TL;DR: I’m introducing a project called Lapis. Give it a try and let me know what you think: lapisapp.com.
This is a project by me and @alihmd. We would like to talk about why we think it can be the best companion to learning Japanese after you get comfortable with Kanji.
Workspace is where you’ll be when you’re reading/listening. The main feature here is segmentation.
Powered by a powerful engine that understands how the language is structured, we’re striving to make it the best segmentation engine/parser out there, one that not only segments words but also can recognize grammar and show you definitions/examples in place.
We think this is the defining feature of Lapis as it integrates with many other features. And as we’ll see later in the SRS section, this page gives us the simplest fastest way of creating sentence cards.
There are two targets here:
- Beginners: It’s sometimes hard to know what to lookup when the whole sentence is full of unknown structures and grammar. Also, you sometimes can’t even tell when words are starting and ending in a string of text, making it harder to do a correct lookup.
- Advanced: Discover new grammar. Sometimes you might understand a sentence, but not notice that a particular part is actually a well defined grammar point.
Lapis aims to be a solution to both levels through segmentation. It recognizes all kinds of conjugations, non standard slang like すげぇ/うまっ, and can show a detailed construction, even when grammar is involved.
Here’s an example with “してあげたくなります”:
(It makes a small distinction for grammar points, those are colored in yellow)
Selecting any of these constructs shows a grammar definition (if the construct is a grammar point), and rich example sentences containing the construct:
This is a progressive process, we haven’t yet added all grammar in existence, we’ll be doing that and improving the overall accuracy with time, as well as adding completely new helpful things we have planned.
A board is a temporary space where you pin sentences to. It acts as an intermediary, from which you can create cards or vocab sheets (coming later) in one go, or pin example sentences you’re interested in checking later. We won’t talk much about it now, as it’ll be most helpful after we finish working on vocab sheets.
This is an advanced lookup page with some nice features:
- Results from JP-EN, JP-JP, example sentences, kanjis, names.
- Pitch accent patterns and audio.
- Advanced lookup queries such as
..人to match anything that starts with any 2 characters and ends with 人. More info in the lookup page.
Recursive lookups/segments are also supported. Just select and right click any Japanese text in JP-JP or example sentences.
Why yet another SRS app?
There are lots of well made SRS apps right now, old and new. But we had our own goals with this. Designing a system for language learning in particular can lead to a more efficient reviews. Also, we wanted a much easier creation process, and we wanted smart dictionary entries to be integrated in cards.
First, how often cards appear is controlled through two simple settings that are part of the deck settings:
- Repetition count: This tells us how many times we want this card to appear in reviews until we consider it learned (aka how many levels the card will have).
- Retirement interval: When the review interval reaches this value, the card will be considered learned and won’t come again in reviews.
Based on these two settings, we calculate the interval levels for each card. The defaults are 12 for repetition count and 233 days (7.7 months) for retirement interval (the default imitates a Fibonacci Sequence). This means that you want a card to appear 12 times, and with each level the interval gets closer to the retirement interval. The last level’s interval will be exactly the retirement’s interval. When you pass this level the card is learned.
You can also optionally configure a daily distribution, where in you define percentages at certain times a day, so that a day’s reviews get distributed instead of being available for review all at once.
Creating cards from sentences is extremely easy from Workspace:
You write in a sentence, you enter selection mode and then select definitions and grammar that interest you, and with a click a card gets created containing this info. Then in review, we’ll have the same nice dictionary entries with pitch/audio/etc. And you can even view the segmentation result of the original sentence from the review page.
In addition, creating cards this way actually creates a contextually aware card for the sentence. What we mean is that readings/definitions that don’t apply to the current context of the word are automatically removed from the card. Let’s see an example. If we’re adding this sentence to SRS:
This is how the 建前 entry will appear in reviews:
All the faded info in the segmentation page (aka unapplicable data to the current context) is automatically removed. This helps you always learn things in context instead of being bombarded with all the different meanings of a word that don’t apply to the current sentence.
We believe cards you create should be personal, as in, taken from what you’re reading/listening. This creates a personal attachment to the card and will make you more motivated to acquire it with each review. Using decks created by others is -in our opinion- a bad idea so we discourage that. We don’t have a “share your deck” feature and that’s by design.
State of the project
Lapis is a learning platform for any language, but will be focusing purely on Japanese first until we reach a comfortable place. More support for other languages will come later if the project lives on.
Right now, we’re doing a public beta release. “Beta” not in the sense of stability, but in the sense of feature workflows. Feel free to make feedback that can help shape the platform.
We have a huge list of enhancements and new features alike planned for the future. This is a short list:
- Register more and more grammar.
- Vocabulary sheets: What if when reading a chapter, you’d like to save the sentences with the interesting vocabs/grammar for easy viewing later on? What if you want to share your vocabulary sheet with others too (as in the case of book clubs)? The answer is vocab sheets.
- Browser extension (similar to rikaikun, but applies segmentation and integrates with SRS).
- Simulator graph for SRS.
- Of course, a mobile app.
Update: We started this with a Patreon-based financial plan, but over the last few days we faced some problems with that (if you’re in an unlucky region you can face some blocking issues). Patreon is now out of the question. Later, we’ll be moving to a subscription based plan (details TBD), but for now the app will remain free for as long as we can in the beta phase.
That said, we were able to setup a donation option for those who expressed interest in wanting to support the project. You can find it in the landing page if you scroll down. Your help will be reflected directly on how much time and effort we can spend on evolving the app to its original target goals and beyond. Thank you!
Edit: We’re facing trouble with payment service providers. It’s complicated. We’ll get back to this later.
For now, we want all discussions to be focused in the same place, so we’ll be using this thread for that. Questions, feedback, suggestions? Let us know in this thread.
Later on, we’ll be making use of discord for announcements and other stuff. So if you’re interested please be sure to join our discord server: https://discord.gg/t2HDUCe33R
We also have tentative plans to open source this in the future. It’s a hard decision to make though for a project like this, so we’re still thinking about it.
Thanks for reading!
Give it a try and let us know what you think: lapisapp.com.