Hey Viveka and Dukkha, thanks for the feedback, I’m trying to understand your specific issues here.
One (relatively) straightforward issue is that it would be good for the sidebar to use translated titles where possible. That is definitely the case, and it is on our to-do list. However it is not as straightforward as you might think, because in some cases texts are better known by their Pali name. Then, do we have both? That starts to take up space. Anyway, I’m not sure of the final solution to this, but the aim is definitely to prefer translated titles.
Okay, next issue is, I believe, that you are looking for a sutta by number, is that correct? Of course you can always enter the number in the URL or the search. My suggestion a few weeks ago that the place you are is reflected in the sidebar comes in here, as well. That way you can start to move through the sidebar in both directions, down from the top, or up from the sutta.
I don’t think that’s going to work, if I understand you correctly. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of vaggas. There’s a reason why hierarchical structures are used, they organize large amounts of material in a manageable way.
Same with showing suttas under nikayas. There are over a thousand suttas in SN and AN. It just can’t be done.
The basic problem here is that through the sidebar and the suttaplex list (i.e. what you show in your screenshot) we have a rich set of information for the texts.
Now, one could imagine other navigation possibilities. For example, you can have a “site map” style thing, with a long indented list of texts, just name only. That might work in some cases, but it’s not going to be very mobile friendly.
Another problem is the role of the Chinese texts. See, SC is not just presenting what people want to see, we are also concerned to change what they want to see. That’s why we feature the Chinese and other texts so prominently. It’s a constant reminder that EARLY BUDDHIST TEXTS ARE NOT JUST PALI. No we know, of course, that relatively few people are going to look at the Chinese texts, a situation not helped by the paucity of translations. But still, you can’t just ignore them.
A more traditional structure would separate out the Pali and Chinese, making it easier to set up navigation for the Pali alone, at the expense of relegating Chinese to an also-ran.
One thing that technically could be done is to show the numbers in a more dynamic way, so for MN for example, you could see the numbers at the pannasa level, then if you opened up the vaggas the numbers transferred to the more detailed breakdown. This is technically possible, but complicated. I feel reluctant to add more complexity to an already-overburdened feature. To me, clicking to open the lower levels is almost instantaneous, it’s better to just “follow the yellow brick road” if you are looking for something specific.
By using the sidebar, you are gradually becoming more aware of the structure of texts as put together by the specialists of the past. That’s no bad thing. It’s also worth bearing in mind that in traditional countries texts are still referenced the long way, “Majjhima Nikaya, Mulapannasa, Mulapariyayavagga”, so this structure is really helpful for someone looking up that kind of reference.
Given that one solution will never suit everyone, a better idea may be to promote the structural data as a consumable API, and encourage third-party apps to implement their own take. Much as Voice has its own specific way of getting to suttas, other approaches may well be useful. That way SC proper can avoid the trap of continued feature bloat and focus on doing what we do even better.