News for October 2010

Customize Keywords ready for testing28 October 2010
The Customize Keyword update is ready for testing on the staging website!

If you were waiting for this feature, please test it out and let me know about any issues or suggestions you have in this topic on the feedback forum.

The staging (aka "test") website uses a different database so anything you do there will not affect your real account. It does not use a recent copy of the live site, so you may not be able to login with your existing username on there. I highly recommend to create a dummy account on there before you delete flashcards. Please double check the URL in your browser when testing: it should start with "".

Simply click on the keyword on the Study page, or even on the Edit Story dialog during reviews, and a new dialog will show up where you can edit the keyword. Customized Keywords are exported with your stories and flashcard exports. If you want to edit many keywords you may find the new Manage > Edit Keywords page more convenient than flipping through the Study pages.

This feature effectively solves a big problem for non-english users, who will now be able to enter the keywords in their localized version of Remembering the Kanji, or even write their own set if the translation does not exist.

There are no plans currently to allow for sharing of Customized Keyword lists. I may add an Import Keywords feature but I need more feedback on this to see what people are doing with it. For example if you use the Custom Keywords to add an example Japanese word, that scenario would be better addressed by creating a specific feature for that.

Customize Keyword update21 October 2010
The Customize Keyword feature is functional:

Updated screenshot Oct 28.

You can edit several keywords at once like this from the Edit Keywords page on the Manage tab. The same dialog appears on the Study page, when you click the keyword.

I am now working on the Import screen.

I plan to put it up onto the staging (test) website as soon as Import is working so that I can get your feedback to finetune it, while I iron out a few other to-do's that can be bundled in the next update.

Working on Customize Keywords4 October 2010
I'm working on this feature as planned but it's taking longer than I hoped because I have to update the database structure. Until now the database was using Heisig's "frame numbers" for referencing flashcards, stories and such. This was a shortsight on my part, but when I first wrote the website it was logical and easy to implement.

Frame numbers are no longer sufficient to allow customizing keywords that are not in the original RTK range (any of the thousands of kanji in the unicode set, as well as the last jouyou additions in the RTK supplement).

Read more for gory details :)

I am switching all queries to use the unicode code point instead. Right now I implemented the UCS-2 value on most tables as this seems to be sufficient for kanji. For the hanzi website, "extraplanar" unicode characters may need to be supported. It will be easy to increase the unicode value, what takes time is changing the code from using frame numbers to unicode numbers. In some places the frame numbers are still required, for example the Check Progress page; so it isn't a straightforward search and replace (I wish :)).

On the plus side, I would have had to do this for the RevTH website anyway, so this will be a good chunk of work out of the way for RevTH.

Back to the Customize Keywords feature. I thought of using a "edit in place" UI similar to Woelpad's plugin, and made popular on sites such as Flickr. Then I tried a simple popup and realized it would be very handy: I will put another Manage page where one can review and edit many keywords at once. Clicking the keywords in this table will show the edit keyword popup. Since the Edit Keyword popup is a stand alone "component", it is much easier to implement that way (instead of, for example, using a data table where rows are editable).

Another thing that I'm very happy about is that I salvaged a lot of YUI2-based classes and widgets that I developed on past projects. This opens the way for more interactive widgets and dialogs on the site.