Installing FlashDict is easy, assuming that you have the .NET runtime installed. If not, you can get the
.NET Framework 1.1 (Runtime | English | 23 MB) here
. Install .NET first if you don't have it already. Then simply download the FlashDict installer
and run it. The installer will prompt you to accept the GNU license agreement, and provide the option to install one or more of the bundled dictionaries. You'll finish with a shortcut to FlashDict on your desktop, with the application installed in the usual location.
Start up FlashDict, then use File>Open Local Dictionary
or File->Open Web Dictionary
(if your preferred dictionary was not bundled with FlashDict) to open a dictionary and away you go. Initially, after you open a dictionary, you'll see the Word Search form in the FlashDict window. After a dictionary is opened, you can use the Tools
menu or the buttons to get started with flashcards, change matching (exact or wildcard), switch the dictionary's base language, and even edit the dictionary.
Screenshot of the startup window
Searching for words using FlashDict is the default function. Simply type in the base-language word you wish to search for into the search textbox, and click the Go
button to see the translated counterpart. If more than one entry is found for the search word, all corresponding entries will be displayed. Depending on the matching context (exact or wildcard), this can produce a long list of matches. Any matched entry may be edited, or added to your current deck of flashcards (see below for more details), via simply double-clicking it in the list.
Flashcards are the real "fun bit" in FlashDict. When enabled from the tools menu or via the button on the main form, the flashcards will appear in the bottom half of the window. Each flashcard provides you with a randomly-selected word, either from the entire dictionary, or from your currently configured "deck" of flashcards, and prompts you to provide the translation. FlashDict keeps track of and displays how you're doing on each word, recording the number of attempts, and the number of correct responses. Additionally, your "session score" - the number of correct flashcards during the current session - is reported. After you've correctly translated a given word enough times (a configurable option, defaults to 5 times), FlashDict will stop prompting you with the word in the flashcards. If a given word has multiple meanings in the dictionary’s base-language, FlashDict will check each entry to see if your flashcard response is correct in that word's context, and record the score appropriately. Results are displayed in the same selection list that the Word Search uses.
Creating your FlashCard Deck
Some of the dictionaries which are available for FlashDict have more than 100,000 entries. Most students of language, at least beginners, don't have a need for such a large base, or "deck" of flashcards. To that end, FlashDict provides you with the ability to select your own deck of flashcards.
There are two primary methods for adding cards to the deck:
- The deck may be configured via the Edit Dictionary menu selection, or using the simple button on the flashcard. This loads the entire dictionary for you to select multiple flashcards for your deck. (This is a memory-intensive operation)
- Simply double-click any result (in the white box) from the Word Search and set the entry to be a flashcard.
The flashcard deck can be modified at any time, but remember to save the dictionary (you'll also be prompted to do this) when finished. Once you've selected your flashcard deck, the number of flashcards which are currently in the deck will be visible in flashcard dialog. If you haven't configured a deck, FlashDict will use the entire dictionary by default as the flashcard deck.
Using the Search Matching menu or the radio buttons you can tell FlashDict to search for words using either Exact or Wildcard matching. This option gives you the ability to search for all of the available entries for a given word, even if you can only remember part of its spelling, for example. Wildcard matching will certainly display irrelevant results if the search-string is very short.
Switching the Base Language
Each dictionary contains entries for exactly two languages. Examples include French-English, German-French, and so on. When opening a given dictionary, FlashDict will automatically choose the default "base-language" and set up searching and flashcards appropriately. If you want to switch base language, so that you provide English translations for French words, for example, it's easy to do. Simply go to Tools->Base Language, and choose the language which you wish to use as base-language for the current dictionary. Alternatively, use the simple radio buttons.
Editing the Dictionary
Note - editing large dictionaries in FlashDict is rather memory intensive, as the entire dictionary has to be loaded into an edit form. See below for more details
FlashDict lets you edit your dictionaries. To edit the current dictionary, simply click Tools->Edit Dictionary, and change any entry, delete it, or add a new one. You can also use the editor to set up your own personal deck of flashcards. Be sure to save the dictionary if you add or change anything.
Saving the Dictionary
Finally, when you’re finished with FlashDict, you’ll want to save your current dictionary. This is done via File->Save Dictionary. If you’ve opened the current dictionary from the web, you’ll be prompted for a directory to save the dictionary in, which will be the default in the future for any other dictionaries which you download and use. The local dictionaries which are distributed with FlashDict will prompt you with their installed directory location.
Sharing and improving dictionaries
FlashDict’s dictionaries are, as previously mentioned, simply obtained from
. The author of Magic-dic clearly intends that the dictionaries should be improved and enhanced by the users, both in terms of additional entries, as well as quality/correctness of the existing entries, and Magic-Dic provides a means to do this via an email.
When you make a change to an entry, or add a new word to an existing dictionary in FlashDict, the entry is tagged, so that it can later be submitted for inclusion in the master dictionary. Submitting these changes and enhancements is not possible at this time, however. I am endeavoring to make contact with the author of Magic-dic, in order to coordinate this task more closely with him. Watch this page for updates - my sincere hope is to be able to coordinate with Magic-Dic on dictionary improvements.
Some Important Points
In this, it's first release, FlashDict is something of a memory-hog. Loading and editing the German-English dictionary, for example, requires something on the order of 100mb free memory. Now, that's not completely unusual for an application running under MS, but it does limit the audience somewhat. Future versions will, I hope, be more "resourceful".
FlashDict is written in C# and .NET using Microsoft's Visual Studio, but it should
build under Mono
as well for use under Linux. While this is not tested, I've been careful to utilize components which are in testing or at least under active development within the Mono System.Windows.Forms
heirarchy for .NET.
Rote memorization is not the only task when learning a new language. Simply memorizing words not help much in dealing with the same words in context. A complete language program involves reading, writing, speaking and listening components. Flashcards are nevertheless important, and FlashDict aims to provide this functionality.
FlashDict is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the
Free Software Foundation
, either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. FlashDict is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with FlashDict; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA