An advanced user’s review of the latest release

I’ve been playing with the new Beta release, and at last, it almost replaces the usefulness of legacy Skritter for me. So here’s my review. Comments and additions to the list appreciated.

{note: after playing with it some more, I have several extra subsequent edits below}

Likes:

  1. Scrolling definitions above the break line. Allows for longer definitions in legible font size required by longer-term users who need to distinguish amongst growing numbers of synonyms and want to know all the nuanced contexts of a word.

  2. Mnemonics tapped above the break line for individual characters. This is a fantastic much loved component of legacy skritter, presented in a cleaner accessible format.

  3. Great new audio, clean and clear. More words in the database. Errors from legacy Skritter fixed at last (蘿蔔 I’m looking at you!)

  4. Easy editing of both mnemonics and definitions in the information panel.

  5. Lots of info in the information panel, with drill downs and individual character mnemonics accessible there too.

  6. Audio for example sentences is a wonderful addition!

  7. Great to be able to go back multiple cards now in review! Being limited to one card was frustrating in legacy Skritter.

  8. Learn mode: even for an advanced user, it’s nice to be able to practice writing by tracing to correct handwriting.

  9. Being able to learn new words from individual sections, and being able to test from individual sections of a list. Great addition.

  10. Faster syncing. No more long “black screen” pauses waiting for each list to open for review. The add word function no longer gets “stuck.”

  11. I like the harp and drum sounds for rights and wrongs. They are not too intrusive.

  12. End of a review session stats: nice

  13. Ease of entering words in a new list.

{subsequent edit} More likes:

  1. Glad to see you’ve fixed the handwriting for 出 - on legacy Skritter I had to write this with the wrong angles to get it “correct”

  2. Pre-assembled information about the character/word is more easily accessible and cleaner presentation.

Dislikes:

  1. Cramped writing area. I’m on a iPhone 8+ and miss the somewhat more roomy space of legacy Skritter. Cramps my writing style, especially for very complex characters.

  2. Silence of new Skritter. Legacy app kept me company chattering each character’s pronunciation.

This is a major fault: needs to be at least an option to hear each character while reviewing. I need to hear and be reminded of the difference between how individual characters are pronounced and how they are pronounced within a word.

This is even more of a problem for more advanced users, who are entering words that Skritter does not have in its audio database. There is barely any aural practice for advanced learners. Skritter has become way too quiet!

  1. I liked the blazing blue laser writing in legacy Skritter, but that was because it was a reward.

In the new app it is on constantly, no matter how many words I get wrong. That is just annoying. It should be reserved for a “winning streak” of a certain length, as it was in legacy Skritter. It was not the default mode, it was earned.

  1. I am trying to discipline myself to work through the “learn” mode, instead of just adding cards at will and launching into practicing them. But it consumes a lot of time, adding many precious minutes to daily study, and I’m not sure it is really speeding up the subsequent review. Even as an advanced user, I do appreciate the ability to trace new characters and practice them for a bit.

But to get there I have to click so many buttons as the learn mode does not auto advance (I understand why that is a good thing.) It is such a SLOW PROCESS. Even if I simply mark each card as learned, I have to click through several steps just to get to that option, then click through say twenty times for the words for the day, then double that because I am learning traditional and simplified at the same time…and THEN, after all that, I have to go to the review mode, where all the newly added cards come at me at once.

In legacy Skritter, I was able to add 1-3 cards every time I got bored with reviewing old cards. At my own pace. At will. With the help of the algorithm to keep things interesting.

I don’t want to lose the learn mode, as there are times it’s appreciated. But there has got to be a way to add new cards at will with the simplicity and ease of legacy Skritter - as an option. Otherwise, I have to add precious minutes to my daily study just to access them.

  1. Curious about speed at which new words are added to the audio database. I personally add at least a dozen or more new words to Skritter’s word database each week, and of course these are completely silent when they come up for review. How many words a month/week are added to the audio database and how frequently is this done?

  2. I preferred the slide-over info panel but can live with the full screen and close button for the sake of more info if that’s the reason it’s gone.

  3. Where have the eccentric time encouragements gone in that deep male Beijing accent? Miss those!

  4. Have to go to legacy website now to get detailed performance stats. These were an essential daily encouragement ritual. Why are they missing from the new app?

  5. So far there seems to be no way to enter new words into Skritter’s word database without returning to the mobile legacy app. Why is this? I enter multiple new words a week!

  6. The deck list has monstrous icons. While pretty, if you’re an advanced user, it now takes ages to scroll through one’s own study decks. It’s not a problem when choosing a list for review in due cards mode, because the icons are absent. But in deck lists, wow is it tedious to get to the bottom. Especially when browsing other people’s decks, it stalls frequently each time it opens a new batch. Can the icons not shrink substantially?

{subsequent edit} More dislikes:

  1. “Send correction” window doesn’t automatically close after submit button is pressed. Have a little pop up note that disappears saying “successfully submitted” as in legacy Skritter

  2. The new Skritter seems a little judgementally easy on us. I think if one taps on the (chosen to be hidden) pinyin, or peeks at the mnemonic, then the card should be marked wrong by default. I have to mark it wrong myself.

It also seems overly lenient about stroke angles on writing cards. Sometimes I have written several strokes for a completely different character before it recognises the mistake and stops me.

It is my impression that legacy Skritter was more strict but I can’t think of examples right off the bat…wait just found two: write 內 as simplified 内 and Skritter doesn’t even notice. Then I tried writing 容 as 俗 on purpose and it let me get to the third stroke before stopping me, which means the beginning of 宀 is recognised the same as 亻?

Another example: Somewhat distracted, I started writing the 开 of 形 instead of the 丬of 状 (for some weird reason) and Skritter let me go for three full strokes before stopping me. Which means that two horizontals 二 and a 丿were identified as a 冫and a 丨. I can’t be certain but I’m sure the handwriting feature of legacy Skritter was far more strict than that.

I do have raw squigs selected.

Would like to sees:

  1. Close button Xs replaced by back button arrows where appropriate. To distinguish between actually exiting something as opposed to going back a step within a session of something.

  2. Rewards. Something to relieve the boredom of Skritter.

Like the blue laser was in legacy Skritter (it just never goes off in the new app!) but more of these. Colour surprises and visuals and Easter eggs preferred but some audio if it’s not too annoying. Rewards for getting a really tough character right for once. For getting words right so many in a row. For beating one’s own correct records. Even games.

Anything to make the tedium of daily review just a little more quietly rewarding, a little more fun as a reward for progress.

  1. The option to learn traditional characters first before simplified. So that they appear first in learn mode and first in review. This is sound from a pedagogical point of view. Strange as it sounds, it is much easier to learn simplified characters if you already have learned complex characters. Skritter does this backwards. It should be an option in settings.

  2. Example sentences: can see why we can’t have these individualised, or lose the new audio. But it would be nice to have a way to submit example sentences from which the Skritter team could pick model sentences for everybody.

{subsequent edit} More I’d-like-to-sees:

  1. Sad at the disappearance of the audio for “bing” and “bin”. I know you’ve standardised everything, but the enthusiasm this woman’s voice had for this particular sound always gave me a chuckle. It broke up the boredom factor. I miss her ebullient bell-like rendition!

  2. I prefer the fast 0.5 advance speed for card review. However, the “you got it wrong speed” seems equally fast. Maybe slow it down fractionally for wrong cards - makes an impression.

  3. Instead of “hard” grading I preferred the “so-so” of legacy Skritter. For when you sorta got it. Just a personal preference.

  4. More of a visual distinction between tone cards and writing cards. In legacy Skritter this was clear. In beta they are so similar that reviewing or learning at speed I often write when I am supposed to tone.

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I’m taking some PTO to be with my kiddos while my wife is on a long service week (no daycare support at the moment), but I just wanted to say thanks for the detailed feedback.

A lot of your issues are going to be addressed in some future planned releases, and some stuff we’ll need to dig into (streaks not resetting for example). I’ll try to get a more detailed reply out when I’m back to the grind next week!

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Take your time. And stay safe.

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Is there any timeline for when the latest beta goes to production?

Working on getting another beta build out later today with some further fixes and improvements based on the feedback so far. The upcoming version will likely be the production release candidate, which we hope to submit sometime next week.

Updated: build is getting to us now. Will push tomorrow and add notes to forum, etc. then

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Thank you! Things have been a bit hectic around the home (read: absolute chaos with two toddlers in the house). I just wanted to post again that I have not forgotten about this feedback, and I do plan on going through the list and doing some line-by-line replies when I can.

1 Like

We’re all coping best we can. No rush!

Screenshot of the app currently would be great as a reference point. There is certainly some room for further improvements in spacing and layout. A bit tricky when supporting lots of different devices, but I think we have some more room to play with.

We have an improvement issue open for this to allow for single character readings (similar to legacy iOS app) in the future!

We just improved the logic a bit more in prep for the 3.4.1 patch. It should feel more rewarding to have and keep a streak on writing/tone cards moving forward!

Noted! We’re having some good internal conversations about ways to bridge the gap between the old system and the new system for precisely the reasons you’ve stated. We don’t have everything sorted just yet, but when we do, we’ll be sure to post ideas and mockups on the forum before going into active development!

Items that are missing audio get added to a queue for recording, and they’re sorted based on priority. The more people studying an item, the higher up on the list it goes. We had to put the word-level recording on pause while wrapping up our single-syllable audio project, but we’re back at it again, and working our way through the queue. Adding single-syllable reading support (see above) should help reduce the amount of silence you hear in the app if you’re studying lots of custom entries.

Eccentric time encouragements will be back in a future release. We might have to get a poll going about the “deep male Beijing accent” vs. Fiona’s words of encouragement (fun fact… those are my audio recordings!)

We need to make a v3 API endpoint for Progress before we can begin the overhaul. We have this planned for 3.6.0 of the application, and can’t wait to get more advanced Progress in the app!

This was covered over here for anyone looking to read more. Tl;Dr-- We will be adding the ability to enter new items into the database, but need to ensure that we have some checks in place to catch and fix input errors before items go live to all users on Skritter.

They can! Improvements to decks (loading, filters, art, etc.) are also currently slated for the 3.6.0 update.

Correction’s window should now automatically close when the feedback has been sent. There was a bug with some vocabulary causing it to fail sometimes, which we’ve fixed up in 3.4.0 release.

We don’t get much feedback on this (you’re the first that I can recall), so I tend to think that most people prefer a bit more relaxed when it comes to grading. We do grade auto-grade incorrect if you open Info, or use any hint buttons.

Tuning strokes is on our agenda, and is a massive project that requires lots of user data to do appropriately. There is a very fine line between being too strict and too lenient, so we need to proceed with caution. In the meantime, we do have the “rawest squigs” option now for the ultimate challenge!

We improved this in the 3.4.0 release for the Info screen and character drill-downs. Please do let us know if there if you find instances where “back” and “close” seem to be an issue, and we can look into it further.

Totally! We look forward to adding more fun in the future :slight_smile:

Agree. I’ve made a note to open an improvement.

Custom example sentence support will be coming to the app in the future. Community voting on example sentences has been done in the past with some mixed results. We also have to be careful about copyright infringements if people submit sentences found from other sources. So, while it would be super cool to do, the best course of action for the immediate future is to create our own (in batches), while also allowing you and others to add any sentence you want (from any source) as a private, custom sentence.

Noted! And, I do have some mockups of ways to improve the card distinction in the future. This is currently slated for 3.7.0 release.

Thank you for your patience, and again for all the feedback. I’ve taken some personal notes on some things, and I’m happy to report that a lot of the stuff you’re bringing up is certainly on our list for future improvements to the app!

-Jake

2 Likes

Wow, I wish I could put down multiple likes for this response, I’m quite excited at all your individual responses and responsiveness!

:heart::heart::heart: and some bravo/brava bouquets :bouquet::bouquet::bouquet:

Re: tuning strokes, agree this could be dicey. I was glad to see Beta fixed stroke recognition for 出 - I got marked wrong in legacy almost every time I needed to write it!

Love knowing it’s your “deep male Beijing accent” in eccentric mode. Bring it back! It’s eccentric after all, so although Fiona’s dulcet tones and clear enunciation are certainly soothing, these occasional encouragements my team and I found very amusing. It livens it up, and is optional after all.

I am most excited by the news that characters within words will soon be sounded, and that I will be able to opt for traditional characters to appear first when studying both. That will make Skritter pretty perfect by my standards!

Thanks for all. Skritter is an essential part of my day and I can’t really see ever not needing it to maintain and learn. Your team’s efforts is much appreciated by me and mine.

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