FAQ: Advanced authoring with SuperMemo 2000

Writing collections such as Advanced English is easy!
You can determine the priority of elements

You can import sound files directly to the sound registry
You can import many GIF files at once
You can search for an image
You can transfer a template from one collection to another
You can add a sound recorder
It is possible to change the element background color in many elements at once
You and your wife can jointly expand the same collection
You can memorize chess positions with chess font
You can globally change the layout of components
Title may differ from the question text
You can merge collections

Transferring elements from one collection to another should retain the learning process

Component order may determine how the titles are generated
You can use mind-maps with SuperMemo

Automatic question-answer swapping is rarely applicable and hence not implemented

You can display a pop-up message by means of scripts

Captions cannot use a customized font

You do not need to understand registries


Writing collections such as Advanced English is easy!
(Boris Milikic, Slovenia, Nov 27, 1999)
Question:
Is there a quick guide to build collections such as Advanced English? I have the hierarchy and contents on paper
Answer:

See: User's Guide. The most important things to learn in the beginning are:

  1. How to build a knowledge hierarchy in the contents window. You will need to understand operations such as Add, Insert, Sibling, etc. and how to modify the hierarchy with drag&drop operations in various modes (e.g. Add as last child, Replace target, etc.). See: Building knowledge tree
  2. How to fill out elements with components, and how to modify component attributes with component pop-up menu and element attributes with element pop-up menu
  3. It would also be very useful if you learned how to use templates

You can determine the priority of elements
Question:
I keep material of different learning priority in my collection. Can SuperMemo help me pay more attention to high priority material?
Answer:

Yes. You should reduce the value of the forgetting index for high-priority material (forgetting index is a proportion of items not remembered during repetitions). In the contents window select the item or node that you want to have higher priority and choose Process branch : Forgetting index : Set forgetting index on the pop-up menu. Forgetting index is 10% by default and can be set to 3-5% for high-priority material or only to 20% for least important branches of the knowledge tree. You can also set the forgetting index in a subset of elements with Process browser : Forgetting index : Set forgetting index on browser's pop-up menu. Read: Using forgetting index


You can import sound files directly to the sound registry
(Keith Gibson, USA, Sep 3, 1997)
Question:
How can I introduce a sound file directly into the sound registry?
Answer:
Choose Import files on sound registry pop-up menu. To open the registry with Search : Sound, you need at least one sound stored there


You can import many GIF files at once
(Christian Roessel, Germany, July 21, 1998)
Question:
In my collection I have a template that consists of two image components. And I have a large number of GIFs, numbered 1.gif, 2.gif, 3.gif, etc. Is it possible to import 1.gif to the first image component, 2.gif two the second, 3.gif to the first of the next item on and so on?
Answer:
Not exactly. You will have to rename your images to a1.gif, b1.gif, a2.gif, b2.gif. Then go to the first item to which you want to add those files and choose File : Tools : Import : Multimedia files. All elements that do not have corresponding images will be ignored and relevant files will be skipped


You can search for an image
(David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Apr 8, 1998)
Question:
How to search for an element that contains no text (only an image)?
Answer:
Use Search : Image. With Ctrl+F or Ctrl+S you can search for the image name or you can simply scroll to the image in question. Then press Ctrl+B to list all elements using the selected image


You can transfer a template from one collection to another
(Marcin Piekarniak, Poland, Dec 2, 1997)
Question:
How to transfer a template between collections?
Answer:
Use Template : Save to file and Template : Load from file on the element pop-up menu. To save the new template in the template registry, use Template : Save as template. Read more: Using templates


You can add a sound recorder
(Gabor Schmera, USA, Dec 13, 1997)


Question:
How do I add a recorder component to my items (as it is done in Advanced English 97)?
Answer:
Add a sound component and check Sound : Panel : Recorder on this pop-up menu

It is possible to change the element background color in many elements at once
(Tomasz Chudy, Poland, Oct 17, 1998)
Question:
How can I globally change the color of element background in the whole collection?
Answer:
You could accomplish that by defining a one-color background image (Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Default background image). Background image must be in BMP format

If you use question-and-answer templates throughout your collection or if you use other uniform templates, you can also try the following algorithm:

  1. Create a new element (e.g. with Ctrl+A)
  2. Change the color of element background with Color (available from the element pop-up menu in the element window)
  3. Save the newly created element as a template with Template : Save as template (available on the element pop-up menu in the element window)
  4. Apply the new template to all elements in the collection with Process branch : Template : Apply template (available on the contents pop-up menu in the contents window)

You and your wife can jointly expand the same collection
(Brian Canova, USA, Aug 28, 1998)
Question:
Me and my wife use Medical Biology collection. How can we both add new elements and synchronize our efforts so that we both get the elements introduced by one another?
Answer:
SuperMemo does not have any nice mechanisms for real-time sharing data between students. However, there is a rather complex algorithm you might use. Please try this out only if you are an advanced user of SuperMemo:

  1. Keep four separate collections:
    1. BRIAN - your original Medical Biology collection
    2. WIFE - copy of Medical Biology for your wife (e.g. created with File : Copy collection or Ctrl+Shift+C)
    3. BRIAN-NEW - new collection for you to add new learning material (created with File : New collection or Ctrl+N)
    4. WIFE-NEW - new collection for your wife to add new learning material
  2. Make repetitions only in BRIAN and WIFE
  3. Periodically transfer newly created elements from BRIAN-NEW to BRIAN and to WIFE, as well as from WIFE-NEW to BRIAN and to WIFE

You can transfer whole collections or individual branches with Tools : Transfer branch on the contents pop-up menu in the contents window


You can memorize chess positions with chess font
(Lloyd M. Uhler Jr, Jun 12, 1998)
Question:
I have fonts for Chess and might want to use SuperMemo to remember Chess Positions. Can I import material created in MS Word?
Answer:
Try using the OLE component


You can globally change the layout of components
(Doug Edmunds, USA, Nov 4, 1997)
Question:
How can I globally change the layout of question, answer, font, background color, etc.
Answer:
Do as follows:

  1. Create a new template with your new layout
  2. Save the template with Template : Save as template (on the element pop-up menu)
  3. In the contents window, choose the branch that should be changed
  4. On the contents pop-up menu choose Process branch : Template : Apply template and select the new template

Important! Only plain text components use font objects. If your template uses rich text components, the original font will be retained. To quickly change fonts in question-answer items, redefine the Classic template or its copy


Title may differ from the question text
(Ryszard Kosowicz, Krakow, Poland, May 16, 1997)
Question:
Why does not SuperMemo automatically change the title when I edit the question part of the item?
Answer:
It does it only if both texts are identical. Sometimes the author of the collection might wish to keep the too different. To update the title press Alt+T and Enter (this will open Title window and propose to use the first default text as the title)


Component order may determine how the titles are generated
(Krzysztof Morawski, Poland, Dec 28, 1998)
Question:
I am learning Norwegian. Until recently, SuperMemo has automatically chosen appropriate titles for my elements; however, for some time now, it has been choosing Norsk as the title for all elements (Norsk is a text included in a text component displayed as a label on each page). How can I make SuperMemo choose the right title (in my case, Polish word used as the question)?
Answer:
SuperMemo will automatically generate the title from the first text component in the component order. Your Norsk component is clearly first in the component order in your template. Choose Component order on the element menu and drag the component with your question text to the first position. Then choose OK and save your element in a new template (choose the same template name as before, i.e. default item template name)


Captions cannot use a customized font
(Adam, Australia, Mon, May 14, 2001 4:04)

Question:
I noticed that when I use a pinyin font (romanized Chinese) it is not recognized in the element title. It shows ASCII codes in place of special characters
Answer:
It is not possible the change Windows system font used in captions programmatically. You can either ignore caption titles (they do not take part in the learning process) or use an appropriate national version of Windows.
For SuperMemo to utilize the appropriate font, you have to choose it for display in Contents (use Customize : Font on the pop-up menu). SuperMemo will use this font throughout wherever applicable


You can display a pop-up message by means of scripts
(facep2b, USA, Tuesday, July 17, 2001 3:45 PM)
Question:
Is there a way to have my question and answer elements and have a pop-up text box that is hidden unless I click on a button?
Answer:
You could, for example, try to use the MESSAGE command in scripts


You can merge collections 
(Vit Usela, Czech Republic, Nov 2, 1999)
Question:
I have separate collections for learning English, German and French. Won't merging these collections as advised in your FAQ not produce excessive confusion? What is the simplest way to merge?
Answer:

  1. If you use language labels to precede each question (e.g. Eng:, Ger:, Fr:) or use different-color templates, the interference is not likely to be greater than in the case when you keep the collections separate. On the other hand, you will gain the mental comfort of working with only one body of material. For example, many users notice that it is much easier to work with the awareness that there are yet 120 items to repeat rather than 50 items to repeat in the present collection and some more in other collections
  2. In SuperMemo 2000 you can use branch learning to learn each branch separately
  3. To merge your collections do as follows:
    1. Choose the collection you put most effort into as the mother collection (this one will be used to inherit the learning statistics)
    2. Open the remaining collections one by one
    3. In each collection select the root element in the contents window (it is the element at the top of the knowledge tree)
    4. Choose Tools : Transfer branch on the contents pop-up menu
    5. Choose the mother collection as the target of the branch transfer
    6. Repeat steps 2-5 with all remaining collection

Automatic question-answer swapping is rarely applicable and hence not implemented (#5895)
(Patrik Nilsson, Tuesday, July 24, 2001 9:27 AM)
Question:
Is there any way to define a component both as question and answer? Instead of creating multiple items? For example, if I have a molecule: Ask for its name through showing its structure and next time show its name and I should know its structure?
Answer:
No. Both suggested elements should have a separate learning process. For this reason, you need to create a duplicate. You will probably discover that a plain swap name-picture is rarely an efficient way of formulating your questions. Many of such created items will become very difficult to remember. You will have to develop individual strategies for dealing with difficult material (e.g. answering questions about individual components of the molecule instead of the whole molecule at once). This is why a simple swap of the question with the answer is rarely a workable solution


You do not need to understand registries
(Tomasz P. Szynalski, Monday, July 30, 2001 6:59 AM)
Question:
Why does SuperMemo force me to care whether a font is in the registry?
Answer:
You do not need to use registries. Registries can be helpful if you want to define and name your own font. Later you can find this font's definition by its name. The same is true with other objects such as images or scripts. Registries make it easy to name objects, reuse them and search for them (including incremental search). If you give up registries, you give up this functionality. Similarly, indexing service in Windows makes it easy to search the content of your hard disk. It is entirely optional, but it is also worth learning


You can use mind-maps with SuperMemo (#6029)
(Pascal Heimlicher, Switzerland, Tue, Aug 07, 2001 1:53 AM)
Question:
Is there a possibility to learn with mindmaps I've created in MindManager. Where can I find a description?
Answer:
If you would like to use mindmaps editable with Mind Manager via OLE, use OLE component. You can also export mindmaps as graphic files and used them with image components. Some of users on this new Yahoo eGroup use Mind Manager. You could share the experience or simply browse their messages. Remember to turn off the Scaled parameter in your template (on the element menu)


Transferring elements from one collection to another should retain the learning process (#6037)
(Jens Buurgaard Nielsen, Denmark, Saturday, August 04, 2001 5:42 PM)
Question:
I recently transferred elements from one of my collections to another. In SuperMemo 98, I had a warning that the first day in the old collection was older than that in the new collection, and that the old first day would be deleted. In SuperMemo 2000, I did not get this warning, and I now wonder if everything is ok?
Answer:
To save space, all dates in SuperMemo are kept relative to the first day of the learning process. For this reason, a collection cannot keep two values of the first day. Once you transfer elements from one collection to another, the first day setting of the source collection is ignored (i.e. not "deleted"). This warning will not appear if the new collection has no elements memorized (i.e. the learning process has not started). There has been no change in that respect between SuperMemo 98 and SuperMemo 2000

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