I use TiddlyWiki Classic to keep notes on everything, including new vocabulary words when studying Japanese. I log a list of vocabulary while I’m reading, one per line, which I review by scanning with Perapera Firefox plugin. But screens don’t have a lot of vertical space and I can end up scrolling a lot really quickly if I’m reading something difficult. It would be nice to have the text automatically flow into multiple columns without having to do very much. That way, I can use all of the precious horizontal screen space.

Thankfully, I’m using Firefox and this is 2015 where CSS3 features such as column-width are implemented. So I basically make a class like so:

.wordlist{
    column-width: 300px;
    column-gap: 20px;
    -moz-column-width: 300px;
    -moz-column-gap: 20px;
}

You add this to a the StyleSheet tiddler. Then, for a block of content you’d like to flow,

{{wordlist{
...content goes here...
}}}

This is TiddlyWiki syntax for wrapping a block of content in a div with class wordlist, which will have the style applied. You get equally sized columns like this:

This reminds me of the Vocabulary Builder on the Amazon Kindle.

What I like about it is that it actually records the context in which you see each word. I also like the Flashcards mode, which shows you the vocabulary word in the primary tab, and in a secondary tab, you can scan through the contexts in which you looked up those words. This is something I wish for the Perapera plugins. Currently, you can save wordlists, but as an extension, it should save the sentence it came from. Another thing I’ve been thinking about for a while (as a former student of Chinese) is for kanji lookups to show Cangjie input codes. I suppose it’s a moot point if you have it digitized and can mouse over it, but sometimes it’s helpful for hunting similar kanji that you don’t know how to pronounce. But I digress…

It’s hard to manage batches of words, though. You have to manage flashcards individually, it seems, and there isn’t anything obvious that you can edit by looking at the Kindle as a USB device. There’s enough delay and clunkiness in the interface to discourage me from managing it.