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Using various text components in SuperMemo

Text is the primary way in which you represent knowledge in SuperMemo. You will spend a lot of time processing texts, esp. if you learn to employ incremental reading. This is why your decisions about choosing appropriate text components are important.

Plain text components have traditionally been the most often used text components in earlier versions of SuperMemo. These consume little space and can be searched at high speeds with SuperMemo low-level search procedures. With the advent of incremental reading; however, HTML components have become the default text components in SuperMemo. HTML components provide many formatting options; however, they consume more disk space. If disk space is very important for you, use Classic template (and its derivatives) for items instead of HTML-based templates (see: Using templates). Optimally, you should use HTML components with incremental reading and use classic plain text templates on items that have been completed (i.e. formulated in their final shape). SuperMemo automatically removes formatting from texts used in plain text components when you run File : Repair collection with Rebuild registries checked. This practice helps you keep your collections compact and fast.

The table below summarizes pros and cons of using various text components in SuperMemo:

    Type Advantages Disadvantages Typical use
    HTML component

    This component is used by templates such as Item, Article, Item Picture, etc.

    1. richest formatting
    2. full incremental reading support
    3. full HTML and JavaScript support
    4. images can be inserted in the text
    5. Unicode support
    6. search possible
    7. search&replace possible
    8. phonetic transcription possible
    9. can use stylesheets

     

    1. Internet Explorer 6.0 or later required
    2. fonts can be modified by templates only before the text is typed in (unless you use a  stylesheet with the template)
    3. all texts kept in separate files (this slows down copying of large collections)
    1. default text format
    2. incremental reading
    3. richly formatted files with scripts and multimedia
    4. whole websites
    5. files that can be displayed in Internet Explorer (e.g. XLS, PDF, DOC, RTF, GIF, etc.; see FAQ below)

     

    Plain text component 

    This component is used by the Classic template

    1. fonts can be modified globally via templates
    2. small size of data
    3. speed
    4. can be made transparent (e.g. to write over images)
    5. search possible
    6. search&replace possible (including Apply filter)
    7. automatic translation and phonetic transcription
    1. no rich formatting
    2. unsuitable for incremental reading
    3. only 256-character set fonts supported
    1. simple question-answer items (e.g. created with Remember Cloze)
    2. transparent labels
    Rich text (RTF) component 

    This component is used in templates such as RTF Article, RTF Item, etc.

    1. rich text formatting
    2. subset of incremental reading
    3. search possible
    4. search&replace possible
    5. phonetic transcription possible
    1. may not be supported in the future
    2. large size of files
    3. slow processing of longer texts
    4. cannot modify font with templates nor stylesheets
    5. cannot interlace pictures and other multimedia
    1. incremental reading in the absence of Internet Explorer
    2. rich formatting in the absence of Internet Explorer
    Spelling component

    Used in the template Spelling

    1. used for spelling tests
    2. small size
    3. speed
    4. font modifiable via templates
    5. search possible
    6. search&replace possible
    1. useless beyond spelling tests 
    1. spelling exercises
    Binary component
    1. using all possible proprietary formats that are not supported by other components 
    1. clicking the Run button is necessary to view the text 
    2. files can only be edited if the proprietary editor is installed
    3. words do not enter the lexicon 
    4. search not possible
    5. search&replace not possible
    6. translation and phonetic transcription not available
    7. cannot modify font via templates
    1. importing all text formats that are not supported by the HTML component (e.g. PDF, mail messages, mind maps, etc.)
    OLE component
    1. using proprietary formats that support OLE (e.g. mind maps)
    1. requires a relevant OLE server
    2. very large size of files
    3. files can only be edited if the proprietary editor is installed
    4. words do not enter the lexicon 
    5. search not possible
    6. search&replace not possible
    7. translation and phonetic transcription not available
    8. may be annoyingly unstable if there are problems with the OLE server
    9. cannot modify font via templates
    1. using data formats that cannot be used with HTML component but support OLE in the presence of an OLE server
    Sound component
    1. sound can be associated with the text
    2. search possible
    3. search&replace possible (including Apply filter)
    4. font modifiable via templates
    5. phonetic transcription and translation supported
    1. slow
    2. cannot be made transparent
    3. provide no advantages over plain text if no sound associated
    1. pronunciation exercises
    2. learning material narration
    Image component
    1. can represent most complex formatting needed for mathematical or chemical formulas (as a picture, e.g. JPG)
    1. large size of files
    2. words do not enter the lexicon 
    3. search not possible
    4. search&replace not possible
    5. translation and phonetic transcription not available
    6. cannot modify font via templates
    1. complex formulas that are hard to represent in HTML or OLE

See also: