I used to be a heavy Anki user around 2010-2013 or so. Kept using it sporadically until about five years ago. Taught myself how to read Chinese characters up to the HSK 4 level with it. I used Anki desktop, Ankidroid and the web interface whenever I could use neither.
Back then, Anki wasn’t really a language learning program. It was more like a DIY language learning kit for people who knew how to write XML. There were a few ways of organizing cards to learn Chinese characters, but “just write your own” was always the advice I got when I said they weren’t optimal.
How have things changed since then? I’m getting back into studying Chinese seriously and I’m back to needing to learn dozens of new characters a day.
HTML (unless you are talking about something Chinese-specific). Now the editor appears under the field and has highlighting.
Tags are now hierarchical, but levels are separated by “::”. Search now supports regular expressions.
During Anki 2.1, scheduler v2 and scheduler v3 have been introduced, and custom schedulers, one of which (FSRS) has just been integrated into Anki.
Image occlusion (kind of like Cloze, but for images) is now integrated directly into Anki.
I’d say your second paragraph is largely still true.
Mind you, it’s never been a language learning program per se. A very big component of its user base is medical students.
Actually, it did start out that way - the original motivation was to help me with my Japanese studies, and to help my English-learning students. Over time, the language-specific features were mostly shifted to add-ons, as Anki is useful in other fields too.
Oh, back then there was this huge buzz about SRS. It was going to make language learning effortless. Everyone was going to become a polyglot. People were bragging that after a few months they could speak 7 languages…etc. And all of it without doing anything, just using this revolutionary new software. But that was just high Openness people gushing about a new toy, like they always do. Turns out Anki is just a tool for rote memorization, an improvement on flashcards. But that’s very helpful for Asian languages, where rote memorization cannot be gotten around. Japanese was always first in support, with Chinese 6-12 months behind.
Sorry to hear users are still expected to do software development of their own cards. That’s painful, but I suppose I’m going to have to knuckle under and figure out how to do it. I really do need to memorize a few thousand new characters.
You may have used the Chinese support addon back in 2013. This has since gone through many forks and the most up to date one can be found at:
Chinese Support 3 - AnkiWeb
users are still expected to do software development of their own cards
I am unsure what you mean by this, but I highly recommend using the above plugin to automate some of the generation of your cards.