Requesting reading plan generation improvements

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This post has 34 Replies | 4 Followers

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TCBlack | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jul 28 2017 9:08 AM

Books are what Logos Digital Library is about. But the current reading plan mechanisms are inadequate.  My digital library lacks is a powerful and flexible reading plan generation feature built for regular books. For a moment, a brief moment, I thought I had found a solution in the courses tool. But no, that curated effort is far away from what is needed to set up dynamic, read at your own pace, reading plans.

Let me isolate what I'm asking for:

Dynamic, read at your own pace, reading plans.

I believe the current reading plan tools were built for Bibles, and they are being forced to work with regular books.  It works well for Bibles, but my library has many many books that are not bibles, and the current iteration of reading plans can't do them justice.

  1. They break on odd pages, or much worse: mid paragraph.
  2. They cannot find a chapter heading (really? Isn't that a milestone?)
  3. They cannot adjust on the fly (right click and choose, finish reading here for the day).

So here's what we need:

Default to chapter breaks: 

Reading plans for regular old fashioned books needs to default to breaking on chapter headings.

Secondary to subchapter headings

Even within chapters there are additional heading milestones, these most certainly ought to be considered breakpoints if, for example a reading plan for 24 sessions is requested for a 10 chapter book, first priority ought to be given to chapter headings, and then the lesser milestone headings.

Other Options

Keep the ability to switch to page counts... specific page counts (e.g. read 4 pages per session).

Go ahead and leave a choice for precisely equal reading lengths, which can keep on breaking mid paragraph like the current iteration does, for those that must have very specific reading loads.

Permit reading at my own pace

Bring the ability to select "Read at your own pace" rather than a date based model. I hate feeling like I'm behind when I miss a day or twelve. I can just pick up a book from my shelf and keep going. Don't make me feel the stress of being behind and playing catch up. Thankfully I actually can use a catch up or adjust feature on the current iteration, but it is second only to "read at my own pace".

Automatic Generation

I know that reading plans can be painstakingly (very much so) built via the custom plan tool, but I shouldn't have to spend an hour building a reading plan for a book. That is an hour of reading I could have done. I cannot speak to the technical requirements of locating chapter and heading milestones, but I do fail to comprehend why Logos has not chosen to do so already.

While I'm making requests.... I would love to have a "Reading Report" that I can pop up each day that will, in the way the courses tool does, bring today's readings all together one after another.  Of course I am assuming that if I highlight something in this tool, the highlight will be in my book/resource.

So what are your desires?

  • What would make the reading plan work the way you dream it would work?
  • Where should plans break?
  • How should missed/skipped reading days be handled (automatically)?  
  • What would smooth out your daily readings making them feel like a natural workflow?
  • What other suggestions would you add or change to my list?

Let's try to present a community sourced request list so we can come up with a final request for the excellent programmers at Logos to bring to life.

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 28 2017 9:50 AM

Thanks for starting this thread!

TCBlack:
For a moment, a brief moment, I thought I had found a solution in the courses tool. But no, that curated effort is far away from what is needed to set up dynamic, read at your own pace, reading plans.

As I understand it, FL has other goals in store for the Courses tool, including letting us create our own plans.

I believe the Courses tool is designed to be far more advanced than the reading plans that we are accustomed to, and that we will eventually be able to do a great deal more within that tool to create our own (book reading plan and other) content.

I would personally like to see your (dynamic, automatically generated) requests be rolled out in the newer Courses tool, rather than the older custom reading plan tool.

I agree that the date-based model doesn't match our real-world behavior of picking up a book and continuing to read it, as we find/make time. In that regard, I like how the Courses tool just lets us continue from where we left off, and then mark a "section" as complete.

If we could create and read our own Courses tool book reading plans on any platform, I think that would be ideal.

(If there are reasons why the Courses tool wouldn't be a good choice for reading books, I'd like to hear them too!)

Posts 52
Eduardo Espiritu | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jul 29 2017 10:00 AM

More than half of my needs can be satisfied if I could make a plan to read a resource a chapter per session. ( A drop down menu on the resource itself would be convenient. )

Another 30% of my needs can be met by options to change dates when behind or ahead, to save plans without start dates, and of course to plan subsets of the resource (only a few chapters).

Another option might be sections or pages instead of chapter per session.The ability to take an existing plan and change the start date would be nice, too. Can that be done already?

A UI for making a reading plan should be available from within the resource. For my uses selecting readig plan documents  and then searching for the resource is awkward.

My uses of reading plan is for personal study; it is rare that I am coordinating a reading group.

Posts 128
Andrew116 | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 30 2017 2:58 PM

The OP makes a LOT of sense to me.

a suggested implementation:

when a reading plan automatically divides up a book, get Logos to look for a natural break within 20% variance by page or word count. So readings will be slightly longer or shorter from day to day, but not too bad. At the worst, a 10 page per day plan would vary from 8 to 12 pages per day.

when it looks for a natural break, Logos should give preference to: 

1. Chapter breaks. If this occurs in the variance range, automatically choose. If not:

2. Section / subheading break. If this occurs, auto choose. If not,

3. Paragraph break.

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Forum MVP
Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 30 2017 6:49 PM

Ed Espiritu:
The ability to take an existing plan and change the start date would be nice, too. Can that be done already?

Tried that by creating a Reading Plan starting July 2, then clicked catch up to today (here). Had to close and reopen the plan for completed dates to show. Clicked Edit and changed the starting date to July 31 and back to July 17. Everything that had previously been marked complete was now cleared, and the plan said I was behind.

Tried this again with start date of July 17 and clicked catch up. Closed/reopened plan to see completed dates. Adjusted start date to July 20. All dates marked completed were now cleared.

Thus the answer to your question appears to be—You can change the start date, but you will lose any previous progress.

Another irritation on Reading Plans is the necessity to close and reopen in order to see completed dates.

Posts 4911
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 30 2017 8:26 PM

TCBlack:
Books are what Logos Digital Library is about. But the current reading plan mechanisms are inadequate.

Thomas you have been requesting improvements in this area of the program for many years. Custom reading plans are FL's current solution but are too manual and hence take too long to set up.

I am in support of your ideas to improve usability in these area of the software.

Posts 4623
Forum MVP
Mike Binks | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 31 2017 12:30 AM

TC, your post is music to my ears and addresses my biggest frustration with Logos.

When I want to read a book for pleasure or general interest I want a plan that

  1. I can assign a book to.
  2. That will note how far I have got through it.
  3. Will allow me to stop reading indefinitely but allow me to find the book when I want to know which ones I have started.
  4. Will allow me to reject the book, delete the plan, and tag the book without cluttering up first level menus.

When I want to read a book for study I want a plan that 

  1. I can assign a book to.
  2. Will allow me to divide the book into sensible, approximately equal, sections that finish at sensible points in the text.
    (This implies a breaking point hierarchy - Chapters - Sub Sections - Paragraphs - Sentences all defined by a, perhaps user chosen, percentage variance limit on the regular reading length)
  3. Will cater for the fact that I don't want to study on Weekends and during Holidays.
  4. Integrates well with a note taking facility.

Custom reading plans take too much time to set up but I would not be adverse to an 'inspector' type panel which would allow these setting to be applied to the plan. Five minutes to set up a bespoke reading plan would be acceptable. Sensible defaults would make the plan instantaneous once you have selected a book.

I would have no objection to a software division 'Bible Reading Plans' and 'Book Reading Plans' in fact such a division might well be helpful.

What is sad is that we are so far down the Logos Now road and we have not seen any effort devoted to what must be a core use of Logos and which in my uneducated opinion must actually be the equivalent of low hanging fruit.

Posts 1138
Liam | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 31 2017 6:27 AM

Thank you for the post TC! 

I've had the exact same thoughts on the current reading plan set up! 

In addition to what you've mentioned, I'd also appreciate:

1. The ability to generate a plan by paragraph. The current ability to generate a plan by pericope is great, but I find the pericopes in the NT are much smaller than the pericopes in the OT. The result is that my OT reading seems about 5 times longer than my NT reading. Perhaps this is appropriate because the OT is about 5 times longer than the New, but I'd appreciate some way of making the readings generally a similar amount of text. The page count method that TC mentioned would also work for this if it wasn't for the stopping mid sentence or mid paragraph. 

2. The second thing I'd love to see would be some kind of a morning devotions tool. Possibly this would be it's own tool and not necessarily part of reading plans. I'd love something that would guide the reader through different books and tools as they saw fit each day. So if for morning devotions I wanted to go through my Bible reading plan for the day, and then a devotional, and then say, some scripture memorization, and lastly my prayer list, the tool would take me through each successively. It would be phenomenal if there was a tool that guided me through all of this. 

Posts 8601
TCBlack | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 9 2017 12:00 PM

Granularity

So a Summary on Granularity spec for reading books that are not the Bible.

It sounds like we want increasing granularity focused on (in decreasing order):

  1. Chapter level reading (default)  Note that in books like DDD, I would consider each entry to be an individual chapter (e.g. the entry on Ananke would be a single reading ending just prior to Anat.) 
  2. Subheadings within chapters (There is room to determine whether or not we want all subheadings treated the same or not.  Does Logos milestone differentiate between level two and level three, etc headings?)
  3. Pages (e.g. always read two pages at a time.)
  4. Paragraph.  It has been requested, but that might be too small imho  Nevertheless, it is a great idea to provide full flexibility if possible.

Further considerations for granularity in reading plans for non-bible books are:

  • Never, ever, break a reading in the middle of a paragraph or sentence.
  • Default to chapter breaks on all non-bible book readings.  
  • Permit some form of interruption/resume capacity in my reading time.  Let me right click a paragraph and somewhere in the many options already there provide an "Update reading plan to this stopping point"  so I can pick it up again later right where I left off. (this is part of that dynamic reading plan concept).

Further considerations will be on PACE (read every day, adjusting dates, etc.)

Another consideration I would like to explore is a "reading stack" concept, so I can add a book to the end of an existing reading plan saying "read this book next: and link to the reading plan for it.

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Posts 1216
Matt Hamrick | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 9 2017 12:13 PM

I am grateful for the custom reading plans it does offer. I have no problem using that.

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Aug 9 2017 1:10 PM

It looks like we'll see some improvements in the near term, with the eventual merging of reading plans into the Courses tool.

Posts 1138
Liam | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 12 2017 2:25 PM

I like it!

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LogosEmployee
Phil Gons (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Aug 18 2017 11:47 PM

Thanks for your feedback, TC and everyone else.

I had a good initial conversation with the desktop development team on this today. They're all excited to address many of these issues.

Here's what we're considering for an upcoming two-week sprint (which could perhaps make it into 7.10 or 7.11), pending a detailed technical review from the team:

  1. Improve the Reference Range Picker for non-Bible reading plans so you can use non-Bible versified datatype reference ranges and, more importantly, the book's table of contents to select what portion of the book you'd like to read. Most likely people will uncheck things like Title Page, Dedication, Contents, Abbreviations, Acknowledges, Scripture Index, etc.
  2. Add a new "at my own pace" frequency option to the current picker and probably make it the default (as least for non-Bibles). These plans wouldn't have a fixed start or end date, and the sessions wouldn't be attached to dates on a calendar.
  3. Bring the session division control (the one that has Default, Chapter, Pericope) over from Bible reading plans and expose options like Chapter, Heading, Page (or perhaps, Level 1 TOC, Level 2 TOC, etc.). There may be a default algorithm that prefers chapter breaks, but might have some smarts to divide longer chapters (in intelligent places!) into multiple sessions and group shorter chapters into a single session. I need to think through this a little more. This feels like the most critical thing to get right.
  4. Make the default for structure-based reading plans "in x sessions," where x is the number of units for the chosen division method (e.g., the number of chapters in the book).
  5. Add a new "Start a reading plan" option to the context menu in the Library.
  6. Add a new "Start a reading plan" option in the resource information pane in resources right after the place where we show "You've read x% of this book."

We'll work on some other improvements later, so please feel free to continue to share feedback and ideas, but this should be a good start to address the most critical issues.

As I mentioned in the other thread, longer term we'll likely merge Courses and Reading Plans and create a much more elegant plan builder inside the merged tool.

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 19 2017 12:29 AM

Phil Gons (Faithlife):
Here's what we're considering for an upcoming two-week sprint (which could perhaps make it into 7.10 or 7.11), pending a detailed technical review from the team:

Hi Phil

These sound really good - if you can get these done I think it will address a lot of issues.

And with support for chapters / ToC levels it should extend to Vyrso resources as well. Would you expect that to be the case?

Thanks, Graham

Posts 129
Joe Mayden | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 19 2017 4:26 AM

Responsiveness is a tremendous indicator of customer care.  This is an example of how much Logos cares for us and wants to enhance our ability to learn and to teach.  This example of response is one of the reasons I don't mind paying a little more for Logos books, not only do the books have features that other software doesn't provide, datasets are amazing!, but we get engagement with developers like in this thread.  Thanks Logos.

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PetahChristian | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 19 2017 5:01 AM

Graham Criddle:
And with support for chapters / ToC levels it should extend to Vyrso resources as well. Would you expect that to be the case?

I hope so! I remember buying a calendar devotional from Vyrso, but couldn't conveniently use a reading plan for it because I would have had to customize each of the 365 days!

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 19 2017 5:02 AM

PetahChristian:
I remember buying a calendar devotional from Vyrso, but couldn't conveniently use a reading plan for it because I would have had to customize each of the 365 days!

Less convinced it will handle that issue as there is some extra tagging needed for devotionals I believe - but am not sure of the details.

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Phil Gons (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 19 2017 2:07 PM

Graham Criddle:

PetahChristian:
I remember buying a calendar devotional from Vyrso, but couldn't conveniently use a reading plan for it because I would have had to customize each of the 365 days!

Less convinced it will handle that issue as there is some extra tagging needed for devotionals I believe - but am not sure of the details.

We'll try to ensure Vyrso books benefit from this work as well.

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Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 19 2017 2:19 PM

Thanks Phil

Posts 181
James Hudson | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 19 2017 2:20 PM

I think repetition is important too...I'm not sure currently I can set up Logos Reading Plan to (for example):

1. Read a Psalm everyday forever (i.e. after 150 loop back to Ps 1)

2. Read Proverbs each day for a month (based on day of month)

3. Read a 'church of Revelation' each day of week (Sun->Sat) and then repeat (ad infinitum)

4. Read Jonathan Edwards resolutions daily

5. Read a pericope of the Gospels every day and continue looping through (so I always have a 'Gospel on the Go')

These are some 'real world examples' I have used or are currently trying to use or can't do in Logos. (Even setting up Jonathan Edwards resolutions for daily reading was a pain -I can't even remember how I managed it!)

Hope this can be incorporated in any Reading Plan update.

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