Offline feature development (status)

Hello to admins - Bhante @sujato,

I’m wondering, why one of the most important feature for Monastic community, the complete offline access is still not done?

Current status

  • The new offline feature is really not good - very, very limited… no search? what is the use then :laughing:
  • Zip archive is few years old (with no intention to update it) and with no hyperlinks… so this option is already out of game

The web is full of special features, recently the reading of the suttas… All those new perks features are nice, but why to not focus on more essential features? Many of the monastics lives in Asia, with no WIFI access and as monastic - no money to buy internet package…

  • Could you please deeply consider to focus all resources into this development?
  • Could you please share any future plans or proposals for this feature - here in this thread? :pray:t3:

Please consider usage from tablets (android, iPAD), computers, so the proposed solution should be universal, and not tight to any specific platform.

Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu, for all great work on suttacentral and this forum!


Sorry, I’m not sure what the exact problem is here: offline works great.

Search is the only thing that doesn’t work 100% offline, which is because it is really hard to do. Perhaps at some point we might reassess this, but I would be more focused on upgrading search in gereral before trying to do offline search.

Are there any other specific features that don’t work on a modern browser offline?

  • I tested in Safari (it supports PWA), and the offline section is giving me that it is not supported on this platform,
  • Supports for multiple languages (I need only 3 languages),
  • Yes the search… but as you wrote it needs to be updated in general,
  • Offline of all texts, not just suttas

It would be very helpful to have access to the vinaya texts offline as well. :anjal:

This is really a big concern for me too.


Hello its been around 11 months ago, are there any updates of OFFLINE ability?

I still cannot download in most devices! For me the “Progressive Web App” is not appropriate name for feature. People I know are downloading zip file from AccessToInsight for offline access. Just pointing out that this is one of the most important features for forest monastics! :pray:t3:

Also some other tools or Projector project are trying to fill the gap for offline Tipitaka usage. But still non of them and neither Suttacentral can fulfill this need.


Just in case you didn’t knew, almost all of the Access to Insight content is available in a free mobile app for offline use here and it uses less than 45 mb of space!

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Please remember, SuttaCentral is a website. We use advanced capabilities to enhance offline usage, but that is an extra that we offer, not our core mission.

Technology isn’t magic; we can only work within the constraints of the platform. The nature of the web platform is extremely messy and complicated, as it has to serve billions of bits of software to billions of devices, every one of which is different, every day, in all kinds of situations. It’s a miracle it works at all! Advanced features are rolled out in clients gradually, and are full of bugs that sometimes remain for many years. We do our best with our tiny team.

I don’t recommend Safari in general, it lags well behind other browsers in support for web standards. Moreover, Apple has a very restrictive policy when it comes to caching offline content; this is not for any technical reason, but to enforce their (very profitable) monopoly over the app store.

Recommended service worker cache size is about 50MB. The root texts and English translations on SC come to about 120MB.

This again is the problem of cache size. More can be used on capable devices, but it becomes very complex to estimate what is possible on which device. We will revise this policy in time, as the space and capabilities of devices improves.

Search at the scale and nature that we use is difficult to implement offline. Perhaps some solution may be found, but I haven’t seen anything that’s workable. It’s just too much content to provide in-browser searching.

Again, the cache problem.

Indeed, these apps, DPR, AtI, and others all offer some excellent capabilities. One app can never rule them all!

We do our best with offline usage, but at the end of the day, nothing will beat a dedicated, specific app developed for that purpose on that platform. There should be a dozen more Tipitaka apps filling the different niches. And that is why we supply all our data freely, and offer support for anyone developing their own applications.


As a monastic in Asia with limited WiFi access, my preferred solution is epub files. They are zipped html and so are essentially offline websites. The Handful of Leaves epub by Ajahn Geoff is excellent in terms of usability / cross-references etc.

The epubs of Bhante Sujato’s translations at ReadingFaithfully are okay. Obviously these epubs miss out on the Pali, other translations and on the rich metadata on SuttaCentral (agama parallels, variant readings, etc). My preference (again, as such a monastic) would be for an epub that contains all this with internal links to make it all work.

Trying to make a PWA do all this is, as Bhante pointed out, a losing battle.


Venerable, had you noticed this thread?

I basically have the first four Nikayas ready, but I’m just stuck on trying to figure out the best way to format the two languages. I would love it if you and @dxcore35 could offer suggestions (in that thread, not here) to improve them to help fill the gap for off line use. Obviously they will never even come close to the functionality of the website. Part of my plan is to generate actually printable versions that may be more feasable for Asian monasteries to print and use.

At this point I think the best attitude for users to have is that is a website for online use only that might, maybe, sometimes work off line. That’s not a criticism, just satisficing. I don’t hold any hope that PWA will ever replace online use. The stability of the cache is just not there. It is, after all, cache, and not saved files. At any moment the software can decide to dump the cache and there’s nothing to be done.

Recently Bhante and another monk were very helpful in teaching me how to use bilara io to export the data, so hopefully the other projects can also work to provide a more specific offline solution. Especially around advanced search features, which it seems that they are trying to do.


There’s certainly some truth to this. As long as it’s seen as an enhancement, let it be a pleasant surprise! Still, these technologies are evolving, so we may see improvements.

I am becoming less optimistic that the 50MB limit will be lifted. On the one hand, devices are getting more capable; on the other hand, there are more PWAs out there competing for the cache.

We are currently looking into the Safari issue; Hongda recently bought an iPhone for SC testing!

We’re very happy to support third-party usage of data, but also bear in mind that enhancing the epub and print support is still very much in the pipeline.

I am hoping that we get our next major upgrade in the next month or so, and the next stage will be the support of the concept of “publications”. Essentially, this means that we will have a dedicated place for supporting what in books is the front-matter and back-matter: introductions, Indexes, and the like. This can be accessed on the site. But it can also be combined into a “book”, whether an epub or a PDF via LaTeX for printing. This will build off our Bilara system, so it will be available for any language translated on Bilara.


This is marvelous. Completely off line use! Will you be looking for ideas for this feature, or are you already overwhelmed with ideas? Ideas are cheap!
I’m really curious about the indexing.

I haven’t given any thought to how to create indexing, it just that, if we want to there’d be a place for it.

You can see the proposal here:

Any ideas are welcome!


In book there can be let say COVER PAGE then complete english text, after the text is finished COVER PAGE and then complete Pali text.

Each sentence can be bookmark, so it will have unique ID, same in case for Pali text.

The english text (each sentence), will have bookmark referring to Pali sentence, and each Pali sentence will have bookmark to english sentence. So the Pali translation (in english text) can be hidden as bookmark, small number or fixed symbol * after sentence. When clicking on it, the pop-up will appear showing the Pali sentence. In same way just opposite the Pali sentence will refer to english.

So you will have 4 books in one, where sentence are interlinked via bookmarks.

  1. You can read english (and not be bothered by Pali)
  2. You can read english and look for Pali sentence
  3. You can read Pali (and not be bothered by English)
  4. You can read Pali and look for English sentence
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I was thinking about this, seeing the download section I was wandering if the site can generate HTML the EPUB is nothing, because they are basically just zipped html with css. This will be interesting feature. But now I see the another problem. Translation and dictionaries.

Does somebody find a way how to read Pali and use dictionary for text? I cannot find any app for that. In Mac I made AppleDictionaries so there is no problem, but for iPhone I cannot find a way for this.

Right, the only issue is the document structure, i.e. how do you make chapters and so on.

One thing to bear in mind is that since our Bilara data-structure is extremely flexible, there is no reason you can’t have multiple different forms, all auto-produced:

  • Pali alone
  • English alone
  • Pali/Englsh
  • Other language translations
  • notes
  • linked audio

and so on. So rather than build everything in one file, it may be better to build a bunch of files for specialized use: each one does one thing well.

FYI we have addressed and I believe fixed the Safari incompatibility bug. The fix is live in the staging site.


Safari support is amazing!

Anyway I tested the offline feature on:

Lasted Android 10:

  1. Chrome browser is saying that PWA technology is not compatible
  2. Opera has no problem, it works offline

Latest Mac OS (macbook)

  1. Opera is saying that PWA technology is not compatible
  2. Safari still nothing
  3. Chrome works!


Staging site, not main site.