Blog / February 2017

  • 27 February 2017Hello world!

    I'm seeing 40 new signups in the last 24h, a full month after the responsive update! This is pretty nuts. Safe to say the responsive redesign of the website has been a success.. at least in terms of signups. Now I hope the website fulfills what people were looking for!

    Seeing more accounts is great as it is a positive indicator. But of course my primary goal was to make the website more usable for people who actually want to use it. Seeing the result of the update it is safe to say that people were pointed to Kanji Koohii, or found a link in Google search, and then turned away. The old homepage was doing a really bad job communicating both what it does, but also saying "hey, this site is quite usable on your device".

    Also I don't know if anybody else noticed but the average visitors per day on the forum has increased a little bit. I'm guessing maybe they are new Kanji Koohii users who visit the forum (there is a forum link in the navigation). Since the forum was made responsive already in late 2015, that means mobile device users can easily navigate from this site to the forum and back.

    So,welcome! You guys are from pretty much all over the world, according to the "location" field: Japan, UK , Germany, Australia, Viet Nam, India, Belgium, Netherlands, USA, Italia, Ireland, Portugal, etc.
    JapanesePod101.com
  • 25 February 2017The Road Ahead (Open Source plans)

    After more consideration I've decided I will open source the website sooner than later. There aren't going to be many folks out there who are going to make solid contributions, let's be real. Just putting up the code on github doesn't magically bring contributions. Designing, developing and maintaining a web app takes a lot of time and skills. But if there is just one or two people coming forward it will be worth it.

    I think that the work I did for the responsive & mobile friendly update in December-January was the most crucial to open the code for contributions. There is a lot more refactoring to do, but I figure that some of that may be an interesting task for someone since it is all about learning and using a modern Javascript framework (VueJS 2). And since I updated the build to use Webpack 2 and Babel it means contributions can use modern ES6/ES2015 Javascript.

    In terms of organization I moved all tasks and planning to github, and I am easy to reach on Gitter. There is the issue of documentation. I guess I will write a very basic guide through the github wiki, everything else I guess I can address questions on Gitter and update docs accordingly. Since I enjoy designing and thinking about user experience, in theory it should work well. I expect contributions to come from developers with more of an engineer background. I'm not very good at maths, statistics and the like so in theory our skills should combine well. I looked at figma recently, and that could be one tool for sharing concepts which works in all OS'es (it's browser based).

    Lately I have had to reconsider where my focus is in my life. I am healing from trauma from abandonment and abuse. Therapy has been fantastic for healing much of my anxiety. However to heal trauma requires my full attention. It has to be the most important thing in my life. Often times working on this site and other things has been a form of "recluse" from life. So things are getting in the right direction for me now, but it also made me wonder about where Patreon stands in this.

    Hence, my idea now is to continue to lead this project, but open source it sooner than later. This means I can can continue to develop the site and hopefully get some help via contributions. If I can focus more on the design / user experience also it is more relaxing for me and something I enjoy better. Let's talk about this on Gitter!

    And then I figure, as I know all the work that needs to be done to keep this site running, what needs to be refactored, etc. I can continue to lead this project. And I feel the Patreon page is still very much appropriate. At the very least I can put a goal to cover the basic costs for the hosting, domain name & SSL certificate renewals. But I hope it will encourage more support too.

  • 21 February 2017Small update

    Small update today to fix Issue #76 Study page : "Add Card" and "Edit Card" buttons look too similar. Thanks Nick for the feedback!
  • 15 February 2017Miscellaneous fixes

    Donate page updated. PayPal now uses the simple PayPal.me page. Please let me know if this works better! The Patreon page is not ready yet.

    • Fixed #27 "RTK3 chapter label not showing on Progress Chart"

    • Fixed #28 "Progress chart: RTK 3 not recognized as finished"

    • Added the footer to the Progress Chart page which gives some room when scrolling to the end of the lessons table.

    • Abandoned #68 "Highlight keywords and primitives in stories" (feel free to suggest other ideas in the issue)

    • Renamed "Documentation" to "Help" in desktop navigation

    • Updated screenshots on Help page #67

    • Converted Help page to Markdown for easier editing and contributions #72. NOTE : the goal here eventually will be to add translations, but first the english version needs some serious summarizing!

    • (Desktop) Help page navigation uses fixed positioning (stays on screen when you scroll).

  • 11 February 2017Want to contribute a little something with VueJs?

    Do you have skills with Javascript, Css? Do you know VueJs or want a little project to learn the basics while contributing to Kanji Koohii? I just remembered today that one requested feature was to display in real time the amount of characters left when you edit a story. This would improve user experience. A small VueJs component can be created for this! See Display amount of characters left in real time when editing a story #73 on Github. Let me and others know there if you'd like to take up the task.
  • 10 February 2017Proposed feature: Integration with KKLC (and other indexes)

    Would you like to see additional kanji sequences supported besides RTK? For example KKLC (The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Course) or "RTK Lite" (community-designed list of the 1000 more common kanji from RTK).

    This feature is in brainstorm phase, meaning any input as well as votes would help to move it forward. You can help by reviewing my implementation draft in Support additional kanji sequences such as KKLD or RTK Lite #70 with a simple Github account.
  • 9 February 2017Welcome to Kanji Koohii !

    Waow. I'm impressed with the results of the redesigned landing page. The daily sign ups has shot back up to a healthy 25-30 a day, consistently since Jan 26th update. Up to 39 sign ups on February 5th which is close to what I saw at peak traffic for this relatively "niche" web application, around 2012.

    So welcome everybody! I just did a big mobile / responsive update to the website and there are still a lot of things I can smooth out. Please let me know if you come across anything wonky on your smartphone or tablet. Here are the issues tagged "mobile" on Github.

    Another thing that would be super helpful is if you find the website doesn't quite match to what you expected when signing up, let me know too! I'm just one guy and I'm quite overwhelmed already but there may be things that are already on my list that I just don't know how important it is to you! If you already use Gitter by chance, the feedback chat is a very easy way also to send me some suggestions or bugs.

    Back to analytics: the tricky part is to understand what that data means. I'll admit I can't make any sense of it beyond the basics. The most helpful data I got from it was to realize that we have approx 25% of the audience accessing the website from "mobile". What I didn't quite fully realize yet, is that Google Analytics separates "mobile" and "tablet" ! When you combine them together you have 33% that is a third of the visitors who are on touch devices. This is a massive portion of the audience and it was about time I did a mobile / responsive refresh!
  • 8 February 2017Update: My Stories layout & Fix for long keywords

    Today's update fixes Issue #4 [mobile] Fix long keyword in Study > My Stories, plus various small tweaks:

    Before and after on mobile:
    • First, long keywords (usually customized by the user, with Japanese characters) are fixed and show on multiple lines instead of being cut out

    • Unified the layout of the stories with that of the Shared Stories in the Study pages. This is in preparation for refactoring those into a single VueJS component later (developer stuff). Which in turn will allow for better interactivity (like showing a +1 animation if you click star and the like, which is a huge pain to do with oldschool Javascript).

    • The kanji is now always shown in My Stories list. Originally it was hidden and shown on "mouseover", but I think this was relatively of no use. This also simplifies mobile since mobile users don't have a "mouseover".

    • Kanji is small and lined up with frame number on mobile, on desktop where there is more space and the stories can become too stretched horizontally, the kanji is larger and put to the side:


    • Added title attribute (tooltip) for report / copy / vote buttons

    • Added some :hover states (stars are yellow) (partially addresses issue #49

    • Made the keyword only as a link to the Study page, instead of the entire story block. I thought this would be less annoying on mobile, where if you try to tap and scroll, you might open the Study page by mistake.

    For bugs and suggestions comment on Github issues with a simple Github account. Issues I'm working on next are labelled "NEXT".
  • 2 February 2017Setting up Patreon!

    I am finally setting up a Patreon page. I haven't yet figured out a goal , or what kind of rewards I could use. I may not need to add perks. Thanks to Dee put it beautifully :

    (...) actually the Koohii site itself is an ongoing "reward" and there are probably many folks like us who would be happy to pledge a monthly support amount without any additional perks. But if we do think of some (easy to fulfill) rewards you could offer for higher support tiers, we'll be sure to email you some suggestions on that.
    I created Add Patreon as a way of support #62 issue on Github. Let me know there if you have ideas for rewards!

    Keep in mind Patreon is a monthly support. For me it is not about funding episodic content. The reward tiers and perks fit really well for content creators however I am a web application developer. I create something consumable you could say, but it's a service so it's not as straightforward for me to come up with perks.

    I also don't want to fall into a trap of implementing features in response to pledges. If I do that I would pressure myself and probably burn out. Which is a bad idea. The way I see it Patreon could be a better alternative to supporting me on PayPal, since it is more visible, and provides a better channel to communicate with you about plans I have for the site and what kind of things you'd like to see.

    Financially speaking, the best thing it could go towards, potentially, is make me consider a part time job to have more time for developing Kanji Koohii. But we will see. The reason I'm going forward is I stopped stressing about it. I don't have much expectations and I'll keep doing my thing anyway. =)

  • 1 February 2017Open discussions on Github

    There are several open discussions on the Github issues where I could use more feedback.

    • Improve the pagers used with the tables across the site #26
    • Add Account Setting for hide / unhide of controversial (often reported) stories #31
    • [mobile] Improve the Flashcard Review buttons layout #12
    • Improve the Study sidebar content on desktop #35 (I discuss an idea about a "recently visited" kanji list)
    I created a "feedback" label so you can see topics currently gathering feedback. That said you can participate in any "issue" really, if you'd like to weigh in on any planned updates.