Today, we're pleased to introduce the Popup Chinese Writing Pad, an exciting new tool that will help you master the art of writing characters. Like a ruthless taskmaster, it will force you to write and rewrite hanzi until you're writing them in the proper stroke order and with the correct proportion.

As with every feature on Popup Chinese, our Writing Pad offers full support for the traditional script. In the coming days we'll be publishing a series of lessons that cover the general rules for writing Chinese. We've included a list of these rules below for the convenience of advanced students. Everyone else should consider this lesson a warm-up: eight simple characters to test yourself on to evaluate how well you've internalized the logic of the Chinese writing system. This is a new feature and is under active development, so please let us know what you think, and let us know if you run into technical difficulties as well. We will continue to improve and develop this tool based largely on the feedback we get from you!

1. 先横后竖:十、干、丰、下、丁、于、开、井、

2. 先撇后捺:人、八、入、木、夫、未、从、

3. 从上到下:二、三、工、土、本、个、王、天、分、全、子、立、它、李、兄、今、奇、春、

4. 从左到右:川、儿、旧、你、好、他、从、姐、妹、引、泡、件、对、坏、吃、饭、洗、叫、劝、秋、林

5. 从外到内:月、风、内、肉、用、周、网、同、义、床、厅、闲、闭、问、闻、闯、病、疼、房、局、句、勾、勺

6. 先中间后两边:小、水、永、少、业、亚、办、亦、燕、兜(注意:“火”不是先中间后两边)

7. 先外后里再封口:(先进入后关门)日、四、田、回、国、目、 由、且、曲、困、因、园、圆、团、图、圈、囚、围

8. 先写左上点:为、门、问、闲、闷、问、闲、闩、闭、

9. 后写右上点:犬、术、书、发、弋、戈、龙、尤、成、咸、求、代、械、找、我、或、伏、甫、

10. 后写内部点:叉、凡、为、勺、瓦、丽、兔、雨、执、热、熟、玉

11. 先内后外:("下包上"结构的字,先写上内,后写外。)山、凶、画、 幽、这、边、过、迟、远、近、医、巨、匹、匡

Update: we've ported the application to flash and banished Java completely, so it shouldn't be necessary to install any addition software to use the Writing Pad. Reports of problems with any particular browsers/operating systems are very welcome at service@popupchinese.com.
 said on
May 26, 2009
totally sweet. love the way it flashes the characters up and down. one downside is I'm getting a funky grey border around the applet in IE6 here, and need to click on it to focus on the applet and make it go away.
 said on
May 26, 2009
For some reason I can't get it to work. It just keeps loading but nothing happens. I'm using firefox and have the java installed. I tried in explorer too but the same happened.
 said on
May 26, 2009
@Lunetta - have had a few reports of the applet behaving strangely in other browsers as well. which is too bad, but makes it basically unacceptable as a study aid. So much for Java's write-once, run-anywhere.

we're still hoping for feedback from people who *can* use it. if anyone else has Java installed and is happy to be a guinea pig, please check this out and let us know what you think.
 said on
May 27, 2009
have java installed but not working for me...using windows vista with internet explorer=( but great idea
 said on
May 27, 2009
It allows me to draw lines - however they disappear before I'm able to draw another. I assume it should be showing me the character I should be drawing somewhere. Also, clicking on page doesn't give me a hint. I'm running the latest Java - 6 rev 13. Vista.. used Chrome, Firefox, IE, all the same result.

Java - reminds me of a group programming project we did in Linux back in school. A stubborn friend of mine wrote his portion of the Java code in Windows. Getting it to work under Linux the night before the due date was hell.
 said on
May 28, 2009
thanks Mike, and thanks Nadasax. I'm porting the application over to flash where we hopefully shouldn't have these issues....

 said on
May 28, 2009
i downlaoded the most recent java...i get a nice parchment pad with a loading indicator and then it goes no further...if i click on the pad the loading sign goes away and i can make one stroke but as soon as i let go the mouse button it fades out...? hope this can get up running soon...its a great practice idea...appreciations in excelsis for the work
 said on
June 5, 2009
Writing Pad is now updated to flash. This is our new tool for learning to write Chinese characters. We would like to get your thoughts on general usability and improvements before launching our lesson series on how to write characters.

If you have problems using this or run into any frustrations (where you wish it behaved differently) please let us know at service@popupchinese.com.
 said on
June 5, 2009
Hi,

important tool.

It would be good to know, however, what character I am currently learning (pronounciation, meaning, when finished: example vocab). Besides: Better than naked characters are strings of characters that form vocab from the lessons.
 said on
June 5, 2009
Glad to see this is up and running. The recognition algorithm seems a little strict to me though - it seemed really picky with the angles of my 竖 strokes for example. When using a mouse, a generally vertical stroke should be acceptable right? Maybe I'm too used to Skritter which is a little too permissive in my opinion...

I agree with Henning that later on there should be some vocab support to tell you what you're writing. I'm assuming this will eventually be integrated with other parts of the site. It looks good!
 said on
June 6, 2009
Impressive stuff. Let me throw my weight behind the comments of henning and toneandcolor above requesting English and Romanized hints. If one steps away from one's computer or looks at another browser window it is easy to miss the flashing character and be baffled on return.

It would also be good to have the entire character flash at the start as a single graphic rather than showing the proper stroke order stroke-by-stroke. First as I'm testing myself to see if I'm getting the proper stroke order and I learn best from corrected mistakes. Second as it can take some time to wait for the character to finish. When I load the page I want to start writing right away. Especially if I already know the character you are testing me on after the first or second stroke.

 said on
June 6, 2009
Thanks for the suggestions guys. We will definitely add support for pinyin/english hints, and I like the idea of a single-flash too saunders. especially with longer characters.

toneandcolor - modular design, so we'll be able to add the feature other lessons, etc. over time and intgrate with vocab lists. will be tweaking/improving our recognition algorithms, although we're going to stay strict about enforcing proper stroke order.
 said on
June 6, 2009
works perfectly and i think it pretty much kicks ass as is...actually really love that you don't get a lot of time to look at it...like a great memory game as well as writing tool- plus it reshows you what stroke needs to come next anyway...love it! and actually felt surprised by how lenient it was on stroke shape... also, what about putting a timer on it like the HSK quizes and counting stroke mistakes? person with the fastest time and lowest number of incorrect strokes gets PPZW swag?...=) or do that as a seperate "tournament" feature like Film Fridays and the wednesday songs...Monday Morning Writing Tourney? 10,12,20,whatever characters; time starts from the first stroke; one week (like FF) to post your best score to the board; end of the week winners get appropriately groovy swagola! yesnoyes? ;)
 said on
June 12, 2009
Great suggestions nadasax. We're working on rolling out the backend character database, but will keep these ideas in mind moving forward. I really like the idea of a timer, especially for when we get to the more advanced characters.

In the meantime we've just added a pinyin and definition hint for each stroke. In the interests of subtlety, the text is a darker yellow and positioned in a place where it is noticeable, but ignorable for those who prefer not to look. If you've already downloaded the flash, you may need to clear your cache or hold down Cntl while reloading the page in order for things to work.

Our first writing lesson will be coming out soon... we're just working on an extra surprise to round out the Writing goodness....

 said on
June 17, 2009
This sounds really neat. I don't have a paid subscription, but was hoping to check this out. Is there anyway to try it out without signing up?
 said on
June 17, 2009
Hi Andrew,

We'll be putting up a public version that cycles through some random characters shortly. Meaning sometime next week. We'll make an announcement on here on the site when it goes up.

Just to put things in perspective, right now our system recognizes around 70 characters. We're focusing on tightening things up and rolling out the initial 200 characters we need to complete our lesson set. I'm expecting that will be done in the next month or so.
 said on
March 14, 2010
Great tool!

Suggestion: instead of flashing each stroke, can you make it "draw itself" in the right direction (left to right, right to left, etc)?

 said on
June 18, 2010
Hi,

Absolute beginner her and firs time using writing pad.

Given the comments above, I'm not sure if it's not working for me or if it's user error, since I'm not sure how it "should" work.

Here's how it works for me:

1. blank page with pinyin word (plus tone) in lower left

2. then strokes flash quickly, one by one, until a character is formed and then it disappears.

3. am I then supposed to recreate even complex characters based on this single stroke flashing?

Don't mean to complain, as I like the tool and love the site. I'm just not sure if it's working. When I use the same tool on my iphone app, I at least see what the character is supposed to look like (bottom left) and then it seems to be a test of learning stroke order. It's totally addictive.

I'm using Wiindows 7 and the latest version of Internet Explorer. If there's a flash download I'm missing, do you have a link to it?

Many thanks!
 said on
September 9, 2011
Great tool, when are you starting with the writing lessons?

Can't wait
 said on
September 9, 2011
@wavergy,

If the iPad/iPhone tool doesn't work for you, you can find a list of our writing lessons on the site here:

http://popupchinese.com/lessons/writing

Throughout Popup Chinese, you can click on any lesson level and immediately be taken to an index of all lessons at that level. Best,

--david

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