A long time ago I promised preview images of the new version I’m working on, so here are some first screenshots. The basic layout of these windows are now done but they are not finished yet.
Just posting here to say I’m still working on the new version. I didn’t spend as much time on it lately as I could have, but I’ve returned to it a few days ago. I thought that a library like Qt will take off the burden of working on the user interface, but I’m finding myself rewriting simple things like clicking inside a table and selecting multiple rows of words for example. (In case you were wondering why it takes so long, besides it’s being a complex project anyway.)
I’m also spending a lot of time thinking about how to change the old interface. Good design decisions can make a program easier to use… and bad ones can break it. People complained that the old interface was too complex and they couldn’t find anything, but I’m afraid of oversimplifying things. I have made significant changes though, but it’s possible these won’t work well.
For example in the new design, the user is able to open as many windows as they like. The windows only display a single feature (like dictionary only, or word groups only,) but can be docked into the main window anywhere. This has the side effect that resizing the main window resizes the docked interface elements equally. As opposed to the old interface, where the kanji list part (on the left) remained the same width. We will see whether this makes the program harder to use or not.
I wanted to post screenshots but I still don’t have icons for 99.9% of the buttons, and I don’t want to publish an interface design full of buttons of the wrong size and no clear role.
As I wrote previously v0.73 had a serious bug which can be disappointing for some long time users, so automatic updating from v0.717 has been disabled. (Though you can still get the new version from the web site.) I wrote it too that the bug has been fixed so why no release yet?
To make it short, I wanted to update the word group study to include a kanji input box like the long-term study does, and I’m in the middle of it. This small change, although seemingly not very difficult, required changing the window where you can set the properties of word study groups. So I went ahead and redesigned the window to make it match the style of the rest of the program. UI changes always take some time, and I also have to rewrite some code for it. The test itself won’t be changed that much, though I’m thinking about redesigning its window as well to look similar to the long-term study. I haven’t decided yet.
You will be able to hide the kanji list, the group list, the dictionary or any combination of two areas by dragging the splitter near the window border, starting from the next version. Just thought I would post about it.
I will take a short brake today in the mini-series I was writing recently. I wanted to write about what the title says, or to put it differently, what would I change on the user interface of zkanji aka. how would it look like if I were to start writing the program today.
This is obviously just a concept image, but if I were to design the program’s main window with the knowledge of the most used features, it would probably look like this. No kanji list nor dictionary part (just groups). Of course the kanji list and dictionary could still be accessed, but not from the main interface. I can’t remember the last time when I used the kanji list seriously, instead of just looking at some characters randomly. The button that looks like +字 on the kanji groups interface would bring up the popup kanji list (which is accessible in the current version as well if you minimize the program), and once you selected the kanji to add, it would disappear again. The same with the + button on the word groups interface. Not added to this concept image, but the handwriting kanji search button could be used to add kanji to the groups as well. Apart from these obvious changes, I would place the long-term study button above the groups part. The button with the + and the arrow pointing down would add the selection to the long-term study.
I haven’t spent much time with the image, and there might be other changes to simplify the whole interface. The buttons for moving around groups, kanji and words could be removed as well, replacing them with simple drag and drop. The one part I’m not sure about is the kanji readings next to the kanji groups. Those are used as a way to filter the example words for the kanji, so selecting them for the long-term study or anything else can be simpler, but there is no place for the example words on the main window in my mind, and I might place the whole readings part and the example words to a separate window that would float above the main interface somehow.
In the future I might change the interface to something similar to this, or to something entirely different. My current plans only include releasing the next version so I can start fixing some issues I have with zkanji, because nothing can be changed until the next release is out. (I could fix stuff in theory, but then I couldn’t release the program anyway because it is currently in a half-ready state.)
Do you have ideas about the interface? If you have an opinion and don’t want me to start changing everything without listening to my users you can post a comment, (or keep it to yourself in which case I will do whatever I like).
The old look:
The new look:
Hint: the only change is at the middle. The list of groups is wider and its buttons are positioned on top (because that was the only place left).
With this change the list of kanji or words in groups have more space by 8 pixels, and the groups’ list is wider as well. I’m considering widening that area even more but for now I’m satisfied because a big useless space was removed, so everything has more space to fill in. What do you think?
zkanji doesn’t yet(?) have documentation anywhere, so I’m sure most people don’t know about so many features it offers. One of the best features of the program is the popup dictionary and popup kanji list, which let you look up something fast and hopefully efficiently, then go back to something else in an instant. (I’m the author so this might sound like self-praise, but here it is anyway.)
Popup dictionary and popup kanji list
(The windows’ border looks a bit different in the currently released latest version, because I’ve changed it since, but that’s all.)
You can access the popup windows only, if you have zkanji minimized, so if you want to try and have the program open, minimize it now. Once it is minimized you can press:
to open the popup dictionary:
to open the popup kanji list:
These are the default keyboard shortcuts but they can be changed or even turned off in the settings / dictionary tab.
Someone bugged me many times about the removal of the multiple windows interface (as opposed to the current docked form, where all 3 window parts (dictionary, kanji list, groups) are on a single window.) The multiple windows won’t come back. Ever. But you have the popup ones that do the work much better when you need separate windows. So please stop sending me messages about it.