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sezna

Handwriting Practice Sheet Generator [OC]

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sezna

Hello! It has been many years since I posted on this site, but I haven't stopped learning. In fact, I've moved to 杭州!

 

I recently made a utility for myself to use when practicing handwriting. It generates handwriting practice sheets with whatever characters you want, and it supports three fonts. I thought it could be of use to some members here. I used to pay archchinese for this service, but I realized it isn't too hard to code...

 

https://dian-dian.co/buildpracticesheet

 

 

Hope it helps. I'm open to suggestions or feedback.

 

 

As an aside, my Chinese name has changed since I made this account (ex's dad gave me this name, ended up not sticking, etc.). Is there a way to change that? :)

 

I've attached a screenshot an example practice sheet:

image.thumb.png.f95bd41246f20c2d60ce5cc6122fd08d.png

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markhavemann

Nice to see stuff like this for free. 

 

I found a relatively decent one in China that offers quite a few options like showing stroke order. You could go there and have a look for some inspiration if this is something you want to continue developing (which I hope is the case).

https://zi.ixfc.net/

 

Some immediate thoughts from visting the site: 

1. List of characters: separated by spaces? commas? tabs? It seems like it's one per line, no spaces, but it might be nice to clarify.

2. Off the top of my head I don't know what Kaiti, Fongsong and Simsun look like, having some examples or live preview would be nice. 

3. I found that having it bring up the print dialog directly was a little frustrating, especially since there is no live preview, so the "print" page is the first time I get to see what it looks like/check if there are errors, but it immediately pops up asking me to print.

 

I made something similar for myself to learn traditional characters based on their simplified counterparts. I put it together pretty quickly and haven't improved it at all, but I've included it so you can have a look, I doubt it will be of any use but you're welcome to take any part of it that you want for your own tool. It allows multiple character words on a line and updates on the fly (what I meant when I said "live preview"). writing-sheets.rar

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sezna

I appreciate the feedback, @markhavemann. I might be able to integrate stroke order later. I do have stroke order displays implemented on other parts of my site already. The way this generator works is that each individual character is a row in the practice sheet, so if you use spaces or commas, it will add rows for those spaces or commas. I agree that could be conveyed better. This was born out of my own use case, so it is entirely specialized to how I practice handwriting. I'm open to adding additional configurability, though. 

 

In response to your second question, I agree, and I could add those visualizations to the dropdown without too much trouble. And to the third question, I also agree. I was on the fence about that feature already anyway, I can see how it would be annoying.

 

I'd like to investigate the possibility of a live preview of the practice sheets while you're making them, perhaps that would be a good interface. I appreciate that .rar file, I'll take a look. Would you say that it is a better interface to allow multiple characters per line? I was thinking if you're practicing handwriting characters, one per line is the only use case.

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markhavemann
3 minutes ago, 韩松磊 said:

Would you say that it is a better interface to allow multiple characters per line? I was thinking if you're practicing handwriting characters, one per line is the only use case.

I suppose I'm not really sure exactly how useful it is. My idea was just to make it kind of flexible. My thinking was that if I'm targetting a single character that I would like to write better, I can first practise it by itself, and then practise it with context, so that I can get the size of that character more consistent with other characters that it's likely to come up with. 

 

For example. 

I may way 通 

then on another line 通常

and then 普通话

etc.

 

Now I'm not sure exactly how useful this is, or if it's worth the extra effort to make it possible. It just occured to me that it may be, although I haven't really tried it out too much myself. 

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sezna
1 minute ago, markhavemann said:

Now I'm not sure exactly how useful this is, or if it's worth the extra effort to make it possible. It just occured to me that it may be, although I haven't really tried it out too much myself. 

I think your suggestions are valid. One term per line would be intuitive, and not too difficult to implement. It would work well with the flash card system I've also created -- one flash card term per line could be auto-generated.

 

Thanks for checking it out. I'll post back here when I implement these suggestions. 

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sezna

Hello again!

 

I've added a new feature: exporting to Anki. If you make an account and save characters to a study deck, you can click "Export (Anki)" on the "My Decks" page to get them into your Anki. When you do the import, you'll have to choose which field goes on the front/back/etc of your Anki cards. The fields are, in this order:

1: simplified, 2: traditional, 3: pinyin, 4: zhuyin, 5: definition

 

The file is actually just a CSV, so you can open it and look at it in Excel or whatever other software, as well.

 

Next up on my task list is making the site look decent on mobile, giving it a general facelift to look more professional, and improving dictionary results. Stay tuned!

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imron
On 9/18/2019 at 1:03 PM, 韩松磊 said:

Is there a way to change that?

We generally allow a once off name change for accounts.  Send me a PM with your preferred new name and I can make it happen.  Make sure the new name is something you want to keep!

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Larry Language Lover

How do we get the same font as in your sample sheet?  Is that what is known as the SimSun font?  On my computer it looks a bit different from your sample sheet, and I like your sample sheet better.  It's the same as in a typical textbook.

Do any Chinese people learn to write using typical print characters which I guess the font is called Kai Ti?  This is the typical font used on many Chinese learning apps such as Duolingo and ChineseSkill,  but do people in China ever learn to write those perfect block like characters?

 

And thank you by the way!   This is absolutely fantastic, thanks so much!

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imron

P.S. Bonus points for using Rust!  It's my current favourite language also.

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sezna

  

3 hours ago, Larry Language Lover said:

How do we get the same font as in your sample sheet?  Is that what is known as the SimSun font?  On my computer it looks a bit different from your sample sheet, and I like your sample sheet better.  It's the same as in a typical textbook.

Do any Chinese people learn to write using typical print characters which I guess the font is called Kai Ti?  This is the typical font used on many Chinese learning apps such as Duolingo and ChineseSkill,  but do people in China ever learn to write those perfect block like characters?

 

And thank you by the way!   This is absolutely fantastic, thanks so much!

 

For the fonts -- those three fonts are available on most Windows and Mac systems, but might look a little different. I did that one with KaiTi on a Mac, but it doesn't show the same font on my Linux computer. I plan on looking in to standardizing those and not relying on the user's system, but my server itself is Linux so the fonts aren't available on that system to pre-render. In non-technical terms, the fonts depend on your computer for now but I hope to fix that in the future. If you'd like me to make those sheets with the Mac fonts and message them to you, I'd be happy to do that.

 

Handwriting in China is of course varied. The blocky fonts tend to be seen as cuter and more popular with the high school crowd. The standard font for learning and "normal" writing is what you see in the sample sheet.

 

And thank you for testing it out! I hope to keep improving it :)

2 hours ago, imron said:

P.S. Bonus points for using Rust!  It's my current favourite language also.

 

I also love Rust! I removed all of the dictionary-specific stuff and turned this into an open source template. You can check it out here if you want to see how the system is working behind the scenes. I want to open source this site's codebase, too, but there's some security stuff I need to scrub from the code first.

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imron
14 minutes ago, sezna said:

For the fonts -- those three fonts are available on most Windows and Mac systems

You might want to be careful with font copyrights and licensing - which could come back to bite you if using any non-free Chinese fonts (i.e. most of them, including the ones that come installed by the OS).  Font licensing costs were the main driver for making Hanzi Grids a paid service.

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Larry Language Lover
8 hours ago, sezna said:

If you'd like me to make those sheets with the Mac fonts and message them to you, I'd be happy to do that.

 

That's exactly my case,  my laptop is Linux.   Yes, please message me the Mac fonts and tell me how I can make it produce these fonts.

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sezna
12 hours ago, imron said:

You might want to be careful with font copyrights and licensing - which could come back to bite you if using any non-free Chinese fonts (i.e. most of them, including the ones that come installed by the OS).

I didn’t realize that specifying a font on the OS could lead to licensing issues. Is this true of other basic fonts as well?

 

I’ll look into this and try to find a cheap or free third party font to use. That way, it will standardize across computers and fix the licensing issue. I appreciate the heads up. 

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imron
4 minutes ago, sezna said:

Is this true of other basic fonts as well?

If you are embedding them in PDFs or as part of a service you provide on a website, then probably yes.  You'd need to check the copyright of the font (all fonts will include this if you view them in a font inspector).

 

Google has a range of open/free CJK fonts called Noto CJK, but these are Heiti fonts, which IMO is not great for handwriting grids.  There's an Kaiti font by Arphic and a handful of others also, but it's pretty slim pickings (though my knowledge of this is probably 2 years out of date, so maybe there have been more fonts made available under an open licence in that time).

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sezna
55 minutes ago, imron said:

There's an Kaiti font by Arphic

That one is a little pricey.

 

I think I am in the clear with the use of Kaiti et. al. The output file is not a pdf or image, nor is it commercial. The output is an HTML document with an SVG and CSS, and the font is specified by a font-style tag in the CSS. If the font is available on the client system, and therefore licensed for use within that operating system, the font will render. According to a couple of posts by Monotype and some other resources, this should be fine. It is the equivalent of specifying any system font in a CSS tag.

 

However, to be safe, I will be searching for an open source, free, or cheap font to use and eventually integrate. I'll keep this thread updated when that happens. I'd like to get a better font than the HeiTi one that is currently the fallback on Linux systems. Thanks again for the pointer, I had not fully considered the ramifications here.

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imron
2 hours ago, sezna said:

That one is a little pricey.

I was talking about this one, which is free in terms of speech and beer.

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