Free Web App: Verbatim on iPhone/iPod Touch

Published on Thursday, September 17, 2009 in , , , ,

Verbatim(UPDATE - July 14, 2011: Verbatim has been updated and improved. Click here to learn about the update!)

Today, I'm announcing Grey Matters' newest free web app for the iPhone and iPod Touch: Verbatim!

Wouldn't it be great to download things like monologues, poems, presentations, scripture, scripts, song lyrics, and speeches directly into your brain, so that you knew them word for word?

Until that's possible, the next best thing is Verbatim. What exactly is Verbatim?

Verbatim is a free web app that helps train you to memorize pieces of text word for word!

If you've ever wanted to memorize an inspiration poem, or been faced with the task of memorizing Lincoln's Gettysburg Address for school, then Verbatim can help!

The approach used in this program is based on one I first learned from J. J. Hayes' HubPages article, How To Memorize A Poem. Having used it effectively in the real world, I was inspired to turn this into an iPhone/iPod Touch program.

So that you can get a better idea of what Verbatim is about and what it does, here's the video overview of Verbatim:

There are more detailed video tutorials on each aspect of the program in the Video Tutorials section, and in the Verbatim Video Tutorials Playlist.

If the part about developing the XML file concerns you, I've even taken the extra step of creating an XML File Maker for Verbatim, complete with its own video tutorial.

If you'd like to check out this program's full capabilities with some ready-made pieces, you can check out Verbatim with the sample poems.xml file pre-loaded here. You'll find a good selection of long and short poems in this file that will challenge your memory.

As mentioned in the video overview, the jQTouch engine also makes it possible for this program to work on a Palm Pre, an Android device, or any WebKit-based browser with HTML5 and CSS3 capabilities, such as Safari or Google Chrome.

In the hope that Verbatim will inspire you to find the fun in memorizing pieces word for word, I've also included with Verbatim a list of speeches, monologues, poems, song lyrics, and more to help you find pieces you'll enjoy.

I sincerely hope you find this program useful, and I'd like to hear any comments, questions, suggestions or experiences you have involving Verbatim in the comments!

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40 Response to Free Web App: Verbatim on iPhone/iPod Touch

2:56 PM

I'm probably missing something but how do I get Verbatim on my ipod?



3:12 PM

Nevermind. I'm an idiot. I figured it out because I watched the WHOLE video instead of 5 seconds. Cool app! I wish it was available offline because I only have a ipod touch. But still very cool.

9:45 PM

A couple of quick notes:

1) Your computer may be able to broadcast wifi to your iPod Touch (I have an iPod Touch, and that's how I've set it up). I believe all the Intel-based Macs, and many modern Windows machines have this capability.

2) I am in the process of learning Objective-C and PhoneGap. If I can get one of those to work, I'll eventually port Verbatim over as a native app.

10:06 AM

I definitely use it at home. I just don't have wifi at work. Good luck learning Objective-C and PhoneGap. I (for my selfish reasons) hope you figure it out and learn it quickly.

8:32 PM

I love the idea, but every time I attempt to load the xml file I receive an http error. I can hit the xml file from my browser, and I've triple checked that it is correctly composed. Any ideas?

12:17 AM

Can you post or e-mail the URL of the web address to me?

The two most common errors are not entering the web address (including the http:// prefix, and having the xml files incorrectly structured.

I'd have to see them to see what the problem is exactly.

12:31 AM

Bev - re-reading your letter just now, one possibility struck me.

Did you upload your xml file to a web server? Verbatim can't read files on your local disk, it can only read from a web server accessible from a web address that begins with http://.

11:55 AM

Thanks. The URL is:
I downloaded your poems.xml and uploaded to my server. I received the same error as with my file. Then I tried using your file, stored on your server rather than mine and it worked fine. I found this free server, and it seems to work otherwise. I got it solely for Verbatim. If we can get this working I know a lot of people at my Church that would be excited to set it up. Have you thought about offering it as an installable app that can use locally stored files?

8:52 PM

Bev, thank you for getting back to me so quickly.

The problem comes from the fact that XML files can't be read from other domains, which I didn't take into consideration when doing the original programming.

Until I reprogram Verbatim, I have a short-term fix for you and everyone else that will allow you to run the program with all features.

It's in my most recent blog post: Verbatim Bug Found!

9:52 PM

Thanks Pi Guy - the fix works great, and I can't wait to start using it!

9:24 PM

Bev -

Big news! The big has been fixed. I'm going to update the "Verbatim Bug Found" post with this news.

You can go back to using Verbatim at the original address, and it will now load the XML files from anywhere without a problem.

As an example, click here to see Verbatim using The Road Not Taken from your freetzi account.

I will be posting an update to let everyone know it's working properly, but I thought you'd like to hear this.

Edward Shea
11:30 AM

I desperately need to know WHERE do I upload my completed XML file??? I doesn't say where in the tutorial and google comes up with nothing. Thanks in advance

11:41 AM

Edward, you can upload it to any server to which you have access.

Your internet provider may provide you with server space in which to upload your file. This would be the first place I would check.

Also, there are many sites that offer free server space. I've been using the following place when I was testing Verbatim:


Once you've uploaded the file, make sure you have the correct web address for the file, so you can enter it into Verbatim as described in Verbatim's "Starting Up" video.

6:05 PM

can i design a database for this program in other alphabets ?

how about one with diacritic markings such as Hebrew?

10:48 PM

That's an interesting question, Eliyahu.

I hadn't really considered it, but I've just tried it out. I used to a Hebrew "Lorem Ipsum" generator (Randomly generated hebrew filler text), and turned it into a Verbatim XML file.

You can see the XML file here: http://greymatters.freetzi.com/hebrewtest.xml

(Select your browser's "View Source" option to see the actual XML stucture.

I tried it out in Verbatim, as seen here, and it seems to work just fine!

I haven't specially set Verbatim up for other languages, but as long as it's readable in ASCII, it should apparently work just fine!

10:52 PM

Playing around with it a bit more, it seems the memorize text section will work just fine, but the recall text section won't work with other alphabets.

If you know Javascript, HTML, CSS and jQuery, feel free to download the code (it's well-commented), and try to re-work the code so it does work with Hebrew.

Most of the work would simply be in the RegEx (regular expressions) area.

6:55 AM

I think my dad and I could both benefit from a program like this; he's been complaining about not being able to memorize song lyrics.

Is there a comparable program or a version of this one that is more compatible with a regular computer, and allows me to use resources from my hard drive instead of having to find something online? If I can't use this program offline, I might as well just write my own version.

11:40 AM

I don't know of any other computer program that does what Verbatim does, which is part of the reason I wrote it.

However, the memorization approach used in Verbatim doesn't even need a computer!

Check out How To Memorize A Poem to learn the approach without a computer.

11:45 AM

I can access the .xml file entering an ftp url into a web browser. But using the exact url with my iPhone, Verbatim will not access the file after numerous attempts.
Any one have an idea?

1:20 PM

Bob, are you including the exact address, including "http://"?

Are you sure it's a valid xml file, too?

Also, you need to make sure you're not uploading to a site like MegaUpload, where you can't access it directly.

One other possibility is that the site to which you uploaded may not allow any access from it.

I've had good luck with http://freetzi.com/

Create an account there, and upload your xml file there, and try it.

12:13 PM

Thanks for your response Pi Guy.
Yes, I am using the "http://.
I actually created the .xml file using the mechanism on the file creation web page you guys recommended.
I tried the link 'freetzi' you suggested. The file still could not be accessed via the Verbatim 'app' on my iPhone.

8:50 AM

Verbatim is just what i have been looking for. can someone please tell me how to download this app.
Thank you

11:14 AM

With a web app, you use it while online, instead of downloading it. It's basically an iPhone/iPod Touch specific webpage.

Get on Safari on your iPhone/iPod Touch, access this article, and click the link to Verbatim.

Please go through the Manual, especially the video tutorials, to understand how to use it better.

12:16 PM

This is a really great App :)

How is your learning in Objective-C and PhoneGap coming along? When can we expect an offline variation of this?
I would really like to use it, when I don't have access to WiFi.


12:25 PM

Emanuel, I've just finished releasing my first App Store app, and am starting prep work on Verbatim.

I'm in the process of learning how to use the database feature. That's the most important part, as you need to be able to be able to save any poems/speeches/etc. to test yourself each time.

The rest should port over with little trouble.

9:11 PM

As a professor of literature, I applaud your Verbatim program. Might you assist me in downloading the program? I'm a google chrome windows 7 user and have been unable to download the program. thank you for your help.

10:40 PM

Sheik, I apologize for the confusion.

Verbatim is a web app. Instead of downloading it, you access it as you would any other web site, via the following URL: http://members.cox.net/astonishment/iphone/webapps/verbatim/

To access it, you must be online. Also, it needs to be accessed using a WebKit-based browser. You can find one for your system here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_web_browsers#WebKit-based_browsers

For more details about Verbatim, check out the video tutorials: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=25A78B3E1FD86860

9:13 AM

After a LONG TIME of trial and error, I discovered that filenames used for the xml file can't (apparently) have a hyphen in them, so this: http://passiontask.com/warehouse/keats-chapmans-homer.xml doesn't work, but this: http://passiontask.com/warehouse/keats.xml even though the files are identical.

4:37 AM

I'm trying so hard to get this puppy going. It seems I can't get it to recognize an xml file, even tho I have uploaded it to the free server you mention earlier here.
I'm sure it's something I'm missing.
Here's a link to the file I was testing...

Any help is much appreciated.

12:39 PM

I've found the problem, anonymous.

You've formatted your file correctly. but orgfree.com is tacking on all sorts of extra data when it's being read.

To give you an idea, this is how Verbatim sees a normal XML file (this is Poe's "The Raven"):

There's some extra data, but it's mainly the piece you wish to remember.

Now, when read from orgfree.com, it seems to be adding on all sorts of miscellaneous font information, which Verbatim can't make use of:

The only thing I can recommend is to see if you can somehow adjust the settings in your account to make sure that the XML file is being sent as UTF-8, with no extraneous data.

1:11 AM

Hi Pi Guy,
Thanks for your response...ok, I've got it figured out through trial and error. I saved the file in my text editor as a text file to desktop, then uploaded as you direct in vid, etc. Anyway, I have it working. I'm a singer/songwriter and I tried it out to see if can help me remember the lyrics to a song.
Worked like a charm. It's almost like magic! I've just uploaded another and am going to give this a shot, see if it might be beginners "memory" luck. hehehe...
Anyway, thanks very much for this free app and service you're providing. Would love to hear it is moving toward a stand alone app. You'll get my money!

12:02 PM

I've been waiting for this to become an actual,
self-contained iPhone app.
There are none out there that have all these components built in.
I would have bought it 2 years ago.
The current 'setup' while valuable, is quite
Please let me know.

10:48 AM

rydmn -

Your criticism of Verbatim has inspired me. You'll be glad to know I'm reworking Verbatim as we speak!

I should have it ready by next week.

The first thing to go was the XML garbage. In the new version, you'll simply type the name of the piece and the author, and then just cut and paste the piece itself, preferably from a text editor.

It won't be a native app, but I am reworking it so that it can be used completely offline, once you've saved the app to your homescreen.

Just as with a true native app, you'll be able to shut down the browser, turn off your phone, and still be able come back to all the information later!

I'm also rewriting it to work under jQuery Mobile, so it will work on more mobile devices than before.

Keep an eye out. I'm hoping to release it on Sunday (July 10th), but that may be pushing it. More likely, you'll hear about it next Thursday (July 14th).

5:48 PM

PI Guy;
Just want to say thank you for this large improvement.
I will begin working with this and report back on my findings.
Nice to know I played a little part. No doubt you were already stewing on these big improvements, otherwise my little nudge wouldn't have been much motivation.
Sincerely, Thanks.

7:07 PM

I keep getting an 'error (404)' when I put this in my dropbox account and sycn it with iPhone 4.
Not sure why.

7:19 PM

404 means it's not in there.

If you're on a desktop/laptop, download the file itself onto your computer, then upload to your DropBox account.

It should automatically appear the next time your DropBox account syncs.

7:22 PM


You're welcome.

As it happens, I ran across a technique for saving data in the browser cache about a week before you posted your original comment.

I was thinking about applying it to Verbatim "someday", and your comment was just the kick in the pants I needed.

6:56 AM

This is what's happening;
I drag the url: "bplist00Ń SURL_ /http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23420016/Verbatim2.html

9:14 AM

First, on a desktop or laptop computer from which you have access to your DropBox account, just go to:

Use your browser to save the page, making sure that you save it to your computer as "Page Source" (not web archive or anything else).

Once you've saved that file onto your computer, then drag it into YOUR DropBox account, and you should be able to work from there.

You may have to check with DropBox's technical support page to see what the problem is.

10:38 AM

PI Guy;
Your advice was accurate before I got to explain everything.
My mac was saving the file as a web archive.
When I saved it as a "Page Source" everybody got happy.
So far, works very nicely.
I really do believe you would have the most practical and full-featured iPhone app of this kind on the market.
Thanks for what you are already doing. And I wish you well as you develop this further.
I'd love to help you test it in ios.
Many thanks,