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Author Topic: Sumatra Highlight Helper  (Read 7731 times)

Nod5

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Sumatra Highlight Helper
« on: October 25, 2014, 11:23:25 AM »
sumatra_highlight_helper
Add, remove and jump between highlights in Sumatra PDF Prerelease version (needed for the highlight command)

Commands
H = Highlight selected text + autosaves it into pdfname.pdf.smx
Ctrl+H = Remove all highlighting on this pdf page
Hold CapsLock + move mouse = Remove all highlighting mouse moves over
Win+H = Toggle highlighting visible/hidden
Ctrl+Win+PgUp/PgDn = Jump to next/prev highlight page

Note
Sumatra Highlight Helper is really "feature request ware".
I hope the Sumatra PDF devs try and like the features and make them native.

Download & details on this link

Nod5

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2014, 08:48:46 AM »
Updated to version 141121

H = Highlight selected text + autosaves it into pdfname.pdf.smx
Ctrl+H = Remove all highlighting on this pdf page
Hold CapsLock + move mouse = Remove all highlighting mouse moves over
Win+H = Toggle highlighting visible/hidden
Y = Highlight selected text with red color
(Shift+)Ctrl+Win+PgUp/PgDn = Jump to next/prev (red) highlight page
(Shift+)Ctrl+Win+Home/End = Jump to first/Last (red) highlight page

Nod5

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2015, 03:07:37 PM »
updated to version 150222

+ Four colors, color specific jumps, mouse controls
+ small GIF animations on download page show the features

Help me test it in Win8 and Win10 and post feedback here.

edit: small update to version 150224b
fix error in jump commands
jumps to/from nondigit pages now fully working (uses command line to jump)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2015, 01:30:56 PM by Nod5 »

gyoung

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2015, 06:06:41 AM »
Does the highlights get saved after closing the app?

Nod5

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2015, 07:28:10 AM »
Does the highlights get saved after closing the app?
I missed your post, sorry for the late reply. Yes, the highlights are saved into a .smx text file that Sumatra automatically loads again the next time the pdf is opened. Try it! If you run into any bugs post back here.

Nod5

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2015, 07:28:45 AM »
updated to version 150314
red green highlighting now work also with selection on multiple pages
fix color bug when hotkey press without selection

superboyac

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2015, 01:42:02 PM »
interesting.  and we were just talking about how to bridge the gap between physical books and ebooks.  this is one of those tools.

Nod5

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2015, 03:45:50 PM »
interesting.  and we were just talking about how to bridge the gap between physical books and ebooks.  this is one of those tools.
Thanks. That is the plan, to bring back navigation and rereading tools everyone takes for granted with physical books (highlights, dots/marks in the margin, earmarks for easy flipping between pages). If you can think of some other feature of that sort that is used for physical books then do tell and I'll see if I can emulate that in this app too. I plan to add an extra hotkey to set one single page as a special location and then a hotkey to jump between the present page and the special location and back. Kind of like holding a finger between some pages near the end of a book for easy flip to read an endnote and then flip back.

superboyac

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2015, 11:21:31 AM »
interesting.  and we were just talking about how to bridge the gap between physical books and ebooks.  this is one of those tools.
Thanks. That is the plan, to bring back navigation and rereading tools everyone takes for granted with physical books (highlights, dots/marks in the margin, earmarks for easy flipping between pages). If you can think of some other feature of that sort that is used for physical books then do tell and I'll see if I can emulate that in this app too. I plan to add an extra hotkey to set one single page as a special location and then a hotkey to jump between the present page and the special location and back. Kind of like holding a finger between some pages near the end of a book for easy flip to read an endnote and then flip back.
I've had discussions about this recently.  here are some of the ideas:
the earmark is a key feature.  Especially for long books or reference books.  Keep a finger her, flip to there, etc.  How to do this digitally?  not sure but I'll offer a suggestion.  let's say I'm reading, i hit a point where i want to now flip to somewhere else for a bit and come back.  so i press some button, and that point is now saved.  But not just bookmarked (I've tried this with acrobat, it sucks).  It needs to retain the whole view...exactly where i am scroll-wise, and the zoom position, etc.  exactly the way it looked when i left.  Once i save that spot, a bright circle with a number could appear on the border or something.  Now, I flip to somewhere else.  Maybe I want to save that spot too.  So i hit the button again, and another circular symbol appears next to the other one, maybe a different color and the next number.  SO now i have to colorful circles indicating my saved spot.  i click on either of these circles and that takes me back to their positions.  but it needs to be quick, easy, etc.  don't make me write a title for each thing, etc.  make it easy to make it or remove it.

The other thing is the visual awareness of where i am in the book position.  When you read a book, there's this visual satisfaction as you go through it where the thickness of pages starts accumulating on the left.  I don't know how to do that digitally, but i've heard that mentioned from people who prefer the real books.  I know we have page numbers like 121/315.  But it's not the same, it's not visual.  of course, there are those scrollbars that fill up as you read along, that's visual.  But somehow, it's not very satisfying.

and regarding the earmarks...
as you flip around, it would also be nice if the program automaically remembered the places you are jumping from.  Like an automatic bookmarking history.  so if i flip around a few times, it has a convenient list somewhere where it shows where i left off.  But the key thing here is that it saves the entire view, not just a simple bookmark.  it really needs to look like exactly how it was when i left.

Nod5

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2015, 04:04:19 PM »
Thanks for brainstorming!

the earmark ... let's say I'm reading, i hit a point where i want to now flip to somewhere else for a bit and come back.  so i press some button, and that point is now saved.  But not just bookmarked (I've tried this with acrobat, it sucks).  It needs to retain the whole view...exactly where i am scroll-wise, and the zoom position, etc.  exactly the way it looked when i left.  Once i save that spot, a bright circle with a number could appear on the border or something.  Now, I flip to somewhere else.  Maybe I want to save that spot too.  So i hit the button again, and another circular symbol appears next to the other one, maybe a different color and the next number.  SO now i have to colorful circles indicating my saved spot.  i click on either of these circles and that takes me back to their positions.  but it needs to be quick, easy, etc.  don't make me write a title for each thing, etc.  make it easy to make it or remove it.
Your idea with the circle/marker on the border sounds like a digital version of those small colored sticky bookmark tabs for physical books. Neither of my two Sumatra helper tools has an always visible list of jump locations like that. Saving the entire view (zoom level, scroll position, other settings) can be challenging I think. Isn't it often good enough to highlight/mark an exact location on a page? Highlight Helper can do that.

Both Sumatra Highlight Helper and Sumatra Earmarks enable speedy page jumps already (next/prev/first/last). With Sumatra Earmarks you can also right click the upper corner square and get a visual jumplist for all earmarked pages.

One use case that Highlight Helper doesn't handle good enough yet: when the user wants to both highlight text *and* jump to/from a few locations throughout the same session. One workaround is to use one highlight color only for the jumppoints and then use the color filter jump hotkeys. But I think some temporary jump location hotkeys would be better.

Quote
The other thing is the visual awareness of where i am in the book position.  When you read a book, there's this visual satisfaction as you go through it where the thickness of pages starts accumulating on the left.  ... we have page numbers like 121/315.  But it's not the same, it's not visual.  of course, there are those scrollbars that fill up as you read along, that's visual.  But somehow, it's not very satisfying.
I've also always liked that when reading physical books. Especially when plowing through a thicker book like a novel there is this satisfactory tactile feedback as the story is progressing. And it simply feels nice to riffle through the page edges with your thumb sometimes. I can't think of any good way to emulate that feel digitally today.

Some attempts to transfer a book like appearance instead feel cheesy and annoying, like all page flipping animations and page flipping sounds I've encountered. They feel even cheesier now when many other applications go for a flatter GUI design.

One possibility: pdf files can have a table of contents bookmarks structure that Sumatra displays in a sidebar to the left. The current section is highlighted there. That is already a form of visual position orientation. Maybe it would be possible to color text there or add some other visual markings.

Quote
as you flip around, it would also be nice if the program automaically remembered the places you are jumping from.  Like an automatic bookmarking history.  so if i flip around a few times, it has a convenient list somewhere where it shows where i left off.  But the key thing here is that it saves the entire view, not just a simple bookmark.  it really needs to look like exactly how it was when i left.
We could have a script save a "browser history" trail of displayed pages for each pdf document. In Sumatra there are already previous/next buttons (and hotkeys alt+left/right) for jumping in that trail.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 04:09:41 PM by Nod5 »

IainB

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2015, 05:34:30 AM »
@Nod5: The comments you make in response to, and including @superboyac's comments bring some of the MS OneNote Notebook ergonomics and techniques to mind.
For example:
  • earmarking: though "earmarking" is probably not the correct English term for what is being suggested (I think making a dog-ear as a bookmark might be what was intended), you can meet the description it is given in the above comments by the use of "Tags" in OneNote and also with typed or handwritten notes added anywhere on the page being viewed.

  • finding stuff: you can automatically index/search and/or make a hyperlink for any word, phrase or image in the reading matter or comments (hyperlinking  being similar to  a Wiki) and index/search OCR'd text in images. The reader can also easily add copious notes at the hyperlink page - which typically could be (say) in another Notebook, away from the actual hyperlinked text, if required.

  • display: the Notebooks can be viewed in a 2 or 3-pane display (Notebook/Section, Page/Subpages, Page Content (showing any notes or images added by any user/reader)


On the subject of a need for a book-like appearance: In terms of priorities of requirements (e.g., A=Mandatory, B=Highly Desirable, C=Nice-to-Have) I would suggest that this is a C - i.e., more of a touchy-feely thing to help people get over their natural resistance to the transition from an analogue to a digital medium. So it could be a distraction from meeting fundamental requirements of the A + B categories. Trying to meet a C requirement could turn out to be a potential bottomless pit for development costs and with ultimately very little real added value.

If you are focussed on PDF files, then you have a relatively narrow focus on one of several restrictive generic or third-party technologies, over which you have no real control.
However, if you are seeking to improve that technology so that reading and making notes on the PDF digital medium becomes at least as easy as and as ergonomically efficient as an analogue medium - preferably better in both cases - then you are on a relatively well-trodden path that was arguably kicked into the Big Time by the advent of things like the Nook or the Kindle - though both are seemingly designed as proprietary market entrapment devices.
However, you are arguably amongst friends/helpers who may have gone before you, in the form of the developers responsible for the development of reference/reading management systems - refer for example:

If you have not already done so, then I would suggest that having some examination/trial of those free systems, and some collaborative dialogue with their developers and about their forward plans might be very useful - even synergistic in effect - and might even help you to avoid re-inventing the wheel in some areas, to some extent.

Nod5

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Re: Sumatra Highlight Helper
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2015, 11:48:58 AM »
Hi IanB. Yes I can see the similarity to some ideas above and what OneNote does.

But OneNote, Calibre and Qigga are as you say whole systems for noting, collecting and searching information. The aim with my helper tools here is much more modest and narrow: to enhance standalone use of pdf (and djvu) documents in Sumatra on Windows devices. So not a replacement to those systems but rather something to use alongside them. One use case is to color highlight while reading a pdf, for quick later rereading of key sections and as starting points for later note taking in external apps.

One thing I'd really like to find a way to do is to later on extract all and only the highlighted text segments from a pdf, with a page tag for each segment. To plaintext or some other structured format that can then be imported to OneNote or some such system. I haven't found a way to do that export with highlighted text in Sumatra yet though.