Anki Forums

Incremental reading in long term future?


I am an avid learner. I focused on Q&A for language learning in terms of quantity of flashcards. I tried incremental reading several times across my whole Anki 10y experience. There is a huge difference now, I do learn by pleasure, no academic degree, no tests, no deadlines, just following my learn drive. That eventually leads incremental reading.

After a decade of hearing about Supermemo and ignoring it for being proprietary software, I finally give it a change for incremental reading (IR). Recently I have seen trying out SuperMemo 15 freeware version for 10+ hours, watching videos of its capabilities and reading a lot about it. I am convinced, although there are someinherently limitations as being propietary software. I’d use that software for IR if it was open source i.e. free as in freedom.

Today I came across an open source Project called Polar for incremental reading which has a simple Anki synchronization. The bad news is that two weeks ago the development team (I think just 2 guys) decided to go cloud-only, so even if the project is open-source, I cannot use it for my needs.

Personal source of frustration: Semantic learning is getting more cumbersome as the collection grows.

Most of my collection has been Q&A cards generated from electronic sources and then I added mnemonics manually in some cases. For IR i do mostly clozes by copy-paste-adapt from electronic documents and is time consuming to get the metadata in the flashcards which creation I semi-automate.

For the time being I use Firefox to keep track of what I do read, what I am reading, and what I want to read. This limited approach forces to read whole documents before moving to another one for the sake simplicity.

So I read more linearly than I’d like in order to create flashcards on not have a chaos of so many incomplete read documents in parallel since I cannot keep track of the sections I read. So strictly speaking, I do no incremental read that much.


This rises a question if any point in the future there is an opportunity to have incremental reading included in Anki. Managing documents, importing websites, pdf files, extracting text from them to finally create flashcards out of them and have everything linked (that is not the case with Polar connect add-on) so I can track back the source text where the flashcard was created, manage semantic redundancy, etc.

I do strongly believe in the Anki project. I think an external app (and team, community) with different aims, focuses, priorities, convictions, etc won’t materialize a healthily functional IR-fied Anki implementation, at least following the Piotr Wasniak definition of IR.

I think in some years time that idea could be feasible once the backend is fully migrated and all priority stuff has been done.

What are your thoughts?

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There is this:
Unfortunately, it isn’t included in the queue, so I decided developing my own add-on, which is currently not in a usable state for even myself though:

I personally believe that incremental reading is one of the reasons why starting intervals/exponential growth in Supermemo actually can be so huge: it gives extremely coherent knowledge.

Please note that one issue of my implementation will be that IR ideally requires prioritisation of topics, and prioritising topics without prioritising cards doesn’t make sense. However, with the current algorithm which does not allow early or late repetition, this would be a recipe for disaster. This is why I try to convince all of the mathematicians/statistics wizards I can find into trying to develop an algorithm. As soon as I am done with this add-on (while writing a bachelor thesis, lol) - I will also have a look at SM17/18. Based on my understanding, the algorithm by itself isn’t that hard, just acquiring the needed repetition data and finding the right parameters for weighing/matrix smoothing.

have you tried incremental reading add-on?
i have not used this add-on that much. i just tried it, it can import webpages into one card, then you can highlight/edit that card on the reviewer page.

i honestly haven’t tried incremental reading and don’t know how this add-on will help you (you might even know about it already). but as you said:

So I read more linearly than I’d like in order to create flashcards on not have a chaos of so many incomplete read documents in parallel since I cannot keep track of the sections I read.

the highlighting/editing the card on reviewer page, might help you solve that.

this add-on obviously has more features than just the simple stuff i mentioned, but as i have not used it, i can’t really say what it does.

I’m afraid it’s unlikely to happen in the near future - there are a number of things that need to change before it’s even practical. Anki was not designed to handle large amounts of content in fields, and supporting that requires changes to syncing, the database format, full text search, etc, all of which will take time.

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The Incremental Reading Add-On hasn’t been updated for ages…

Incremental reading as it is implemented in Supermemo is a truly amazing experience, and I hope that my add-on comes close to it - aside from the mentioned difficulties.

@dae just how large can data in fields get? I did not notice any issues with my add-on and a few wikipedia pages yet. However, I expect most data to be pdf anyway which will be stored externally.


130712 bytes. That was the reason I made this add-on among others.

Yes. Although briefly becouse the approach is more or less what I do. I don’t want the whole text to be as a flashcard, etc since searching becomes caothic with so many unrelated hits, etc. It is a good apprach for an add-on since you cannot change the Anki structure.

I am awar eof this, that why I said long-term future although this term is subjective. What I had in mind was arround year 2022 or so. Is that too optimistic?

I do beliebethat Supermemo saves the text in external html files. At least when the content is not marked as “done”. I think that is actually a good aproach. So you can separete searching on flashcards and searching on the source file(s).

What I am most keen is the file management and progress tracking that Polar can do. (this pic for example

I am motivated enough to start a project like Polar with some Zotero behaviour fully local and customizable and in the long run that could be merged with Anki.

Actually I tried as well. I need to find someone who believe in the SRS, usually they have not the slightest idea hance the difficulty to get them involved. Other than that, just having all the implementation for IR with Anki’s current algorithm would be a huge game changer already.

Large fields increase the size of the collection, and can result in it growing above the 250MB AnkiWeb supports. It also slows down every search, as more content has to be scanned through.

I can’t make long term commitments at this point - as mentioned above it depends on numerous other changes being done first, and it’s not a topic I’ve even had a chance to properly explore yet.