Matt Sweetman

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Flashkana for Android

Flashkana screenshot

Flashkana, my new Android app is now available on the marketplace! It's a simple flash cards application to help you learn Japanese kana.

Kana are the characters that build up the two Japanese syllabaries, Hiragana and Katakana. They are similar, but not identical to the concept of the roman alphabet, and learning them is the first step to understanding Japanese writing. There are over 200 kana, including all variants, so becoming familiar with the entire set takes some time. Flashkana helps you learn them at your own pace using the traditional flash cards method.

The app has been in development for quite some time as I was squeezing it in-between other jobs. One of the biggest challenges has been building the card swiping mechanism. Android doesn't have a built-in component for swiping views left and right so I had to write one myself. This meant getting to grips with the touch events mechanism, which is quite a complex part of the view system. I also encountered some slow rendering times so had to come up with a lazy instantiation routine for the cards views. Despite these hurdles it was a fun experience and good to get an insight into another platform and programming language.

The app is free to download, so head over to the Android market to take a look.

Update: A few months after posting this Android added swipe views to their core framework. This would have saved me a lot of time! http://developer.android.com/design/patterns/swipe-views.html