KanjiDraw and KanaDraw

Version 1.4 of KanjiBox brought KanjiDraw, version 1.5 is bringing KanaDraw (among many other cool and exciting features).

These two features add a completely new dimension to KanjiBox, allowing you to improve something at the heart of Japanese studies (and, until now, extremely hard to practice without a real teacher): handwriting!

Like most Japanese students (me included), you probably barely ever need to write Japanese by hand. The ubiquitous use of phones/computers/etc. makes it nearly redundant. And yet, knowing how to properly write by hand is much more important than it may originally seem:

  • A perfect master of kana is obviously crucial. Without it, you are functionally illiterate in Japan, unable to properly fill-in any form or other piece of administrative paper that fills your daily life.
  • Aside from the obvious direct use of knowing how to write kanji and kana, knowing how to write them, having paid attention to ever single stroke, will dramatically improve your ability to read and remember them. You cannot hope to go beyond a certain level of Japanese without a working knowledge of stroke order (useful for lookups) and kanji sub-radicals: it is all too easy to learn a few hundred kanji by memorising their overall aspect (and not really paying attention to their radicals), but it will come and bite you in the arse when you start learning more and more complex variations.

Both KanjiBox and KanjiDraw use even more complex algorithms than the original Drill&Quiz methods to analyse your strokes and propose custom corrections. They are extremely strict on the stroke order (no way around that), but allow a fair bit of leeway on the shapes etc., in order to make up for the difficulty of tracing the characters with a finger on a touchscreen. The difficulty (including the level of strictness) goes increasing with your performance.

Of course, these new modes use the same adaptive learning algorithm used by all other parts of KanjiBox, meaning that entries are automatically selected on the basis of how well your past performances have been.

Have fun with these new features and don’t hesitate to leave your impressions here or contact me directly…

4 Responses to “KanjiDraw and KanaDraw”

  1. Jonobugs says:

    I’ve only used kanji draw a few times so I might be missing this option but one thing that I noticed is that when the program corrects me, I’m often confused at what I did incorrectly.

    I do notice which strokes are done incorrectly as they are red in colour. I think it’s great, but sometimes I can’t see the difference!!

    What would be nice is if my original stroke was left displayed (maybe a lighter grey colour or something) to show me where I went wrong, otherwise I’m just left confused.

  2. dave says:

    @Jonobug: thanks for your suggestion… Indeed, it might be useful to compare, and I will look into adding such a feature for the next version.
    As to where exactly you went wrong: you have to realise that KanjiDraw can be very picky, especially regarding stroke order and direction. Unfortunately, there is no perfect way to achieve the balance between overly corrective and strict enough to be helpful: sometimes it is bound to correct you even when your stroke is good enough. In addition to the stroke colour, pay attention to each end of the stroke: if it has a coloured dot on it, this means KanjiBox thinks the start or end position is not correct (if the whole stroke is coloured, then it’s more likely an issue of shape, length or order).

    Anyway, I hope this helps a little and I will work on improving this in the future…


  3. Jonobugs says:

    Yes, I realize it can be a difficult call. I now understand the different colour schemes you use which is helpful.

    I was thinking that an ‘overlay’ would be useful. I don’t know if that’s even possible, but it would certainly be helpful. There are times when I am sure that I got the strokes right and they were even mostly correct…but I suspect that perhaps the stroke wasn’t long enough or maybe in the wrong area. So, an overlay would help with that. A side by side comparison might not work very well as you might not be able to see the problem easily.

  4. [...] that you should definitely reconsider (I know I have) and spend some time learning to write (yay: KanjiDraw!) in order to better read… There are also these pesky occasions where (hand)writing is [...]

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