Learn Chinese in China
alanmd

Beta testing new free Chinese flashcards web app

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I'm testing a new free Android/iOS/desktop Hanzi study web app. It has cursive (joined up) writing and calligraphy, freehand hanzi drawing with undo and erase, character practice grids, and browing of history & queue at any time.

 

More information on the app and the beta is here: hskhsk.com/shanka - there's a Facebook group to join for a link to the beta, and bug reports/discussion etc. If you're unable to access Facebook and really want to try it out send me a message on this forum, or by Twitter or email (isted on my site).

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Request sent! Interested to see how this works!

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I have also sent request. The ability to practice charcters over and over again on a grid is what interested me.

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I have added everyone who sent in a request so far, the beta was put up and announced in that group a few hours ago. If you don't feel like using Facebook send me a message and I'll add you to the beta.

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(this was a pm to alan, but figured I might add it here too)

 

The first thing this makes me think is, as I've often thought before, that we need HSK lists designed for HSK learners, not just pulling definitions from CEDICT. I'm all for CEDICT, but the value of the definition "possessive, modifying or descriptive particle, bullseye in reality" for an HSK1 learner is minimal. Similarly, do they need the di2 / di4 pronunciations?

 

Which brings me to what I think is a common failing of free dictionary / wordlist projects - they're all breadth (we have 120,000 words...) and no depth (...with no example sentences or usage notes).

 

This is somewhat out of the scope of your project though.

 

Hitting return should show the answer, I think, otherwise I'm constantly bouncing between mouse and keyboard. Similarly, keyboard shortcuts to rate difficulty (if that's already in place I can't see what the short cut is)

 

Looks like a promising start though. Like I've said I'm not sure how much demand there is for another flashcard set-up, but I could well be wrong.

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That's a perfectly valid comment about the definition for and pronunciation of 的, the CEDICT one that I am using is truly awful- I will fix a few of the most frequent ones immediately as it's rather disheartening to have such a bad definition for the very first character a beginner (learning in frequency order) encounters! If I was earning any money doing this, or if I had unlimited time, the definitions for the first few hundred characters would all be beautiful!

 

Yes, I will definitely add some keyboard shortcuts, my primary focus was on being an iPhone/Android app so far.

 

I think there is still demand (well at least from me, my own best customer) because there is something wrong or that frustrates me with every flashcard system I have used. No-one else has tackled 'real' cursive writing, preferring to stick with the primary-school (native Chinese) stroke by stroke approach, which will hold back an advanced learner. Another thing I'd like to add at some point is the ability to actually 'teach' new characters, for people who use flashcard software to learn a vocab list (not the best way in my opinion, but I think I can make it a little better at least).

 

Here are some screenshots from the beta in case anyone wants to take a look without trying it out:

 

post-44472-0-00498200-1389135223_thumb.png post-44472-0-14280900-1389135262_thumb.png post-44472-0-41964100-1389135278_thumb.png post-44472-0-76319100-1389135299_thumb.png post-44472-0-66076000-1389135310_thumb.png post-44472-0-54012900-1389135319_thumb.png post-44472-0-30691100-1389135352_thumb.png post-44472-0-92500100-1389135359_thumb.png post-44472-0-18452300-1389135289_thumb.png

 

Flashcard systems are like standards; the best thing to do when you don't like the existing ones is to go and create another one that isn't needed! http://xkcd.com/927/

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There are some odds and ends in there you maybe don't need. The dai4 pronunciation of 大, 月's meaning of flesh as a radical. I think it looks a lot better though. 

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Fixed those too- thanks again!

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I am finding the character practice very useful. Only one thing, not sure if it is just my pen/tablet but the strokes come out very thick and it is dificult to be accurate. it would be good to be able to change the thickness and colour of the ink.

 

Good stuff so far :)

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Glad to hear you like it! Would a preference setting for these be OK? I'm trying to avoid cluttering up the UI.

I'm already going to remove (or make optional) the erase button as undo is more useful. I'm going to provide a button to put the character being learned in the background so that it can be traced when learning.

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Yes a choice perhaps of thin, medium and thick would be fine. Colour choice can be from 3 maybe 4 black, red, green and blue. Not much use for many colours just like the idea of being able to brighten it up if you get bored with black.

 

Really like the idea of a pale character to trace, this might be where colours might be useful to see more clearly what you have done and what you should have done :)

 

Keep up the good work.

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Thanks for the suggestion to change the colours; I went will a full colour picker right there in the main interface. I put the brush width in the settings menu, but I could add some sort of UI for that too, don't want to end up with an art program though! I'm experimenting with trying to make the drawn lines look a little more brush-like.

 

post-44472-0-72552000-1389558547_thumb.pngpost-44472-0-96827600-1389558533_thumb.pngpost-44472-0-26872400-1389558556_thumb.pngpost-44472-0-40713600-1389583825_thumb.pngpost-44472-0-75077300-1389583829_thumb.png

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The beta is now really stable, even on much older phones (had a few memory usage problems before), so I'm expanding the testing pool. If you want to try out the app, here's a link for you to follow on your device: 

 

http://shanka.hskhsk.com/beta1/

 

It works on any modern browser, so should work fine on PCs and Macs too, although it's really designed for devices.

 

I just added support for other languages, and a Spanish translation of the interface is under way. If anyone wants to see it in their own language and can lend a hand, get in touch! 

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It is looking good, will give it a good look later when I am not so busy. Thanks for the brush width setting, should be better. Colours look good too.

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Hey could you give some sort of tutorial? It is being hard to understand how to use it.

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all in all its very nice, I already prefer it to other flashcard apps. i dont like that simple but rare characters get mixed up with totally basic ones... 'idiot' and 'prisoner', being asked right after 'have' and 'good'... I get it that the characters look simple, but I think frequency is more important than simple looks.

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I just encountered a bug, it showed pinyin, and asked for Hanzi and Pinyin, showing Hanzi twice as answer:

jiù

What's the Hanzi and Pinyin?

Hide Answer

No Idea Wrong So-So Right Easy

No Idea Wrong So-So Right Easy

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Thanks for your comments- sorry for the delay replying, Chinese New Year was very busy and my Internet connection was very slow!

 

@Time: Yes, I plan to. There is inline help available in 3 languages within the app, but the app is still being developed and so may change significantly, which makes any tutorial out of date and useless. If I have to re-do a tutorial every time I make a change I'll never get anywhere! You should be able to get the basics by just clicking "Quick Start" and then "Show answer", and then grading yourself. If you have any specific problems using it feel free to ask here or on Facebook.

 

@opsidd(1): I think you are referring to the word lists; as part of the quick start I simply added the Chineasy and HSK 1 word lists. ChinEasy has the advantage that the characters and words are simple and pretty, easy to learn and draw, but the disadvantage that the words aren't very useful. the HSK 1 words are all very high frequency useful words, but some early ones are quite difficult to draw and remember. You are probably better off deselecting 'Chineasy' in the 'Lessons' page, and just studying HSK 1. You could also find your own flashcard list online and import it. Eventually I'll include my own custom Chinese 101 list, which combines the two approaches; introducing simple characters early on but quickly re-using them to write more complicated ones. It's on the to-do list...

 

@opsidd(2): I have a feeling that the app may be showing you the 'traditional' and 'simplified' forms, which it shouldn't of course if they are the same. Also it should be clarified which is which, I'll try to fix that in the next update, thanks!

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thanks for your answer! i am still amazed by your coding skills, it all runs so nice and fluent, one forgets in a minute that its a web app. seriously amazing!

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