Home > Development, Plans > Rewriting the long-term study list, Part 2.

Rewriting the long-term study list, Part 2.

In the previous post I have outlined what I expect from the rewritten test. Since then I spent some time thinking about how to do all that, and although writing the code itself doesn’t look too complicated from here (before actually starting it), it’s always the planning that takes up most of the time. In the previous years I just skipped the planning phase and went right to the coding, this is why I’m now in the not so pleasant situation where I have to throw out an important part of zkanji (which is very difficult), and make it anew. Going ahead without planning worked before as I knew exactly what I wanted, but as it turned out, there are problems which require some experience in failing to solve them.

This time I have it all planned out. It’s only in my head at the moment, that’s why I’m going to share some of it here. “Just do it already!”. Ah yes, sorry. First let me show you what is done and how it works: (click on the thumbnails to view the original images)

Selecting words for the test:

The first step is the same as before. The user collects kanji in a kanji group for studying, and hand-picks the words for each of them to include in the long-term study list. The picked words have red and yellow colored background, depending on the selected reading on the far right. (yellow = words that have the kanji with the selected reading, red = words with the same kanji but different reading)

There is no visible change here at the moment, but I plan to add an important improvement to the selection process. A search field would make picking the example words faster, and there is enough space for it next to the M and P buttons. (Move your mouse over the buttons to see a tooltip explaining what they do.)

In the finished version this kind of hand-picking might become obsolete as there will be automatic word selection for studying, but if the student wants to control the selection process, this method will still be available.

Importing items into the study list:

In previous versions when the user pressed the button with the red arrow pointing down next to the Long-term study button, there was no reaction from the program. The words were added to the list, but the lack of any indication of this confused many users.

Not just that, but the user had no control over the items to include. With each word, two items (or cards, if you prefer) were added. One for the written form of a word (with kanji in it), and one for the reading (kana only). Learning both of these can be important for a beginner, but more often than not I have seen items I knew from the beginning. I just couldn’t exclude them from the test. Apart from the kanji and kana, there is now an option to add an item for testing the meaning of a word too.

On this form the user can check or uncheck items to be included or left out from testing. Words with all three items on the study list won’t be shown, and the check boxes for items that are already on the list will be grayed out.

There is an input field at the bottom of the form, where the user can change the meaning to be tested. Learning shorter definitions are easier than longer ones, and because the dictionary includes many synonyms in the definition of words, it makes sense to just remove most of them from the meaning. When everything is done and the OK button is pressed, the long-term study list will contain the items that were selected.

Managing items in the long-term study list: (This part is not done yet, so I can only write about my plans.)

After adding words to the study list and pressing the Long-term study button beside the kanji groups, a new window will open where the student can check previous study statistics and modify the list of items to be tested. I don’t have plans about the statistics yet, so let’s talk about the latter. The list of items can be short but also very long, so managing it might not be easy. I have tried Anki, and saw that in that program each card can have a priority assigned to it. This priority could later determine the order of the questions, and there was also an option to make the program pick the cards randomly (but still taking priority into consideration).

Unfortunately I don’t think that anything like this can be used in zkanji. If the program automatically selects the items to be tested, those items will be somewhat random anyway. The student might want to, say, test himself or herself on N5 items first, then N4 etc. before getting to N2, or probably take the more popular words first. Therefore there might be an option to do this, but it’s not easy to say anything before I have a list for the words required on the N levels. (I hope I can find someone who is willing to give me one for free…)


I plan to make studying very similar to studying in Anki but not the same. The 5 buttons in Anki are overwhelming, so the long-term study list’s test window will have 3 instead. In previous versions of zkanji only 2 buttons were on the test window which were just enough, but in those versions the test didn’t finish until all items were answered correctly once or incorrectly 3 times. There was no need for a button to test the same word “soon”.

Hopefully my next post will come after finishing the long-term study list, but if I can’t do it in a week, I will return to report on my progress. (I won’t write this much though, just post some screenshots.)

  1. Puchatek
    November 13, 2010 at 1:10 am

    I think the drawing for 仮 (Heisig #966) is messed up. When I double click on it the drawing looks like the cliff part in the right primitive was drawn the way it is done for 石. I’m not Japanese so can’t be 100% sure, but the few dictionaries I looked in all have the cliff part of 仮 written as usual.
    And btw – thanks for your work, I use zkanji daily 🙂

    • November 13, 2010 at 4:14 am

      In the Kanji&Kana I have, 仮 looks exactly like on the stroke order diagram, and the font I use in zkanji is similar too. There are differences in how kanji are written by different people, so it’s not surprising that you find many examples of these differences even in dictionaries.

      This is a question and answer page of a well known Japanese dictionary publisher:

      If you scroll down to Q0109 you will see that 備 can be written in two ways. Both are acceptable in handwriting, the difference is merely in the “font” used.

      In case you are interested, this is what it says there about 備:

      The one on the left was listed in 当用漢字字体表 (touyou kanji jitaihyou), a table of daily used kanji. (This was replaced by the Jouyou kanji 3 decades ago).

      The one on the right is listed in 学年別漢字配当表 (gakunenbetsu kanji haitou hyou), an appendix for government course guidelines for primary school children (小学校学習指導要領).

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