’ve tested it and it works quite well with the dev version of ConText, although I got some strange errors due to the visualcounter module which was apparently missing from my system (I installed it once, so I don’t know why I wasn’t able to find it again). Grab the latest version from Github, and put it where ConText can find it. My experimental version of Context sits in ~/context, so for me it is

tex/texmf-modules/tex/context/third/


then just update TeX’s database:

$mktexlsr$ context --generate


Well, everything works now, but I am waiting for some more themes.

1. In fact, I created my own theme, which is largely inspired from Ross Ihaka’s Beamer slides, which can be found by looking at, e.g. Topic in Computational Data Analysis and Graphics. [return]