Home Page Project Page All Download Forum

PalmDict 1.8

About PalmDict User Interface Input System Search Dictionaries Installation

This project is the result of a private 4 year project on a japanese/english dictionary on the PalmOS-plattform. Over the years support for German/French/Russian dictionary was also added, together with a tool to select japanese characters via their radicals Radicals. The purpose of PalmDict is to looks up a japanese word in kanji or hiragana or a foreign word in the selected dictionary. There are two other programs for the PalmOS plattform with a similar function: Dokusha, which is mainly focussed on learning and PADict, which is very similar to PalmDict. However, there are differences.

PalmDict is lightening fast, finds matching phrases within the whole entry, displays multiple entries on the same screen, uses very little memory (works reasonably even with a little over 1MB), supports large multiple dictionaries (in german/english/french/russian), supports the system search feature and high resolution screens and finally has a much easier user interface (in my opinion, of course). Things which I missed with one or the other programs. Moreover, dictionaries can be also installed and searched directly on extension cards (a little slower of course but saving main memory). Version 1.7 and higher will work on any device with PalmOS>3.0, using either built in japanese fonts, Unicode, or own high resolution fonts with customs display routines. The custom display routines are still in beta stage, and may look strange when exotic color schemes are used.

But some thing will never come: PalmDict is a bare dictionary, not a kanji trainer. Thus, it will never display things light stroke order or support flash cards. Some of the basic kanji functionality can be found on Radicals, especially more information about kanjis. But for more advanced learning tools, I suggest you to check the other programs mentioned above. Due to the limited resources of the PalmOS plattform (small screen, little memory footprint) there are some other compromises. PalmDict can find only 512 entries at maximum, but cannot display that much. (But do you really want to see that much matches on a small screen?) Thus, from time to time not all results can displayed on the screen. However, the words with the kanji/kana/ASCII phrase at the beginning are displayed topmost, as best matches, followed by the ones with the phrase in ending position. Using this algorithm the searched word is often close to the top of the list, usually even closer than in JwpCE. However, too many matches is only an issue, if you are using the large dictionary and/or searching for two ASCII letters or a single kana (which usually does not make much sense). Also searches for "the", "at" or similar words are not possible. You can run searches with spaces in them to find several words in a phrase, like "kicking into gear" or similar things "reaching the top", including the "the" part. But again, do not worry about. Just enter your word and search it.

Very important for me was a nice Palm-philosophy compatible simple user interface. Since the program can find out easily if kanji, kana, cyrillic or ASCII has been entered, different input modes are not neccessary and might confuse the user. Of course, for western Palms there are methods for entering hiragana, katakana, cyrillic, and latin too for japanese machines. Also the standard edit menu copy and paste commands work as expected even with the customs display routines. Then the system search feature is supported. The latter is very useful to look up a word when working in a different program. Again, just enter a word and search, fast and easy.

German, english, french and russian dictionaries are available. However, with the tools provided, any dictionary from the Monash-FTP site, and any file in DICT-format can be compressed into a PDB dictionary (if the source it is not larger than ~6-8MB), thus you can customize your science/computer/buddhist/... dictionaries or even use your own word list. At the moment only one dictionary can be searched at a time; but since the search term is remembered the dictionaries can be searched consecutively. And you can install as many dictionaries as you memory resp. extension card allows (ok, honestly in the moment up to 16, but this can be easily extended). The current directory name is show in the upper right corner, where you can also select the active dictionary. For beginners of japanese the large (edict/ddict-med) dictionaries usually return by far more matches than you would like to see on a small screen. Thus, I highly recommend using edict-sub.pdb or ddict-sub.pdb as a good compromise for english/german, until you really need the odd words ... Doing so, there is also more than 1MB memory left on a 2MB machine! (Like my PalmIIIe, using edict-sub.pdb and elisa.prc)

Finally special thanks to Marc Cellucci for debugging on most current Clies devices.

About PalmDict User Interface Input System Search Dictionaries Installation

The user interface follows the Zen of Palm philosophie to keep things simple but don't offend power users. So just enter the search string (not matter ASCII, kana or kanji) and push the Find button. The results are displayed in the field above. The meaning of attributes (n,vs) is explained by the help form, push the 【i】 circle in the upper right corner.

If the lenght of the result exceeds the field height a scrollbar will appear. The text will move during scrolling also using the jog-wheel. You can select text from the result (or search) and copy it to the clipboard. (It will be in Sjis format.) If there is a single line text in the clipboard, it will be displayed as initial search text after program start. To clear the input use the New button.

In the upper right corner you find four elements:

Furthermore there is an option screen. Here you can enable half-width katakana display for the reading in the search or the result screen. Using halfwidth a little more text fits on the screen - most useful for the Palm search (see below). Since only japanese devices support halfwidth katakana at the moment, selection is only possible on japanese devices.

Underline results switched off will display the results with the gray lines. Some people find this look more attractive.

Finally, autosearch will look up any word in the clipboard on startup. Thus, I do not recommend this option, although it might be useful together with Radicals.

About PalmDict User Interface Input System Search Dictionaries Installation


There are many ways to the enter the search text. For the native character set of your device, just use the PalmOS input methods. The second possibility is for characters, which are not supported by the native PalmOS. For cyrillic, umlaute, hiragana, and katakana special input forms are provided, which can be invoked by the menu. The layout of these keyboards are generally similar to their russian/latin/japanese couterpart. For the japanese input there is one exception: Modifiers like ゛ or ゜ must be selected before selecting the kana. Beware: The katakana input form looks exactly the same as the hiragana form, but will still produce katakana!

The third way is to paste the text directly into the field. Also, if there is a single line of text in the clipboard during start up, this text will show up in the search field. The text in the clipboard will be assumed to be in Sjis-coding or ASCII, it won't be converted! (Otherwise it would not possible to select text in the result screen and paste it to the search screen.)

Finally, an old search can be reused. The last eight searches can be recalled by the two up and down arrows directly to the right of the search field.

If you own a western device with PalmOS<5.0 and you want to input also kanjis, you can use only JOS-IME 1beta together with a J-OS dictionary. However, the converted kanjis are only displayed correctly in result line (after "flushing").

About PalmDict User Interface Input System Search Dictionaries Installation


Another way to invoke the search is via the central Palm search button in the graffity field, which searches all Palm databases. If text is selected PalmOS will paste it automatically in the search form. Just press Ok and the most recently used dictionary will be searched for the word. By this you can easily look up word while working in a different program.

Since space is limited for the search no attributes are shown and each entry is a single line. In the moment the input must be either ASCII or Sjis, no umlaute or other native code are supported. By tapping on an entry of the results, Palmdict will start and the full entry will be shown in the dictionary as first find together with the other findings.

About PalmDict User Interface Input System Search Dictionaries Installation

The dictionaries are converted from DICT-files, which are available from the Monash-FTP site. Using the tools provided with Dict2PDB any of these dict files (execpt the chinese one) can be converted into a PDB. Moreover, support is also added for WadokuJT, a huge Japanese-German dictionary. Although from this dictionary only words also in edict were taken. Since PalmOS uses Sjis and not Unicode, the umlaute of the latin codepage are converted into unused (EUC similar) Sjis codes and displayed by own routines. The PDB themselves are (Huffman-)compressed files, and contain an (also compressed) index for faster search.

These dictionaries are converted from James William Breens Edict-Project. They are covered by the following licence.
edict (106843 japanese entries)
edict-sub (19976 japanese entries)

These dictionaries are converted from the Wadoku-Jiten, maintained by Ullrich Apel and include all words, that are found in edict_sub resp. edict. They are free to use in non-commercial projects. I added all words which were in edict_sub but missed in Wadoku-Jiten.
wadoku-med(82204 japanese entries)
wadoku-sub(20441 japanese entries)

This dictionary is from a french dictionary, which is now part of the JMDict-Project. It is covered by the same licence as the edict-files.
fj-dict (17592 japanese entries)

This file is also from the Monash-Homepage in the dictionary section, and has also become a part of the JMDict-Project with the above licence.
jr-dict (3465 japanese entries)

This is a converted CEDICT, originally created by Paul Andrew Denisowski. Its licence covers the free use of the dictionary. It contains about 23512 words (GBK) resp. 25807 words (Big5). For the japanese handhelds there is also a version of the Big5 in SJS (which lacks some words).
cedictBig5 (25807 traditional chinese entries)
cedictBig5Sjs (21701 traditional chinese entries)
cedictGBK (23512 simplified chinese entries)
cedictGBKSjs (11975 simplified chinese entries, really not recommended ... )

All tools needed to create the dictionaries from the input files are provided. For windows, even the binaries and a batch file for simple operation exist. Apart from some compiler switches (for word alignment of data) they should compile straight forward for any decent operation system. However, as I am no Unix shell artist no shell script is provided for Unix at the moment.

About PalmDict User Interface Input System Search Dictionaries Installation

You need to download PalmDict. On a non-japanese device, download also the japanese fonts. Finally, choose you dictionary (explaination here).

If you don't want to built your own dictionarys Dict2PDB are not really of interest to you.

PalmDict should work with any OS-Version higher than 2.0, but in has been tested only with 3.1 and higher. Program versions higher than 1.7 require PalmOS 3.0 or higher for font support. Due to the different devices out there, several versions of the program exists.

If you own a non-japanese device, you would need a japanese font or only hiragana will be shown. In the download area you will find the archive fonts.zip. It contains many different free japanese fonts in different sizes. If you own J-OS you probably have already elisa.prc (or even better s8_jos.prc) installed. For larger kanjis I would recommend an additional 10 or 12 pixel font. In the moment only two fonts are supported.

Depending on screen resolution, the following fonts are recommended:

Sizes should be 10, 12 and 16 pixel. However, 16 pixel for the large font and 8 pixel might also look ok.

Recommended are 12, 16 and 20 pixel.

Recommended are 16, 20 and 24 pixel.

Radcials will use the larger font for graphem display!

Of course you could install larger fonts, but then you will see only very few lines of text. Of course you could install larger fonts. The font generation programm supports the following sizes: 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24, 32, 40, and 48. But beware, a 48 pixel font will consume about 1.9 MB! Furthermore, on a standard Palm only two lines will fit on the screen. The fonts must be installed in main memory.

But the dictionaries you can install on external cards as well as in main memory. Dictionaries on external cards will be searched directly there, using no extra main memory. Because access to external cards is way slower than to main memory, a search may take up to 10s under worst case conditions (usual is 1-3s). Beware the installation on old Sony devices: In the emulator dictionaries in the standard backup directory are not always found. But installing via the hotsync utility will always work on any device. If the dictionaries are not found, make sure they are in the /Palm/Launcher/ directory, which is the default path for the hotsync utility anyway.