WordFlashReader is an open source program that promises to increase your reading speed (of electronic texts) by multiple factors, as well as increase your comprehension of them.
It will flash the words within a text in sequence (individually or in chunks) on the screen in large font, with pauses for punctuation. WordFlashReader can open and display multiple text and ebook formats.
I am 36 years old, and one of the facts of life which I have come to terms with is the following: I will never read all the books that I would like to read. In fact, I will most likely never read all the books that I have already purchased, hoping that I might someday get to them.
Unlike some people (my wife, for example, who can zip through books) it simply takes me too much time to read a book; there is simply too much thinking, reflection, and daydreaming involved for me to get through texts as efficiently as I would like.
Which is why this program piqued my interest as soon as I lay eyes on it. What WordFlashReader does is open and display electronic texts such that only one word or a chunk of text is displayed in large font on a dark background at any one time. The flashing word(s) move through the text in quick succession, with some considerable degree of control allowed the user in terms of display speed, size of the displayed chunk, and the behavior of the text with regard to punctuation. This system of reading is supposed to have the following effects:
- Comfort: it is supposed to be more comfortable on the eyes than the normal method of reading. Although it takes a bit of getting used to at first, I can see that how this might be the case.
- Efficiency: because the stream of words served is constant and uninterrupted, the user is forced to keep with the pace, although he/she can control the display speed. If you are going to use the program you will be forced read in a constant and efficient manner.
- Comprehension: the program pauses for punctuation, which is supposed to increase comprehension.
Here are more notes on this program:
- The user interface: is split into a top and bottom panes. The text is displayed normally on the bottom and the individual words/chunks flashed on top.
- Display speed: can be controlled using the arrow buttons, enabling you to find the right pace for you.
- Display mode: you can choose between displaying individual words or “chunks” or words (which I personally prefer). In the case of the latter, you can make the chunks as big or as small as you like.
- Punctuation: you can choose whether you want the program to pause for punctuation or ignore it. Pausing is performed in a very intuitive way and presumably can increase comprehension.
- Saving sessions: is supported. Simply save and come back later to the exact point you left off.
- Formats supported: txt, html, and PDF. PDFs have to be downloaded to the desktop, but other formats can be read online. PDFs have to have extractable text (as opposed to being mainly image-based). You can also open URLs directly or even text in the clipboard.
- Customizable: in addition to tweaking the speed and mode of display, you can tweak the font/colors/background/size of text within both panes.
- Navigation: you can use hotkeys to advance/go back a word, sentence, paragraph, or page. (See Help > shortcuts for a list of these). Or you can right click on the text itself , where a number of useful context menu commands are available.
- The search function: somewhat hidden. Right click on the text to use this.
- Encoding: many encoding formats supported.
- Portability: a portable version would be a good thing, and probably very easy to put together.
- A “goto this line” context menu command that shifts placement to where the cursor is positioned.
The verdict: an extremely simple free program that is based on a great idea with a lot of value-added potential. If you want to read books (actually, ebooks) , and want to read them more efficiently than you have been check this one out for sure.
Version Tested: 0.99.9.
Compatibility: Windows, Linux.
Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 3.2 megs). For Windows download the “setup.exe” version.