FileMaker Kanji Project – progress 1


I’ve started making my Kanji Notebook.

The first week has seen me gather a lot of the basic data I want, some of it imported using XLST such as Kanjidic, some of it input by hand, some from tab separated files.

So I have the data on all the kanji I could want. I decided only to import the data I was interested in so many of the dictionaries and Heisig didn’t make the cut, nor did Spanish, French, Korean or Chinese. I might import this data later and allow it to be toggled on and off. One of the many reasons I’m doing this is that current dictionaries don’t display want I want how I want or give far too much information.

The radicals were only given as a number so I needed to make a table of the radical names and sub-classify a number of them. Then I needed to input an index from Basic Kanji Book vols 1 and 2 by Chieko Kano. I also put in an option to override Kanjidic’s keyword (too often derived from Heisig and too ambiguous) and use your own keyword or one from the Kanji Learners Dictionary if you input it using the index number for ease of lookup.

Next was to relearn FileMaker.
The first big task was to sort out XML input. Within the limited scope of Kanjidic I’m confident of this now.
Then I looked at the new Japanese features. Automatic furigana creation is useful especially in the sentences tables. Tategaki (Top to Bottom) representation of related tables took me a while but I figured it out in the end. Along with this I wanted to colour the okurigana of the kunyomi. Possibly it can be done with FileMaker native functions but I used an external regular expression plugin to achieve this.


The readings themselves need sub-classification into common and uncommon readings and be marked for those learnt in middle school and high school as well. I’m also thinking of omitting the prefix and suffix instances.

As one of my major ideas behind this was to be able to add notes to kanji, something I can’t do in a dictionary or a web browser, I have notes fields and automatic lookup of my favourite kanji resources using FileMaker’s built-in viewer. In time I may also be able to automatically extract the data I want from some of the dictionary resources.

Another plan I have is to be able to link it to my copy of Kanji Odyssey again to allow annotation. I think I can probably achieve this if I can place Kanji Odyssey in a known file path then get the index numbers used.

I also inputted some sentences from another Japanese children’s textbook. This is going to take quite a while and can only be for my own benefit because if I ever make this project public I’d have to delete them.


I put in some photographs I have of Japanese signs as examples of the kanji in use.


Everything is a bit haphazard at the moment. I may end up taking what I’ve learnt at some point and starting from scratch again with a better idea of where I’m going. I need to sort out interface for one thing, it’s fine for my own use but if anyone else ever wants to use it I’ll have to get a lot more organised. I probably need to think a bit more about where I’m going. I want to enable the radical lookup in Doremons Grade School Kanji Book. This uses 24 basic strokes and another 30 common radicals to describe any of the 1006 Grade school kanji. I also want to integrate example words so the same words appear for any given kanji in an example word. (ie. 勉強 would appear as an example for both 勉 and 強) I’d probably draw examples from the old JLPT lists, kakitorikun and various textbooks and maybe allow you to filter which words appear in the list. I’d also like to look at an iPod Touch version using FMTouch.

So lots to do. I wonder if I shouldn’t be spending the time actually studying….

20. December 2009 by ロバート
Categories: 02 reading • 読む事, 03 writing • 書く事 | Tags: , , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Hello again Robert.

    How are things going with your Filemaker Kanji project?

    As a teacher of Japanese, I find this project very interesting. I plan using the Kanji Oddyssey method this semester for adult learners at Diploma level. All lessons are given in Spanish (I live in Venezuela) so the ability of changing to Spanish is a priority.

    Could you let me have a copy for checking? Please send me an e-mail with your own e-mail address to send you my Yahoo and G-mail addresses.



    • Slowly!
      Finding time is really difficult lately, for the blog, for my projects for study….
      It’s very cobbled together, and while fine for me to navigate it’s far from suitable for public release.
      Mostly I’ve been inputting data for myself.
      I must admit it’s pretty anglocentric when not using Japanese. I haven’t thought about localising it. Actually I’d prefer it to be mostly in Japanese if I can.
      I’ll drop you an email to the address you’ve given here.
      I’ll also have a look at the original XML files I took the data from and see if there are Spanish keywords, it should be easy enough to import them.

      I’ve also got some thoughts on teaching kanji in a post I’ve got on a back burner draft form. It seems a bit hubristic when I haven’t mastered my kanji yet. It’d also be yet another project!

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