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

Thursday, August 28, 2008  

Yearbook Pictures

Have you ever noticed that when you look at your old high-school yearbook pictures, what you thought looked cool back then is now incredibly embarrassing to you? How many of us keep pictures of our teenage selves in our wallets to show people? I certainly don't, and it should come as no surprise that I'm not posting any such pictures here to illustrate the point! ;-)

Recently on the Accordance Forums, someone asked to see a few screenshots of Accordance in its youth. Here they are, pimples and all.

This first screenshot is of Accordance 2-point-something dating from 1997. I think it comes from some old marketing material where we were trying to show the breadth of things Accordance can do, so it's a little jumbled with lots of windows, and the Amplify and Instant Parse palettes are in odd places, but it offers a good sampling of some of the changes which have taken place.

First, notice that the Search window had three unlabeled pop-up menus and a Mode button. The first pop-up let you select the text you wanted to search, the second let you choose your range, and the third let you select the "field" in which multiple items must appear (that is, must "Moses" and "Aaron" appear in the same verse, sentence, paragraph, etc.). The Mode button was used to toggle between searching for words and verses. The number of hits and verses was displayed directly beneath the OK button, again with no label to explain what the number and fraction signified.

Now look at the Amplify palette in the lower left corner of the screenshot. We used text labels for all of the buttons rather than icons, and the Analysis, Plot, and Table buttons performed the functions which are now neatly accessed through a single Details button. It's strange to look back and realize that back then nobody else was offering that kind of statistical analysis (except perhaps in high-end software for mainframes or minicomputers).

The graphical search capabilities of the Construct window were also unique to Accordance, and as far as I'm aware, so were our databases of parallel passages.

Though the number of resources available back then was comparatively small, it was nevertheless very easy to end up with a bunch of open windows, and window management was limited to either Tiling or Stacking windows. The Workspace, which keeps all your Accordance resources neatly displayed as tabs, didn't appear until version 5.

This next screenshot shows Accordance 3 and dates back to around 1998. The interface didn't really change appreciably, except that the text-size buttons were added to the Search window, the Instant Parse palette had been renamed the Instant Details Box (because it now showed more than just parsing), and the Amplify palette now had more buttons. Notice the addition of the Diagram and Syntax buttons, along with the Search All pop-up button. We also tried using colors to help distinguish among the different kinds of modules: tools (blue), parallels (yellow), user notes (green), and texts (red).

Another thing to notice about the pop-up buttons for the various kinds of modules is that they only showed the name of the default module in each category (or the last selected module in that category). So to select a Greek tool, you had to remember that Louw & Nida was a Greek tool and go to that pop-up menu. It was therefore very easy to go to the wrong pop-up.

I have one more old photo to show you, but this post is already too long, and we've only gotten up to 1998! Our goal with each of these interface changes was to accommodate new features and modules without just glomming them on. Each new feature had to be integrated with those features which already existed, and as new options were added the interface had to be tweaked to keep it from becoming unwieldy. Most of the choices we made turned out well, but others proved to be problematic. Tomorrow I'll talk about versions 4 and 5, and the interface overhaul of version 6.





Comments:
As a new user of Accordance (6 months) I really appreciate this blog, especially your posts that explain why certain decisions have been made in the modules and interface. Thank you!
 

WOW! Wasn't these the days! It's surprising, however, that even back then Accordance was a powerful Bible software app.
 

Great blog post! I look forward to the followup post.
 

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