Using the timer at Geovis 2011 (photo: Jason Dykes)
Using the timer at Geovis 2011 (photo: Jason Dykes)

Some years ago, Jason Dykes designed and wrote some software to help to run quick-fire presentations (e.g., “lighting talks” or “two minute madness” sessions), such as are common at some workshops, conferences, and seminars (including the Schloss Dagstuhl seminars, where the software originally became well-used). With input from Jason, I recently rewrote and documented the software, with the aim of making it more easily usable and adaptable by others. The software is written in Processing, and you can download the presentation software from the links below.


Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 1.34.07 pm

The timer is designed to be projected alongside the speaker (e.g., see above). The name of the current speaker is shown along with the time remaining for that speaker. The name of the next speaker is shown to help with a smooth transition at the end of the talk. There are low-contrast screen controls for play/pause, advancing, and backtracking through speakers, but these may be easily disabled (leaving only keyboard controls: spacebar, left, and right arrows). The combination of having the remaining time clearly shown, along with the name of the next speaker (who’s time the current speaker will be using up if they go over time) seems to work very well at keeping speakers to time.


The timer requires a file called “speakers.txt” in the same directory as the Dagstuhl timer Processing sketch or executable. This file defines the length of presentations, and the names and order of speakers. The format of speakers.txt must be:

time [in seconds]
Speaker 1 name
Speaker 2 name

In the Processing code, there are also two flags you can easily set to enable or disable the on-screen control buttons and to make the timer run full screen with no window frame or in a resizable window.


The software is copyright Jason Dykes and Matt Duckham, from an original idea by Jason Dykes. It is made available under a GPL 3.0 license.


You can download the timer in three different ways:

The code is written for Processing above version 2.0. However, if you are using an older version of Processing, the code only requires minor edits. This version of dagstuhltimer.pde (overwritten on the file with the same name in the source code above) will ensure the timer works with Processing version 1.5.