Hello all those who like to continue in the original oral tradition of transmitting the Buddha’s teachings: SuttaCentral Voice, the listening app for SuttaCentral suttas, is now available in a completely new dress.
The old Voice is long technically outdated and didn’t have any software updates for months, if not years, while we have been working on a new version to replace it. We’ve also tried to learn from previous experience and make the new app even better.
But the old Voice is still there, and you can now choose which one you want to use. When you click on any speaker icon on SuttaCentral, you will now be directed to to the new SC-Voice.net, and the first thing you will see is a dialogue on how you want to proceed:
You find speaker icons now
- at the bottom of the main right side menu
- on suttaplex cards
- soon they will also be on individual sutta pages
In case you would like to try out the new version and give us some feedback, please post it in this thread so that we can address it.
When you visit the site for the first time, you will see a small number of little tutorial cards which point you to the main functions and want to assist you for the first steps. They don’t explain everything; for more detailed instructions you may later visit the “study” chapter in the wiki section of the site.
The new SC-Voice uses various kinds of cards to present its content. So you can view one or more search card(s), one or more sutta card(s), and/or a wiki card at the same time on your screen; large screens even allow for side by side view of cards, so this is in order to compare several suttas that talk of a similar topic, for example.
The audio player is now integrated into the display of the sutta itself, so you can move through the segments and play as you wish, skipping segments or going back to a previous segment, which was rather hard to do in the old version.
The new SC-Voice also allows to listen to the Pali text of untranslated suttas, which the old one could not do.
The new SC-Voice also has grown into an entire website family with some language specific versions with the same sutta content, but a language specific wiki. The German version Dhammaregen has already been in use for a while and has been our test and experiment field in developing the new Voice. We expect in the near future for French and Portuguese versions to come out too.
Another new feature has developed around the key phrases you may have encountered with the INSPIRE ME! button of the old Voice. This is a curated collection of key phrases which connect suttas by topic. You can now find these phrases
- when clicking the INSPIRE ME! button
- while reading/listeing through a sutta: as you arrive at new segments, for example by using the “donw-arrow” key, key phrases that occur in a particular segment will be highlighted. You can click on them to open a new search card that shows you all suttas with that same phrase.
- Sutta cards now also have a “graph” icon in their top right corner, clicking which will open a graph card that shows a visual representation of the key phrase connection network around this specific sutta. For example the graph for MN 44 looks like this:
This is in order to assist comparing suttas by topic.
One special case here are the suttas DN 33 and DN 34. They both contain long lists of key terms that are explained elsewhere in the suttas. With the help of the key phrase function of Voice it will be easy to find suttas where a particular term in question is explained—something that makes these long and somewhat overwhelming suttas much more useful than they would otherwise be.
Let me still mention our latest feature: EBT-DeepL translations. If you select Portuguese translations, you can choose a translator who is called “EBT-DeepL”. This is a AI generated pre-translation meant to be edited by human translators as they find the time. But we included it in its provisional form in order to allow for a broader range of suttas to be listened to in Portuguese.
I think I will stop here for now and leave it to you to visit the new site, play around with it and experiment. And in case you encounter any bug—which is totally not unlikely—please report it here.
Voice doesn’t have narrators for all languages that have aligned (= Bilara) translations of the suttas. Languages that are currently supported are:
Voice also doesn’t support download of audio files yet; this is still on the list for future developments.
So now still a few words on who “we” are, all those who contributed to this development:
- @karl_lew: who came up with the initial idea, did all the programming, the testing for assisted users, was always open for suggestions and feedback, and supportive in every way you may imagine
- Sabbamitta: who seems to be very good at getting herself and Karl confused with any new features, so that we had to have lengthy discussions in order to get things clear and find better solutions; and who tried to keep the overview
- Venerable @Vimala: who gave feedback on styling and helped out with the light theme which is truly hard to work on for a visially disabled developer
- @michaelh: who advised on questions of IT and connected Dhammaregen with its custom domain
- @Gillian: who excelled as the world’s best guinea pig, and also did a thorough proofreading of all the wiki content
- @Bloom77: who has also given very helpful feedback that improved the functionality
- @HongDa: who did the final steps for us, namely linking the new site to the SuttaCentral speaker icons
- Finally all the Bilara translators who produce all the content without which Voice simply would have nothing to do!
- And of course the entire team of SuttaCentral; everyone is always kind and supportive for any question we might have, and the cooperation is working very well!
- Most likely there’s still one or the other I just forgot, so please forgive me and help my memory out if you can.
Let me close with a big Sadhu to everyone! That the old Voice may still live in peace for a while, and that the new SC-Voice may be of help to many in order to get a better understanding of the Buddha’s teachings and come closer to ultimate peace!
The gift of the teaching surmounts all other gifts;
the taste of the teaching surmounts all other tastes;
the joy of the teaching surmounts all other joys;
the ending of craving surmounts all suffering.