Stems: an Android app for word study June 14, 2017

I mentioned an Android app in my welcome post, and thought I might make a follow-up post talking about it. So here it is.

Stems is my first Android app. I'm making it using C# and Xamarin. It's pretty cool. But what does it do, exactly?

As I mentioned in my welcome post, I like to play Scrabble. In Scrabble, you have to make words. Words give you points. Another pretty cool rule is if you make a word with seven or more letters, you get 50 bonus points. So, just do that a lot and you'll win!

...but how? Where do I start? What letters do I try to get? I DON"T EVEN KNOW ANY SEVEN LETTER WORDS! WHAT EVEN ARE WORDS?? HELP!!!

Worry not - this is where stems (not the app; the noun) come in. There are certain six-letter combinations that, when almost any letter is added, form at least one seven-letter word. Pretty cool, eh?

Take, for example, the word tisane, meaning a tea of herbs or barley. If you add any letter to it, with the exception of Q or Y, and rearrange the letters, you'll get at least one seven-letter word - two or more in most cases. Adding A will give you entasia, spasmodic contraction of a muscle, and taenias, a tapeworm. B will give you basinet, a medieval helmet, and banties, a small fowl. Even J will give you tajines, and Z will give you zaniest and zeatins.

We're working in Merriam-Webster's The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fifth Edition, by the way. Just to make that clear.

And the cool thing is, these letters are pretty easy to come by, so if you find yourself with any of these combinations, you know what to look for!

...but how do you know what words there are? I didn't even know any of those words you listed!! JE NE PARLE PAS ANGLAIS!!!

Well, that's why I'm making Stems (notice the capital S; this time it's the app, not the plural noun :P). Stems is an app to help you memorize seven-letter words from these stems. The app is not very finished, and doesn't look that great at the moment, but here are a few screenshots of how it is right now:

Selection screen

This is the screen that appears when you start up the app. It lets you choose a stem to study. Not very exciting, plus there are only four. I have some plans to make this better.

Blank quiz

This is what happens when you tap one of the items. You have seven letters on the bottom of the screen: the stem you picked, plus one randomly selected letter, arranged alphabetically. (TODO: let the user arrange these themselves.)

Half-entered word

You can type in a word with the letters at the bottom of the screen. The word appears in the centre. Once the word is seven letters long, it checks if the word is correct, and if it is, it adds it to the list at the top of the screen. When you've found all the anagrams, it will automatically move on to the next letter.


If you're stuck, you can press the SKIP button, which shows you all the possible words at the top of the screen. Press SKIP again to move to the next letter. The app will re-add the skipped letter to your queue so you can try again.

Also, the button to the left of the skip button is a backspace button. Pretty important.

So, that's pretty much what I have so far. If you have any feedback, feel free to leave a comment below!

Here's what I have on my to-do list right now:

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fl June 17, 2017, 2:15 p.m.

Oh, cool. My first guess with this was an app that simply told you all the stems and the arrangements you can make out of them; but making it into a bit of a game is a pretty fun idea, too. (Is it cheating if I bring this app, including all my discovered words, into a Scrabble event?? :P)

__init__ June 20, 2017, 9:21 p.m.

fl: If you pulled out your phone while playing a game at a Scrabble event, I'm sure you'd get disqualified. :P

Guscraft 808 July 7, 2017, 11:50 p.m.

how i can get this

__init__ July 11, 2017, 4:32 p.m.

You can't yet! I haven't released it anywhere, but will do so when I finish it.

anonymous July 12, 2017, 11:16 p.m.

cool! are you using an android emulator or an android phone?

anonymous July 12, 2017, 11:16 p.m.

cool! are you using an android emulator or an android phone?

anonymous July 12, 2017, 11:18 p.m.

sorry about the multiple comments :) i didn't know how the system worked, and thought my comment didn't post.

__init__ July 15, 2017, 2:38 a.m.

anonymous: Lol, it's ok :) I'm using a phone to test as my computer isn't really strong enough to run emulators :P