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#1 Jon Falkenstein

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 07:22 AM

So there are a few features that I would LOVE to see added in the next version of accordance.

1. Currently, Accordance can import HTML, text, and TLG (though I'm not sure exactly what that last one is). It'd be amazing if it could import PDFs. This would be great because formatting would easier to retain, but also, proper page numbers could be added which is a big deal for me. Because macs with OSX can export PDFs from almost anything, it would be great to be able to import these. I have a number of works that I have either composed or own the rights to that would be perfect for a user tool if they didn't require so much reformatting and alteration after the initial import.

2. Images imported into user tools would be more than fantastic. Being as normal tools have this functionality, I feel as if my own tools should too.

3. The ability to make user reference tools. I'm not sure exactly how this would work, although you guys did figure out how to make user Bibles. Although you might respond by pointing to user notes... this is not the same because you can't import user notes (I don't think), unlike user bibles and tools. I have several verse-by-verse documents that I have composed which are just begging to be used as commentaries are used.

#2 Alistair

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 04:52 PM

Perhaps one solution would be to add the functionality to hyperlink to an external document (eg PDF) which would then open in another program.

User would probably want the ability to insert these external document hyperlinks into existing Accordance modules and texts as well as into their user notes, but the user notes and user tools would be a good place to begin.

~A!

#3 Jon Falkenstein

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 11:07 AM

Yes, linking to external files would be helpful, especially insofar as images. However, I think importing PDFs to user tools is also important. I don't want to just link to them... I want to convert them to a user tool that is searchable, just like what we can do with html files now.

#4 R. Mansfield

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Posted 09 April 2008 - 02:27 PM

Yes, linking to external files would be helpful, especially insofar as images. However, I think importing PDFs to user tools is also important. I don't want to just link to them... I want to convert them to a user tool that is searchable, just like what we can do with html files now.


I notice that whenever I copy information from a PDF to a word processor, the text in the PDF always carries with it breaks at the end of every line. So I wonder if there would be any great advantage to importing PDF text except perhaps if an import retained bolds and italics. Either way, I think it would still result in a lot of manual clean up work.

And thinking about that, it might actually be easier right now to copy and paste PDF text first into Word. What I've found is that running autoformat twice (I dont' now why it requires a second time) converts most paragraphs back into paragraph form rather than separate lines. Then Word can export to a an HTML file which is the best way to import into a user tool currently.
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#5 Ryan Morena

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Posted 10 April 2008 - 07:31 PM

Not to hijack the thread by any means, but in addition the ability to import PDF's (which would be amazing), I would also love to see the ability to highlight reference texts and generate properly formatted citations (Turabian, MLA, etc.), for those of us using Accordance in academic settings. ;)

Thanks,
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#6 Alistair

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 12:02 PM

I would love to see the User Tools feature expanded greatly, and I know that many other users have made the same request with especial regard to HTML import as well as PDFs. The current User Tool comes across as a good idea that was abandoned halfway through development but left in the program. It's like a product teaser or film trailer.

I have been told that it's miles ahead of anything any other Bible software offers on any platform, but let's not get complacent. Why not make it a million miles ahead of the competition by expanding the functionality? For many this is an issue far more important that having a Universal Binary or an Intel version or some obscure reference work available. Users simply want to add their stuff into Accordance.

I hope that the next version of Accordance has upgraded the User Tools.

Please bump this a couple of steps up the To Do list.

#7 Helen Brown

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 12:18 PM

It was no easy task to allow for import of a variety of formats into the strict and complex formatting of an Accordance module, nor to make the import as robust as possible so that it does not choke on every little anomaly. The creation of a full module takes many many hours of very skilled labor. There is no way that it can be automated for the user and made "foolproof." Thus it was a deliberate decision from the start to limit the capabilities of the User Tool, although we have expanded them and will continue to do so.
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#8 Ed Cross

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 01:37 PM

I have longed for a Bible program that let's me stay in the Bible program to do all my work.

I would love to be able to work solely within the user tool for study preparations, so more features would be great. The nice thing about working within the user tool is that you don't have to worry about the formatting not being able to import. To be able to include graphics would be great and also an export for the user tool, so that if I needed to use it with some other program I could; export to html, pdf or plain text.

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#9 Helen Brown

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 03:52 PM

You can export from a User Tools as from any module, as text or as RTF.
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#10 Ed Cross

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 05:48 PM

You can export from a User Tools as from any module, as text or as RTF.


Helen,

I must be getting senile in my old age, I was looking for export rather than Save As. One question though doesn't RTF support centering? When I use Save As to RTF the resulting file left justifies any centered text.

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#11 Helen Brown

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 08:11 PM

Of course, if you select Print you can then print to PDF so that export option is also available.
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#12 Ed Cross

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 06:20 AM

Of course, if you select Print you can then print to PDF so that export option is also available.


I am once again reminded of why Accordance is a superior product in its field. The export capabilities found in Accordance dwarf what many other programs allow you to do. On the Windows side, Libronix only allows you to print or export one article of a module at a time. While Accordance allows you to print or export the entire thing as you choose, this is quite handy if you are traveling and need to take a book or large portion of a book with you to read or work on.

The user tools of Accordance are also from my experience far superior. I am looking forward to future improvements like the possibility of graphic inclusion and possibly defining of text styles. I would like to see the User Notes so that they would be more like a Study Bible so that they are predominantly set up by verse, but also allow for a Title, Introduction, and Summary notes that are not tied to a specific verse but to say a Book.

I really like the idea of doing the majority of my work directly in Accordance so everything that I work on is automatically a part of my study library. This is a great workflow!


Bro. Ed Cross

PS Does anyone know if centering text is a standard feature of rtf files, as this seems to be missing in Accordances save as rtf feature?

#13 R. Mansfield

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 06:46 AM

PS Does anyone know if centering text is a standard feature of rtf files, as this seems to be missing in Accordances save as rtf feature?


Yes, RTF can center text.

In addition to the items mentioned in this discussion, I've mentioned this before, but I'd greatly like to see tables introduced into User Tools as well. There are a couple of User Tool projects I'm just not going to be able to finish (such as the Summers Greek grammar user tool I had started) unless I can create tables.
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#14 Alistair

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 12:50 PM

The frustrating thing for me with User Tools was not preparing my text, it was importing it and then editing it once it had been imported.
Formatting didn't 'stick', and breaks were inserted where they shouldn't have been.

Preferences > Edit Windows > User Tool Edit > Block (size) was the source of many woes.
Why can't I see the whole text all the time? I can have the entire Bible text in multiple parallel columns, so we know there's no problem with displaying large amounts of text.

I had more success creating a User Bible than a User Tool.
The pre-formatting required for a User Bible is straightforward and uncomplicated, if tedious to create (e.g verse references).

#15 David Lang

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Posted 13 April 2008 - 08:11 PM

Alistair,

Accordance does a fair amount of behind-the-scenes work to enable you to have the entire text of the Bible displayed in a window. You experience working with the entire text seamlessly and quickly, but Accordance is actually delivering smaller chunks of text to you at any given time. That's one reason Accordance is so fast compared to say, a program like MacSword, which grinds to a crawl if you actually access more than one chapter at a time.

Dealing with large blocks of text in the User Tool Edit window has been the one area where we get complaints of sluggishness, and reducing the block size alleviates much of that problem. It can, however, make it difficult to remove unwanted titles.

There are some issues with formatting not "sticking," but we've had trouble pinning down the causes. When you notice it, take a few moments to jot down the particulars in an e-mail to help us track down the problem.

Believe me, no one wants to see User Tools improved more than I do. But as Helen pointed out, creating full-featured Accordance tools is a substantial undertaking. Offering users an easy way to define fields, create hierarchical browsers, add formatting and Scripture links, etc. has been a mammoth task, and it's even more challenging to develop an interface for creating tables, adding images, and all the other things we get requests for.

All that's to say that we're continually trying to improve User Tools while also improving other aspects of the program. Far from abandoning user tools halfway, each new improvement we've added (like importing from HTML) has lead to a host of new technical and interface challenges. I'm not asking you to stop telling us how User Tools can be improved, but I do ask for your patience.
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#16 Alistair

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Posted 15 April 2008 - 04:25 PM

Thank you David for your courteous and informative response. I found it very helpful to get your technical insight into the complexities of Accordance. Too often we simply see Accordance as something that "simply works" and forget that thousands of man-hours of coding and many years of development lie behind it.

It has been quite a while since I last dabbled in the black arts of User Tool creation (and gave up in frustration), so it is more than likely that I have bypassed the improvements and enhancements of which you write.

You have asked for my patience and I will gladly supply it, confident that User Tools are continuing to evolve and, no doubt, improve.

Job 42:6

If anyone would like to offer a methodology for successful User Tool creation, I would be delighted to see it posted here.

#17 John L Rutherford

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 07:45 AM

If anyone would like to offer a methodology for successful User Tool creation, I would be delighted to see it posted here.


User Tools can be frustrating things but if you bear a couple of points in mind they can be created fairly successfully—with a lot of patience! As an example I have recently summarised John Owen’s ‘Death of Death in the Death of Christ,’ in about 50 000 words (the original is about 150 000 words long) and imported it as a User Tool.
I could have simply exported the finished Word document as a PDF and my PDF reader (Preview) will happily look up any word I type into the search box. However, the advantage of the turning it into a User Tool is that I can also look up any Greek or Hebrew words and it does a much better job of handling Bible references and displaying them in the instant details window etc.
Important points to remember…
Make sure all scripture references are correctly formatted so that Accordance can read them.
Use Style Headings throughout your (Word/Pages) document and use them consistently. When you export your document to HTML these styles should be preserved and picked up by Accordance. However, in practice they rarely are and you will have to go through your imported User Tool and mark all headings from the Edit Window.
Greek and Hebrew text in my experience always seems to get lost in the transfer process and I have to put these back in from the Edit Window. (There must be some way of ensuring this doesn’t happen but I haven’t figured it out yet.)
Eliminate all page breaks from your original document and I would also remove all unnecessary carriage returns, i.e. so that each paragraph follows immediately after the one before.
Always keep back-up copies of your User Tools. I find that the paragraph formatting sometimes gets corrupted (especially when updating Accordance).
Bearing the above points in mind first export your Word document to HTML. Then in Accordance it is File>User Files>Import User Tool then click the Radio Button – Create a New User Tool and you will be asked to tell Accordance where to find the file. Once (if) the file imports you will be asked to name it and that should be it.
Once the file is in Accordance you can edit it, but be warned the User Tools editing facility is sloooooowwwwww. :rolleyes:

#18 R. Mansfield

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 08:00 AM

...but be warned the User Tools editing facility is sloooooowwwwww. :rolleyes:


John, what size editing block are you using? I found by changing the editing block from large to medium (in preferences), it allowed me to speed editing up considerably. Small is even faster once you have all your headings worked out.

So are you going to share your work with the rest of us through the Accordance Exchange?
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#19 Alistair

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Posted 21 April 2008 - 11:53 AM

Well done John, that's a phenomenal accomplishment.

I too was about to ask if you intend to share the fruit of your labours?

#20 John L Rutherford

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 12:57 PM

I too was about to ask if you intend to share the fruit of your labours?


If I get time, meanwhile I have posted a summary of John Owen's "Justification" on the exchange.




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