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Advanced English Dictionary: Meaning When You Need It Print E-mail
Written by Richard Bloor   
Thursday, 04 August 2005
Dictionaries are a popular category of mobile applications and there are no shortage of alternative. We take a look at jDictionary Mobile's Advanced English Dictionary.

Advanced English Dictionary is a massive application by any standards, its sis file is just short of 6.4 Mb. The size of the application is understandable as the developer claims that this dictionary has 196,000 entries, described in 1.4 million words and provides 250,000 cross referenced relationships between the entries. It is available in versions for both UIQ and Series 80. Both versions deliver broadly the same functionality, but as we shall see somewhat different user experiences.

AED opens to a main screen which provides access to the dictionary search screen, a random lookup (from the menu) and preferences screen.

The preferences screen offers two options. One is for the language used in the interface: English, Linguists' English, German or Hungarian. Changing the language does not affect the entries, which are entirely in English. Linguists' English is an interesting option that sets the interface to use terms such as "antonym" rather than "opposites". The other preference option provides the ability to select small, medium or large display fonts.

The search option opens the dictionary itself. Entering letters the "search" field display the first matching entry in the dictionary. From here specific words can be selected by scrolling forward through the entries. It is a little frustrating that scrolling is only possible moving forward from the matched word and not backwards, which would be useful when hunting for a word, where there is uncertain about the spelling for example.

Once a word has been selected the definitions are displayed. Definitions are provided for the forms of the word, whether it is acting as a verb, adjective or noun etc. Each definition may be accompanied by expandable sections for cross references. These cross references cover a range of relationships, such as "More General" or "More Specific" word. With this feature if you start with the word "phobia" you can navigate to "simple phobia" as a more specific term and then to 19 specific phobias such as "cryophobia", a fear of freezing. In the opposite direction you can navigate to "anxiety disorder" back eventually to "state", as the most general term.

This linking features also provide categories such as similar, opposites, parts of, attribute, also see and connected with. In fact it seemed as though a new category of links appears each time you search for a new word. There is only one real drawback to this feature; it is not comprehensive, some definitions have no links where a link would seem to exist. For example, positive with the meaning '(mathematics) greater than zero, "positive numbers"' has a "similar to" relationship with "plus" but no link to "negative" as an opposite, although other definitions of positive do include this link.

When navigating through links the dictionary also provides forward and back navigations through the menu and the icons. A "snap back" option on the menu jumps back to the start of any reference navigation. Interestingly the home button returns to the main screen rather than the initial search.

On UIQ the interaction is straightforward. All the features are accessible via the touch screen with ancillary access to the main screens via the menu. There are only a couple of minor interaction issues. First the vertical scroll is always present in the definitions window. This means that when the definitions entry is exactly one screen long you are left wonder if there is more information you can not see. The second issue is that you can not use the jogdial to access the menu, but this is relatively trivial.

Interaction on the Series 80 is not as straightforward, the absence of a touch screen has required some imaginative use of the 9500's cursor keys, although it is possible to activate the virtual cursor and interact using it.

From the search screen entering a the first few letters of the word jumps to the relevant position in the word list.

The down key then drops you onto the word list while the cursor keys navigate within the entered search string. Enter selects the word and opens the definitions list.

There are two main options for navigating the definitions. Up and down options on the command bar scroll the definition view, while the left and right keys navigate through each link. highlighting them as it goes. Links are navigated by pressing enter. In this mode the cursor keys have no function.

Finally, tab reactivates the search window; to start a new search. While much of the interaction follows Series 80 UI conventions it still takes a few goes to get the hang of.

Advanced English Dictionary provides good coverage of the English language with a wealth of less common works, such as zinnwaldite (a rare mica) or spoonerism (the transposition on initial consonants in a pair of words). The interaction on UIQ is simple and straightforward. The interface on Series 80 takes a little getting used too, but once mastered is simple enough to use. The real power of Advanced English Dictionary is in its relationships, which on one level provides a built-in thesaurus and on another allows greater understanding of words by allow you to explore their relationships. Certainly for anyone who wants access to a dictionary on the go Advanced English Dictionary looks like a good choice.

AED is available for evaluation with word searches limited to a random lookup. The application costs USD 22.99 if purchased via jDictionary Mobile's PayPal shop at www.jdictionary-mobile.com or USD 24.99 from Handango. A concise version, which does not include the cross references is also available.



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