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Next best equivalent to anki?


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realmayo

Mike:

A camera in a phone is great and convenient for most people, but there will always be those who want a separate camera. Which is a bit how I see Pleco's flashcards vs Anki.

Or: there are lots of good things about pre-made flashcards. But what suits me are blank cards where I can control the design and content 100%. Again, pre-made Pleco vs blank canvass Anki.

The main reason I couldn't use Pleco flashcards is because I want the flexiblity to customise them. If I get a new word I'll look it up on Pleco if I'm out and about, or on Wenlin & nciku.com if I'm on my computer. Once I've read a few examples of how to use this word I'll make a flashcard in Anki, and in the answer field add some context, ie the sentence in which I saw the word, other usages, whether it is common or not, other examples. When I was learning more basic vocab I'd do a google images search and paste in a photo from there. The process can take a couple of minutes but most of that is learning about the new word, which I find beneficial, rather than just fiddling with a flashcard. Of course if it's just a simple unambiguous noun I can just shove in a new Anki card in a few seconds.

The fact that I can't use my PC with Pleco is another big problem.

I like using audio when I'm beginning a language: I'm using Anki to help me with Korean too at the moment, and can input a sentence from a dialogue to serve both as extra context for new words (ie hear it once I press the Answer button) or as a question in itself (ie hear the audio and test myself on whether I understand the sentence).

Another aspect of flexibility: I decided I needed to relearn how to write Chinese, rather than just test myself on recognition. With Anki I could export all my deck into a spreadsheet, isolate the cards which were just single characters, paste them (ie the whole card, with definitions etc) into a new Anki deck, and get started again.

And with all this I get to use a keyboard, a mouse, and a big screen!

So basically, someone who wants to use a computer to create and test themselves on flashcards obviously can't use Pleco.

Also: Anki's mobile version doesn't work great, because I've got a huge deck and it takes about 15 seconds between to load every second card when I'm doing reviews, which renders it unusable for me. But on my new and small Korean deck it works perfectly. Still, it's not suprising that Pleco, designed for phones, works well on phones; Anki, designed for computers, works well on computers.

I realise you want to make Pleco flashcards as good as you can for your customers, but for me Anki is a whole plane apart. Don't get me wrong -- I think Pleco itself is a smooth and lovely piece of software for Chinese dictionaries: if I'm away from my computer, or if I need to look up a character by drawing it, I'm constantly delighted with it. For someone who wants simple flashcards generated at the touch of a button from Pleco for reviewing on their phones then I imagine they would be delighted with Pleco's flashcards (I've heard lots of people love the camera on an iphone). But hopefully you can see why I'd be lost if I had to use them.

What I can do on Pleco

Add a new word you've just looked up instantly to your flashcards

Review very large decks on your phone

What I can do on Anki

Create cards on my computer

Do reps on my computer

Copy and paste sentences from online articles

Add my own audio for each card (ie sound clips from a movie, or mp3 files for vocab/dialogues from a textbook)

Add notes to remind me of usage or context after I've seen the answer

Add pictures

Update definitions if I get better-nuanced understanding of a word

Manipulate contents of a deck (ie select those I've got wrong a lot, or were entered only recently)

Export contents of a deck on my PC

Import cards

Copy contents of one deck to another

Add Korean words to definitions

Use any font

Use it for other languages

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realmayo

... And thinking about it, now that I've got Pleco running on a phone rather than a creaky old Palm, it should be simple for me to look up a word in Pleco, add it to Pleco's flashcards, then once I've got a decent handful export them to my computer and import them straight into Anki.

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laurenth

I have been using Anki for 2 years, after a number of other flashcard systems, for Chinese and other languages. I have had a few syncing glitches between my phone (Ankidroid), ankiweb and the two computers on which I use desktop Anki, but up to now, nothing serious.

I tend to use Pleco flashcard for quick reviews or cramming (not SRS), Anki for all the rest. Anki is the emacs of SRS (does anyone happen to see what I mean?): it can do everything and test anything in in any conceivable way. The main reason why I use it is because I like to customize my cards extensively, add (and delete) fields containing different pieces of information (translations, definitions, examples, pinyin, sound, frequency, mnemonics, etymology, what not). Plus, I like to study sentences and Cloze deletions at least as much as words or characters.

Both Pleco and Android are great. They just do different things.

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murrayjames

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Mnemosyne as an alternative (maybe no one uses it here?). I've been using Mnemosyne to flashcard Chinese for a couple years now. I sync to my Android phone and do reviews when I can throughout the day. I've never had any problems.

Mnemosyne has a clean, stripped-down UI and is very fast. The SRS scheduling works great. It isn't feature-heavy like Anki is, nor is it as pretty. No colorful stats or anything like that. But it works great for reviewing Chinese.

http://www.mnemosyne-proj.org

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cababunga

Mike, it's not problematic to open a browser, find your bookmark, save a file, go back to Pleco, import saved file. It's just less convenient than it could be. What do you think is the best feature of the Pleco flashcards so often praised on these forums? If you paid attention, and I know you always do, it's the simplicity with which cards can be added to the deck. So I thought for the cards that have to be made outside of Pleco, it could be much more convenient to just push one button , and Pleco would go and fetch them from pre-defined URL with pre-set login credentials, if necessary.

do you have something set up that would let you easily paste in an arbitrary piece of text and then have it fetchable from a set URL?

It's possible to fetch raw output from pastebin.com, like this: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=ky4KuHAE

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mikelove
I realise you want to make Pleco flashcards as good as you can for your customers, but for me Anki is a whole plane apart. Don't get me wrong -- I think Pleco itself is a smooth and lovely piece of software for Chinese dictionaries: if I'm away from my computer, or if I need to look up a character by drawing it, I'm constantly delighted with it. For someone who wants simple flashcards generated at the touch of a button from Pleco for reviewing on their phones then I imagine they would be delighted with Pleco's flashcards (I've heard lots of people love the camera on an iphone). But hopefully you can see why I'd be lost if I had to use them.

Thanks for the detailed reply.

It sounds like some of these actually are things we're in the process of improving - embedded images and audio are two much-requested items I forgot to list, as are custom fields - but I can see that in your situation it would be tough to get what you need without a dedicated desktop client. (which is not in our immediate plans, though you never know...)

... And thinking about it, now that I've got Pleco running on a phone rather than a creaky old Palm, it should be simple for me to look up a word in Pleco, add it to Pleco's flashcards, then once I've got a decent handful export them to my computer and import them straight into Anki.

Indeed - honestly, we make a lot more money off of Things Other Than Flashcards than off of flashcards, so we're perfectly happy to have people buying our software in order to facilitate flashcard deck creation in another app. (this is why we're happy to work with Skritter on getting Pleco sharing data with their new app, for example)

I tend to use Pleco flashcard for quick reviews or cramming (not SRS), Anki for all the rest. Anki is the emacs of SRS (does anyone happen to see what I mean?): it can do everything and test anything in in any conceivable way. The main reason why I use it is because I like to customize my cards extensively, add (and delete) fields containing different pieces of information (translations, definitions, examples, pinyin, sound, frequency, mnemonics, etymology, what not). Plus, I like to study sentences and Cloze deletions at least as much as words or characters.

Makes sense - I think SRS-algorithm-wise we're pretty close to Anki now (there are only a few minor things I'm aware of them supporting that we don't), but again if you want a lot of customization a desktop app certainly has some advantages.

Mike, it's not problematic to open a browser, find your bookmark, save a file, go back to Pleco, import saved file. It's just less convenient than it could be. What do you think is the best feature of the Pleco flashcards so often praised on these forums? If you paid attention, and I know you always do, it's the simplicity with which cards can be added to the deck.

Oh yes - we're doing a lot more with that, actually; trying to work out a reliable way to extract vocabulary words from a document, for example. (tricky because we need a good text segmenter)

So I thought for the cards that have to be made outside of Pleco, it could be much more convenient to just push one button , and Pleco would go and fetch them from pre-defined URL with pre-set login credentials, if necessary.

Makes sense, though given the differing ways in which websites handle logins we'd probably have to choose a couple of specific ones to support - is Pastebin reliably accessible from China? (always a consideration when looking at integrating an online service; it's one of the main reasons we've been hesitant to add Dropbox support)

I suppose this also might be something we could do ourselves; would be good practice for eventual larger-scale online offerings (like a non-iCloud flashcard database sync system). We'd keep it extremely simple; persistent login cookie, interface consists of one large text box, whatever you paste into the box shows up in Pleco.

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it would be tough to get what you need without a dedicated desktop client. (which is not in our immediate plans, though you never know...)

How about a desktop client just for flashcard editing/organizing to make adding sentences, etc., easier? That shouldn't take too long to develop, right?

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mikelove
How about a desktop client just for flashcard editing/organizing to make adding sentences, etc., easier? That shouldn't take too long to develop, right?

On Mac OS we could probably do it in 2 months or so of programming time, but it's still a problem of finding that time in the middle of all of the other stuff that we're doing. There are also some licensing considerations - if people want to be able to make flashcards based on dictionary definitions, or even just view the definitions that they link to, they'd need copies of all of their dictionaries in that desktop client.

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@Mike With regards to the license restrictions, How about a JSON API, i.e. a mini web browser which the iPhone app could turn on. Given that you can already "add + export" flashcard entries, a little JSON API is technically not that much different. If there was an API that let you do simple things like AddCard, UpdateCard, ListCards. Something like this might allow a third party developer eco-system to develop, I know if a JSON API were available I would probably whip up a mini desktop client to enable me to update pleco cards and switch to Pleco today.

(A third party desktop app could use cc-cedict for AddCard, the licensed dictionary contents would only come out of the iPhone app in an UpdateCard or ListCard query, which is technically already possible using the import/export features).

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There are also some licensing considerations - if people want to be able to make flashcards based on dictionary definitions, or even just view the definitions that they link to, they'd need copies of all of their dictionaries in that desktop client.

I suppose you could limit the desktop client so that it could only edit/view user-added fields for the flaschards.

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mikelove
@Mike With regards to the license restrictions, How about a JSON API, i.e. a mini web browser which the iPhone app could turn on. Given that you can already "add + export" flashcard entries, a little JSON API is technically not that much different. If there was an API that let you do simple things like AddCard,UpdateCard, ListCards. Something like this might allow a third party developer eco-system to develop, I know if a JSON API were available I would probably whip up a mini desktop client to enable me to update pleco cards and switch to Pleco today.

That one is actually a little tricky licensing-wise - there are some clauses in a few of our license agreements designed to keep us from developing a web-based product (at least not without a separate license) which might also be construed as preventing us from doing this. Ironically it's legally easier for us to develop a desktop app since that basically works the same as a mobile app in terms of how it accesses content.

Programming-wise, though, this is doable but actually quite a bit of work - the web server part isn't hard, we've already got one of those for our Upload / Download Files feature, but it's a lot more than just three API calls; a rudimentary version would require more than a dozen (search dict, retrieve text for result, list text for result in alternate dictionaries, add card from dict entry (with the option to specify a category), add custom card, fetch list of cards/categories under such-and-such category [Organize Cards, basically], fetch text of card, fetch alternate dictionary entries for card, switch card to alternate entry, switch card to custom card, update text for custom card, delete card, add card to new category, remove card from category, list categories card belongs to...) and some of those would take a significant amount of work to adapt for use with an API; Pleco's 10-year, four-platform legacy means that we've got some very weird ways of storing data in a few places.

(A third party desktop app could use cc-cedict for AddCard, the licensed dictionary contents would only come out of the iPhone app in an UpdateCard orListCard query, which is technically already possible using the import/export features).

True - in fact we could simplify the card-adding process considerably if we just had you specify the CC-CEDICT simplified + traditional characters + Pinyin; those three fields are (I believe) guaranteed to uniquely identify a CC-CEDICT entry, so while you might occasionally encounter a case where our two CC-CEDICT versions disagree and there's an entry in the desktop one that's been removed (or not added yet) in the Pleco one, for the most part it should work pretty well. (and we could always host the old CC-CEDICT versions from the specific dates we use in our databases on our website in case someone does want to link up exactly)

I suppose you could limit the desktop client so that it could only edit/view user-added fields for the flaschards.

That's been our tentative plan if we ever do a desktop version - start with no licensed dictionary support, just show the headword/pinyin (which we store independently) and the name of the linked dictionary, then if it proves popular roll out desktop dictionaries as paid add-ons or work out a way to offer them for free to people who bought them on mobiles.

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jbradfor
those three fields are (I believe) guaranteed to uniquely identify a CC-CEDICT entry

As long as you use a case-sensitive comparison for the pinyin.

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  • 4 weeks later...
moncrieffalgy

Have you considered Flashcards Deluxe for the iPhone? For me its two most important features were:

  • Two smart study modes that automatically focus more on the cards you miss: Leitner and a more advanced Spaced Repetition mode (similar to SuperMemo)
  • Quizlet.com and FlashcardExchange.com integration - Browse and download any of their 4 million+ flashcard sets

I found FlashcardExchange.com particularly useful. (It's free too.) I could enter a Chinese word into the online database, then its English equivalent, after which I could sync it to the iPhone. Generally I find it's a lot faster and easier to enter both Chinese/English text on the computer.

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renzhe
I'm surprised no one's mentioned Mnemosyne as an alternative (maybe no one uses it here?). I've been using Mnemosyne to flashcard Chinese for a couple years now. I sync to my Android phone and do reviews when I can throughout the day. I've never had any problems.

Mnemosyne is a good piece of software, but the rewrite has been taking too long, which is why I finally switched over to Anki, though I had always prefered Mnemosyne.

The problem is that it relies on ancient software which is not supported, maintained, or updated anymore, and if you want to run it on Linux, you have to run ancient, unmaintained version of Linux which is also not supprted or updated anymore. That's when I was forced to switch.

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I have downloaded Pleco and paid for the Flashcard add-on. Could someone please tell me where i can download NPCR 1,2 mostly(and of course 3,4,5,6) so i can study on my iPhone?

It would be very much appreciated!

Thank you.

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murrayjames

Renzhe,

I've been using Mnemosyne 2 Beta for several months. It's so much better than the original program. Peter posts updates through Google groups and Google Plus, which may be why you haven't heard about it. Download link to latest versions here:

http://users.ugent.be/~pbienst/pub/

Although I use Windows 7, it should work fine with whatever version of Linux you're using. Most everybody on the grouplist are open source/Linux people.

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laurenth

I'd like to qualify my own statements. After I posted in this thread (#23), I started to use Pleco flashcard a bit more. I actually *read* the manual.

I tend to use Pleco flashcard for quick reviews or cramming (not SRS), Anki for all the rest. Anki (...) can do everything and test anything in in any conceivable way.

I discovered that Pleco Flashcard is much more powerful than I thought. For example, I've started using a great feature that has no Anki equivalent as far I know: you can customize your reviews so that new or difficult cards are presented differently, depending on their score. E.g. when you see a card for the first time, Front has the character and the pinyin; Back has the definition. When you know the card better, Front has the character and Back has the pinyin + def. When you know the card really well, Front has the definition, and you have to guess the characters and the def. Great stuff.

I like to study sentences and Cloze deletions at least as much as words or characters.

My mistake. In fact you *can* add sentences to your deck. I wish it was as easy as adding a character/word. You'd select the sentence in Pleco reader, tap on "+", and that would create a new custom card with your selection as the Front field. For the time being, I copy/paste or import text files.

The main reason why I use it is because I like to customize my cards extensively, add (and delete) fields containing different pieces of information (translations, definitions, examples, pinyin, sound, frequency, mnemonics, etymology, what not).

Anki is still the winner here, I think, but Pleco wins because of the tight integration between the dictionaries, the reader and the flashcard.

Edit 2012/4/28: I'm told in Pleco Forum that the creation of sentence cards from within Pleco reader has *also* been catered for. Activate this option in: Settings / Popup Definition / Unknown word handling -> "Custom Card."

Edited by laurenth
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  • 2 weeks later...
creamyhorror
1) When Anki detects a conflict, cancel the sync.

2) Open your deck and select the cards you've added recently.

3) Click on the 'Add Tags" icon and add a uniqure tag, e.g. on the lines of "export_date".

4) Then in Anki's File Menu choose the option Export Facts to textfile" and in the box Limit to tags enter the tang you've just added.

5) Sync Deck choosing to retain remote settings.

6) After syncing, import the facts from textfile back to your deck.

Just wanted to say this just saved me a bunch of time. Thanks, chinskycraze!

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