When you start Phrasier, you get the main window. This basically has three main options along with some menu options: one button for browsing vocabulary files, one for starting a new flash card practice session based on a set of vocabulary files, and one for opening a saved practice session. These options are also available from the menu bar. However, from the menu bar, you can also open the included Chinese-English dictionary or the help frames. You also have menu options to exit the application: this will ask you to save any unsaved sessions unless you exit using the Exit, don't save! option.
You can open and browse vocabulary files by pressing the Vocabulary button in the main window. This allows you to select one or more vocabulary files. The browser views one term at a time; you can leaf forward and backward, or jump to a random term.
The window displays the term. By right-clicking on each field, you can change the font and text size used. Although you can select which fields to display, this is not primarily intended for vocabulary practice.
From the menu of this vocabulary browser, you can select to construct a new practice session. You can also open the dictionary, including looking up similar terms in the dictionary: for Chinese, this means phrases contained in or containing the shown phrase.
You can open the dictionary from either the main window, the vocabulary browser or a practice session. From the vocabulary browser or practice session, you can also look up related terms. For Chinese, you can select if you wish traditional or simplified characters to be in the main column; when they differ, the alternative will be displayed in the comment field.
The search field at the top can be used to search or filter the dictionary. Here, you can enter either the Chinese characters, Pinyin, part of the English translation, or even part of the comment. You can select to search for just a substring, complete words or complete field. By clicking on the table headers, you can sort the table. If you have selected a term in the table, you can look up similar terms: i.e. by the same rule as from the vocabulary browser.
By double-clicking on a term, you will get a new frame displaying this in larger text. This is useful to be able to zoom in on a term since the table view leaves little space for each term.
There is also an option in the menu for External look-up which provides you with links to various online resources. It also gives Unicode codes for the phrase, and for Chinese I have added Bopomofo (phonetic writing system used on Taiwan).
The practice session is the most important window of Phrasier: this is the one you use for flash card practice. Like the vocabulary browser, it display the phrase, translation, etc. as separate text fields. You can choose which fields to display by clicking on the boxes next to them or by pressing keys Alt+1 to Alt+5. Clicking on a field which is not displayed will temporarily display the hidden contents. Right-clicking on a field will allow you to change the font or text size.
At the right, there is a bar on which you can adjust the importance of the term. The default is zero. If you increase the importance, Phrasier will tend to select the flash card more often for practice. The buttons are used to give Phrasier feedback on how well you know the term, or to skip to the next term without giving any feedback: these all make Phrasier go to the next flash card.
From the menu (or by pressing Ctrl+V) you can open the complete practicing vocabulary in a table view. This has the same functionality as the dictionary window except it only contains the terms included in the practice sessin (also those not selected for practice). In addition to the phrase, pronounciation, translation, and comment, you have the importance, learnt-index, days since last practiced and the queueing order where terms are selected for practice by increasing queueing order (which is infinite for term not selected for practice).
As in the vocabulary browser, you can open the dictionary; the Look up similar option may be used to look up terms that are similar to the one displayed in the practice session window.
You can also look up external resources for the term. This is often useful in actual practice since this gives links to online information about the phrases and characters. You can find example sentences, stroke order information for drawing Chinese characters, audio files with pronounciation, and information about the etymology (origin and history) of different characters. I would strongly recommend using these resources when able to: in particular looking up the etymology can help you recognise the components from which the characters are built which may help indicate the meaning and pronouciation of the characters.