Electronic Text Interface Ideas

Back in 2007 I wrote a post about an ideal translation program. I would like to expand that idea into ideas for a better digital library system.

First, a list of features for a great electronic text reader. There are many programs that already fall into this category.

  • Simple interface
  • Bookmarks to keep your place
  • no page turning - this is contrived, you are on a computer, scroll already!
  • Changeable text sizes / fonts alignment.
  • Unicode is a must!
  • Can read many different text-file types, especially open ones.
  • can also read PDF files that have no text (each page is an image)
  • Can convert all of these formats to a standard electronic text format.
  • Has support for images and other media with captions.
  • Can have media galleries attached to a paragraph (many different pictures, all in the same place shown as thumbnails)
  • The ability to have multiple books open at once, and to view them side by side
  • The ability to look up words in associated dictionaries / encyclopedias (this ability would NOT be dependent on the TEXT, but on the dictionary/etc.)
  • The ability to add in new dictionaries / encyclopedias.
  • The ability to easily create a new text in the proper format, as well as edit existing books. This will let the user fix any formating mistakes the converter makes.
  • Free or at least cheap
  • Free books to load into it
  • sets of books that you can download. Such as the Complete Kipling, or Masonic History, or Sophia's random favorite public domain Fiction
  • tagging and organizing of books into shelves and sections
  • more than one library of books possible
  • integrate with library thing where possible!
  • The ability to sell books to other users where they aren't able to edit the text.
  • All text will be copy and pasteable - if a publisher isn't cool with that - too bad - that's why people want their book - so that they can copy and paste sections.
  • A way to unobtrusively keep track of who has bought what. The fear of pirating should not make the program hard to use! Giving each user an ID, and then inserting that number into their encrypted book would work. They can use their customer ID on many computers / devices.
  • The internet is not required for use or activation.
  • If the books are on a CD, they will work.
  • Keeping all of the files for a book together is n interesting problem. On one hand, you want to keep it open. On the other hand, you don't want people to loose track of their files. A standard archive file would work - as long as the program can read unopened archive files. OOo can read them.
  • Open standards for the creation of plug ins and modules that anyone can create.
  • A fully working demo with a time limit to register before only the reader works.

Okay, now features for a reader with research capabilities

  • all of the above.
  • The ability to look up phrases to see where else it is referenced in your library.
  • the ability to look up any word in a concordance - original language and translation and meaning (ie, there are many different words that mean the same thing in most languages, this would include them all under separate result entries.)
  • the ability to compare different translations of the same work, as well as the original. This would be paragraph by paragraph
  • Interlinear comparisons, as above.
  • maps, with coordinates coded into various texts
  • if a text does not have the coordinates coded in, a basic search is done in the applicable maps for those words. The map itself is coded to know various spellings and variations of place names.
  • the ability to look up a word by sound, and by the root of a word.
  • combination search, with an instant tree view of the search results by #
  • the ability to search by book, collection, library(s) or open documents.
  • A customizable keyboard mapper so that you can type in any language.
  • A special character picker for things like cuneiform, where there are too many characters to use a keyboard.
  • all (or most) of the ideas in my earlier post - I now think that the english language should also have a numbered reference system, like Strong's - that way words can be referenced by number.
  • simple, easy to use option in the context menu for each word - the menu is customizable through an option ON the menu.
  • Although many people will be using this for the bible, it should work with any modern or ancient text in any language.
  • the ability to back track
I know there are more ideas to be had, but this is a good start!

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