|How was SuperMemo 8 developed|
The long wait is over! In May 1997 SuperMemo World has finally released SuperMemo 8.0. Users of SuperMemo 7 for Windows have long been asking for the new release of SuperMemo. Many complained about the lack of SuperMemo functionality in the Genius product line, others thought SuperMemo 7 should not be discontinued. Both shall be fully satisfied with SuperMemo 8 that has now been over three years in development. SuperMemo 8 will combine the functionality of SuperMemo 7 with the new hypermedia capabilities of the Genius line. Import from other versions of SuperMemo will also be possible (most notably SuperMemo 6 for DOS, SuperMemo 1.02 for Mac and SuperMemo 3 for Amiga).
Here is the history of SuperMemo 8 development with more technical data on its features and compatibility issues.
The work over SuperMemo 8 started in Fall 1994. The program was supposed to combine all suggestions of users of SuperMemo, journalists, scientists and merge it in one coherent entity based on theoretical grounds delineated in the doctoral dissertation Economics of learning by the author of the SuperMemo method, Dr Piotr Wozniak. The project was planned to be completed within three years. As early as in September 1995, SuperMemo World released SuperMemo 8 Pre-Release 1 CD-ROM codenamed Genius Pre-Release. It included concepts that were entirely new to SuperMemo: knowledge hierarchy, hypermedia, mind maps, and more. This product was presented to the hands of 500 beta-testers who have collectively shaped the development of SuperMemo 8 pre-release line over the next 16 months. In January 1996, the SuperMemo 8 Pre-Release 2, codenamed Genius 1.0 was released as the hypermedia shell for the Video English course of English. Although it attracted lots of criticism from diehard users of SuperMemo, this title sold 2000 CD-ROMs in the first month and provided further feedback from users of earlier versions of SuperMemo, as well as from people who had never heard the name SuperMemo before. In September 1996, the SuperMemo 8 Pre-Release 3, codenamed Genius 2.0 was released as the shell for the Cross Country course of English and scored excellent reviews from the press and from the users. The three Pre-Releases have totaled about 10,000 users providing a solid basis for making sure that SuperMemo 8.0 does not miss functionality and simplicity to which users of SuperMemo 7 have been accustomed. And all that along the new hypermedia capabilities, CD-ROM title authoring, courseware authoring, automatic student testing, and more.
You can download SuperMemo 8 from this site!
Here again are the main steps in the development of SuperMemo 8.0 in the years 1995-1997:
- SuperMemo 8 Pre-Release 1, September 1995. Released on CD-ROM for beta-testing purposes only. Included: hypermedia capabilities, knowledge hierarchy, scripting, programmability, new repetition spacing algorithm, and more.
- SuperMemo 8 Pre-Release 2, January 1996. Released as a shell for Video English. Functionally comparable with Pre-Release 1.
- SuperMemo 8 Pre-Release 3, September 1996. Released as a shell for Cross Country.
- SuperMemo 8, released in May 1997
- SuperMemo 98, released Sep 1998
- SuperMemo 99, released Oct 1999
- The whole program was written anew from scratch in Borland Delphi using Delphi's Visual Component Library, Plug-In components from Access Softek, and speech compression technology from Vimas International
- Greatly improved repetition spacing algorithm with: (1) possibility of using different forgetting indices for different items, (2) replacing E-factors with A-factors (absolute E-Factors) that define absolute difficulty of items (E-factors defined relative difficulty of items within a given database), (3) on the fly approximation of the matrix of optimal factors (no need for smoothing, no need for periodic approximation of the matrix with Miscellaneous : Approximation), (4) faster approximation of A-factors by keeping the record of A-factor vs. Grade and Grade vs. Forgetting index relationships
- Hierarchical knowledge structure
- True hypermedia: combination of text, graphics, sound, video, animation, hypertext, executables, scripting, and many more
- Mnemonic hypertext connects mnemonic topics via a network of hyperlinks
- Navigation tools modeled on standard multimedia viewing, presentation and help systems
- Hierarchical structure and knowledge system hyperlinks can be rebuilt on the fly using drag-and-drop tools (no recompilation necessary)
- Programmability via DLL components and interpreted program scripts using commands such as SHOW, PLAY, WAIT, etc.
- Dynamically updated database lexicon used in word search
- Multimedia object registries for storing images, sound, video, etc. Supporting formats: BMP, GIF, WAV, and AVI.
- Template registries make it possible to quickly create items and topics designed according to a selected style
- Exchanging topics and topic components via Topic ClipBox and Component ClipBox
- On-line hints make it easy to understand the function of particular menu items and speed-buttons
- Number of items virtually limited by the memory of the computer (theoretically: up to 10 million items with 8 million hypermedia objects)
SuperMemo 8 Pre-Release 3 added on the functionality of Pre-Release 2 and provided the following enhancements:
- Possibility to hide the SuperMemo shell behind the knowledge system
- ReadOnly and LearnOnly modes
- Interactive translation of knowledge system to other languages
- Simple translation of the program's interface to other languages
- New script commands: HIDEPROGRAM, SHOWPROGRAM, FONT, WAITGRADE, DRAGMATCH, HITTEST, etc.
- Support for new file formats: JPEG, MIDI and RIFF
- Possibility of using knowledge systems directly from CD-ROM
- Component ClipBox and Hyperlink ClipBox
- Operations on a selected group of components: alignment, sizing, linking registry items, setting font, etc.
- Default appending mechanisms (Default Append Node, Default Append Template, etc.)
- SM7-CDROM file access mode makes it possible to use the program in association with audiovisual databases released on SuperMemo 7 CD-ROMs (Advanced English, Multilingual, MegaMix, etc.)
- Full record of repetitions (optional)
- Saving templates with all associated registry objects
- Customized sound feedback at grading
- Topics are kept in the pending queue, presented before introducing their child items and dismissed after the first presentation
- Linear export from the lexicon makes it possible to easily create lexical databases associated with language courses These databases can also be imported back to SuperMemo 7
- Possibility of changing the forgetting index of the entire hierarchy node
- Possibility of resetting, committing, dismissing or undismissing nodes in the hierarchy
Pre-Release 3 will be followed in May 1997 by SuperMemo 8.
SuperMemo 8 combines all new features of SuperMemo 8 pre-release versions: Pre-Release 2 and Pre-Release 3. It also adds the following functionality:
- Indexing optimization matrices with repetition categories rather than with repetition numbers. This eliminates the problem of using exceedingly long intervals in cases of long breaks in learning. This problems has haunted SuperMemo since the introduction of the matrix of optimal factors in 1989 (see Algorithm used in SuperMemo 8)
- Transferring hierarchy nodes between different knowledge systems
- Exporting and importing hierarchy nodes as text
- Possibility of keeping a collection of append nodes with different append templates
- Operations Reset, Commit and Dismiss are available in the course of repetitions
- Possibility of duplicating elements in a single operation
- Automatic change of the append node on surpassing the limit of children
- Introducing editable translation and phonetic transcription registries
- Making phonetic transcription available in the lexicon registry
- Making translation available in the text registry
- Random review in browsers, registries and in the element window
- Two-way history list with Back and Forward buttons
- Introducing child browsers, browser subsets and browser selections
- Possibility of working with other hypermedia tools like dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. via a standard communication interface (first implemented in Polish PWN Encyclopedia developed by Vulcan, Poland)
- Reset moves pending items to the end of the pending queue
- Adding substring searching options to Contents, Registries and Browsers
- Search and Replace in registries
- Instant translation and instant phonetic transcription on mouse move
- Providing children and descendant count in the hierarchy
- Optional synchronization of Contents selection with the contents of the element window and/or Item Data window
- New statistics parameters: Burden, Average Repetitions, Average Lapses, Average Interval, Average A-Factor, Average Last Repetition Date, Average Next Repetition Date
- Using custom editors for editing sound and images
- Automatic student testing
- Outdated final drill queue is deleted upon confirmation
- Element filter for selecting items or topics with specified properties such as number of repetitions, length of interval, etc.
- Activating the debugging version of SuperMemo in Options
- Option for testing repetition cycle at design time
- Extract section in sound components
- Making all pop-up menus available from toolbars in Contents, Browsers, Registries and in the element window (earlier available only with right-click)
- Circular setting individual components in editing mode with Tab
- Adding hierarchy toolbar
- Transplanting children among hierarchy nodes
- External multimedia files can be associated with components (e.g. to compile knowledge systems based on multimedia CD-ROMs)
- Possibility of resetting optimization matrices and the measurements of the actual forgetting index
- Option for counting items and topics in particular nodes of the hierarchy
- Using universal file browser with multiple-format preview, file search, path locator, file housekeeping, etc.
- Adding repetition meters to the status bar
- Releasing SM8OPT.DLL with all optimization procedures of Algorithm SM-8 used in SuperMemo
- Context-sensitive help (you can download SM8.HLP from this site).
- Tip of the Day on start-up
For a short description of SuperMemo 8 for SuperMemo newcomers see: SuperMemo 8 for Windows.
You can download SuperMemo 8 from this site!