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Mar 10, 2014 David Lang

Accordance 10.4: Free Update with Lots of New Features

If you launched Accordance 10 over the weekend, you probably received notice that a new update is available. If that hasn't happened yet, be sure to choose Check for App Update from the Accordance menu (on Mac) or the Utilities menu (on Windows) as soon as possible. Accordance 10.4 is a major update chock full of new features and enhancements. These include support for Retina displays and Mac OS X's fullscreen mode, numerous enhancements to user notes, the ability to use transliteration in Key number searches, and more.

While there are plenty of major new features, sometimes it's the little enhancements that turn out to be the most useful. For me, the list of Recent Modules that has now been added to the Add Parallel pop-up is a huge time-saver. If you've ever opened a parallel pane containing another translation or original language text, closed it when you were done with it, and then found yourself needing to open it again, you'll know immediately what I mean.

RecentMenu

Accordance 10.4 is loaded with little surprises like that, and it's completely free. Do yourself a favor and download it today.


 

Sep 13, 2012 David Lang

User Notes as a Teaching Tool

For the past few weeks, I've been teaching a Sunday School class on Bible study methods using the book of Colossians. Rather than just giving a series of lectures about the Bible, I want to get people reading the Bible for themselves and learning some basic methods of interpretation.

I started by laying out a bare-bones inductive method: what I call the I See! So What? Hmm… method. The I See! step refers to making simple observations about the text being studied. The So What? refers to deriving simple life applications from the text. The Hmm… is just a reminder that if you have a question you can't answer right now, you should jot it down so you can consider it later on.

In addition to laying out this simple method, I encouraged the people in my Sunday School class to focus on paragraphs rather than verses. I explained that verse breaks, while useful for locating a passage, are not usually the best way to break up a passage of study. Making observations on paragraphs would give them a much better feel for that passage's flow of thought.

To help them see how this method works, I created a User Notes file and added notes to Colossians 1:1 and 1:2. I recorded simple observations, applications, and questions about each verse. I also added notes to the first verse of each paragraph in Colossians 1. In each of those notes, I pasted the headings I See! (Observation):, So What? (Application):, and Hmm… (Question):, with several lines of space between them. I then simply printed the resulting User Notes file and used that as a handout on which they could write their observations on each paragraph.

In class, I projected an Accordance workspace with my preferred translation in one pane and the User Notes file in the other. Like this:

UserNotesTeaching1

After explaining the method, I had each member of the class write down his or her observations, applications, and questions on Colossians 1:3-8. I gave them about ten minutes to do so, then asked them to share any observations they had made. When the first person shared an observation, I simply began typing it in the User Notes pane. This opened the User Notes Edit window and the entire class could see the observation that was shared. Other members of the class then shared their observations, and I did my best to enter them into the user notes file for everyone to see. We proceeded like this through a number of observations, applications, and questions, with me adding my own comments or prompting them with questions about the passage.

UserNotesTeaching2

By using the User Notes feature in this way, I was able to encourage class participation and praise them in their own efforts to unpack the passage. The class became less about what I had to teach about Colossians and more about all of us digging into the passage together. And of course, the class brought out aspects of the passage I might never have noticed on my own.

The class was so successful we didn't have time to get beyond verse 8! But that was okay. They had the printed handout I had given them, so I sent them home with the assignment to dig into the next several paragraphs using the I See! So What? Hmm… method. This, of course, is my ultimate goal: to get them studying the Bible for themselves and feeling confident about their own ability to do so.

The simple editability of Accordance User Notes made it easy to transform my Sunday School class from a lecture into a collaborative Bible study, and the ability to print my notes made creating a simple handout incredibly easy.


 

May 26, 2011 David Lang

Taming the User Tool Edit window

Yesterday, pastor Wes Allen showed us how he records his observations and collects his thoughts using Accordance's User Tool feature. Wes explained that doing so enables him to stay focused on the text rather than constantly switching between Accordance and a word processor. In response to that post, another user pointed out the following problem:

I follow roughly the same pattern, but I work on a monitor of limited size and therefore I end up having to keep switching to the User Tool edit window, which isn't much better than switching to a seperate text edit program. (Actiually, the separate program ends up being better as I can quickly switch to it by clicking it's icon in the dock). I would love for that edit window to be able to live in a pane so I could jot quick notes while I read.

Someone else then offered the helpful suggestion that he use the keyboard shortcut command-` to cycle between open windows. While that will certainly do the trick, I want to address the first user's request that the Edit window "live in a pane so [he] could jot quick notes." If you're aware of how the Edit window works, you can already do that.

First, let's begin with a simple workspace containing a Search window with my passage of study and an additional pane for my notes on that passage. In addition to that, I have a User Tool open in a separate zone. I'll use the User Notes pane to jot down notes on the text of each verse I study, and I'll use the User Tool as a place to gather and organize my thoughts. Picking up where we left off in our series on finding repeated words in a passage, I'm brainstorming ideas for a sermon which explores the frequent repetition of the word "house" in 2 Samuel 11.

EditTaming1

You can see that I've already recorded some notes on the passage and some ideas in the User Tool. Now I want to look at each occurrence of the word "house" in this passage, record my observations about how it is used, and brainstorm how it will fit into the structure of my sermon. In verse 2, I see that the HCSB speaks of David walking on the roof of his "palace," but I've discovered that "palace" translates the Hebrew phrase, "house of the king." I want to jot that down in my notes, and since I already have a note on verse 2, I simply want to add some text to that existing note. I could click in verse 2 to select it and then use the keyboard shortcut command-U to open the Edit window for that verse, but it's just as easy to click in my user note and begin typing. Doing so will automatically open the Edit window directly above the User Note pane.

EditTaming2

Here you can see that I began typing at the end of my note on verse 2 and the Edit window has opened automatically. Accordance keeps it directly above the user note pane so it doesn't obscure my text or my User Tool. I simply jot down my observation and hit Enter to update the note.

A couple of tips at this point. First, I wanted to add a couple of returns after the end of my note to start a new paragraph, but clicking in the note pane and hitting the Return key will not automatically open the Edit window. That's because hitting Return in most Accordance windows will perform whatever search you've entered. In order to make it clear to Accordance that I want to open the Edit window, I simply type a space before hitting the Return key. I end up with an unnecessary space at the end of the first paragraph of my note, but so what? It's certainly worth the convenience of bringing up the Edit window as I type.

Second, once I'm done typing, I can update the note in a couple of ways. If I use command-S to save the note, the changes I've made will be saved, but the Edit window will remain open. Accordance is assuming that I may still have more I want to type after I save. If, however, I hit the Enter key on the keyboard, Accordance will update the note and close the Edit window so that I'm right back in my main workspace.

Now that I've recorded the observation that David saw Bathsheba from the roof of his "house," I want to start a list in my User Tool of all the "house" references in 2 Samuel 11. Again, I could click in my User Tool and use command-U to open the Edit window, or I can just click where I want to add text and begin typing. I want to add a couple returns to the end of the User Tool so I'll once again use my space-before-return trick.

EditTaming3

Now, here we can see that where the User Note Edit window opens directly over the User Notes pane, the User Tool Edit window opens wherever you last left it. I'm not sure why that is and I wonder if we should change it, but until we do, you can always place it directly over your User Tool yourself. Once you do, it will continue to open in that same place every time you edit that User Tool.

EditTaming4

Once again, if I remember to hit the Enter key as soon as I'm finished, the Edit window will close and I'll only have my workspace to deal with. When I need to add to my User Tool again I'll simply type in it and the Edit window will reappear. Using this workflow, there's no need to use a keyboard shortcut to toggle between multiple windows.