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Aug 22, 2012 David Lang

Accordance 10: No Sacred Cows, No Unnecessary Slaughter

When it came time to redesign the Accordance 10 interface, we were determined that there would be no "sacred cows" we would be unwilling to sacrifice. On the other hand, we were equally determined that we would not engage in unnecessary slaughter: that is, we saw no point in change merely for the sake of change. In every design decision, we tried to simplify, declutter, and beautify, while being careful not to fix what wasn't broken or to lose Accordance's distinct advantages.

One example of this can be found in the redesign of the Search tab. There were some previously sacred cows we sacrificed, but without sacrificing the benefits those elements were designed to provide.

One such sacred cow was the search button: the button to the right of the search entry field which you could click to perform a search. Accordance has always let you hit Enter or Return to perform a search rather than clicking the button, so the button has always been a bit superfluous. Such buttons were an interface standard when Accordance began, but over time they have disappeared, and new computer users simply know to hit the Return key.

The old search button became grayed out after a search was performed.

Yet while the search button had fallen out of interface fashion, it still served a valuable function: its state offered visual feedback that you had actually performed the search. Once you clicked that button or hit Return, the button would become grayed out, and you would know that the results you saw in the display pane matched what you had entered in the search field. Once you made a change in the search entry, the button would become undimmed to indicate that you had not yet performed this new search.

The old search button became active when the search argument changed.

We retained that button for as long as we did because we felt the visual feedback it provided was important. For Accordance 10, we decided it was time for that "sacred cow" to be sacrificed, but we still wanted a way to offer visual feedback with respect to whether a search had been performed. Eventually we decided to dim the actual words you enter rather than a separate button. So whenever the contents of the search field are changed, the text appears black. Whenever you hit Return, the text becomes gray. In this way, we removed the clutter of an extra button, while offering even stronger visual feedback than that button provided.

In Accordance 10, search text becomes gray after a search is performed.

In Accordance 10, search text becomes black after the search argument is changed..

Another sacred cow we sacrificed was the need to enter an asterisk when searching by verses to display the entire text. This was an interface convention we had had since Accordance 1.0, and believe it or not, there really was a logical reason for it. Nevertheless, it was a requirement new users often found confusing, so we sacrificed it. Now any blank search will display all verses. Entering an asterisk with Verses selected will still work, but there is no longer any need to learn that little idiosyncrasy.

By taking a hard look at every aspect of the interface, including many that had been around since the very beginning, we significantly simplified Accordance for new users, and streamlined it for existing users. Yet we did so in a way that avoided sacrificing important functionality or visual feedback. So far, both new users and old hands have been enthusiastic about the changes.


 

Jun 11, 2012 David Lang

Option Key Secrets: Searching for Key Numbers

How often do you hold down the option key when using Accordance? Holding down this simple modifier key can open up a host of powerful features you may not have known were available to you. In this series of posts, we've seen how you can option-click the close icon of any pane, tab, or zone to close all the other panes, tabs, or zones; option-click any verse to "bookmark" it; and option-click the Search button of the Resource palette to search for selected inflected forms rather than lexical forms. In this post, I want to show how you can hold down the option key to search for Key numbers.

When working with an English Bible tagged with Key numbers, you can select any word and click the Search button of the Resource palette to search for that particular word. For example, if I select the word "grace" in Ephesians 2:8 and click the Search button of the Resource palette, a new search tab will open and find every occurrence of the English word "grace." But what if I want to find every occurrence of the Greek word which is translated "grace" here? To do that, simply select the word "grace" in Ephesians 2:8 and option-click the Search button of the Resource palette. (Depending on your settings, this may bring up a menu, in which case you would also select the Search item.)

KeyNumberOptionAmplify1

Holding the option key down tells Accordance to search not for the selected English word (the default) but for the Key number with which that word has been tagged. Since the Key number represents a specific Greek word, this is an easy way to search for a Greek word and see all the ways it has been translated.

Now, what if I want to search for that Greek word in a resource which does not include Strong's numbers. For example, I might like to search the Greek Septuagint for the Greek word translated "grace" in Ephesians 2:8, or I might like to look that word up in BDAG, a high-end lexicon which does not include Strong's numbers. Once again, all I need to do is select the English word "grace" in a Bible with Strong's numbers, then hold down the option key while selecting LXX1 or BDAG from the Resource palette. The option-key tells Accordance not to search for the English word, but for the Greek word the Strong's number represents. This enables me to go right from my English Bible to any Greek text or tool.

This option-key trick even works with Search All. If I select a word in a Bible with Strong's numbers, then select [All Texts] from the Search menu of the Resource palette, I can instantly see where the Greek word translated grace is used in Josephus, Philo, the Pseudepigrapha, the Apocryphal Gospels, the Apostolic Fathers, and more!

KeyNumberOptionAmplify2

All this without typing a single letter of Greek! That's the power of this particular option-key secret.


 

May 25, 2012 David Lang

Option Key Secrets: Searching for Inflected Forms

How often do you hold down the option key when using Accordance? Holding down this simple modifier key can open up a host of powerful features you may not have known were available to you. On Monday we showed how you can option-click the close icon of any pane, tab, or zone to close all the other panes, tabs, or zones. On Tuesday I showed how you can option-click any verse to "bookmark" it. Today I want to show how you can option-click to search for Greek or Hebrew inflected forms.

First, let's review the difference between inflected forms and lexical forms. A "lexical form" is simply the form of a word typically found in a lexicon or dictionary. When I look up the English word "ran" in a dictionary, if I find an entry at all, it will do little more than point me to the entry for the word "run." Under that "lexical form" of the word, I will find a list of other forms of the word, such as "runs," "running," "ran," etc. Thus, the lexical form of a word is that form which is typically used in a dictionary to represent every form of that word, and each variation of that word's form is known as an inflection, or "inflected form."

In Accordance, when you're looking at a grammatically-tagged Greek or Hebrew text, the words you see are "inflected forms." That is, each word has been inflected to indicate things like tense, voice, mood, gender, number, case, etc. If I am writing in English, and I want to indicate that the action of running occurred some time in the past, I will use the inflected form "ran." In the same way, Greek and Hebrew writers chose the appropriate "inflected forms" to communicate what they intended. Once again, when you look at the words in the text, you are looking at specific "inflected forms." In fact, one of the challenges of learning an ancient language is being able to identify the "lexical form" a particular "inflected form" comes from—so that you can know what the word actually means.

In a grammatically-tagged Greek or Hebrew text, scholars have actually "tagged" each word in the text with its corresponding "lexical form" and parsing information to make life easier for those of us who haven't completely mastered the languages. (Can I get an "Amen!"?) This also enables you to find every instance of any "lexical form" no matter how it has been inflected. In fact, when you search for a word in one of these texts, Accordance assumes that you want to search for the lexical form rather than a particular inflected form. Nine times out of ten, a lexical search is more helpful than an inflected search, but there are times when you want to search for a particular inflection.

For example, let's say you're reading John 6:35 in the Greek New Testament and you see the phrase ἐγώ εἰμι. You want to search for all instances of this phrase, so you select it and click the Search button on the Resource palette. (Depending on your settings, this may bring up a menu, in which case you would also select the Search item from the menu.) A new Search tab will open with ἐγώ εἰμι entered in the search field. However, because Accordance defaults to searching for lexical forms, this search is actually looking for any form of the word ἐγώ followed by any form of the word εἰμι. Consequently, the first result it finds is the phrase μού ἐστιν rather than ἐγώ εἰμι.

 

EGWEIMILex

 

Is there an easy way to search for inflected forms rather than lexical forms? Of course! Simply hold down the option key when you click the Search button on the Resource palette, and Accordance will open a new Search tab with "ἐγώ εἰμι" (note the quotation marks) entered in the search field. The quotation marks tell Accordance to search for specific inflected forms rather than lexical forms, so that you find only the phrase ἐγώ εἰμι.

EGWEIMIInflect

You can, of course, enter the quotation marks manually any time you want to do an inflected search, but when you select text and use the Search button on the Resource palette, holding down the option key will automatically set up an inflected search for you.