More precise radical search

June 14, 2007

I just updated the Kanji by radical page with a new feature. When you click on a radical, the page now dims all radicals that are not available for the kanji returned. This will make it easier and faster to make more detailed radical searches with more than one radical.


Waiting for a new server

June 13, 2007

Update: So, Google Ads. I’m not satisfied with the DreamHost solution and have decided to buy a new server and move back to colocation. So far Denshi Jisho has received about $400 in donations, which is completely awesome! However, I still need some more to fund the new equipment, so I will run some Google ads to see if it helps. It is hopefully just a temporary thing.

Update: The temporary server is being moved physically, so I have switched Denshi Jisho over to the new server at DreamHost. Everything should be working except the deinflection engine, which I need more time with. This will be a good opportunity to test the new server under normal conditions, and according to how it goes I’ll decide wether to switch over permanently or to go back to the temporary server. As always, thanks for your support!

Update: Thanks to several donations I have been able to buy an account at Dreamhost that I will be evaluating during the next few days. If it works well I will swtich Denshi Jisho over, possibly with some nice speedups as a side effect. Thank you all for your donations!

Original message: Unfortunately, the main Denshi Jisho server has crashed badly (probably a dead hard drive). It will be some time before someone can get to the server to see if it can be recovered. Until then my friend Axel has kindly lent me some space on his server as a temporary solution.

As I’ll most likely have to buy a new hard drive and more RAM for the main server or find a hosted solution, now is a great time to donate. I would really really appreciate it.

Blog move!

April 10, 2007

The new blog is on hiatus until the new server is in place.

This blog has moved to a new home closer to the actual Denshi Jisho site.

The new address is:
The new feed address is:

End of message.

Small facelift and Explorer 7 fix

January 8, 2007

I pushed a small facelift a couple of hours ago making the kanji by radicals page a bit easier to use. I also moved the example sentence and kanji details links on the word and sentence search results from the menu directly onto the page. With this update the menus should also work in Explorer 7.

Sadly, since the last update the German words in the kanji dictionary has disappeared from the source so I have also removed them from Denshi Jisho.

But on the bright side I have added Open Search definitions for Japanese and English word search. So in Firefox 2 and Explorer 7 you can now use Denshi Jisho in your browser search box.

Big thanks for all the nice feedback, and especially to Steven for the donation!

New server

September 28, 2006

I have moved Denshi Jisho to a new server. This server is all mine, which means I can upgrade and play with Denshi Jisho a bit more easily than before. Big thanks to Frans for hosting Denshi Jisho this far, and another big thanks to Daniel who provides the new server with juice.

In the process of moving I updated and fixed a few things. So the deinflection engine that I added in the last update, but quickly had to disable because of problems on the server, is up and running again.

I have also cleaned up the word search options and added an option for showing the kana in a word search as romaji.

Deinflection hickup

September 5, 2006

The deinflection engine was causing some issues on the server, so I had to disable it for the moment. I’ll be looking into the cause and have it fixed as soon as possible.


August update

August 31, 2006

With 21 hours to spare I can call this the August update. These are the things I’ve been working on during the summer.

This nifty thing, available on the front page, allows you to do a Japanese word search for the text you currently have selected in your browser. Just drag the bookmarklet to the favourites/bookmarks bar and when you click it a lite-version of the word search page will pop up in a new window with the word you had selected. You can leave this window open and it will be used for consecutive searches with the bookmarklet.

When you do a search for an inflected verb or i-adjective, like 走って and 楽しくて the server will now deinflect this for you and give you a link to search for the plain form instead. This works great together with the bookmarklet for looking up words in a running text. This feature uses the excellent MeCab morphological analyzer.

Example sentences
These have gotten a lot of love this time after some helpful comments from the maintainer of the database file, Paul Blay.

  • First of all more words in the Japanese sentences are now linked to word searches.
  • You can now send in corrections when you spot an error. Just use the “Report inaccuracies in *sentence*” link. The corrections will be sent to me and the example database’s maintainer.
  • The example sentences are now, just like the words, auto updated once a week (on sunday mornings central European time).

The word search got an extra bit of juice with this upgrade and should now be a tad faster than before. I have also set the default limit of result hits for all word, kanji and sentence searches to be 25 instead of 50. This should also help to increase speed.

The usual
There are also the customary bunch of bugfixes and smaller speed improvements. The look also got an update for better clarity.

Coming updates
There are two more features I have in the pipline, romaji output and better pagination, and I hope to get them done in September. However, I have been fortunate enough to recieve a Monbukagakusho Japanese studies scholarship, which means that I will be studying Japanese at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies for a year beginning in October. I don’t know yet how big the workload will be, but I suggest that if you want a feature or bugfix, you send in your suggestion before then. The trip will be blogged on my personal blog, which also might see the odd post about Japanese.

Lastly, a big thanks to Peter for donating!

July update

July 9, 2006

I just rolled out a few updates.

First there is of course the normal batch of background optimizations. Then I got an e-mail (hi Todd) suggesting that I add a position based sort ordering to the word page. This turned out to be a really good idea, so I combined it with the default relevance sorting to get what is the new default, position + relevance. This orders your search results according to relevance as before and where in the string your query was found, the earlier the higher it ranks.

Todd also suggested that I automatically update the main word database (edict) daily since a lot of people send in new words and corrections daily at the WWWJDIC page. This is something I have been meaning to do ever since I started Denshi Jisho, so this seemed like a good time to get to it. So now instead of waiting for me to do it once a month, the server retrieves a fresh copy of edict every morning.

Lastly I’d like to thanks Colette for sending in the first donation. Greatly appreciated!

Updates, donations and the future

May 29, 2006

Hi, today I have three things to talk about.

Let’s start with the updates I just rolled out. First of all the general dictionary (EDICT) and the names dictionary (ENAMDICT) were updated to their latest versions. I have also fixed some small interface issues and did some general code optimizing under the hood, all hopefully for a snappier experience.

I have also added two great features. The first one has been requested (hi Paul) and is also something that I have wanted to change for quite a while. It is how the word and sentence dictionaries search for English words. Previously it would match entire substrings, so searching for smaller words was near impossible. Now I have changed it so it matched entire words instead, which is pretty much always what you want.

The second, smaller, feature is that on a kanji details page the on and kun readings are linked to a word search for that kanji and that reading. It is a great way to easily find out what specific kun readings mean. This has one drawback when you search for short readings, it might find more than you want. For example, a search for “生 しょう” will match 小学生 where the shou is for the 小 while 生 is sei. Not that big of a problem though – just thought you should know.

I have added a PayPal donations-button to the about page that you can use to donate money towards the development of Denshi Jisho. As much as I enjoy working on the site and making it better I find that between getting a decent education and earning money I have less and less time to work on it. That is not saying that if no one donates the project will die. Far from it. This is a passion and I have lots of ideas for new features and enhancements. But all donations, no matter how big or small, are greatly appreciated.

Future features
Since several of you have sent in feedback (keep it coming!) about how you want Denshi Jisho to work and what features I should add I wanted to take a few moments to talk a bit about what I am planning on adding.

Here are a few in no particular order:

  • I want to switch from EDICT to the more versatile JMDict database. This will allow searches in French, German and Russian along with the English that is today.
  • Addition of more specialised dictionaries.
  • Adding a cell phone optimised version of the site. Both for Western and Japanese cell phones.
  • Better keyboard navigation.
  • Allow limiting to stroke count on the kanji radical search.
  • A user login. This login will let you set preferences such as the number of search hits returned, romaji output (no flames please!) and wheter external links should open in a new window or not (hi Clay).
  • Stroke order diagrams from Jim Rose’s Kanji Café.

I am also planning two really big features that I don’t want to spoil by revealing two much, especially since I don’t yet know if I have the time to make them. But one builds on the social strengths of the Internet, and the other connects with the real world.

Lastly, keep the feedback coming so I know what to prioritize!


May 21, 2006

The server tripped and fell earlier today. Hopefully it was just a one-time thing. Denshi Jisho is hosted on a friend’s server that we also run a few other sites on, so 100% uptime isn’t guaranteed.

I’ll also take this opportunity to explain the gateway error you might encounter if you surf in at 06:00 European Central Time; it’s when we restart the web server. Just come back a minute later and everything should be working again. Maybe I should start looking for a properly hosted solution now that the site has started seeing more visitors. Thanks for all the links!

Finals are this week. Then I will return to randomly poking at the Denshi Jisho source.