Why is there No Simple Text File of the Standard Works?

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everyBody on same page-p40
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Why is there No Simple Text File of the Standard Works?

Postby everyBody on same page-p40 » Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:45 pm

I am a blind member of the church and have always had to settle for
partial participation in church and classes because I did not have an
ASCII text or "plain text" version of the standard works including
footnotes and Bible dictionary and Topical Guide etc., that I could open
on my small laptop.

Why has the church spent so much effort and money and time on
alternate versions of the standard works, when the most accessible and
most universally usable format is plain text. It can bee seen on a screen
by anyone, heard by one using a screen reader (blind talking software),
or felt by a deaf/blind user on an electronic Braille display and
navigated by people with mobility challenges on the myriad of devices
made for their purposes. You cannot do all that at the same time with a
Braille file or an HTML file, or a daisy book file, or even a Word document.
Those formats isolate the user to such little and narrow uses.

And please do not assume it is difficult to navigate around very quickly
in a text file that is thousands of pages long. The find function is
incredibly fast to use (not to mention the oldest and most universally
used method),especially when the church or even the user tags the text
with very simple textual tags. The blind andsighted alike have been
using the find function since the beginning of technical time as their
main way of navigating. And for goodness sake, it is the easiest file for
the church to put out on the web for download, or on a CD for
distribution

The file is already sitting on a computer in Church offices.
How do I know this? We must have had it first before we created the
Braille format file. The Braille format file was transcribed from an
ASCII text file using a special Braille translation program.

So lets get that file and post it. Why has this not been done earlier? It is
so easy, and so much more useful than those other files that took so
much hard work to produce. Washing seven times in the River Jordan
is so simple. Must we do some great thing to feel good about ourselves?
Let's do what works.

And please remember, I stronly recommend the
ASCII file that was used to make the Braille file. It has the footnotes and
such we need (unless the Church has an even more complete standard
works file).

Thank you so much! I dare say no one reading this message could know
how much this will mean to so many.


Now, let's see if I can find a way to see the graphical icon
below so I can choose it in the box below to send this message.

CJ Sampson

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 20, 2007 2:23 pm

You did find the right icon, because your post posted.

But I'm scratching my head. I don't understand just how you are being limited by the current formats. You mention screen readers and braille files. So it would appear that what you need exists, but I'm not sure how that is stopping you. What are you using and what format does it need?

I've had a blind member in my class. She used some kind of braille PDA/small laptop and she kept right up and even read aloud.

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jmaxwilson
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Postby jmaxwilson » Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:18 pm

Hi CJ,

You probably don't remember me, but unless I am mistaking you for someone else, we did a joint report on the Internet and accessibilty for Professor Gary Hatch's technology class in the English department at BYU some years ago. I see you are still agitating for accessibility. :)

I think that it would be great to have a plain ASCII verision of the scriptures available for download from lds.org. However, there is already an unofficial ASCII version (sans Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide) that has been floating around the web for years. You can download it from the following url via FTP:

ftp://ftp.simtel.net/pub/simtelnet/msdos/mormon/quad600.zip

You may already have this version, because you explicitly requested a version with the topical guide and bible dictionary, which it doesn't have, but I thought I'd link it just in case.

Individual ASCII volumes (Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, KJV) are also available from the same FTP folder:

ftp://ftp.simtel.net/pub/simtelnet/msdos/mormon/

They are also available at:

http://ldsguy.tripod.com/Iron-rod/

I have often kept a copy of the ASCII Quad on my USB flash drive. It is especially useful when you need to copy and paste a few verses into an email, a blog post, a forum post, or a comment thread. When copying and pasting from scriptures.lds.org you have to go through and carefully remove the exteraneous characters added by the footnote markup. Pasting from the text file is so much easier.

The thing about ASCII is that it is so small and portable to the greatest number of platforms. That is why Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org) is one of my favorite sources for public domain e-texts. If the church would be willing to post an official ASCII version of the Quad, including the topical guide and bible dictionary it would be great. They could even consider releasing it on Project Gutenberg.

Another benefit of an ASCII version would be that it could be easily distributed and installed on older computers being used in developing nations where the internet is harder to get, and technology resources are limited. People in those countries could still benefit from an electronic version of the scriptures that they can search, even with limited, older technology and without internet access.

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Postby rmrichesjr » Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:57 am

everyBody on same page wrote:I am a blind member of the church and have always had to settle for
partial participation in church and classes because I did not have an
ASCII text or "plain text" version of the standard works including
footnotes and Bible dictionary and Topical Guide etc., that I could open
on my small laptop.

...


In case it might be of some use to you (or someone else), I have a short C program that reads the files from the old floppy-based product the Church used to sell and produces a fairly clean ASCII test file containing the full text of the standard works. The result contains the book headings and chapter headings but not the footnotes or cross references. If you want the program, PM me. If I get swamped by requests, I could try to attach it here.

On a modern linux or unix-based system, the grep command on even the 7.6MB file is almost instantaneous. I also have a Perl script that takes references, "1 ne 3:7-9" for example, and returns a nicely formatted batch of the three specified verses. It handles a fair number of book abbreviations, verse range, chapter and verse combinations, etc.

I don't know what format the new CD-based product uses, so I can't say whether it would be feasible to extract ASCII from that. It shouldn't be too difficult to write a program to extract the ASCII text from the HTML on the Church web site. In fact, there are other threads about personal cross-referencing and scripture e-marking, and I think much of the extractor program is already done.

HTH

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Aug 21, 2007 11:28 am

rmrichesjr wrote:It shouldn't be too difficult to write a program to extract the ASCII text from the HTML on the Church web site.



I've seen a commercial program, Mark My Scriptures that does something very similar. It goes on-line to the church website and downloads and converts the text for it's PDA program. I'm sure it was done to get around copyright issues, but it also makes a huge library available. As soon as the church posts next year's manuals, it's available to be loaded. No waiting for someone to convert it.

The problem with pure ASCII is while it's the lowest common denominator, it's also the most featureless.

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Re: Why is there No Simple Text File of the Standard Works?

Postby brettbkg » Sat Jul 09, 2016 7:54 pm

I know that this reply comes 9-ish years late, but I found this thread a little while ago looking for the same thing -- a plain text download of the Book of Mormon. I wanted a plain-text copy so I could put it into my Microsoft OneNote and take much more detailed, tagged, and searchable notes/drawings/annotations, etc that I can always access on my computer or mobile gadgets. I couldn't find a decent plain text Book of Mormon that fitted my needs.

So ... I made one.

(*Lots* of copy-pasting from every page of the Book of Mormon on LDS.org into a spreadsheet and other columns to identify the book and chapters. )

Now, I have it. I'd be happy to share my spreadsheet of the Book of Mormon with anyone who wants it so you don't have to duplicate work. I thought that I could even post it here -- but then I realized that with copyright laws, I don't actually know the legalities of doing that. While I know the church would love to distribute the Book of Mormon far and wide, and it's freely available in many forms, is it going to be bad or raise any eyebrows if I create a link to my spreadsheet for people to download and use for similar purposes? I'd love someone's thoughts about this if you have any insight on the issue. I'm probably not the only one in the world who could use my plain-text/spreadsheet of the Book of Mormon.

Thanks.

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Re: Why is there No Simple Text File of the Standard Works?

Postby rmrichesjr » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:09 pm

I'm not well enough acquainted with the legalities and such, but another option would be to script or otherwise automate the copy-pasting so individuals could _generate_ their own copy in plain text or spreadsheet form. About six months ago, I started a personal project to write a Python script to convert the downloadable PDF scriptures to plain text. Other priorities quickly preempted that project.

(Edited to fix a couple of typos.)

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Re: Why is there No Simple Text File of the Standard Works?

Postby brettbkg » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:21 pm

I wish I had the skills to do write such a script. I work in healthcare and I'm not deeply technical, so I'm afraid I just had to do it the long and hard way. The work has been done (It took a few hours). I'm happy to make it available to others in my situation who can't write scripts to automate it (I could link to it in a public folder in my Dropbox) -- I just don't know if anyone would frown on that from a legal/copyright standpoint.

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Re: Why is there No Simple Text File of the Standard Works?

Postby russellhltn » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:45 pm

brettbkg wrote:I just don't know if anyone would frown on that from a legal/copyright standpoint.

You'd need to get permission to post it. You can find details at the bottom of the legal page.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Re: Why is there No Simple Text File of the Standard Works?

Postby lajackson » Sat Jul 09, 2016 9:05 pm

The simple text of some older versions of the Book of Mormon are in the public domain, but the current text is copyrighted. In addition, all of the chapter headings, footnotes, and other materials, aside from the verses themselves, is under copyright. You can find versions of the Bible text that are not copyrighted, but again, with headings, footnotes, and other information, they come under copyright.

As russellhltn said, best to contact the Intellectual Property office for details.


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