Home > Development, Plans > Rewriting the long-term study list, Part 3.

Rewriting the long-term study list, Part 3.

As I promised I will report on the progress of the rewritten long-term study list. It’s not finished yet but it’s progressing well and I expect it done within a few days. There is not much I can illustrate with screenshots, as most of the changes affected parts of the program that prevented me from rewriting the study list before.

Managing long-term study list items:

After adding items and pressing the “Long-term study”  button, the student is presented with all the words added to the list. There are currently 2 views on the window for viewing the new words queued for testing and for browsing the already tested items and their study data. (Statistics not done yet.) This window also has an input field for changing the meaning of words in tests, so if you missed something in the import process, you can still make those changes.

In cases when a word doesn’t have all items included for testing out of the three possibilities (written, kana form and meaning), the user can invoke the import window from a popup menu. Test priorities can be changed from that menu too. I didn’t want to include this option at first, because I personally like controlling the exact order of new words in the test, but I had to change my mind for practical reasons. The word listing can be reordered by several columns and filtered (eg. by kana reading), so it wouldn’t be easy to change their test order unless I added another view where the items are only presented in their order of inclusion, but that would have resulted in bad user experience. (Imagine having to decide what each view does when they all look almost the same.)


This is just a design time view of the testing window. Only one set of controls will be visible at the bottom of the window, and their current layout will also change.

There are two input fields here. The top one is for entering meaning, the bottom one is for entering kanji/kana during the test. These fields will only be present if the student wants them to (it depends on the settings), but they won’t affect the outcome. The buttons for selecting the result will still be presented. Notice that there are 4 buttons for this. Once again I have changed my mind and dismissed the idea of only using the 2 buttons from the first long-term study test. The 2 main buttons are still there in the usual position, and they will work similarly to the original version. The first one makes the word get repeated “soon” in the same session, lowering its score, while the second one is for accepting the answer and moving on.

On the far right there are two new buttons for better control. More often than not I knew the answer to a specific question, but felt that I needed to review them too soon. That’s why there is one button for doing that without affecting the word’s score. The result is very similar to the “Can’t recall” button in that the word will be repeated soon, probably in the same session. There is also a fourth button for cases when the word is so familiar it got boring.

There is another change compared to the first version of the test. The student can now input the written form of the word including the kanji, using the written kanji recognition. It still can’t recognize kana input drawn with the mouse (you will have to type that), but with this feature practicing writing kanji is a possibility too.

Problems with automatically selecting new items to test:

I’m currently working on composing the list of words to be included in a testing session. Those who’ve never tried designing such a system probably can’t understand why does it take so much time and why is it so difficult. This task was much easier in the old long-term study, because zkanji picked the words that were due at a given day in the order of their date to be tested, and the new words were included at the front of the test. It was simple and straightforward. This have changed with item priorities and dynamically changing lists. The test can be stopped any time and the result must be saved immediately, and zkanji should remember failed cards to be able to present them soon again, which makes things difficult. The biggest problem (at the moment) is not this though. The one thing giving me headache right now (apart from not sleeping enough) is that I want to space out the items for the same word to different study sessions, and if possible different days. If two questions about the same word appear too close to each other the student might still remember the answer from short-term memory.

I don’t want to get into details more than this because the algorithm for deciding the order of tested items is not written yet. See you next time after I have (hopefully) solved all the problems!

  1. xamethx
    December 4, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Nice changes. These extra 2 buttons are good decision.

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