Should we add keyboard shortcuts to SC?

I came across a little utility that adds keyboard shortcuts to a site. It’s nicely implemented and, since it uses the same technologies as SC, it should be light and easy to add.

Here’s the issue I made, check it out if you’re interested.

And while you’re there, Github just introduced a nifty version of this feature, so try it out!

I think this could be a great idea, but I’m not sure what people would find most useful.

The basic idea is that it should let you do things easier and quicker, or even things currently not possible.

I wonder whether a “history” function would be good? Remember the last ten (or fifty) suttas that you visited? We could differentiate this from browser history by only including Sutta texts.

There could also be some sort of “popular navigation” feature? I dunno, access the main nikayas or something? I’m not really sure how that would work, and be substantially easier than what we have now. Something that would cut across the linear navigation system we use.

Any other ideas?


Because of their very utility, keyboard shortcuts can be a bit of a minefield. And this is especially true when multiple parties leap in to create conflicting shortcuts across operating systems, browsers, applications and usecases. Here is a chart of the different browser shortcuts. There are similar charts for operating systems. It’s a mess.

To make matters worse, there are even keyboard shortcuts for assisted users. So entire classes of users are affected by any decision to add keyboard shortcuts.

Adding a bad shortcut is therefore much much worse than not having a shortcut.

Let’s take a step back and articulate the problem first before considering solutions such as keyboard shortcuts. What are the most inconvenient things to do with SC?

Oddly, I suspect that what SC does best is also where difficulties arise. SC is best at getting to a particular sutta in the canon within the context of a particular language or translation. It’s just a bit clunky to have to edit the URL or click on the magnifying glass or click on sidebar or click on…

So perhaps the problem is that SC’s major focus is on presentation itself, with navigation being relegated to peripheral islands that suit the needs of individual use cases. In other words, navigation is relegated to a subordinate UI role so that presentation itself can shine. And SC presentation does indeed shine brightly.

If we can agree that navigation/presentation is a major problem, we might be able to discuss solutions.

Google solves this problem modally. Chrome is either searching or presenting content. It makes no attempt to provide the best of both worlds simultaneously. And the keyboard shortcut I use the most is actually CTRL-K, which clears the URL and lets me type whatever to start navigating the world. In other words, a single key switches my browser from presentation mode to navigation mode.

Addressing the issue in this way, we naturally come to ask the question, “What is the navigation interface for SC?” And the answer is interesting because there really isn’t a single navigation interface for SC. There are MANY ways to navigate SC content. Google has ONE.

So perhaps one might have reason to ask, “Would it be possible to create a simple navigation interface for SC that would work for all users and be invoked by a single keyboard shortcut?”

Google does that. Can SC?


Since the only time there is keyboard input is in the search bar, couldn’t the keyboard shortcuts just be single letter keys? This should help avoid conflicts with other shortcuts already assigned.

Personally I think that something more along the lines of a command palette makes more sense. That would allow you to type things like
en mn23
sujato mn23 en
of course you can do all that through the url itself, but it’s not as easy as a single command to call up the command palette and start typing.

If there was a concern about the weight of the javascript to do this, maybe it could be an optional load feature.

Or maybe this would be better as a browser extension.


I think this would be a cool feature. Fifty might be the right number.

As far as navigation goes, it can take some finesse that a total noob like me just doesn’t have. Sometimes I google suttacentral to find what I’m looking for on suttacentral. Currently, my major problem is how sensitive the search function is, if there are any errors in spelling or spaces in the wrong place etc. then I wind up with several hundred (or more) results. Again, this could be an issue with yours truly. I’ll leave it to the pros to weigh in on major changes to that department. But a palatte search as suggested could be helpful for people like me.

Edit. I’ll also add that when it comes to reading, finding, studying suttas, SC, along with the discussions forum, has been by far the best online tool I’ve found

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