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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Friday, June 30, 2006  

Is It Useful, and Is It Easy?

Throughout the past couple of weeks, I've been talking about just one of the new graphs in Accordance 7: the Analysis Graph. Next week, I'll move on to the others. But before I do, I want to pull back the curtain a bit on the decision-making process behind all of these new graphs.

When we decided to enhance the graphing capabilities of Accordance, we considered a number of different ways to represent the results of a search visually, but we eventually settled on good old bar, line, and area graphs. Why? Because anyone with a cursory grasp of eighth-grade math understands them. They're simple, accessible, and easy to read. We took a good hard look at some newer kinds of graphs, but found they took longer to figure out and that they did not clearly quantify the information they were supposed to represent.

All the new Graphs in Accordance certainly add a lot of flash, but we're not interested in flash for its own sake. If a graph idea wasn't useful and easy to understand, if it didn't add anything significant, then we simply discarded it.

We went through a similar process with the Compare Texts feature (which I hope to detail soon). We wanted to make it incredibly simple, dynamic, and easy to understand. So we added a Compare Texts checkbox to the More Options section of the Search window.

When checked, the first two panes containing texts of the same language will be compared with each other. Places where the text differs are highlighted with a cyan strikethrough. Places where one text contains words which the other text lacks are marked with a blue underline. The corresponding place in the other text (where words are "missing") is marked with a red vertical bar. It's easy to turn on and off, it's easy to grasp, and it's easy to switch one of the panes to a different Bible text. Best of all, you can quickly display the differences for every verse of the Bible; rather than having to choose a small section of text and build some comparison chart which is separate from your main Bible window.

I know at times it can be overwhelming to think about all of the things Accordance can do, but our goal in implementing every one of these features was to make them eminently useful, and incredibly easy to use. We're not interested in feature bloat, and we're certainly not interested in creating demo-ware. If a potential feature isn't of practical benefit to you, it simply doesn't make the cut.





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