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July 11, 2011 / Chris Merck

Tegaki in iBus + eStroke in Wine = iPhone-like Chinese Magic

iPhone Setup (to be emulated)

My study of Zhongwen has been grately aided by the iPhone application eStroke (which will cost you a few dollars, but far less than the migraine-inducing dead-tree alternatives), in combination with the built-in simplified Chinese pinyin and handwritten input methods provided by Apple. Using eStroke, you can in seconds find the meaning and pronunciation of a character from even a rather botched attempt at tracing the strokes with your pointerfinger:

Looking up a character in eStroke using Apple's handwriting recognition. The eStroke app then gives the stroke order and a brief definition, plus On and Kun readings in Japanese if you care.

eStroke also includes CEDICT, a free dictionary that's suited me fine so far. Tapping on any entry gives more details, including stroke-order and a per-character or per-subphrase breakdown.

I’m perfectly happy using this on the iPhone. However, I would like to have these resources available to me on my PC anyway, especially as I get deeper into composing Chinese texts, and for possible automation of lookups, etc.

ArchLinux setup

So, the goal is to get similar features and ease-of-use on an PC ArchLinux system to what we have on the iPhone. This requires a few different packages and programs:

  1. Pinyin input: ibus-pinyin (Setting this up is covered in the previous post.)
  2. Handwritten input:
    You should be able to just install one package using yaourt and the dependancies will be installed too:

     yaourt tegaki-models-zinnia-simplified-chinese 

    NOTE: The important dependancies are ibus, which is the input system, tegaki-recognize, which is the input method GUI, ibus-tegaki, which plugs tegaki into ibus, zinnia, which is the recognition engine, and tegaki-models-zinnia-simplified-chinese, which is the recognition model for zinnia which contains the actual stroke-regnition data.

  3. After installing ibus-tegaki, you may need to fix the install, which is broken at the moment:
    From eric2’s comment on the ibus-tegaki AUR page:

    1. /usr/lib/ibus-tegaki/ibus-engine-tegaki
    Change “python” into “python2”
    Change the path to where it is installed (it was still “/var/abs/local/…”)
    (For me this means removing the “/tmp…” prefix and just leaving the “/usr/share/bin/…” part of the path. 2. /usr/share/ibus/component/tegaki.xml
    Change the path to where it is installed (in two places)

  4. Install wine if you have not already.
  5. Download the latest eStroke for Windows from the official website.
  6. Execute the eStroke download, which is a Windows installer, using wine.
  7. After installing, navigate to the directory where eStroke was installed (probably “~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/eStroke/” and execute “eStroke.exe” using wine.
  8. eStroke works OK, with tegaki (handwritten) and pinyin input, similarly to how it works on the iPhone. The only glitch is that the Chinese characters that use a font (rather than drawn from eStroke’s database) do not render for me. If I figgure out how to fix this, I’ll update this post. Until then, using an online portal to CDICT will suffice. You can even use the handwritten input directly in Firefox to look up a character in CDICT. (Although you don’t get the stroke-order that eStroke boasts.)

Tegaki handwritten input used in conjunction with eStroke, running through Wine.


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