I am not sure if these have been suggested before, but I have a few ideas of things that I think might make Sutta Central even more useful. Please keep in mind that the site is already very good, and I understand that adding needless complexity is often best avoided (and indeed I tend to avoid it myself), but here goes…
In my honest opinion, the fundamental problem with reading early Buddhist texts is that there are thousands of texts, they are often tiny, and their organization often leaves much to be desired. For example, the Sutta Pitaka is organized something like: (1) long texts, (2) medium-length texts, (3) short texts that were originally grouped by topic, (4) misc. texts added incrementally, and (5) misc. texts that don’t fit in with the others. These organizational principles, while historically important, are probably not ideal for modern readers who don’t know where to begin. If we instead tell them to read an anthology, that is just giving up and avoiding the task of making the canon itself accessible.
Instead, I think providing a new type of interface for finding and reading texts would be neat. Basically, each text would have its normal unique identifier (SN 56.11, etc.), but is then tagged with all the important information such as concepts, doctrines, names, places, etc. These tags would be specified with a unique tag identifier, but then have more presentable synonyms in various languages. For example:
panna = Prajñā, Prajna, Paññā, Panna
The user is just given a search box like Google. He or she begins typing a concept. As it begins to match either the unique tag ID or one of its synonyms, the concept is suggested. Then the results of the search come up with all the texts tagged with that concept. So for example, if you begin typing “Samadhi of Infinite Space,” it would see that this is the same or similar to one of the synonyms, and give you all the suttas mentioning that samadhi. When you click on one of the suttas, you can also see which tags have been applied to it, and then crawl around the canon that way.
Someone might say that a normal search engine basically accomplishes the same thing, and maybe that is partially true. However, I think that tagging the suttas and finding different ways to organize them brings the guesswork out of it all, and provides the possibility of creating more concrete and meaningful structure for the early Buddhist texts.
There are a lot of different variants and it could stretch pretty far, such as allowing users to create sets of tags, or work on sets of tags in groups, and users might rate these sets of tags, or export them in XML, combine them, etc. When discovering texts, readers could also choose from the popular and highly-rated sets of tags. It could potentially turn into a pretty big platform for studying the early Buddhist texts.
Alternatively, it could be done on a smaller scale by simply tagging the texts, and then providing indexes for concepts, people, places, etc. An even smaller alternative would be to choose a limited number of texts for each concept, and simply make indexes without tagging. This would allow readers, for example, to have quick access to ten useful early texts on the Four Noble Truths, or ten early useful texts on the subject of the Five Khandhas.
I’ve thought about making an open system for translation, tagging, concept maps, and commentaries, but for the Taisho canon. I doubt it will happen, though, simply because it really does take significant time and effort. In any case, I just thought I would mention some ideas.