It’s been awhile but iKanji 1.4 has landed! The first change you’ll see is the redesigned welcome screen and if you’ve not purchased yet you’ll be greeted with the new trial limitation and registration system. Rather than limit which kanji sets you can practice, iKanji now limits you to running the app for 10 minutes at a time. As with iKana 2 it’s now much easier to install your license after purchasing, just drag and drop into the licensing window.
Most of the rest of changes are a bit less visible – the kanji database has undergone a big overhaul. It now includes all the new 2010 Jōyō kanji and has a new Jōyō kanji set to show them all off in. I’ve also stripped out all the WWWJDIC sourced example compounds as too many of them were obscure. There are now less compounds, just under 7,700, but the bonus is they’re now commonly used words. This is paving the way towards an iKana 2 style vocabulary trainer in a future version of iKanji 😉
Some other changes to the database include some more stroke animations and a few corrections to the existing stock. My thanks go to those on the support forum who diligently check my work.
I’ve also changed the way your personalised copy of the kanji database is kept. This will make it much easier to push out updates to the database in the future. It does mean you’ll need to go through iKanji’s new ‘Import from old iKanji’ option to bring across any kanji or notes you’ve added.
As some people have pointed out the font iKanji uses to display kanji in a brush script style is in fact a Chinese font. This shouldn’t be a problem most of the time, but a small number of kanji are written differently in Chinese. I’ve added an option to iKanji’s toolbar to let you switch between a variety of fonts easily now to remedy this issue.
The problem arises in the first place because Mac OS X doesn’t ship with any Japanese fonts that show how kanji would be handwritten or painted with a calligraphy brush. Given this is the origin of kanji it’s important to be familiar with this style. The squared off print-style kanji don’t give you a proper feel for how the original characters look. It would be like learning to read English in only uppercase letters set in a serifed font for example.
If anyone knows of a nice Japanese handwriting or brush-script font that is free for commercial use I could bundle with iKanji I’d love to hear about it (please leave a comment).