May 14, 2014 Matt Kenyon

Swiping, Tapping, and Scrolling into the Future

It’s no secret that we are right in the middle of the mobile revolution. In January 2014, mobile devices accounted for 55% of internet usage in the United States, officially surpassing desktop internet usage. That was four months ago, and the numbers have undoubtedly risen. As a business, we knew that if our users were on smartphones and tablets, that’s where we needed to be, too. We quickly realized that a vital step to catering to this new trend was optimizing our website for mobile devices.

MobilePhoneStock

Mobile optimization is a catch-all term that simply refers to the editing of a website to suit the mobile user's experience. Every business has different goals when it considers optimizing its website for mobile devices. Here were three of ours:

Scalability

Have you ever visited a website and had to "pinch-to-zoom" your screen just to read what seemed like microscopic font? Have you ever gotten so frustrated with this pursuit that you’ve given up altogether? That’s the opposite of mobile optimization (one might even say it’s mobile-phobic) and it’s the very thing we wanted to get away from.iPhonesize We needed scalability, the ability to resize the content on our site to various screen sizes without compromising the visibility of images, text, and other elements. Our site now looks great on big and small screens alike.

Finger-friendliness

Another crucial difference between desktop and mobile browsing is that users aren't going to be navigating our website with the traditional means of a keyboard and mouse. Flicking, tapping, scrolling, and swiping have officially trumped typing in the mobile revolution. For this reason, banners, links, and menu items needed to be sized appropriately for tapping. Tiny buttons would only frustrate our fast-fingered users.

Functionality

We wanted to keep the user experience as close to that of the desktop site as possible, but when you start downsizing, things inevitably get crowded. Not every element on our homepage would fit on a 4-inch screen. We quickly realized that we needed to make some cuts. We considered scrapping the Tour page of our mobile site, but the optimized functionality was so slick, we ultimately decided to adapt it. Today, users can still access the content on this page through any device.

Learning as we go

We decided against creating a separate mobile site (which was the only solution for years) because it has many disadvantages. Instead we used a responsive technology that reorganizes the pages and swaps the content based on the screen width, or the window width on a computer. You can try it out by varying the window size in your browser.

homepageiPad

We tried removing the site search functionality on mobile, which meant that users could no longer quickly jump to a specific product page or blog post. We quickly realized our mistake and restored a mobile-friendly site search tool. We were learning to roll with the punches.

All things considered, we’re quite pleased with the mobile site we’re currently operating with, yet eager to embrace any new technologies coming down the pike.

If you’re reading this blog post on an iPad, iPhone or Android device, you’re a perfect case study. The reason you don’t need to squint or pinch to read this text is because of this optimization initiative. Thankfully, we saw the wave of the mobile revolution rapidly approaching and rather than get swept away in the changing tides — we resolved to ride it.


 

Jan 9, 2013 David Lang

Learn More About Accordance for iOS 1.6

Just before the start of the new year, Accordance for iOS 1.6 went live in the app store. This new version features a host of interface improvements and feature enhancements. Be sure to check out Dr. J's excellent video introduction below, and if you haven't yet updated to this latest version of our mobile app, what are you waiting for?


 

Dec 30, 2011 Rick Bennett

Happy Birthday iOS

Almost one year to the day we announced the long-awaited release of the Accordance iOS app. It is exciting to look back and see the progress we’ve made in that time thanks to a devoted development team, and the enthusiastic support and recommendations of our users. In that time we’ve had a significant number of downloads from users all over the globe. Thank you for making our app a success!

iPad 1

For me this excitement came to a peak with the recent release of version 1.4. With this release our app has moved beyond being a simple reader and is now capable of functioning as an independent Bible study tool with extremely fast performance and an equally impressive feature set. But, we’re not stopping there. We have aggressive development plans for 2012 and are dedicated to investing in this platform.

Although an app should never be measured by what’s planned, I can say that development for version 1.5 is underway and will bring with it a more polished reading experience.

For those that may have missed the version 1.4 announcement here’s a recap of the new features (which you can also find on our Help Page):

1. Selection in a Pane

Press and hold in a pane brings up a magnifier to enable precise selection of a word or reference. When released, it opens either an Actions menu or an expanded Instant Details popover with the actions at the bottom.

2. Actions Menu

Always offers Copy and Highlight, and where appropriate offers Search and Amplify. For Key number texts, Search and Amplify then offer Word or Key Number options, whereas in tagged original texts you can search or amplify the Inflected Form, Lemma, or Root.

Search opens the current main text or tool and finds the selected word.

Amplify opens the appropriate text or tool to the selected word or entry. A two finger swipe to the right returns to the previous view. The previous module can also be selected in the Library.

3. Instant Details

Now displays black text on a Newsprint background.

For Key Number words the parsing and gloss are displayed if a tagged original text is also installed. The definition of the related Key dictionary is displayed and can be scrolled.

For tagged original texts the Syntax is shown, if installed, and the full article from the top lexicon of the same language.

Tool hyperlinks display the linked content.

The Actions menu buttons appear at the bottom.

4. Library View

Now organized hierarchically by module type with the first section for Recent Modules.

Search at top level searches all the sections.

Editing the order of modules, or removing them, is done within each section.

New Notes files are now created from the User Notes popover.

5. Devotionals

Modules with readings for each day now appear as Devotionals as well as General tools.

When opened from their section they appear in a new view with a parallel pane displaying the Bible text.

6. Main Text and Tool Views Changes

Press and hold on the Search button opens the History menu. The first item in the History is the Read mode which clears the current search results.

Wider side margins.

Parallel pane chooser uses a segmented control to select the list of modules of the desired type.

Most internal and external hyperlinks now work when a Reference tool is displayed in a parallel pane.

7. History Menu

Opens with a long tap on the Search icon in the main view, or a short tap on the History button in the Search view.

As needed, shows Read, New Search, and a list of past searches in that module.

8. Verse Selection Actions Menu

Adds the Amplify button which opens the first Reference tool with an entry for that verse.

The User Note action offers the option of creating a new User Note file.

9. Grid Style Verse Chooser

Available in Settings as an alternative to the Wheel and the List.

10. Other

The contents of both Recent Modules and the History menu are saved between sessions.

Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar: 3rd Edition is supported including the audio links.

iOS 5 will no longer purge modules for lack of space. However, only user content (Notes, Tools and Highlights) is backed up in iTunes or iCloud.


 

Jan 5, 2011 David Lang

Accordance for iOS: Instant Details

A couple weeks ago, I began telling you about our iOS app by showing some of its powerful search capabilities. Today I want to show you how to get instant information about the words or links under your cursor . . . I mean, finger.

In the desktop version of Accordance, you can get instant information about certain items simply by dragging the mouse cursor over them. For example, you can drag the mouse over a word in an English Bible with Strong's numbers to see the Greek or Hebrew word it translates. That information appears in the Instant Details box. On an iOS device, there is no cursor to hover over an item and not enough screen real estate for a dedicated Instant Details box, so to get instant information about an item, you simply tap and hold with your finger. When you do, a translucent box will appear showing the information for the item you tapped. In the first screenshot below, you can see that I tapped the word "image" in the ESV to see its Strong's number and the Hebrew word it represents.

iOSID1 iOSID2

You can dismiss this box by tapping the close icon or by performing some other action, such as swiping to scroll. You can also tap and hold text inside the box to select and copy it. So for example, you could copy the Hebrew word ‏צלם and paste it into the search field for the Hebrew Bible (see the second screenshot above).

In the screenshot below, you see what you'd get if you were to do that search for צלם. In a grammatically-tagged Greek or Hebrew text, a tap and hold on a word will bring up the parsing information and English gloss.

iOSID3

Now let's say I want to look up צלם in a Hebrew lexicon, like HALOT. The initial release of the iOS app does not include amplifying from one resource to another, so if you want to look a word up in HALOT you'll need to open HALOT and search for it. But since I already copied צלם from the Instant details of the English word "image," all I have to do is open HALOT, click the Find button, and paste the word into the entry box.

In tools such as HALOT, you can tap and hold on hypertexted Scripture references to see those verses, like so:

iOSID4

In the desktop version of Accordance, there is a special kind of hypertext link which gives you an instant preview of what you would see if you were to click it. Things like abbreviations are linked back to an abbreviation list, and clicking an abbreviation will take you to that list. But you can also see what that abbreviation means simply by hovering your cursor over the link and looking in the Instant Details box. In the initial version of the iOS app, this instant preview is not supported, so tapping an abbreviation will simply take you to the appropriate entry in the abbreviation list, and you'll need to click a back arrow to get back to the article you were reading.

As you can see, Accordance for iOS does not give you all of the instant detail capabilities of the desktop version, but the things you most want instant information about—key numbers, Greek and Hebrew parsing, and Scripture links—can be viewed with a simple tap and hold.


 

Jan 4, 2011 David Lang

Accordance for iOS: Was it Worth the Wait?

iOSappicon Accordance for iOS became available through the app store last Thursday, and by now thousands of you have downloaded it and played with it. Reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from previous Accordance users who can now take their Accordance libraries with them. A few people, however, have expressed disappointment that it's not yet everything they hoped it would be. Because we do our best to release software "when it's ready," and because we took what appeared to be a long time to release the app, I think some people expected the initial release of Accordance to be the Bible app to end all Bible apps.

The reality is, of course, that Accordance for iOS is a 1.0 release which has lots of potential, some features found nowhere else, and some areas where we have plenty of catching up to do. We need to add syncing with your desktop Accordance, offer more control over how content is displayed, give you better ways to multi-task, and, of course, we want you to be able to amplify from one resource to another as easily as you can in the desktop application. The good news is that much of the groundwork for those improvements has already been laid and we're working hard to deliver them as soon as we can. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy being able to take Accordance with you wherever you go.

In upcoming posts, I'll be showing you in detail some of what you can do with this initial release of Accordance for iOS.


 

Dec 31, 2010 David Lang

The Countdown is Over: Accordance for iOS is Here

iOSSearch2 At the risk of making your New Year's Eve countdown anticlimactic, the countdown to the release of Accordance for iOS is now over. Accordance for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch became available for download in the iTunes app store yesterday afternoon. It's a free app, and once installed, you can use Easy Install to download almost all of your existing Accordance modules. The exceptions are those modules which are only available on disk and not currently downloadable. In a future update, we'll add the ability to sync with your desktop Accordance to get those modules as well, but we decided not to hold up the release of the app for a handful of modules.

Those who are new to Accordance can, of course, enjoy the app with a handful of free modules, including the English Standard Version courtesy of Crossway. This special iOS edition of the ESV includes Strong's numbers so anyone who uses our app will have access to the Greek and Hebrew behind a modern English Bible.

Those who create a free online account with Accordance will also be able to download additional free modules. And as previously mentioned, those of you who sign in with your existing Accordance account will be able to download any purchased modules available through Easy Install.

To learn the ins and outs of Accordance for iOS, you can check out these Help pages. There is also a new section of our forums dedicated to discussions of Accordance for iOS.

We're very excited to finally get this initial release into your hands, and we know that our work on this app is only just beginning. There are lots of important features to add and room for refinement, but we hope you'll find this initial foray into iOS well worth the wait.

Happy New Year!


 

Dec 27, 2010 David Lang

If Not by Christmas, When?

iOSappicon Here at Accordance, we tend to be reticent about announcing new products until they're very nearly ready for release. The reason is simple: software development, like most creative enterprises, does not often lend itself to a clearly defined timetable. There are always unanticipated challenges and occasional design changes along the way, which means that any planned release date may need to be pushed back. We therefore try not to make promises we may not be able to keep.

I'm sure you iPhone and iPad users who were hoping for an Accordance app by Christmas already know where I'm going with this: we didn't quite make the "hopefully by Christmas" estimate we've been giving for the past couple months. I could give revised estimates at this point (New Year's? Epiphany? Elvis' Birthday?), but I think I'll just stick with my intentionally vague statement that "the release of Accordance for iOS should be just around the corner."

Rest assured that we'll be shouting the news from the rooftops the minute Accordance appears in the app store, and I'll be giving you more previews of the app later this week. In the meantime, if the cash you received for Christmas is burning a hole in your pocket, be sure to check out the newly released Archaeological Study Bible.


 

Dec 17, 2010 David Lang

What to Expect for the App: Powerful Searching

How do you take a full-featured, mature Mac program that has been in active development for nearly two decades and bring it to handheld devices like the iPhone and iPad? That's the question we've been wrestling with as we developed Accordance for iOS.

First, we realized there was no way we could do everything at once, so we had to decide which Accordance features were must-haves for the initial release. Second, we were determined to port and use as much of our existing Accordance code as possible. Third, we knew whatever features made it into the iOS app would have to be reimagined to accommodate a touch interface and a smaller screen. Nevertheless, we wanted the interface to feel like Accordance. In other words, we wanted it to be as consistent as possible with the interface philosophy behind Accordance for Mac.

Our original plan for the first release of our iOS app was relatively modest: it had to let you read your existing Accordance modules and support some basic searching and note-taking. During the course of development, however, we found that we were able to utilize far more of our existing code than we had originally hoped. Incorporating that code took time, but it meant that we were able to bring over Accordance features we never dreamed would make it into the initial release.

You'll see this most clearly in the search capabilities of Accordance for iOS. You can search using all of the wildcard symbols and any search commands which don't involve linking two separate windows. In other words, the LINK, CONTENTS, HITS, INFER, MERGE, and STYLE commands are not in the initial release of Accordance for iOS, but all of the other commands, including the powerful FUZZY and COUNT commands, are there. You can search key numbered Bibles by key number, and grammatically tagged texts by lexical form, inflected form, root, and grammatical tag. The following screenshot shows a search for all geminate verbs in Hebrew. The results are instantaneous on my iPhone.

iOSSearch1

Here is a search for all the hapax legomena (words appearing only once) in the Greek New Testament. This search actually takes about twenty seconds to complete on my iPhone, but then again, it's an iPhone!

iOSSearch2

Imagine sitting in a seminary class where the professor begins talking about hapax legomena. With a few taps you surreptitiously perform this search with your iPhone. By the time he's finished defining the term, you raise your hand and announce that there are 1942 such words in the Greek New Testament. From that moment on, you'll be a legend on your campus! ;-)

The ability to create complex searches via a simple interface is a hallmark of Accordance for the Mac, and you can expect the same thing from Accordance for iOS. In future posts, I'll tell you more of what you can expect from the Accordance app.


 

Dec 15, 2010 David Lang

How About Making iPad Users Smile?

iOSappicon It seems no matter what I blog about these days, at least one iPad user responds with something to the effect of, "That's great, but where's my iPad app?" Yesterday, after blogging about the many ways we make Septuagint scholars smile, one user sent me this via Twitter: "how about making iPad using pastors smile??"

While we've long had requests for an Accordance app for the iPhone, iPhone users are nowhere near as vocal in their requests as iPad users. I think that's because while the iPad is an iOS device, people use it more like a full-blown computer than a mere handheld. iPhone users would like to be able to read their Accordance modules on their iPhone from time to time, but iPad users want to be able to do in depth study using their iPads. Each day they have to wait is another day they feel handicapped. Which means it's another day they ask us, "When?"

Here's what I told the "iPad using pastor" via Twitter yesterday:

Let's just say I'm busy writing a certain submission to a certain computer maker regarding a certain piece of software. :-)

To which he replied:

well don't let me distract you then.

What does all that mean? It means we're in the final stages of testing and tweaking our initial release. We're also finalizing our submission to Apple for approval of the app. While I can't give a precise date when it will be available, I can tell you that the release of Accordance for iOS should be just around the corner. In tomorrow's post, I'll tell you a little of what you can expect from it.


 

Aug 26, 2010 David Lang

Hate Meetings? I Love 'em!

I used to work at a large church where Mondays were basically one long series of meetings. We'd have a general staff meeting first thing in the morning, then break off into meetings with other members of our respective ministry departments, and in the afternoon we would plan the weekly worship meeting. Some of these meetings—such as the worship planning meeting—were creative and fun, but the cumulative effect of all these meetings was tiring and even a little discouraging. At the end of the day, you felt like you had come away with a long list of to-dos without having gotten any of them accomplished. No matter how good your work environment, you likely feel the same way about meetings: yes, you recognize that they may be necessary, but they often feel tedious and counter-productive.

On the whole, my work for Accordance doesn't require a lot of meetings. In a company where most of the development staff works from home, you tend to call meetings only when they are absolutely necessary. But these days, I've been in a lot of meetings, and frankly, I'm lovin' every minute of it. That's because these meetings have been about things like our new iPhone/iPad app and the next major upgrade to Accordance, both of which are feverishly being worked on right now. I'm loving these meetings because I get to see the latest developments, give my feedback, make suggestions, and see us come to a consensus which is more exciting than anything I would have dreamed up on my own. There are so many cool things in the works right now that I love being kept in the loop through these meetings.

Of course, the tough part about being involved in all these discussions is that I then get very impatient to see all our plans implemented and to play with all the new goodies. Those who read my blogs and tweets about upcoming developments complain that I'm teasing them. But I actually feel that same fevered anticipation even though—or rather, because—I already know what's coming.

What's more, I get impatient to tell you about all the cool stuff we're working on. But because we know better than to talk too much about stuff that's still in development (and therefore subject to last-minute changes), I have to bite my lip and keep quiet . . . for now.

Of course, if you can catch one of us in person, we have been known to give sneak peeks at stuff that's in the works. So if you're dying to be in the know, be sure to look for us at upcoming conferences, seminars, and of course, the Users' Conference. I promise, you'll love being at those meetings.