Welcome to JBDrill, Jim Breen's simple Japanese Flashcard program.

I wrote JBDrill for my own use, but feedback from a couple of people who have seen it has induced me to release it.

What is it?

JBDrill is a simple flashcard program, which uses text files such as extracts from the EDICT dictionary file.

JBDrill has been written using "Tcl/Tk". Tcl/Tk is a combination of a scripting language (Tcl: Tool Control Language) and a GUI (Tk: ToolKit). I have used Tcl/Tk partly because it was a simple way of writing the system, and partly because it can be use on all the major operating systems: Windows, Unix/Linux and Macintosh. And it's free.


First, you must have a working version of Tcl/Tk 8.0 or later on your computer.

JBDrill comes in a ZIP archive file: jbdrill.zip, containing:
jbdrill.tcl the program
jbdrill_doc.txt this information file (text version).
jbdrill_doc.html this information file (HTML version).
*.gif a few screenshot images

Simply unzip this archive into a suitable location:

Starting JBDrill


Under Linux, JBDrill may well start simply by typing

in the directory where it was unpacked. If your copy of "wish" (the TCL interpreter) is not in /usr/bin, either edit the first line of the program, or start it with
wish jbdrill.tcl

I use the Gnome window manager, and have created a JBDrill applet on the Task Bar. It depends on your system how you do this.


Under Windows you have to run "wish" (the TCL interpreter) and give it the program file to interpret. An easy way to do this is to set up a Shortcut. I have a Shortcut with the following Target line:

C:±Tcl±bin±wish.exe C:±kanji±jbdrill±jbdrill.tcl

Obviously you would have to make it match where you have Tcl/Tk and JBDrill installed.

Flashcard files

JBDrill uses flashcard files, which are simple text files in the EUC-JP coding. They can be prepared by almost any word-processor, however you may need to take care that the files are saved in the correct coding.

Each "card" is a single line of text in the following format:

KANJI (sep) KANA (sep) English-1 (sep) English-2 (sep) etc.
where the (sep) can be a TAB character, a "/", a ";", a "[" or a "]". Thus the common EDICT format of:
KANJI [KANA] /English-1/English-2/
will be fine. If the word you are using is only written in kana, you will need to repeat the kana in the "KANJI" field.

Any line starting with a "#" will be ignored, so you can insert comments.

Files can be of any name you like, but JBDrill will detect files with extensions of "vcb" or "jfc".

Using JBDrill

When started, JBDrill displays the following panel:



JBDrill can be downloaded from:

Future Improvements

If I ever get around to adding to JBDrill, it might be such things as:

Most of my Tcl/Tk has been learned from the book: "Graphical Applications with Tcl & Tk" by Eric Foster-Johnson. The font-selection window routine (which makes up over half the lines of code in JBDrill) came from his book.

I would also like to acknowledge Jeff Hobbs at ActiveTcl, who is always very helpful, and who has played such a significant part in the internationalization of Tcl/Tk.


Oh yes, copyright.

As far as I am concerned anyone can do whatever they like with this program. It really is too trivial to try and protect in any way.

HOWEVER, you use this program at your own risk. It is not warranted in any way, either as to performance, or as to being safe to operate on your computer.

Jim Breen
September 2002
May 2005