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Anki for flashcards, or Pleco?


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vellocet

After a long gap I am finally getting back into studying Chinese.  I had great success with flashcards before.  I used to use Anki.  Yes, I know SRS is greatly overhyped but it's good at what it does: rote memorization.  Anki 1 used to have decent support for Chinese, but when they broke compatibility with Anki 2, that help went away.  The last I saw of Anki 2, it was more of a DIY, program it yourself kind of software than a consumer level product. The developers simply expected you to learn to program the software if you wanted to use it effectively. I used to be a Unix system administrator but have left that part of my life behind - if I never edit another configuration file again in my life it'll be too soon.

 

Is Anki still like this?  I used to just enter characters and I got a nicely done flashcard, pinyin marks and colors included.  The last I tried, it involved editing configuration files, a task I despise.

 

I hear people rave about Pleco's flashcard feature but have never really messed with it.  Going forward, which is better for flashcards, Anki or Pleco?  I have the full paid version of Pleco if that helps.  

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mungouk

I’ve had the same reaction to Anki, although it was a few years ago.

 

The Japanese learning community over at Wanikani have been discussing a new Anki alternative which might be worth a look: https://community.wanikani.com/t/kitsunio-mobile-apps-beta-srs-study-platform/30954

 

Also, I think @mikelove hinted recently that Pleco flash cards are getting a big upgrade soon, but maybe that’s in the long-awaited version 4.

 

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realmayo

I think Anki has always been mainly a simple and clean make-your-own flashcards piece of software. People might then create and share add-ons to make it easier to make Chinese flashcards, I don't know, I always make my own flashcards via excel (and another desktop programme called Wenlin). If there are no good Chinese-flashcard-making add-ons for Anki 2.0 and you just want something that will generate basic fields you need (characters/pinyin/english) then I'm sure Pleco's fine, if not better in that respect.

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imron

Pleco with paid flash card add on and paid dictionaries let you create flashcards with zero effort to create and maintain decks.

 

I prefer it over Anki for that reason. 

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jannesan

Depends on what you value more:

 

convenience & quick card creation -> Pleco

flexibility/customizability of cards -> Anki

 

I like to hand-pick example sentences that I understand well and I have different card types,

so for me Anki is the right choice. The downside is that it takes longer to create cards,

which I think is worth it because I learn better (->faster) with them.

I don't use any plugins, maybe there are some helpful plugins that can generate pinyin or so.

 

Only if you want to customize the looks or have some special behavior (e.g hide pinyin & reveal on button click),

you'll have to dig a bit into how to do that, otherwise Anki is not that hard to use.

 

 

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mikelove
9 hours ago, mungouk said:

Also, I think @mikelove hinted recently that Pleco flash cards are getting a big upgrade soon, but maybe that’s in the long-awaited version 4.

It is, but that upgrade also includes fairly robust Anki import / emulation support.

 

So if you do end up putting your flashcards in Anki, you'll be able to bring them over to Pleco once that's out, including custom fields, images, audio, reasonably solid support for custom templates (we don't actually render them in HTML at the moment but we do a pretty competent job of converting your HTML to our system - we've got a built-in HTML+CSS parser we added for EPUBs that also happens to work well there), and score data (we were able to design a set of settings for our system that emulates that part of Anki extremely accurately).

 

There are a few areas where Anki's system and ours differ enough that we had to resort to some slightly ugly (but invisible) hacks - for example, since we don't separate the idea of 'notes' and 'cards', each Anki note is turned into a single Pleco card but then that card gets entries in multiple hidden scorefiles (one for each former card) which we then test you on simultaneously - but the whole thing basically works, you can pick an APKG file in the import screen and import it and pretty much pick right up where you left off with those decks in Anki.

 

EDIT: I should probably also add here that it's also pretty easy to bring your Pleco cards into Anki if you change your mind in the other direction - no way to bring over score data as far as I know, but as long as your cards link to definitions in a dictionary we're allowed to export definitions from like PLC or ABC or CC-CEDICT, you can export your Pleco cards to a text file and then import that into Anki.

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vellocet
6 hours ago, imron said:

Pleco with paid flash card add on and paid dictionaries let you create flashcards with zero effort to create and maintain decks.

 

How do you get this?  Under Pleco's "Features" add-ons, which state flashcards included, all I get are a bunch of TTS voices and KaiTi stroke order.  

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mikelove
5 minutes ago, vellocet said:

How do you get this?  Under Pleco's "Features" add-ons, which state flashcards included, all I get are a bunch of TTS voices and KaiTi stroke order.  

 

Did you already buy a bundle? You might already have our flashcard add-on - check the "Installed" tab and see if "Flashcard System" is listed under "Purchased."

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vellocet

Yeah, the flashcard add-on is there, but it's the one that came with the software.  The other poster said "paid flash card add on and paid dictionaries" which are purchased separately.  

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mikelove

Sorry, there’s only one paid flashcard add-on at the moment - no additional paid upgrade beyond what you get with the Basic or Professional bundle.

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If you want a more automated, integrated approach to using Anki with CHinese, look up the Migaku Anki add-ons. They're quite incredible really. The only reason I'm not using them is that I already have a mature workflow that without significant software engineering time could not be integrated with these add-ons. Otherwise they're incredible, and perfect for the kind of person who just wants things to work.

 

  

8 hours ago, mikelove said:

There are a few areas where Anki's system and ours differ enough that we had to resort to some slightly ugly (but invisible) hacks - for example, since we don't separate the idea of 'notes' and 'cards', each Anki note is turned into a single Pleco card but then that card gets entries in multiple hidden scorefiles (one for each former card) which we then test you on simultaneously - but the whole thing basically works, you can pick an APKG file in the import screen and import it and pretty much pick right up where you left off with those decks in Anki.

 

That sounds like an insane amount of hair-pulling.

 

One thing I wish I could get when it comes to Pleco Anki integrations is an API to access Pleco dictionaries from Anki that don't allow export, would be awesome to be able to get SDMC definitions through a network API or something and use them for Anki cards, maybe through inserting some Javascript in a field. Anyway, throwaway remark, the main point of my comment was just to say how much work it sounds like you guys put in.

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2 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

That sounds like an insane amount of hair-pulling.


It is, yeah 🙂

 

But while we are exposing a lot of these esoteric details to users via an “expert mode,” I expect that hardcore flashcard customizers will mostly stick with Anki, due to its being both familiar and open-source - this is more about a) users who’d like to switch but have review histories they don’t want to part with and b) users with relatively straightforward needs who simply prefer some aspect or other of Ank’s approach.

 

3 hours ago, NinKenDo said:

One thing I wish I could get when it comes to Pleco Anki integrations is an API to access Pleco dictionaries from Anki that don't allow export, would be awesome to be able to get SDMC definitions through a network API or something and use them for Anki cards, maybe through inserting some Javascript in a field.


Honestly, the license negotiations for this would be a nightmare - with SDCMC specifically I believe Brill already offers their own online version and so would likely be reluctant to let us make another one.
 

I’d love to find a way to streamline the existing plecoapi: lookup support in our native apps, though, e.g. by allowing our Screen Reader module on Android to service those requests via a popup window instead of switching activities.

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13 hours ago, vellocet said:

The other poster said "paid flash card add on and paid dictionaries" which are purchased separately.  

The reason I said paid addon is because the free version of Pleco comes with a simpler flashcard system and dictionaries that are not as good, and every now and then when you see people complaining about Pleco not being so good, it often turns out the person is talking about the free version, not the paid version.

 

If you have a paid bundle, you'll have the paid addons already.

 

If you have the paid addon, then for reference, this is how I configure my flashcards.

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19 hours ago, jannesan said:

The downside is that it takes longer to create cards,

which I think is worth it because I learn better (->faster) with them.

I agree that creating cards manually helps you learn them better.

 

What makes the automatic Pleco approach still more valuable to me is that the time savings I get from not having to manually create the cards can be used for other learning, e.g. spending an extra 30 minutes reading is better for me than spending that 30 minutes creating flashcards.

 

This is likely to be something highly dependent on the learner, and also the stage of learning that you are at, so the important thing is to experiment to find what works, and then re-evaluate at regular intervals (e.g every 6 months or a year) to make sure your learning methods are aligned with your learning goals.

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realmayo

Yep there's always some kind a trade-off. One reason I prefer to make my own flashcards is so I can include the sentence of text where I first encountered the word, or more usually, the sentence of text where I'm about to first encounter the word: that in fact happens courtesty of Imron's Chinese Text Analyser programme (which mines for unknown vocabulary in any novel I'm about to start reading)!

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My first piece of advice is not to think about this for too long and just get started. If you're learning to/from English, both systems are good, and either is better than hesitating.

 

That said, I personally prefer Anki. Pleco doesn't have a Dutch dictionary and I learn better to/from my mother tongue, so I make my own Dutch-Chinese flashcards. Like realmayo, I usually add the sentence where I first encountered the word as an example. Perhaps that's also possible in Pleco though.

 

I was also intimidated by all the possibilities of Anki that I didn't understand at all, but in the end I just got started and made very simple plain text two-side cards, no customisation or pronunciation or colours at all, and it works well for me.

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