loss of Cram.com import - was great for audio language study

zeppo's Avatar


04 Jul, 2015 03:40 AM

I gave up trying to sync the iPhone Mental Case app with the desktop app. Maybe with some future version I'll try it again. But I continued studying my existing cards on the iPhone app alone.

It is unfortunate that Cram.com stopped allowing exports of their decks, because your app is the best for audio study that I have come across if you allow for importing from Cram. The reason is the way you have the slide show set up. The audio on the prompt card plays automatically, and then the swipe motion to move to the answer audio can be done without looking at the screen (which has the written words of the audio.) Likewise, to repeat the audio prompt by tapping the top portion of the screen is easily done without looking at the screen. Moving to the next card is done with a swipe with the same ease.

Most of my decks don't have the audio because they were created before cram.com added the feature, and those that do may have the audio screwed up because they were not created with audio translations in mind at the time. But I had planned to go back and reimport my old decks to put into an audio study case. Now when I finally get around to it, I see that Cram has just blown away my study plans.

So my reason for posting is two fold.

One: Don't change the way you advance cards, or at least always keep the current method as an option in future versions because so far it is the only one I have found that is EASY to test audio learning without looking at the screen. For languages this keeps me in an audio frame of mind, and if I don't recognize what is being said I can then look at the screen to see it written if I want. But otherwise I can flip to the answer to play the English and I stay in that audio mode. I think this can be important in learning languages It gives your app a big advantage over the others for audio study because I can use the same cards in different cases for audio study and written testing. Of course, cram.com really screwed things up for this however, which brings me to...

Two: Perhaps you could arrange a way for user's to pay an extra dollar or two to Cram for the right to activate the import feature on your app? Or, maybe arrange so that cram will "unlock" the export feature to your app if the user goes to cram.com and pays for the unlock. I have no idea how that might work. OR, if there is a way to work directly with iSpeech to have it insert the audio to cards that would be cool, too, though probably unlikely.


  1. 1 Posted by zeppo on 04 Jul, 2015 08:24 PM

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    Or, perhaps the best option for long term reliability would be to add the ability to import decks from Anki. Since Anki is open-source, I think it could be done and you wouldn't have to worry about having the rug pulled out from under you. I mean, how long before Quizlet does the same thing? Anki has an add on that lets TTS audio files automatically load audio translations from what it reads off of an imported spreadsheet on to the flashcards, similar to what Cram.com does. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks like now if I want to test how well I recognize vocabulary by sound only, some configuration of Anki is now my only hope, since cram.com's app is too limited. But as I said, your interface offers the best navigation for testing without having to look at the screen and see the written words. So if you could add Anki deck importing, or figure out some similar add-on of your own (like Awesome TTS), that would be great.

  2. 2 Posted by zeppo on 05 Jul, 2015 07:27 PM

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    Well, Quizlet has lousy navigation for info about its features. But I finally found via a youtube video that I can create cards by importing spreadsheet contents just like Cram. But even more important, I finally found on yet another page via google that Quizlet does automatically generate audio like Cram. However, when I import the cards with audio, unlike Cram, the audio does not make it to the Mental Case app. If you can fix it so we can import the cards from Quizlet with auto-generated audio as well then that solves everything for now.

  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by drewmccormack on 22 Jul, 2015 09:26 AM

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    Sorry, I seem to have missed this post somehow.

    Quizlet does not allow us to download the audio. It is just generated to play on demand. Quizlet also threatened to pull 3rd party support last year, so who knows how long that has.

    We are determined not to be dependent on others going forward. We are looking at making our own sharing service, and adding text-to-speech in our apps.

    Would that satisfy your needs?

  4. 4 Posted by zeppo on 01 Aug, 2015 03:12 AM

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    The interesting thing about the way it used to be with Cram is that an audio file was saved when you imported the card. So that if you later changed the text, the audio file would not change with it, since it was a separate file. While this might seem to be a pain on one hand, it actually offered an advantage on the other hand. That is, I could delete the text on the prompt card, but the audio file would remain, allowing the card to test audio recognition of a foreign language without the "spoiler" of the written word on the screen.

    There is another app I purchased that has probably what you may be thinking of implementing, which is text-to-speech playback of whatever the text is on the prompt card. This is a problem for me because to hear the audio, I have to hit a play button on the screen, and to hit the play button I will end up seeing the text on the screen unless I am lucky enough to press the right spot on the screen without looking at it.

    Your current design works great in that the audiofile of the foreign language is played instantly when you open the card, rather than having to hit a play button to initiate text-to-speech. Then, the swipe motion to flip to the answer card is easy to do without looking at the screen as well. But if I don't recognize the word and need to see the spelling, then I can look at the screen. If you could have a setting where you can choose to have the text to speech read automatically rather than having to hit a play button, that would solve that problem. If you find you have to use a play button instead of having the option for it to play automatically, then perhaps an option to choose a really tiny font on the prompt card, so small that I couldn't read it, would allow me to play the audio without seeing the spoiler of the text. But avoiding having to hit a play button at all is best because I can sit back and advance through cards with swipes without having to look at the screen at all. Even grading can be done by feel, without looking at the screen, the way you currently have it set up.

    I had planned on testing my audio recognition of words separately from my reading recognition, since in real life you have to recognize the audio without the text. The way those audio files used to load when importing Cram was an awesome time saver, but unfortunately, they stopped allowing it just before was ready to load a bunch of decks for audio testing.

    By the way, I still wish there was a wifi sync option for those like me with only one iOS device and an iMac. if that could be added back as a feature so those of us that want to use the desktop app for editing can avoid the problems of cloud sync that plagued it it would be awesome. I don't study the cards on the desktop app, only edit them. (Or used to before I quit using it because of the cloud sync issues). So even if the wifi just allowed a sync of the contents of the files without syncing the grading/scheduling status of the cards, that works for me.

  5. Support Staff 5 Posted by drewmccormack on 01 Aug, 2015 06:24 AM

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    In terms of a play button, you could probably study you describe just by learning a keyboard shortcut to play the audio. That way you don't need to look at the screen.

    Having to write a custom wifi sync just for those with one Mac and one iPhone would be a lot of work, and I fear that is probably only a few percent of our customers.

    What we have done instead is add a direct uploading and downloading sync, rather than the old one that would slowly transfer data in the background, and we will also allow you to select which stacks to sync. Hopefully that means you can just select your active stacks to sync to iPhone, and leave the ones that you aren't actively working on on the Mac until you need them.

    Kind regards,

  6. 6 Posted by zeppo on 04 Aug, 2015 02:45 AM

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    I, and from what you say, most of your customers, don't study on the mac, but use the iOS app instead. So a keyboard shortcut won't work there. (The other app I use that has the play button is an iOS app) If the audio will play automatically when the card is flipped to, then that's fine. I'm hoping you DON'T add an audio play button on each card when you add Text to Speech-- prefer automatic. The other thing that might help if you do end up having to use a play button like your competitor's flashcard app is have an option to change the font color of the text to the same (or near the same) color as the background, effectively making it invisible. Then I could create one set of cards and copy them to a second deck to test and schedule my audio recognition separately. For the second deck I could perhaps use a single format command for the whole deck to change the font color of the prompt, and for the original deck I could just turn down my volume if it interfered.

    Is the direct uploading and downloading sync something you added in your recent updates, or something that you will be adding in the future?

  7. Support Staff 7 Posted by drewmccormack on 04 Aug, 2015 08:09 AM

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    Direct upload/download will be in our next major release, which we are finishing up now. It's a major release.

    On iOS we currently have the top of the screen to replay audio. Maybe that could double as the text to speech area. If you tap that and there is no audio, it would TTS instead.

    I think that is better than a button for your use case, because the top of the screen is a large tap target. You can do it without looking.

    Automatically playing TTS wouldn't really work, because that would force people to use it all the time. Or we could add a slideshow setting, perhaps in the custom slideshows, which is off by default, but can be toggled on.

    Kind regards,

  8. 8 Posted by zeppo on 04 Aug, 2015 03:31 PM

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    The top of the screen area, as you say, sounds like it will be a good target to tap without looking. I guess automatic TTS would interfere if people wanted to listen to music while studying. I didn't think of that.

    All these features sound great, so I will give the new release a shot. I would love it if I can get back to editing and adding new cards via the desktop.

  9. drewmccormack closed this discussion on 06 Aug, 2015 08:55 AM.

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