Friday, July 26, 2013

It's about time for a status update. Chinese Toolbox 13.1 is done and free.

It's probably irresponsible of me not to announce what's been accomplished in the last few months. I am pleased to announce that the totally free version of Chinese Toolbox is out and stable. Since the initial release of Chinese Toolbox 13.1, three updates have been released to fix minor issues. It appears that CT 13.1 has stabilized now at version 13.1.0.3.

This is a great time for the Chinese Toolbox project. The stable release of 13.1 marks the end of one and the beginning of a new phase. For those who have followed this project, you probably know that I haven't done a very good job of promoting this project. Well, that is about to change. I can't mention the strategy here, but suffice it to say that many more will be learning about this project in the coming months.

What I'm excited about the most, however, are the new CT subprojects that are now beginning. Major new development now is in process including (1) a smart testing and review system that is integrated with the CT reading system, and (2) Chinese Toolbox for mobile and tablet devices.

Many of you have given me great ideas and have discovered problems that I missed in testing, and I know that some would like to test Chinese Toolbox features as they're being developed so as to help shape future versions of Chinese Toolbox. For you I'm considering to do ER releases in shorter cycles, the first being Chinese Toolbox 13.2 ER-1.

If you download and try out Chinese Toolbox, please do let me know what you think. I take the good with the bad; all your comments eventually make Chinese Toolbox a better program for learning Chinese.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chinese Toolbox 2013 (13.0.0.0) is ready!

As always, I'm pleased to announce a new release. Chinese Toolbox 2013 is undoubtedly the most stable, reliable, and useful version of Chinese Toolbox ever. Every problem has been worked out, and the program performs as designed.

If you're studying Chinese and you're not yet using Chinese Toolbox, you really are missing out. This is a program designed by a learner of Chinese. As a learner of Chinese, I understand the problems one faces when trying to learn Chinese. I created this program firstly for my own study of Chinese, and it really is very useful, especially if you need to read online Chinese documents.

Years ago I used flashcards to review Chinese characters, but eventually I realized that if I did more reading, my reading would function as my review of characters. Reading refreshes the memory of what you've already learned, and continued reading keeps your memory of Chinese characters and words fresh.

The purpose and focus of Chinese Toolbox is to promote reading of Chinese. It's important when learning to read Chinese that dictionaries and other resources be instantly available so that you have information right when you need it. But keep in mind the goal--to truly read Chinese. When you don't need dictionary lookup, extraneous information does not appear to clutter your view. And when you're reading without assistance, Chinese Toolbox is keeping track of what you're learning. Review functionality (being developed now) will present characters and words for review only when you need the review. Reading without assistance indicates to the program that you know what you're reading.

Chinese Toolbox 2013 is an incremental upgrade. Mostly, what 's been added simply fills out what was already there in Chinese Toolbox 2012. Possibly the most important aspect of this release is its stablity and reliability. MUCH effort went into testing. Every little problem that crept up was corrected. At this point, I know of no problems with this release. But if something does come up, it will be fixed right away.

Chinese Toolbox is a living project. I have so many ideas of how to streamline the learning of Chinese. Technology is great, but so far most of what I've seen in software for learning Chinese tends to rehash old ideas and old ways of learning, like computerizing of flashcards. I believe it is possible to develop a more effective way of learning Chinese, and you will see more of these ideas take shape in future versions of Chinese Toolbox. So stick around. If you're looking for software tools to make Chinese easier to learn, follow this project. More is on the way!

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