Accordance Blog
Apr 24, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: A Capital Offense

When Accordance was first released, our logo looked like this:

OriginalLogo

Pretty cool, right? The almost completely curved letters of the typeface stood out from all the other text on our brochures. This font was also somewhat similar to the Chicago typeface used throughout the Macintosh interface. The use of lowercase for the initial "a" further reflected the playfulness and approachability of the Macintosh platform. At the same time, the capitalization of the second "c" drew attention to the "Cord" part of the name—a play on the name of The GRAMCORD Institute, which initially was our sole distributor. "GRAMCORD" was itself derived from the idea of a "GRAMmatical conCORDance," and the name Accordance likewise called to mind the idea of a concordance.

As you can probably guess, I personally liked that logo. Unfortunately, not everybody understood why we capitalized that second "c." We eventually discovered that some people were pronouncing the name as ay-cee-Cordance, which of course was nonsensical. We therefore had to redesign our logo when Accordance 2.0 was released so that the initial "A" was capitalized and the rest of the name was lowercase.

RevisedLogo

The new look was arguably a little less avant garde, but it had the advantage of helping folks realize that "Accordance" should be pronounced normally.


 

Apr 17, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Weighing Anchor

In my previous Throwback Thursday post, I told you about my first experience of demonstrating Accordance at the 1995 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. We were offering attendees a sneak peek at Accordance 2.0, which was released the following April. I spent most of 1996 preparing modules for the initial release of Accordance 2.0, as well as for our first CD-ROM release later that same year. Little did I realize it at the time, but my next project would prove to be a major turning point in the development of Accordance tools.

Anchor-sm Early in 1997, I was given an e-text of Anchor Bible Dictionary and told to prepare a prototype module for Accordance. Compared to the previous tool modules we had released, Anchor presented a significant increase in complexity, with a wide variety of hypertext links, images, tables, transliteration, etc. Each time I would run across a new aspect of Anchor which our current tool implementation could not support, we would have to do programming to support it. Many of the cool features in Accordance tools today are the direct result of our early efforts to support Anchor.

The time I spent developing Anchor was risky, because at that point we did not have a signed contract with the publisher. At that time, Anchor was published by Doubleday, and while Doubleday was open to working with us, we were still a relative newcomer in the Bible software market. We therefore needed to "sell" Doubelday on our ability to represent Anchor Bible Dictionary well, and the best way to do that was to show them how it would function as an Accordance tool. The risk to us was that if they ultimately decided not to license Anchor to us, a lot of work would have been wasted.

Some time around the summer of 1997, we made a trip up to New York City to meet with Doubleday and show them our sample module. This was my first trip to New York, and I remember being surprised that Doubleday was housed in a huge building right off Times Square. After ascending to whichever ridiculously high story of the building our meeting was in, we were ushered into a waiting room, where I began to get nervous about the prospect of demonstrating Accordance to a couple of publishing executives.

As it turned out, the demo wasn't the hard part. They made a few suggestions for additional minor features, but they were generally very impressed with our implementation. Much more difficult were all the questions they had about the size of the Macintosh market, the size of our user base, how we would market the product, etc. Prior to the meeting, I had made a few fumbling attempts at market research, but I certainly didn't have a lot of hard statistics I could rattle off. I realized half-way through all this that I was basically being asked to sell the viability of the Macintosh platform.

On the other hand, the only reason Doubleday was even considering working with us was because Accordance was Mac-only. They had already licensed Anchor to one Windows developer, and they had no desire to work with any competing Bible software programs. Because we served a different computer platform, they were willing to consider licensing to us as well.

Though our meeting with Doubleday went well, it was some time before the contract for Anchor was finalized, so I had to shelve a partially developed module and move on to other projects. When we finally did get the go-ahead to produce an Accordance version of Anchor, I had to pick up where I had left off and then hurry to get it done. Anchor Bible Dictionary was finally released in the Fall of 1999—I believe in conjunction with Accordance 3.6 or 4.0.

Looking back, Anchor was well worth the risks we took, the time we invested, and even the long wait for the contract to be finalized. In the short term, the work we did in developing Anchor laid the groundwork for many of the improvements in Accordance 3.0, and we were now able to support other resources with complex hyperlinks, tables, and images. When Anchor was finally released, Doubleday was very happy with the finished product, and we enjoyed an excellent working relationship with them over the years. That relationship ended up giving us added credibility with other publishers, so that they were much easier to sell on the advantages of working with Accordance. Likewise, having Anchor Bible Dictionary gave us credibility with users. For years we had customers drawn to Accordance because we offered Anchor where most other programs did not. In addition to all those benefits, the information in Anchor was of invaluable help to us when we developed other products such as our own Atlas, Timeline, and Bible Lands PhotoGuide.

All in all, landing Anchor Bible Dictionary turned out to be a significant factor in the growth and development of Accordance. Today, Yale University has since acquired the Anchor brand, and we are very excited to be able to offer the Anchor Bible commentary series in addition to the dictionary.

What about you? What has having Anchor Bible Dictionary in Accordance meant for you in your own study and research? Let us know in the comments on this post.


 

Apr 3, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Demoer and Demoee

In my last Throwback Thursday post, I talked about the development of the very first Tool modules for Accordance 2.0. Although version 2.0 was not yet ready for release in November of 1995, we were planning to offer a preview of all the new features to attendees at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in Philadelphia. I did not accompany my employers to ETS, since it was a smaller conference and they could manage the booth without me. I flew in to join them for the start of the larger SBL meeting. I had used that extra time at home to whip out a couple more prototype modules, so I arrived at SBL with some Accordance tools to demonstrate which my employers hadn't even seen yet.

Today when we attend a conference, we bring laptops and relatively portable flat-screen monitors. Back in 1995, laptops were not nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. They were expensive, and they had significant drawbacks such as tiny screens or limited speed compared to desktop computers. Fortunately, airline passengers could check more baggage back then. I had to lug my desktop Mac in one box and my 14-inch CRT monitor in another, along with my suitcase, to the airport and hope it all made it to Philadelphia without getting broken, lost, or stolen. Then I had to schlep all that stuff to the hotel and exhibit hall to get it set up. Once it was all set up, I had to be without my computer for the duration of the show.

At that time, we exhibited Accordance under the auspices of the GRAMCORD Institute, which served as the exclusive distributor of Accordance. Basically, we formed the Macintosh side of the GRAMCORD booth.

I actually found an old photo on the GRAMCORD website of Dr. Rex Koivisto, our associate Greek scholar (right), demonstrating Accordance 2.0 to Frederick Danker (the D in BDAG, center) at that very conference. If you look closely at the background, you can see me seated with my back to the camera, demonstrating Accordance to someone else. This was my very first time demoing Accordance to the public, and it was fun to be able to show scholars and students some of the cool stuff we had been working on.

Today when I demonstrate Accordance at ETS and SBL, I can only show a tiny portion of what Accordance can do. It is therefore rare that we offer a sneak peek at any not-yet-released features. Back then, however, we were the new kid on the block, doing our best to show people Accordance's potential as a Bible study platform. In those early days, we would demonstrate what the current version of Accordance could do, then offer a look at what was coming in the next version.

In the evenings, I got to be part of meetings where we would discuss new feature ideas or new resources we hoped to license, such as the massive Anchor Bible Dictionary. It was all pretty heady stuff for a young kid still in seminary.

One of the most memorable moments of this conference was when I got to tag along to a meeting with a gentleman who had high-resolution atlas data of Israel. As with laptops, such data was far less ubiquitous back then, and this gentleman was looking to establish partnerships to develop computer applications that could utilize his data. This gentleman did not have a booth in the exhibit hall. Instead, he had booked a hotel suite where he was meeting with potential partners. I remember entering his suite and seeing a Silicon Graphics workstation on the desk. Beside it was a large set of goggles. It was in this meeting that I went from the demoer to the demoee. The gentleman handed me the goggles and joked that I should be careful not to drop them, since they cost a substantial amount of money. If I remember correctly, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000. Needless to say, I was very careful not to break them!

Looking through the goggles I saw a three-dimensional image of some portion of Israel. These days I might actually recognize it, but back then it was just an unfamiliar series of hills and valleys. If I remember correctly, it was just a wireframe image, but it was at a resolution that required some serious computing power to generate. Next I was shown a simulated 3D flyover. This was done without the goggles, and I seem to recall that it used actual satellite imagery rather than a mere wireframe. This felt snappier than the wireframe image as well, but that was because it was essentially a pre-rendered animation rather than a 3D image being rendered on the fly. The downside of this was that you couldn't really navigate the flyover to go wherever you wanted; you merely went where the animator had decided to take you.

This was all very cutting-edge stuff, and I must have seemed like a kid in a candy store. Our discussions centered around how we might use this data to provide Mac users with a 3D Bible Atlas. After all, there were far more people with Macs than with graphics workstations. Apple had recently begun incorporating 3D technologies into the Mac operating system, so the possibilities were tantalizing, but we also knew it would be challenging to deliver acceptable 3D performance on a personal computer.

That meeting helped get us thinking about adding an Atlas component to Accordance, but that wouldn't actually happen until Accordance 3.5 was released in July of 1998. I'll tell you the rest of the story behind the Accordance Bible Atlas in a future Throwback Thursday post.

I returned home from that first SBL Conference exhausted but excited about the future of Accordance. At that point I was still only working for Accordance part-time, but I was now officially hooked. I was getting to be a part of the creation of something truly cutting edge, and I had seen how Accordance was changing the lives of its users. Since 1995, I have exhibited Accordance at SBL every year except 1996 (when my second son was born). To this day, I return home from SBL each year both exhausted and excited about the future.

How about you? Were any of you at the 1995 SBL or ETS meetings in Philadelphia? If so, did you stop by for a demo of Accordance?


 

Mar 27, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Tools for Accordance 2

AccordanceLogo We've been doing a lot of reminiscing lately, and I promise we'll get back to helpful tips and other kinds of posts soon. Still, since it's Thursday again, I'll continue reminiscing for "Throwback Thursday." In my most recent post, I went back before my own involvement with Accordance to look at Accordance pre-history. Before I took that detour, however, I was beginning to talk about the development of Accordance 2.0. In this post, I'll pick up there.

For me, the most promising feature planned for Accordance 2.0 was the addition of "Tools"—reference works like lexicons, commentaries, dictionaries, and so on. As I explained in a previous post, Accordance 1.0 offered incredible depth with respect to searching the Bible in English and the original languages, but it was not yet broad enough to serve as a complete Bible study solution. As a language student, I was most in need of a good Greek and Hebrew dictionary. In fact, before I started working for Accordance, I cobbled together a dictionary for my own use using a development environment called HyperCard. It was a nifty little resource, but I was looking forward to the day when I would have a dictionary integrated into Accordance itself.

I remember being both excited about and a little frustrated by each new feature that was added during the development cycle for Accordance 2.0. You see, I most wanted Tools, but it seemed that every other feature on the list was developed first. When I was shown the new Reference List feature, I was impressed by it, but remember thinking, "That's cool, but when are we gonna get tools?" I felt the same way about User Notes, the Parallel window, and most of the other improvements. They were all great, but I most wanted Tools. When the time finally came for Tools to be developed, I was absolutely champing at the bit.

Had I been a little more aware back then of all the work that would go into the development of Tool modules, I imagine I would have been a little more patient. All kinds of decisions had to be made before one could just whip out a dictionary or a commentary. What kinds of tools would we offer? How would they be organized and accessed from within the program? What kinds of searching and navigation would be possible? And of course, there were more technical considerations I wasn't even aware of.

I'm sure I had some input into the way Accordance tools were designed and implemented, but most of the things that make Accordance tool modules unique were conceived by our lead programmer. If I remember correctly, the first Accordance tool module was the concise Greek dictionary included at the back of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament. Edited by Barclay Newman, we simply called it "Newman." We released a revised edition of this first Accordance tool not long ago.

Newman

Even that first Accordance tool supported multiple fields which could be searched independently, a simple hierarchical table of contents, internal hypertext links, and the ability to amplify from a selection of text. After I was shown the features of this first prototype module, I was tasked with developing other tools. I believe the first tool I ever worked on was Louw & Nida—another Greek lexicon which offered greater depth and an innovative design very different from Newman. The additional features of this lexicon prompted the development of additional enhancements to our Tool modules.

Louw&Nida

At the same time I was working on Louw & Nida, another seminary student named Greg, who had been hired shortly after I was, began working on other tools. Though we worked separately out of our homes, Greg and I began calling each other for help with any problems we might run into, to discuss possible improvements to the development tools we were using, etc. We were becoming the Accordance module development team, and while we eventually took on a variety of other roles and responsibilities, we would continue to pitch in developing new modules for the next two decades.

I believe I finished Louw & Nida a few weeks before we were scheduled to exhibit at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) in November of 1995. Although Accordance 2.0 was not yet ready for release, we wanted to give our users a sneak peek at our upcoming Tool modules, but we only had a couple of Greek lexicons finished. I seem to recall that Greg was hurrying to finish the abridged BDB Hebrew lexicon, but we still needed some English tools and commentaries. I hurriedly began converting a few simple public domain resources into Accordance tools to give the folks at ETS and SBL an idea of the breadth of material we hoped to offer. I actually flew to the conferences with a couple of new modules my employers hadn't even seen yet!

I'll tell you about some of the things that happened at those conferences in my next Throwback Thursday post. In the meantime, we'd like to know which Accordance tool modules you find most helpful. Please let us know in the comments on this post.


 

Mar 20, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Accordance and The PerfectWord

As readers of this blog well know, we're currently celebrating the twenty-year anniversary of the initial release of Accordance Bible Software. In fact, today only, you can purchase twenty popular Accordance add-ons for just twenty bucks each. For my part, I've been doing a fair amount of reminiscing about Accordance's early days in this series of Throwback Thursday posts.

The response to these posts has been fascinating. A number of users who go all the way back to Accordance 1.0 have shared their stories in the comments on this blog or on our Facebook page, and a couple have even claimed to go back further than twenty years! How can these people claim to have used Accordance longer than Accordance has been available? To answer that question, I need to go into a little Accordance pre-history.

Way back in 1988, our lead programmer developed one of the first Bible programs for the Macintosh. The name of that program, The PerfectWord, was a play on the name of a popular word processor at the time. This program was sold by a small startup by the name of Star Software, and it quickly developed an enthusiastic following. Eventually, Zondervan bought The PerfectWord and renamed it MacBible.

Now, The PerfectWord was before my time, but I managed to dig up a wonderfully detailed review dating to December of 1989. Here are a few excerpts from that review:

From a researcher's point of view [The PerfectWord's] speed offers an incredible gain in efficiency over printed concordances. The tedium and frustration of necessary drudge work over a concordance are reduced to nothingness. . . . TPW makes concordance work fun.

TPW shares the capability of doing complex searches with many of the new electronic Bible concordances; it outshines them in simplicity of implementation and in its facility for using them on the original language texts of the Bible.

From the biblicist's point of view, the primary attraction of TPW is its ability to search and display the biblical texts in their original languages and especially using the proper Greek and Hebrew fonts. . . .All text for the Hebrew Bible is displayed in proper right-to-left fashion and search terms are also typed into the entry window right-to-left.

PerfectWord

Biblical scholars especially will have to wait quite some time before something better than this comes along.

I love that last quote. Remember that this was written in 1989, some six years before Accordance was released. The PerfectWord did not support tagged Greek or Hebrew texts, so the kinds of searches Accordance users take for granted were not yet possible. Still, this reviewer positively raved about how fluid and enjoyable the program was to use—especially compared to the MS-DOS program he had been using.

Some time after The PerfectWord had been sold to Zondervan to become MacBible, our lead programmer was approached by a Greek scholar about developing a new Mac Bible program that could search grammatically-tagged Greek and Hebrew texts. In my last Throwback Thursday post, I made the claim that I am Accordance's longest-running employee. While that is certainly true; it's also a bit misleading. That Greek scholar who first approached us has been consulting with Accordance since well before I came on the scene. In fact, he's responsible for most of the grammatically-tagged Greek texts that are unique to Accordance.

While Accordance is turning twenty years old—a rare feat in the software industry—its roots go back even further, to the days of The PerfectWord. I can claim to have been using Accordance since version 1.0, but some of our users can claim to have "started with Accordance before it was called Accordance."

They're a rare breed indeed!


 

Mar 18, 2014 David Lang

Accordance is Twenty! Celebrate with Us

20yearflag_3


Twenty years.
First released in Spring 1994, Accordance Bible Software is proudly celebrating twenty years of helping people around the world get the most out of their Bible study.

In the fast-moving, ever-changing world of software development, twenty years is an eternity. Consider for a moment how many of the applications you commonly use have been around for twenty years. With the exception of industry standard word processors and spreadsheets, you probably can't think of many. When Accordance was first released, Aldus PageMaker was the standard desktop publishing app, HyperCard was a hugely popular development environment, and few people had even heard of the World Wide Web. In the twenty years since then, countless programs have come and gone, many riding a wave of popularity before ending up dashed against the rocks of technological change. Through it all, Accordance has steadily grown in capability, breadth of available modules, and popularity.

One reason few applications last this long is that they fail to adapt to changes in technology. In its lifetime, Accordance has successfully transitioned from 68K to PowerPC to Intel processors, and from the classic Mac OS to Mac OS X to iOS to Windows. We've even gone from black-and-white displays to color displays to Retina displays! Today, Accordance is the only cross-platform Bible program which utilizes a single codebase and runs natively on both Mac and Windows—a remarkable technological achievement.

In spite of all of these technological transitions, Accordance has never let under-the-hood changes slow our development of new features to enhance your Bible study. Since that initial release twenty years ago, Accordance has released nine major upgrades and countless minor updates. We just released version 10.4, which adds support for Retina displays and a host of Windows improvements, as well as enhancements to user notes, Strong's number searching, dictionary lookups, and more. And that's what we call a "minor" update!

Join us in celebrating this twenty-year milestone by visiting our 20-Year Anniversary page. There you'll find links to my recent Throwback Thursday series of blog posts, be able to watch video testimonials by other Accordance users, and find out about two major (and time-sensitive) celebratory sales. Be sure to check back often so you don't miss anything.

After twenty years, we're more excited than ever about where we're headed. So take a moment to celebrate the past with us, then watch this space for news about what's in store for the future.


 

Mar 13, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Every Mac User's Dream

AcLogoColor In my last Throwback Thursday post, I explained how I went from being an early Accordance user to unexpectedly landing a part-time job with the company. I wasn't the first employee of Accordance Bible Software, but I am the longest running, having remained with the company for nearly twenty years now.

As I explained in my last post, I started with the company when Accordance 1.1a—a minor update which added support for the tagged Septuagint—was about to be released.

At that point in time, Accordance was narrow in scope but remarkably deep. By "narrow in scope" I mean that it only offered original language texts and English translations. There were no tools like commentaries or dictionaries, no user notes, and no English Bibles with Strong's numbers—all relatively standard features in more mainstream Bible programs. Still, Accordance was so deep, offering powerful grammatical searching with an easy interface, along with groundbreaking new features like analyses and graphs of search results, that early adopters were overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

The first projects I worked on were new English translations such as the New Jerusalem Bible and the Jewish Publication Society's Tanakh. It was exciting to be among the first to play with new Accordance modules like these, but the best part of the job was when I got to see what our lead programmer (he was our only programmer at the time) was working on for Accordance 2.0. Occasionally he would even ask for feedback or suggestions on how best to interface a particular feature.

This, of course, was every Mac user's dream. After all, most Mac users at that time quickly came to regard themselves as human interface experts, ruthlessly critiquing applications that were not "Mac-like" and looking down our noses at another computer operating system that was then surging in popularity. As I began to make contributions to the interface of Accordance, I began to see that good interface design is a lot harder than it looks. You have to think through how each new feature is going to remain consistent with the rest of the interface. You have to try to anticipate all the ways your users may interact with that feature, and do your best to adapt to their "mistakes." You have to look ahead to how users may want this new feature to be expanded in the future, and do your best to avoid potential obstacles to that expansion. I often found—and still find—that even my most brilliant interface suggestions have to be refined considerably before they can account for all these different variables. And even then, you can expect to refine the interface further after a new feature is released and users start putting it through its paces.

My two biggest contributions to the interface of Accordance 2.0 had to do with the design of the Amplify palette and the new Parallels window. Accordance 1.1a featured a roughly square floating palette with buttons for features like Context, the Plot (now called the Hits Graph), the Analysis, the Table, and the Parsing window. These buttons were arranged in two rows, beneath which was an option to display instant parsing for any word you hovered your mouse over.

accordance1

Accordance2-1 As a user, I found that there was never a convenient place to put this palette without either obscuring some part of the main Accordance window or forcing me to make the main window smaller than I wanted. What's more, this problem was about to be exacerbated by the addition of new buttons for all of the features we would be adding to Accordance 2.0. I puzzled over the question of how to redesign this palette to make the best use of screen space. Eventually, it hit me that we could make the palette much less obtrusive by splitting it in two. I suggested that the instant parsing feature be given its own horizontally-oriented palette that could be placed neatly at the bottom of the screen. The Amplify palette could then be oriented vertically with a single column of buttons. This palette could then be placed along the left or right edge of the screen, leaving nearly the whole screen for the main Accordance window.

Accordance2-2

More difficult was the design of the new Parallels window, which would display several new databases of parallel passages such as those found in the Synoptic Gospels or in Kings and Chronicles. The basic interface was visually similar to that of the main search window, with an area at the top where you could enter a search, and panes at the bottom that would display the text of each parallel passage. But there was a key difference that made the design of this window challenging. When you entered a search, you were not searching the text of the Bible that would be displayed in the parallel panes. Instead, you were searching a database of parallel passages, such as places where Jesus talks about prayer or parallel accounts of a king's reign. Thus, when you search for "prayer" in the Gospels parallel, the result should be a list of parallel passages with the word "prayer" in their title. Once I understood the challenge of where to place this list of passages, I went home and began drawing mockups of how I thought the Parallels window should be arranged. The design I eventually came up with has remained relatively unchanged to this day.

ParallelWindow

Over the years, the Accordance interface team has grown to include programmers and graphic designers with far more expertise than I have, and they deserve much of the credit for all the design improvements in Accordance 10. Still, being a part of these discussions has always been one of my favorite things about working for Accordance. After all, what Mac user wouldn't love the chance to contribute to a program's interface?

Accordance 2.0 was released in April of 1996, a little more than two years after the program's debut. In terms of additional functionality, it was a huge upgrade, adding dictionaries, commentaries, parallels, user notes, reference lists, and more. With version 2.0, Accordance went from being a specialized tool for original language research to a fairly well-rounded Bible program suitable for anyone.

Last week I invited users who began with Accordance 1.0 to leave a comment reminiscing about their experiences. This week I want to ask those of you who started with Accordance 2.0 to do the same. If you do, we'll give you a $20 credit toward your next Accordance purchase. Just be sure to post your comment by March 20, and give us your full name.


 

Mar 6, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Unexpected Employment

AcLogoColor For the past two "Throwback Thursdays," I've reminisced about my first exposure to Accordance in a life-changing demo, and my first purchase of Accordance 1.0. At the end of that second post, I mentioned how I was so excited about my purchase of Accordance that I was quick to send in my registration card. I also hinted that this decision would likewise turn out to be life-changing.

It occurred to me afterward that the idea of mailing a registration card to a software company might seem pretty strange in these days of electronic registrations. Back in 1994, it was quite common for a software package to include a post card which a user could mail in to register his purchase. It was also quite common for people never to bother mailing in these cards. I certainly never registered most of my software purchases, but Accordance was different.

This now seems so unbelievable to me that I find myself wondering if it really happened this way, but not long after I mailed in my registration card, I got a call from the developer asking me if I would be interested in working for Accordance part-time! Keep in mind that I had not sent in a résumé or made any kind of inquiry about job opportunities; I had just sent in a post card with my contact information and my status as a seminary student. I remember explaining over the phone that I had no programming experience and was by no means a computer expert, but I was told that didn't matter; they would provide the on-the-job training.

I love telling this story because it shows just how small OakTree Software was at that time. It may seem risky to offer a job to someone based completely on their registration card, but there was a definite method to the madness. First, the job I was being asked to do was to help develop modules for use with Accordance, and while this work definitely required a certain skill set, the technical aspects of the job were not terribly difficult to learn. One aspect of the required skill set was at least nominal proficiency with Greek and Hebrew, and the fact that I was a seminary student made it quite likely that I was already learning those languages. They could also see from my registration card that I was local—in fact, I lived about a mile away from the home office! Thus, that little registration card told them I was a local seminary student who was probably familiar with Greek and Hebrew and who was already interested enough in Accordance to have purchased it. That made me a pretty good candidate.

I didn't start working for Accordance right away. I was weeks away from getting married, and it just wasn't the right time to start a second job. However, I did begin working for Accordance later that same year.

I began with a period of training in which I learned the technical aspects of developing new Accordance modules. This involved learning to write macros using regular expressions in order to convert files from a variety of electronic formats to Accordance's proprietary markup language. I then had to work on converting and compiling a new English translation (the New Jerusalem Bible if I recall correctly). It was a bit like learning to solve a puzzle, and I found that I really enjoyed the work.

To minimize the risk of training new hires who might not work out, new developers were given a copy of Accordance which they spent their training period working to earn. That way, if they decided they didn't like the work or they weren't able to do the job, they could at least keep the copy of Accordance they had earned, and our fledgling company would not have invested more than the value of the software. Since I already owned Accordance, this arrangement was not appropriate for me. Fortunately, Accordance had recently released version 1.1 (which added support for a tagged Hebrew Bible), and was getting ready to release version 1.1a (which added support for the tagged Septuagint). I used my training period working for those new modules, and I was thrilled to have them.

That's my story of how I went from an Accordance user to an Accordance employee. Next week I'll discuss the development of Accordance 2.0. But before we leave Accordance 1.0, let me give those of you who started with Accordance 1.0 a chance to share your own story. If you go back that far with Accordance, leave a comment on this post sharing your own memories of how you first heard about and began using Accordance. When you do, we'll offer you a $20 credit toward your next Accordance purchase!

Note: Comments must be posted by March 13 to qualify for the credit, and please give us your full name so we can identify your account.


 

Feb 27, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Becoming an Accordance User

AcLogoColor Last week, I told you about my first exposure to Accordance: a demo at my seminary that turned out to be life-changing. In this week's "Throwback Thursday," I'll reminisce about how I became an Accordance user.

As I mentioned last week, I had to wait two years for Accordance to be released. After about a year-and-a-half, I found myself getting really impatient to have access to a good Bible software program on my Mac. I toyed with buying other commercial Bible programs, but they all seemed inordinately expensive for what they had to offer. None of them could really do Greek and Hebrew well, so I kept holding out for Accordance. At one point I even asked a professor whom I knew to be an Accordance beta-tester if I should settle for something else, and he assured me that Accordance would be well worth the wait.

Accordance 1.0 was finally released in February 1994, so it happens to be entering its third decade this month. At the time of its initial release, I believe it came with the grammatically-tagged Greek New Testament, a couple of English Bibles, and not much else. There were no tools or user notes yet (those were added in 2.0), no Bible Atlas (that wouldn't come until 3.5), and no English Bibles tagged with Strong's numbers (those came in 4.0). Yet what Accordance did, it did so well as to be truly ground-breaking. While there were mainframe and DOS programs that let you search the tagged Greek New Testament long before Accordance came along, they required the user to learn a kind of programming language to perform complex searches. Accordance took the Macintosh principles of interface design and applied them to the complex task of original language searching. The result was a Biblical language research tool "for the rest of us."

One of the clearest examples of this Mac-like approach to language study was the Construct window. If you're not yet familiar with it, the Construct window is a graphical framework for defining complex word relationships. By dragging search criteria into place and then defining relationships between them, you can easily construct some incredibly sophisticated searches. Here's a screenshot of what the Construct window looked like back then:

Construct1

Even today, when I demonstrate Accordance at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), I find that scholars and students working in the original languages are absolutely blown away by features of Accordance that have been around since version 1.0. When they see how easy it is to search the Greek and Hebrew without having to think like a programmer, they get really excited.

By the time Accordance 1.0 was released, I had begun working for a large church as the "Scribe." Tongue-in-cheek job title aside, I was tasked with ghost-writing books which would summarize each year's preaching series. I soon realized how much I needed a good Bible program, so I asked the church to purchase Accordance for me.

I distinctly remember my excitement when the Accordance floppy disks and manual arrived. I hastily started the installation and skimmed the manual while I waited. One of the first things I did after initially playing around with it was to begin defining and organizing my custom search ranges. I started with ranges like Old Testament, New Testament, Pentateuch, Gospels, etc. Then when I did all those I could think of, I decided it would be handy to have a range for each book of the Bible. I remember getting all the way through the Old Testament books and starting on the New Testament books when Accordance crashed on me! I believe I tried several more times to add books but each time, Accordance would crash. I later learned that Accordance had a limit of 50 ranges, and each time I exceeded it, the software would quit. I eventually gave up trying to add more ranges, but once I started working for the company, I lobbied for the ability to have more than 50!

If there were other bugs in that 1.0 release, I honestly can't remember them. I soon found Accordance to be one of the fastest and most stable apps I owned, and I can't describe the joy I felt when doing research for my books. I have never been more satisfied with a software purchase.

One evidence of my early enthusiasm for Accordance was that I wasted no time mailing in my registration card—something I typically never do. Little did I know how life-changing that decision would prove to be … but that's a story for the next "Throwback Thursday."


 

Feb 20, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: A Life-Changing Demo

AcLogoColor On social media, it is common for people to post old pictures of themselves on Thursdays. This practice is known as "Throwback Thursday." While I'm not much for posting old pictures of myself, I thought it might be fun to start recounting some "throwback" moments from my nearly two decades with Accordance. I'll start with my first exposure to Accordance way back in January of 1992.

I was in my first semester of seminary then, and had recently told a friend in my Hebrew class that I was looking to buy a computer. Little did I know that he was a Mac guy and that I had unwittingly become his evangelistic prospect!

At some point in his campaign to convince me that I should buy a Mac, my friend invited me to come to a "Brown Bag Lunch" after class to see a local programmer who was developing a new Bible software program for Macs. The seminary sometimes hosted guest speakers during the lunch hour, and you were expected to bring your own lunch. I hadn't brought a lunch that day and hadn't planned on staying, but I went along anyway.

I remember standing at the back of a room full of guys, doing my best to see what was being demonstrated on the computer monitor that had been set up. Looking back I marvel that I could even see what was happening, but I suppose I had younger eyes back then!

This was about two years before Accordance 1.0 was released, so this must have been a very early prototype. Nevertheless, I remember seeing this programmer demonstrate how you could perform grammatical searches of the Greek New Testament using a very Mac-like drag-and-drop interface. It was extremely cool, and I remember thinking, "This is what I want to be able to do with a computer!"

My friend, meanwhile, was seated at the front of the room enthusiastically asking intelligent questions and volunteering to beta-test. He went on to write the very first manual for Accordance.

As for me, that demo convinced me to buy my first Mac—a decision I never regretted. Still, I had to wait two long years before I could purchase Accordance. I guess I should have asked to be a beta-tester when my friend did, but at that point I didn't even know what a beta-tester was.

In the end, my thought that "this is what I want to be able to do with a computer" turned out to be quite prophetic. I've spent the last twenty years using Accordance to study the Bible, and I've never stopped being amazed at what it enables me to do. I guess you could say that was one life-changing software demo!