From the creator or Tae-Kims guide to Japanese for the iPhone here is a guest post by a friend of mine, Ronald Timoshenko. This is a bit about his new application Japanese Alphabet Study Guide and why he decided to write it.
After completing the “Tae Kim’s Guide to Learning Japanese” app (or just “Learning Japanese”), I decided that I wanted to make an app that would be a great complement to the excellent content already written by Tae Kim. Grammar and special expressions are thoroughly covered in Tae Kim’s guide. So, I wanted to create something that could be used along-side that would assist users in learning Japanese in some way. That’s when I came up with the idea of the “Japanese Alphabet Study Guide”. Learning the Kana (Hiragana & Katakana) is one of the first steps in learning the language. And, since Romaji isn’t used in Tae Kim’s guide, it seemed like a great place to start. I decided to include Kanji as well because I wanted the app to continue to be useful, even after users had mastered the Kana.
Filling the Gap
I looked at some of what appeared to be the more popular Kana/Kanji apps and tried to include in my own app what users felt was lacking in others (based on the reviews they were leaving). Ultimately, I decided not to include everything I initially wanted to before releasing the app. It’s important to make sure the app is well-received before spending exorbitant amounts of development time on something nobody will use. Despite that fact, someone suggested I even reduce the functionality that I had already created, pointing out that perhaps I was trying to squeeze too much in the initial release. I would certainly like to build on what’s in this release (i.e., Kanji stroke order and stroke animations), but that all depends on how many people decide to download it. Such a thing is a significant effort, and as already mentioned, it makes little sense to invest in something that won’t be used (I’m reminded of the YAGNI programming mantra: You Ain’t Gonna Need It).
I think I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m kind of partial to going through the “Multiple Choice” mode with my own Kanji lists (you can create your own) and seeing how well I really know my Kanji. A “Flashcard” mode is also available, but you can’t say “Yeah, I think I know that one” with multiple choice. It’s either right or wrong, no “maybes”.
Anyway, I can tell you what I think of it, but I’m obviously going to be a bit biased. Try it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear some feedback. Thanks for reading.