From James Van Dyne
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Jisho icon.png

Jisho was a Japanese-English (and German, Russian, and French) dictionary I built for OS X.

It was based on the JMDict file, as are most Japanese-English dictionaries.

It earned me my first dollar online and taught me some valuable lessons about software

development and customers that are still useful today. It was released in April, 2005.

Thanks to Jisho I made friends across the globe whom I keep in contact with today.

Each major release of Jisho saw a dramatic design revision. This reflected both

trends happening on OS X and an increased design sense.

Jisho 1[edit]

The original release of Jisho. My goal when making the first version was to learn how

to draw custom windows using Cocoa and Objective-C. Once I accomplished that I figured it should do something. Around that time a friend was working on dictionary for Windows so I thought that sounded like something I could do too.

Jisho 1.0

The original Jisho download button

My high school friend Cory Nelson wrote the initial transliteration engine for Jisho to convert Hiragana/Katakana to Roman letters. In my failure to QA (or even fully understand the transliteration code) it shipped on Version Tracker and MacUpdate with a couple of bugs.

My first sale was to a Canadian in Vancouver who asked for a refund later that day. He continued to me with bug reports over the years and as Jisho improved.

Jisho 2[edit]

A complete overhaul of the interface from a small toy to a usable dictionary. The major selling factors were the large kanji display and the roman transliteration (now bug free).

Jisho 2.jpg

This release also got some press on engadget. I don’t think it was more than a headline.


Jisho 3[edit]

The major new feature for this release was the ability to zoom in on Kanji. This release also brought an increased price to either $20 or $25 dollars.

Jisho 3.png

Check out that zoom action!

Jisho zoom.gif

I got some coverage on The Unofficial Mac Weblog (tuaw). And shortly after my release Apple started including a Japanese-English dictionary in OS X. I finally got Sherlock’ed(ish)!


Jisho 4[edit]

The last major release. This featured an entire new redesign and the ability to create vocabulary lists.

Internally Jisho switched to a plugin architecture with the vision that I’d add or sell additional dictionaries for Jisho. The main view was also powered by a WebView instead of a series of tables and NSTextField.

The new interface had allowed you to star words and JavaScript/Cocoa bindings to communicate, which was fairly bleeding edge at the time.

Before it shipped I sent some betas to testers and univervsal feedback was that it was clunky.

Instead of throwing everything out I managed to salvage most of the work and refactor the interface into something much more usable.

Jisho 4.jpg