Make Custom Reading Plans First Class Citizens!

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Feb 14 2015 9:24 PM

I admit I haven't touched "custom reading plans" until today, despite it being one of my long standing requests. Why not? Well, to be honest, ALL of my "reading" (vs. "studying") is done on my iPad. Since the plans don't sync with mobile, why bother, right? Wink

I decided to play around with creating one at the prodding of a forum friend. If I am honest, I am a little underwhelmed. When a user creates a reading plan, it <should> be a two step process. The first step is creating the readings. The second step is setting up the plan. 

Some thoughts:

  1. Make these plans available on mobile! 
  2. Why can't users customize the timing of the readings (i.e. MWF | W only, etc.)? 
  3. Why can't users name the readings? In the screen shot below, it is kind of simple enough since I have basically split chapters into two readings... but what if I want to have 10 readings in a chapter? What if I want to skip around in the book? 
  4. Why can't the readings be dragged into a different order?
  5. When a user is editing a reading, why doesn't the reading "selection" get highlighted in the text (so that the editor can see what the reading consists of)? 

On a different note: It took me about 45 minutes to create the reading plan to begin with... and then the plan got deleted somehow and was unrecoverable. It was probably user error on my part (trying to learn how to use it), but when I "undeleted" the document from the Faithlife servers, the plan was completely blank. That shouldn't happen.

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Feb 14 2015 11:01 PM

alabama24:
I admit I haven't touched "custom reading plans" until today,

Likewise.

I nearly gave up trying to create a session for Tomorrow and all my sessions have the identification '10' - because it is an ebook. I tried with a Logos edition book and quickly came to the same conclusions.

Creating a reading by selection (which isn't mentioned anywhere) is quite onerous. But the other methods based on references are very limited because you only get a single reference (e.g. page 14) without a way to specify a range e.g. Pg 14-17. I gave up on Type a Reference after trying a few of the well known methods for copying locations. But I should be able to specify a range.

Dave
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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 15 2015 4:54 AM

Dave Hooton:

Creating a reading by selection (which isn't mentioned anywhere) is quite onerous. 

i'm glad they have it because reading plans by page numbers don't fit what I want to do. What <should> have been done is to create a special kind of marker or highlighting style (with a special status... It shouldn't get lumped in with other notes/highlights... which would help the user in creating (and later identifing) the readings. 

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Mike Binks | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 15 2015 3:43 PM

alabama24:
I decided to play around with creating one at the prodding of a forum friend. If I am honest, I am a little underwhelmed. When a user creates a reading plan, it <should> be a two step process. The first step is creating the readings. The second step is setting up the plan. 

In other threads I have been mocking the implementation (beginning of 2015) for giving me readings based on heading breaks. This produced readings of as little as 30 words and some that took a couple of hours.

When I want a reading plan, I want it to be simple to set up and, if possible, stop the daily readings at a sensible point.

So,

I would like to start a book at Chapter 1 and finish before the Appendices at the end. (Does anybody actually 'read and index'?)

I would like the book to divide at break points in the text as often as possible but be over ridden (and readjust) if any reading is plus or minus 20% of the average daily length. Perhaps we should be able to set optional maximum and minimum word counts.

I am surprised this feature has not been a top priority for developers. Bob has acknowledged that many customers buy the product and then leave it it languishing rather than make additional purchases.

I think that reading plans would be one of the things that a new user would try quite early on and it would be one of the things that should give a new user a good experience and thus be a high priority for both maintenance and review.

(The other things that I think impact new users the most are Prioritisation and the over blown claims about the level of Tagging both of which fail to impress and must be a significant component in new customers quietly voting with their feet – in these cases by metaphorically walking away).

tootle pip

Mike

How to get logs and post them. (now tagging post-apocalyptic fiction as current affairs)

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Doc B | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 15 2015 5:01 PM

alabama24:
If I am honest, I am a little underwhelmed.

Yes, I understand. I hate to complain about something that I, too, have been requesting for a long time. But I wish they'd continue to improve it. I'm glad it is customizable, and I use it. But it can be onerous.

I created a custom reading plan for Calvin's institutes for a Facebook group. It took me about four days to do that. (I used the selection method, and there are several threads in the forums about highlighting issues I encountered, etc.). Got it done, but it was a headache.

I'm now in the process of creating some other large reading plans (systematic theologies, etc.). I sure wish section titles from the table of contents could be dragged to the plan rather than having to highlight sections of text.

I also echo your call for being able to edit/drag readings, and to set reading patterns (odd days, etc.). And don't make the mistake of sharing a plan that you'll later need to edit, because you can't.

My thanks to the various MVPs. Without them Logos would have died early. They were the only real help available.

Faithlife Corp. owes the MVPs free resources for life.

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 9:43 AM

Thanks for the feedback. It's very important to us. UI issues in Reading Plans are definitely on our radar.

alabama24:
Make these plans available on mobile!

This is underway now and should ship very soon.

alabama24:
Why can't users customize the timing of the readings (i.e. MWF | W only, etc.)? 

Custom reading plans support arbitrary dates for arbitrary readings, by definition. We did have some designs where you could set the preferred pattern for new readings, but it became even more cumbersome.

alabama24:
Why can't users name the readings?

We didn't anticipate that desire, but I can see why you'd want it. We'll take it into consideration.

alabama24:
Why can't the readings be dragged into a different order?

If you have a reading on Monday, on Thursday, and on Friday, and you drop the Friday reading between Monday and Thursday, should it be assigned to Tuesday or Wednesday? The answer is: Maybe either. To address this, the original design included editable dates, which would make this less of a problem. The current implementation represents a number of compromises to the design, and editable dates was something that we were very sad to lose.

It may not help, but we designed custom plans with syllabus-type required reading lists in mind, like those we are publishing in our Mobile Ed courses. It works passably well for that, though improvement is always possible. It does not work as well for building a plan to read an entire book from scratch. To facilitate that, we would definitely need to add a number of amenities.

For many years you could only make generated plans for (English!) Bibles. We've been slowly but steadily improving upon that over the years, and we'll continue to improve.

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 10:14 AM

Thanks for your feedback, Mike.

Mike Binks:
In other threads I have been mocking the implementation (beginning of 2015) for giving me readings based on heading breaks. This produced readings of as little as 30 words and some that took a couple of hours.

We have imagined several heuristics that we think may produce better results, but this is in the earliest phases of discussion right now.

Mike Binks:
I would like to start a book at Chapter 1 and finish before the Appendices at the end. (Does anybody actually 'read and index'?)

Our resources don't label this content as "do not read" so the generator algorithm dutifully includes them. With 40K books and climbing, there is not one foolproof way to filter this content out automatically. In some books, you do indeed read the appendices, since they may contain essays and a discursus or two as well as technical charts, etc. In other books, the only appendices are the subject index and table of works cited, so no, you wouldn't. Some books have a bibliography in the middle, then more content, then another bibliography. We can't stop the reading at the first bibliography. Etc.

My preferred solution at this point is to give you UI access to pick the chapters you want to read from the table of contents. That will require quite a bit of code.

Mike Binks:
I think that reading plans would be one of the things that a new user would try quite early on and it would be one of the things that should give a new user a good experience and thus be a high priority for both maintenance and review.

Our usage data shows that new users do set up plans very frequently. Around 90% are "Read the Bible in a Year" plans, and the remaining 10% are divided among other plans for reading the Bible, other versified books (like Josephus), and non-versified books. Those last are are tiny, tiny fraction. I concede that it may be because the UI doesn't support some non-versified resources all that well. Or it may be that the vast bulk of users don't have this need in the first place. Either way, we intend to keep improving the feature.

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 10:23 AM

Doc B:
And don't make the mistake of sharing a plan that you'll later need to edit, because you can't.

If you want to edit a plan after sharing it, you can duplicate the plan: 1) Click panel menu in the plan's upper-left; choose "Manage document sharing"; 2) click the Action button in the upper-right of the web page that appears; choose "Duplicate." 3) Go back to Logos and click the rotating arrows in the upper-right of the application to force a sync.

You should now have a doppelganger of the plan you want to edit. Then you can edit the duplicate, then end the collaboration on the original, and share the amended duplicate. 

Why the song and dance? Because we made an architectural decision that an action on User A's computer would never under any circumstances allow work on User B's computer to be lost. Once you assign a reading plan to the group, then anyone in the group may have started it and checked off readings, which counts as putting "work" into the document.

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 10:34 AM

Dave Hooton:
But the other methods based on references are very limited because you only get a single reference (e.g. page 14) without a way to specify a range e.g. Pg 14-17. I gave up on Type a Reference after trying a few of the well known methods for copying locations. But I should be able to specify a range.

Agreed. I'm filing a bug report on that now.

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 10:42 AM

Eli Evans:

Dave Hooton:
But the other methods based on references are very limited because you only get a single reference (e.g. page 14) without a way to specify a range e.g. Pg 14-17. I gave up on Type a Reference after trying a few of the well known methods for copying locations. But I should be able to specify a range.

Agreed. I'm filing a bug report on that now.

Dave, it looks to me like the problem is that you can't type page numbers into that box at all. Ranges for other data types are supported (eg, type "Genesis 1:1-2:4"). The reason page number isn't supported in that box is that there's currently no way to specify which resource the page numbers should come from. Unlike generated plans, custom plans do not assume that they are only for one resource. So, not a bug, but a design flaw.

Again, thanks for the helpful feedback.

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 10:58 AM

One more on page number ranges. You can do this as a workaround: Enter the range on the resource panel's location box, click the button or hit enter. Then the range will be available in the reading plan drop-down under "Choose an open resource". In the screenshot below, I added the "-200" to the resource and hit Enter before I went to choose it from the reading plan.

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Mike Binks | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 3:41 PM

Eli Evans:

Our resources don't label this content as "do not read" so the generator algorithm dutifully includes them. With 40K books and climbing, there is not one foolproof way to filter this content out automatically. In some books, you do indeed read the appendices, since they may contain essays and a discursus or two as well as technical charts, etc. In other books, the only appendices are the subject index and table of works cited, so no, you wouldn't. Some books have a bibliography in the middle, then more content, then another bibliography. We can't stop the reading at the first bibliography. Etc.

My preferred solution at this point is to give you UI access to pick the chapters you want to read from the table of contents. That will require quite a bit of code.

Actually Eli, I think that might work very well providing you could bulk select the chapters and individually deselect the undesirable.

However on your first point about the algorithm and the unpredictability of indices, charts, and bibliography in both location and title. I would accept that a perfect solution might be hard to accomplish - but would an example like my reading for this quarter not provide sufficient clues to make a good stab at it?

 

Perhaps the clue might be 'Abbreviations', (I'm just not going to enjoy 23rd March - I can feel it in my bones`), and 'Index'.

Perhaps along with the suggestion above these could be automatically rejected but with the option of re-adding them should the algorithm have misfired.

tootle pip

Mike

How to get logs and post them. (now tagging post-apocalyptic fiction as current affairs)

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Dave Hooton | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 17 2015 6:51 PM

Eli Evans:

Eli Evans:

Dave Hooton:
But the other methods based on references are very limited because you only get a single reference (e.g. page 14) without a way to specify a range e.g. Pg 14-17. I gave up on Type a Reference after trying a few of the well known methods for copying locations. But I should be able to specify a range.

Agreed. I'm filing a bug report on that now.

Dave, it looks to me like the problem is that you can't type page numbers into that box at all. Ranges for other data types are supported (eg, type "Genesis 1:1-2:4"). The reason page number isn't supported in that box is that there's currently no way to specify which resource the page numbers should come from.

If Type a Reference accepted the output from Copy Location as (CTRL+ALT+C) e.g. logosres:bkc;ref=VolumePage.V_1,_pp_800-805 it would resolve that issue (I used your suggestion for getting a page range in the resource, but it only confirmed that resource + page ranges are easily specified).

Dave
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Kevin A. Purcell | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 18 2015 5:47 PM

Eli Evans:

Thanks for the feedback. It's very important to us. UI issues in Reading Plans are definitely on our radar.

alabama24:
Make these plans available on mobile!

This is underway now and should ship very soon.

Bless you, bless you, bless you!!!

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 18 2015 6:34 PM

Eli Evans:
Custom reading plans support arbitrary dates for arbitrary readings, by definition.

I don't think that word means what you think it means... Stick out tongue

Dictionary:
arbitrary |ˈärbiˌtrerēadjective: based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system: his mealtimes were entirely arbitrary

By definition, reading plans are NOT arbitrary! By making a plan, you have eliminated any sense of arbitrariness. Otherwise, you don't have a "plan." Wink

The user should be able to divide a resource into a number of "readings," and then have those readings set up into a plan of his or her own choosing. The ability for a user to plan reading schedules is invaluable. 

Eli Evans:
We did have some designs where you could set the preferred pattern for new readings, but it became even more cumbersome.

Cumbersome in what way? To set up the plan? 

Eli Evans:
We've been slowly but steadily improving upon that over the years, and we'll continue to improve.

Thank you. Smile

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 19 2015 1:35 PM

Eli Evans:
Custom reading plans support arbitrary dates for arbitrary readings, by definition.

alabama24:
By definition, reading plans are NOT arbitrary!

Sorry, I meant "arbitrary" in the comp-sci jargon sense of "at the user's discretion, not the program's." I didn't mean to imply that creating a custom reading plan is purposeless or without pattern, just that the purpose/pattern are not pre-determined by the designer/programmer.

Wikipedia gets close:

In mathematics, arbitrary normally means "any;" for instance, an arbitrary division of a set or an arbitrary permutation of a sequence. Its use implies generality.... A simple example would be "Given an arbitrary integer, multiplying it by two will result in an even number."

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrariness#Mathematics 

So, arbitraryany dates for arbitraryany readings is the "definition" of a custom plan.

alabama24:
The user should be able to divide a resource into a number of "readings," and then have those readings set up into a plan of his or her own choosing

Thanks for clarifying; I think I understand now. You're describing a process where 1) you make a list of readings R and 2) you set up a pattern of session dates D to distribute those readings over and press "generate" to distribute R over D. If I understand that correctly, I agree the idea has merit and is worth exploration.

BUT (without thinking about it very deeply) my first instinct was to add that as a feature of the calculated reading plan, because this two-step process is basically what the calculated reading plan does now -- the new part being that you would like to manually segment the resource into readings rather than relying on the automatic segmentation routine built into the calculator.

That said, it might also have a place in the custom plan, as an operation after the fact: Recalculate this custom reading plan by forcing the existing reading sessions into a given date pattern.

Eli Evans:
We did have some designs where you could set the preferred pattern for new readings, but it became even more cumbersome.

alabama24:
Cumbersome in what way? To set up the plan?

Yes, cumbersome to set up the plan. Custom plans are designed to be flexible enough to allow (say) a prof to enter a syllabus of required readings from multiple resources over a span of reading sessions that might (say) include missed or moved classes due to holidays. So class sessions might be distributed over eleven Mondays, but the fourth Monday session is skipped for Memorial Day, and the fifth session is moved to Tuesday because the prof will be out of town for a symposium and the TA is only available on Tuesdays. Thus the basic workflow of building a custom plan is: choose a date, add readings to the session, add the session to the plan, repeat. That is a "cumbersome" workflow to begin with, and imposing a set pattern of days to add readings to interferes with it, making it "even more cumbersome." The interference partly comes by giving you one more thing to think about, and partly by working against the intentional flexibility.

That said, I know the data entry UI is clunky, and in addition to fixing some of the bugs pointed out in this thread (seriously, thank you all!), I hope to take another crack at the design soon.

alabama24:

Eli Evans:
We've been slowly but steadily improving upon that over the years, and we'll continue to improve.

Thank you. Smile

You're welcome, and thank you!

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 19 2015 1:38 PM

Dave Hooton:
If Type a Reference accepted the output from Copy Location as (CTRL+ALT+C) e.g. logosres:bkc;ref=VolumePage.V_1,_pp_800-805 it would resolve that issue

Yep, at least for some users. I think we can do better than that, but we could at least do that. I've written up a ticket for supporting the logosres syntax in our reference boxes generally.

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Mike Binks | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 19 2015 3:33 PM

So Eli,

Let's take Wright's Christian Origins as an example.

I want to read the four books in the trilogy (trilogy as per Douglas Adams) over a year. First decision so I need to put four books into a Plan.

I don't want to read the index (there are many and various in the trilogy, (sticking with Adams) Second decision I need to be able to cull preferably by section heading but possibly by page number/range.

Because I am inefficient and always behind with everything I know that I won't be able to devote the time on Saturdays and Sundays; (well who wants to anything on Sunday?) Third decision - I need to specify which days I want to read on. Possibly with exceptions for days to cope with those kind enough to book their funerals in advance or maybe my holidays.

I don't want surprises - no inordinately long readings and no sillily short ones either. Fourth decision - stop at section break, stop at paragraph break, stop at sentence break. This is what I would like the program to do for me.

tootle pip

Mike

How to get logs and post them. (now tagging post-apocalyptic fiction as current affairs)

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 19 2015 3:44 PM

Mike Binks:
This is what I would like the program to do for me.

Understood. That's a very helpful example, thanks!

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Eli Evans (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 19 2015 3:44 PM

Mike Binks:
This is what I would like the program to do for me.

Understood. That's a very helpful example, thanks!

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