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Highlights of new features of JTLanguage.

What's New

Version 2.00

This is a complete rewrite of JTLanguage from the ground up. Some key changes or goals for this rewrite:

  • Provide a more stream-lined and robust user interface.
  • Make most pages mobile browser-friendly.
  • Provide companion mobile apps for Android, iPhone, and Windows phone.
  • Internally, provide a more scalable and robust data model and controller, using portable model and controller libraries common to both the web and phone applications.

Note that while all the features for creating and using basic lessons are provided and ready to use, not all features of this website have been implemented or completed yet, and more options for lesson study are in the works. But I think you'll find that what is provided is very extensive and robust, and that JTLanguage is a great platform for language study.

Your feedback is welcome. Know of a feature that be useful in your language study? Let me know about it and I can see if I can fit it in. Want to create some lessons? Jump right in!

Feature Update - 11 September 2017

JTLanguage has a new graphical menu, in addition to the orginal pop-up menu. Click the "JTLanguage" link in the menu bar to go to the new main menu at any time.

For the text input configuration in the Flash tool, the "Retry"button will now cause the previously entered text to be redisplayed in the edit box, allowing you to edit it without having to retype everything.

For the text input configuration in the Test tool, the "Edit"button will now display the previously entered text in green/red color-coded form, to remind you of what needs to be fixed in which entries.

What's Ahead

  • Create some video documentation.
  • Do some final touches, testing, and release the phone apps.
  • Add a history mechanism, so you can see what you've done, and easily jump back to previous places.
  • Show status indicator for courses, groups, lessons, and content, showing if the item has been seen yet, how many times visited, or if it is marked complete. Track for individual users. Also provide setting and clearing mechanism for this.
  • Add a logging and general undo mechanism.
  • Implement the remaining features I had in the old site, or had at least planned to have. These include an extensive dictionary for all languages, a translator, a searchable grammar reference, teacher and user blogs, forums for questions and discussions, a chat mechanism for textual and audio chatting with other JTLanguage users, and a place to list references for other web sites and tools.
  • Add a trigger and branch mechanism for audio/video media.
  • Add speech-recognition to "Choose" mechanism choice selection in the Automated scripting.
  • Revise audio recording and speech-to-text in Flash tool to be automated (no need to click "Record" and "Stop" buttons, though the buttons will still be there), and hopefully improve the turn-around time for speech-to-text process (which sends the audio to the server, which then sends it to Google).
  • Create language-practice bots, using both text and/or speech recognition.

Past Feature Updates

Feature Update - 28 August 2017

The JTLanguage Survival courses are out! These include the JTLanguage Survival Phrases, JTLanguage Survival Vocabulary, and JTLanguage Survival Grammar courses. I realized that without usable content, all the cool and powerful stuff JTLanguage can do is not very attractive if there isn't some usable content already, at least to kick-start things. Since they are just starting points, I need some folks to help with fixing the translations. (See the "Introduction" document included with them for details.)

This release features changes that were useful for me in developing the JTLanguage Survival courses, and some documentation.

I did some work on the automated translation and voice synthesis. At the course, group, or lesson level, the "Add Missing Translations" button takes you to a separate page where you can select target nodes and content types. You can also elect to run the translations in the background, which you should probably do for large jobs, lest the browser times out. The Add Synthesized Voice buttons also now have a checkbox for doing it in the background. A status pane updated every second gives an indication of where in the process the operation is. I used up most of my Google API credit translating the survival courses and generating the audio.

I added the "All Languages" option for tree, node, and content profiles, again with the survival courses in mind, so they wouldn't have huge languages lists. You can set "All Languages" as the host and target languages of courses, groups, lessons, and content. This is useful for such items where you want them to support all languages, even though you might not have all the translations in place.

I added an "Attributions" link and page as a place to give credit for teacher who help with courses and lessons. Find it on the Course, Group, and Lesson Information pane of the main pages for these.

I added some new docs, such as the introduction front page, one for adding translations to courses and lessons, and an introduction for the phone apps.

Feature Update - 19 July 2017

I pretty much got the mobile IOS version to the same level as the Android, so the mobile release is getting closer. I started work on a universal survival language course as yet unreleased. When the preview for that is ready, I will probably release the mobile apps then, with that pre-installed. Hopefully this will be in the next month or so.

I replaced the Bing Translator API used in the translate mechanisms with one based on the Google Translate API. Note that this is a service I'm paying for, so please be judicious in your use of it. It is throttled by a quota.

I enabled the "Teacher" menu for students as well, but with just the "Masters" and "Markups" items available, so students can use these with their own private courses and lessons.

I added an automated study page for lessons, groups, courses, and plans. Similar to "Study" items which are added under word and sentence vocabulary pages, an automated study item (labeled "Course Study", "Group Study" or "Lesson Study") will be added to a lesson, group, course, or plan item, unless the item has a previously defined automated study content item. The markup template used for this automated study item (i.e. the script used) can be set in the Home->Settings page. Note that if this setting is set to "(none)", this disabled the automated study addition mechanism, so this is the way to turn it off. There may be a default markup template referenced from my "JTLanguage" account. You can add your own markup templates and edit them via the Teacher->Markups page.

I renamed the "Patterned" format to "Patterned Line", and extended the comment directive mechanism to support additional information, such that exporting courses, groups, lessons, or content will contain enough information to recreate the item on import. See the Field Help on the export/import pages for details.

I added a new format, called "Patterned Block", which is for exporting or importing courses, groups, lessons, or content with the study items split up in to groups or "blocks" according to language. The pattern mechanism is similar to that of the "Patterned Line" format, but is extended to allow you to control the entire layout of the output. See the Field Help on the export/import pages for details.

I added markup template support for courses, groups, and lessons, such that you can set up custom layouts for the pages for these items.

Internally I moved the storage of markup template references and local markup templates in content items from the course tree object to the content storage object, to make courses lighter internally.

I fixed a bug in the automated template mechanism with respect to playing audio from study items that reference audio in a media item.

Feature Update - 24 June 2017

I set up https support. "https" is a more secure version of a website. You will be automatically redirected to https://www.jtlanguage.com when you reference the http version.

I added an optional "Conjugation" attribute to study items to help clarify when a conjugation is used or as a prompt.

I changed the tool flash and test mechanisms to display relevant attributes associated with study items, such as Prefix, Suffix, Category, and Conjugation.

I enhanced the patterned import/export format to support study item attributes.

Feature Update - 03 May 2017

I reworked the collected study list edit pages (the text or vocabulary pages for editing study items under groups or courses, or study lists with child study lists) to show all the collected study items.

I also reworked the collected study list pages (edit and non-edit versions) to show group and lesson headings so you know where the study items come from. You can disable this by clicking the "Hide Annotations" link.

Testing the above revealed a number of bugs not necessarily related, most of which I fixed.

Feature Update - 22 Apr 2017

I extended the automated scripting/markup template mechanism with some cool new features for making an automated session interactive. Basically you can insert content items such as media players or text content views, you can insert study tool sessions or flash tool card sides for individual study items, and you can insert a list of choice buttons the user can click on to choose what to do next. And this is only the beginning. I plan to extend this mechanism with voice control input.

I added the new "Automated Interactive Example" lesson that demonstrates the above-mentioned scripting mechanism.

I beefed up Chinese language support, fixing the study tools to support pinyin input in the write text and speech to text mechanisms. You can input numeric pinyin (i.e. ni3hao3) or tone-marked pinyin (i.e. nǐhǎo).

Feature Update - 21 Feb 2017

I've reworked the media item mechanism such that you no longer need to create separate media item content components for different target/host language combinations. The media item object now stores references to multiple media files keyed on the language. This will make the course and lesson objects smaller when multiple target/host combinations are provided in lessons. This is primarily an internal change, but I also revised the media player and other pages with drop-down menus for selecting the languages.

I also reworked the Example Course to reflect the above change, collapsing the multiple media items into singles, and also doing away with the media list component, just including the media items directly in the lessons, to make them simpler. You can still use media lists in your own lessons, however.

I also reworked the audio generation and automated template editing pages, taking advantage of the media item changes, such that you can now generate mutliple media files at once. To do this, set the target and/or host language drop down menus to "(target languages)" or "(host languages)".

I revised the lesson master and markup template mechanism such that you can select "(target languages)" or "(host languages)" for the languages. This allows you to use these items for different languages. This will cause JTLanguage to pull the languages from the current profile when creating or resetting the lessons, or using the markup templates.

I've reworked both the audio recorder and text-to-media mapping mechanisms such that you can now record audio directly in the Edge browser using HTML 5 technology (i.e. without Silverlight). Unfortunately, the current security mechanism in Chrome does not allow audio recording from a non-SSL (http:) website. I will be converting to SSL (https:) in the near future.

Feature Update - 25 Jan 2017

I've added a new speech-to-text configuration option for the flash card mechanism. Check the "Has Voice Recognition" checkbox in the "Media" panel of the Tool Configuration page. To use it, you click the "Record" button just like you do for the audio input configuration, speak the prompted-for item, and click the "Stop" button. JTLanguage will then send the audio to Google's speech-to-text service for conversion to text, which will then be displayed in a manner similar to the text input configuration, showing correctly matched words in green text, and errors in red. Note that the technology is not perfect, and subject to noise or distortions in the environment, so it might not always get the right text, even if spoken correctly. Note that the Google speech-to-text service is a paid service with a quota, so please use it conservatively.

I've beefed up the text-to-speech voice synthesis for study items such that if the server doesn't support voice synthesis for the language, it will use Google's text-to-speech. But again, please use it conservatively as it's a paid service with a quota.

I've improved the text input results display of the text input configuration of the flash card mechanism. It now displays correct words in green and incorrect words in red. Missing words are displayed as "_____". Punctuation is ignored. pattern items in parentheses are ignored in the matching.

I've added a couple of new buttons to the flash card page. "Retry" takes you back to the first card side state, so you can retry something like text input. "Sync" causes the study manager to recreate the information the study mechanism uses to store the study list item status (the tool study list), for the rare case when things get out of sync. I also changed the study manager to update the tool study list if the study list changes.

Feature Update - 3 Jan 2017

I've implemented a new "Tool" (selectable on the "Study" page) called "Hands Free". Its page looks a lot like the "Flash" tool's page, except that it has some different buttons similar to the media player control buttons, i.e. "Play", "Stop", etc. This tool lets you run something like a "Flash" session, but without having to click the grading buttons, automatically doing so at a given interval. Like the "Flash" tool, it uses a current "Profile" and "Configuration". If the profile uses a "Spaced Repetition" selector algorithm, and the configuration is for audio-only, you can click "Play" and then listen hands-free to a spaced-repetition review of a study list. If you use text output, you can just sit and watch the study items go by.

Another cool new feature is the "Automated" study mechanism, which is similar to the "Hands Free" mechanism in some ways. It's a new content item type under the media item group. Similar to the audio generation mechanism, it uses a markup template as a script to generate audio. However, unlike the audio generation mechanism, which creates a fixed audio file, the automated study mechanism outputs audio on-the-fly, following the markup template script. By doing so on-the-fly, however, when the markup template script references the "Spaced Repetition" algorithm in a loop, the system will mark study items just like the flash tool does, which affects which study items are selected for review in subsequent sessions. It has "Play", "Stop", "Pause", "Forward Step", and "Repeat" buttons similar to the media player. Unlike the "Hands Free" tool, because of the scripted nature of this mechanism, you can do all kinds of things, such as simulate an audio course that uses a spaced repetition algorithm, except that in this case, it actually tracks what you've done, such that subsequent session might output the study items in a different order. See the new "Automated Audio Example" lesson in the "Example Course" for an example of this, and you can see documentation for the markup template language here: Markup Reference

The current "Automated" study mechanism is only the first phase of develement for this mechanism. The next phase will be to make it optionally interactive, i.e. let the script stop and ask questions that require student input. Before doing that, however, I'm probably going to look into supporting voice recognition as an additional configuration option for the "Flash" tool configuration, in conjunction with audio recording.

Feature Update - 23 Nov 2016

I've been working on the tool mechanisms. I added the missing support for the voice recording configuration, to compare your pronunciation with that of the lesson speaker. I also added four new configurations for descramble, multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blanks, and a special configuration I call "Hybrid" that can cycle through sub-configurations you can select via the configuration edit page.

I also added a "Tool" drop-down menu to the top of the "Study" page, and am currently working on new tools besides just the "Flash" card tool.

One new tool I've just finished is a "Test" tool, which basically displays the whole study list in test form, using the current configuration (which can be the "Hybrid" configuration to mix up different types of questions).

Another new tool is a "Match" tool, which displays the study list in language columns that have been shuffled, such that you need to match up item translations.

Also coming is a tool I'm calling just "Hands Free" for now, for audio and/or visual study of a study list. It basically outputs audio and/or scrolling text on the fly in a hands-free fashion, using the current tool profile selection algorithm to chose the item order, and giving you time (which is programmable) to translate the items or answer the questions out loud or in your head, with optional prompts you can select or create. For example, if you use the "Adaptive" or "Spaced Repetition" configuration, it will order the items to appear in increasing intervals, taking into account past sessions. You can also format everthing yourself using the existing markup template mechanism such as for the existing audio file generator. The audio mode will be great for mobile use when you are doing other and can't be sitting down and punching flash tool buttons.

I have not-yet-published mobile versions of JTLanguage. I have the Android version working, and almost have an iPhone version. I'll make a preview of the Android version available shortly via side-loading.

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