DimSum Chinese Tools
DimSim Chinese Tools is a free software package available from Mandarin Tools.com. This website has many resources for Mandarin students, including dictionaries, flashcards, a Chinese name generator, and a calendar converter.
DimSim Chinese Tools is a JAVA application that can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It is a suite of tools that include a dictionary, Chinese character annotator, and utilities that convert from Simplified to Traditional Chinese characters.
Included in DimSim Chinese Tools is a web page annotator that adds Pinyin romanization and definitions to any Chinese-character web site.
You can download this software from the DimSim Chinese Tools web page.
Setting Up The Chinese Annotation Tool
With DimSim Chinese Tools installed on your computer, click the Setting button to the right of the address bar. This will take you to a web page (displayed in your default browser) where you can choose from various settings about how converted web pages will be displayed.
The annotation options are:
- Add Pinyin (beside character)
- Add Pinyin (above character)
- Convert to Pinyin
- Add Pop-up Definitions
- Add Status-line Definitions
- Segment (add spaces)
You can also choose to convert the Chinese characters from Simplified to Traditional, or vice-versa. The final option allows you to select the server port in case you have another program which uses the default port 4445.
Using The Chinese Annotation Tool
To use the Chinese Annotation Tool, simply type or paste a web address in the address bar of DimSim Chinese Tools and click the GO button. The requested page will load into your default browser.
If you have selected Pop-up definitions, hover your mouse over a Chinese character and the definitions along with the Pinyin pronunciation will appear in a pop-up box.
If one of the Pinyin options was chosen, Pinyin will be added to the web page.
Any links on the web page can be clicked and the new pages will also be converted.
I tested the Chinese Annotation Tool with the Firefox web browser v 3.0.8. The pop-up definitions worked very well, as did converting the entire page to Pinyin. Some of the other options did not work as well.
In particular, the Status-line definitions did not work at all. I assume the definitions were supposed to appear in the status bar at the bottom of the web browser, but nothing appeared using Firefox.
Also, adding Pinyin to the characters did not seem to be a good idea since the resulting output was crowded and hard to read. The Add Pinyin (above character) option did not work, instead displaying the Pinyin beside the characters.
Despite these problems, the pop-up annotation option seems to be the most useful for anyone learning to read Chinese characters. For those at the intermediate level, this tool can function as a very convenient dictionary when reading Chinese web pages.