It’s hard to believe I haven’t posted here since December 2008. Though only 3 months have passed, part of that time has seemed like an eternity to me due to an injury and the subsequent medical care. Before the injury in late January, I was closing in on completion of the DianHua Dictionary Audio Module, actively testing History and Bookmark support in DianHua Dictionary, and finalizing plans for the joint release of both products. Once the release plans had been derailed, I went on to exacerbate the delays by expanding the scope of DianHua Dictionary v2.0.
In the interim, it appears that some other high quality CC-CEDICT-based iPhone dictionaries have been released. Hopefully those of you who have left for other dictionaries will give DianHua Dictionary another chance, but if not, I’m hopeful you have found what they need to continue your studies. That’s the main reason I’m here anyway. I’m trying to become fluent in Mandarin Chinese like many of you and anything that moves us closer to that goal is a good thing in my opinion. Beyond that, though, competition should help improve all of the dictionaries available on the iPhone and other platforms.
Getting back to the main point of this post, I want to talk a little about the status of DianHua Dictionary v2.0 and the DianHua Dictionary Audio Module.
The DianHua Dictionary Audio Module was approved for sale in the App Store by Apple about 4 weeks ago. It includes over 7,000 Mandarin Chinese recordings covering over 16,000 entries in CC-CEDICT and will be priced at $4.99. Over time, the number of recordings will be expanded to include any gaps in our initial release. For the last few weeks, I’ve been pushing the release date out so that it will be released concurrently with DianHua Dictionary v2.0. While the audio can stand on its own, the application interface provides a simple pin1yin1 field and no list of what words and phrases are actually available. Alongside the dictionary, you simply press a speaker icon to open the audio application and hear the word spoken. Because it is of limited use without DianHua Dictionary v2.0, I decided to delay the release of the audio until v2.0 of the dictionary is available.
So that leads us to the main question…where is DianHua Dictionary v2.0? The main issue has been deciding how to get History and Bookmark data out of the dictionary and off of the iPhone in a way that is useful to you, the users, in your studies. Initially, I took some very basic approaches that involved only the iPhone, but ultimately I decided that a web-based synchronization service was the best solution. You can visit DianHuaDictionary.com to see the work we’ve done. While a few pieces are incomplete, I wanted to make it available now so I could work out any kinks in the hosting setup prior to Apple reviewing the site and its integration with DianHua Dictionary.
One major update in DianHua Dictionary v2.0 is the improved search performance and accuracy (seems like I say this at every release). DianHuaDictionary.com will give you a chance to preview the improvements in accuracy. There are even some functionality improvements gained from the new search algorithm. It now works perfectly well to search for “chi eat” if you didn’t know the tone or even “欢 welcome” to find “huan ying” if you only knew one of the characters. Of course, this approach can produce some unexpected search results. For instance, searching for “chi” will return “kai3” as one of the top results since one definition is “the Greek letter chi”.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably curious when DianHua Dictionary v2.0 will be available. At this point, I’ve given up making predictions. The best answer I can give is “soon”.