Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to Prepare Content - Part 2

This is Part 2 in a series. You may want to first read: Part 1.

The DingLabs Reader is intended to be open to anyone to post and share their own content.

The process isn't fully documented yet, but it is usable right now, and the steps are pretty simple:
  1. The first step is to use Transcriber to create a .trs file for each chapter (or audio file) you would like to share.
  2. Upload the .trs and .mp3 files somewhere on the Internet. If you don't have a website, you might just try Google Sites to host your files.
  3. Finally, create and upload an XML file which will describe your book and the locations for each .trs and .mp3 file.  As an example, here is a link to the actual XML file that is used for Alice in Wonderland:
    (you might have to "View Source" or "Save Link as..." to see the XML).
Now you can run the DingLabs Reader, and tell it to load your book. You do this by including a link to your XML file in the Reader URL. Here's an example, using Alice in Wonderland again. Just use your URL in the highlighted section (although it may appear as two lines, it is one long URL):

That's it! When the program loads, it will fetch your XML file, and find the .trs and .mp3 file for each chapter, so it can create the interactive display for playback.

Feel free to reply with your questions or feedback.


  1. I'm an adult ESOL technology specialist, and have enjoyed experimenting with the DingLabs Reader. I have previously used a similar synchronized highlighting feature in a Java applet from the Gong Project, but the Reader is much more lightweight and easier to deploy.

  2. I've played with the DingLabs Reader and Transcriber. The trs file I created used "The Frog Price" text and audio referenced on the audiobooks section of the RevTK Wiki.

    For some reason I can only get it to work using Firefox. In Chrome and IE 8 it does not load the trs and audio files. The Chrome debugger indicates some sort if un-handled DOM exception. That leads me to believe there is something unexpected in the trs file I created. I'll have to download the trs files for the Alice examples and try to see what is different.

    Another issue I've noticed is that the timing of the text highlighting becomes rather inaccurate towards the end of the file. This may be a timing resolution error or maybe a side effect of the codec and the way the mp3 is encoded.

    Here's what my experiments yielded so far:
    The Frog Prince.

  3. Hi Paul,

    That is interesting. I'll take a look to see why your file is only working in Firefox. I think the problem is only during the processing of your XML file, ohanashi_kaeru_grimm01.xml.

    But, I must say, beautiful job with your alignment! I see you figured out the 'title' and 'img' markup. I am impressed.

    Regarding the audio drift, I have some good and some bad news. The good news is that the DingLabs Reader is faithfully rendering the timings you have.

    The bad news is, the timings are not correct in your Transcriber file. It is because Transcriber doesn't seem to work accurately with larger MP3 files. I have updated the previous blog post to strongly recommend converting the MP3 to WAV before working with Transcriber.

    So you probably need to tweak your current alignments in Transcriber. Use the waveform displayed in the bottom as your visual guide. You can adjust the sync points by CTRL dragging the boundaries.

    After that, your timings will be correct, and the Reader can still use your original MP3 file.

  4. Hi Paul, FYI -- I've deployed some changes and your book XML now seems to work in Chrome and IE8:

    Once again, you did a nice job there.

  5. Hi Jim,

    Your reader is a nice piece of work and it it is very easy to use. Thanks for the quick turn around on a solution to the problem. Using a wave file instead of an mp3 to tweak the Transcriber file is not s big deal. There are plenty of tools available to do that conversion.

    I downloaded an Alice trs file to see how it was formatted. I figured that I must have something incorrect in the trs file I made. That's where I saw how you had setup the markup using the 'speaker' tags. The problem persisted though, thus my previous post.


  6. I just stumbled across your site. What a great idea! Are you still working on this? I see some of the examples using stuff from different languages of lingq. Are there any plans to integrate into lingq web site itself? I know they opened up their API for developers. If the answers are covered on your site sorry for asking them. I'll have to continue reading further.

  7. Hi Steve,
    That sounds neat, but I'm not aware of any APIs for Could you point me to them?

  8. API's for Lingq. Sure pointing them out is the easy part : ) What can you do with them...well I'm not a

    Maybe this could become part of lingq's site itself. This is some great stuff you're working on. Don't stop.

  9. While using Google Chrome, the following extensions are all working fine on dinglabs page:
    1. Google translate (to translate to English or any language ^_^),
    2. Zhongwen Chinese Popup Dictionary (to instantly look up -by hovering the word- more infos about the Chinese word. Example, Traditional Chinese form, pinyin, and another meaning,
    3. New TongWenTang (to switch between Simplified and Traditional Chinese, vice verse)

    By the way, thank you so much

  10. Very nice project.
    I've started preparing a German book:

    At the moment only a very small part is done but I intend to create the transcription of the whole book as I need it.

  11. @Rivo: Thanks, good to know! I think pop-up dictionaries can be a huge help.

    @Anonymous: Wow, nice work aligning "Die Verwandlung". Would you mind if I posted it in the DingLabs Library? I can add it myself, but I don't have a way for others to upload content yet.

  12. @Author(Jim): Btw, what pop-up dictionary(-ies) you prefer to use in I'm kind of curios of that. Thank you.

  13. @Rivo: I've only tried pop-up dictionaries for Simplified Chinese. For Firefox I used "Chinese Perapera-kun". Now that I mostly use Chrome, the "Zhongwen Chinese Popup Dictionary" plugin seems pretty good.

    I'd like to create a page listing good plugins to use for different languages. I'm sure there must be good tools out there to help with Spanish, German, Japanesee, etc. etc.

  14. Hi Jim, is this project still alive? I just started some aligning for my needs and I would like to know if there is chance your reader will eventually support bilingual texts or whether you are working on some other new features.


  15. Hi Pejsek,

    That's great, yes, I've recently been working on a new approach for supporting bilingual texts.

    Basically, it will let you take two .trs files, one for each language, and they will be displayed together with each paragraph aligned. So far it seems promising...

    I'm also working on a version for offline use. Feel free to share any new feature ideas.

  16. Thanks for the response, Jim. If I understand it right, for making it bilingual, there would be needed two processes of transcribing? Or the aligned text could be taken from some aligning tool, like LF_aligner or hunalign?

    I was too wondering if there is going to be offline version, glad to hear there will be one.

  17. Hi Pejsek,

    I'm pleased to release the new Desktop Player, you can check it out in the latest blog post.

    To answer your question, yes for making it bilingual, you use two independently aligned transcripts. Their (p) sections must match though, because that determines how they will be displayed.