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User Notes more like Mac Text Editing?


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#1 freney

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:02 AM

Hi.

I'd like to make a request related to User Notes. I know I talk about them a lot - it's because I use them all the time.

My vision for the user notes feature is that they would work exactly like text editing elsewhere on the mac, so I don't have to think about how to do things specially in accordance, I can just get on and do them.

In specific terms this would include:

* Use the Mac font manager. It's a pain having to use something different when I get to Accordance. It doesn't easily tell me my current font/size settings, I can't customise the list of fonts to the ones I want to use, I have to remember a key-combo that's not Cmd-T, and it's just not the same as every other program (MS Word notwithstanding. Theirs is just as frustrating, for the same reasons).
* Use the Mac spellchecker. Any other text box in the system (including the one in Safari I'm typing this in to now) puts little red lines under mis-spelt words, and I can access the spell-check by right-clicking on that word.
* Select text in the same way as other mac text-handling utilities do. For example, if I double click on a word, the whole word is selected. Accordance does this fine. If I then Shift-click part-way through a word, then everything up to and including the whole word is selected (try it and see). Accordance doesn't do this - it only goes up to exactly where your cursor is. This makes copying text slower, because I need to be very precise each and every time I copy a word. Selecting text using the keyboard also doesn't work the same way as Text Edit (again, try it and see).


Most of these things aren't really terrible usability issues in isolation, but they're different to other programs. When I have to think about how to do something functional in a program, I stop thinking about my work, and start thinking about the tool I'm using - which breaks my train of thought, and bugs me.


<nerdy programming talk>
These seemingly separate requests are really just one request - use Core Text handling with User Notes (or an equivalent technology that interfaces nicely with Accordance). I know that there's technical difficulties getting this to work - the whole thing with getting Cocoa objects working with a Carbon app. I think the benefits, however, would be worth it, because you get so much good stuff for free - font management, spell-checking, selections, etc.
</nerdy programming talk>


My more grandiose suggestions require more extensive changes elsewhere, but I'll float them here just because:

* Have the Hebrew font a comparable size to the Latin/Greek fonts, so I can change an entire paragraph to, say, 12 pt, and still be able to read the Hebrew words.
* (Better) Have the Greek & Hebrew characters in unicode, so I can use 1 font and not worry about changing the foreign language words individually.
* Be able to edit a user note in the main window, not a separate one (I know you've heard it from me before, but hey, it's my wish list!).


Thanks heaps for your work on Accordance. The improvements to the User Tools recently have been a massive step forward, and very useful indeed.

#2 R. Mansfield

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 05:28 PM

I would still like the ability to insert graphics into User Notes and User Tools. I'd love to convert old class notes into User Tools, but my notes are full of charts and graphics that I just would not want to leave out.
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#3 Helen Brown

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 06:16 PM

Some of both of your requests will be dealt with in the upcoming release of 8.1, but most cannot be done without a huge investment of time=effort=money, and are just not realistic at present. Sorry, but Accordance is primarily intended for Bible study, we are not going to be able to duplicate all the text editing features of other software.

We do support spell checking, it's just not automatic.

We will support all our fonts in User Notes, allow editing (almost) in place, and allow links to images but not insertion in the modules.
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#4 freney

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 06:40 PM

Some of both of your requests will be dealt with in the upcoming release of 8.1, but most cannot be done without a huge investment of time=effort=money, and are just not realistic at present. Sorry, but Accordance is primarily intended for Bible study, we are not going to be able to duplicate all the text editing features of other software.

We do support spell checking, it's just not automatic.

We will support all our fonts in User Notes, allow editing (almost) in place, and allow links to images but not insertion in the modules.


Helen,

I realise that it's not a simple thing to do. Good to hear of the coming improvements.

Just to be clear, I'm not asking you to duplicate text editing features of other software, rather to use them. If the basic technology is implemented (Core Text; which I know is not a trivial procedure), then the other things come automatically, and are identical to elsewhere on the mac.

This is just one of those things that will make this statement a little more true:

Even with all its advanced features, Accordance is remarkably easy to use (remember, it was designed for Mac!). The Accordance interface has been designed to help you focus on the text of the Bible without getting in your way.



#5 Mike Doyle

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 11:49 PM

Just to be clear, I'm not asking you to duplicate text editing features of other software, rather to use them. If the basic technology is implemented (Core Text; which I know is not a trivial procedure), then the other things come automatically, and are identical to elsewhere on the mac.


That's a good point. The more "features" that can be handled by core functionality (spelling, fonts, etc), the less things accordance itself has to worry about, and when the core functionality is updated by apple, Accordance gets the benefits, and best of all - it just works! There is no learning curve - Accordance will work just like everything else on the Mac (warts and all!). It will even work nicely with other applications!

Sure - there's no doubt Apple's stuff ain't always what it's cracked up to be. And Accordance has put significant time and energy into its own way of doing things, and this will mean pain and agony changing it over. But once changed - there's a lot to benefit.

In fact - you would think using core technologies will help Accordance avoid duplicating functions already provided by the OS. Having attended a couple of Apple WWDCs (a few years back - when they first introduced Cocoa) - I was stunned at how much functionality could be put into an application using core services.

Mike

#6 Mike Doyle

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 11:51 PM

We will support all our fonts in User Notes, allow editing (almost) in place, and allow links to images but not insertion in the modules.

Hi Helen

Well done on the feature set of 8.1 - very much looking forward to it (and hoping not to have to wait to long). In particular can't wait for editing user notes whilst in place (though "almost" does worry me!).

Mike

#7 Scott Knapp

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 11:38 AM

FYI,

Core Text was only introduced in Mac OS X 10.5. And it is in no way dependent on Cocoa. However, relying on Core Text would thus require either a minimum OS version of 10.5 for Accordance or the introduction of yet another text rendering technology into Accordance in addition to the ones already present to support both the classic version (68K) version of Accordance as well as Mac OS X 10.3 and above.

Scott.

#8 Mike Doyle

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 04:01 PM

...yet another text rendering technology into Accordance in addition to the ones already present to support both the classic version (68K) version of Accordance as well as Mac OS X 10.3 and above.


You know - I love the shear nerdiness of making something work on a 68k, but seriously, supporting a system abandoned in 1994! That's almost 15 years folks!

The good news is - it's only the new releases that won't work on Old Technology - the old releases will still work find.

Thanks for the heads up on the Core Text - I didn't realise it was OS 10.5 only. Still - what a great time to jump onto the future.

Mike

#9 David Lang

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 05:06 PM

You know - I love the shear nerdiness of making something work on a 68k, but seriously, supporting a system abandoned in 1994! That's almost 15 years folks!


Mike, either you mean "sheer nerdiness," or you're insulting our haircuts! ;)

But seriously, our support of 68K is not about nerdiness (although it is a remarkable technological feat) or nostalgia (although most of us are Mac users from way back). Rather, it is about supporting those users who need to run Accordance on a Windows PC using the Basilisk emulator. You see, there are some whose needs cannot be met by the gazillion or so Windows Bible programs out there who choose instead to run the 68K version of Accordance in emulation. Many of these eventually switch to Mac so they can run Accordance natively, so we'll continue to support 68K for as long as it makes sense to do so.

As it is, there are some features of Accordance which only work on OS X, such as Services or the OS X spell-checker Helen mentioned above. We don't limit Accordance to only those features which can be supported on older systems, but we do have to balance our development priorities among the needs of our entire user base. If a feature will benefit everybody, it usually goes toward the top of the list. If it's only supported on the newest version of OS X and it's relatively easy to implement, we'll certainly consider it. But if it's Leopard-specific and will require major under-the-hood changes, that tends to be a much harder sell.
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#10 Mike Doyle

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 05:33 PM

Mike, either you mean "sheer nerdiness," or you're insulting our haircuts! ;)

But seriously, our support of 68K is not about nerdiness (although it is a remarkable technological feat) or nostalgia (although most of us are Mac users from way back). Rather, it is about supporting those users who need to run Accordance on a Windows PC using the Basilisk emulator. You see, there are some whose needs cannot be met by the gazillion or so Windows Bible programs out there who choose instead to run the 68K version of Accordance in emulation. Many of these eventually switch to Mac so they can run Accordance natively, so we'll continue to support 68K for as long as it makes sense to do so.


umm - yeah - "Sheer Nerdiness" - and it is a totally amazing technological feat.

That must make development, and your development roadmap incredibly difficult and complex. And though I respect your decision, I just wonder if it would be better telling these Windows Die Hards to - "Buy a Mac"!. Our whole college more or less does that (Moore Theological College - Sydney) - some lecturers openly tell students to dump windows and buy a Mac just for Accordance!

Mike

#11 freney

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 07:11 PM

FYI,

Core Text was only introduced in Mac OS X 10.5. And it is in no way dependent on Cocoa. However, relying on Core Text would thus require either a minimum OS version of 10.5 for Accordance or the introduction of yet another text rendering technology into Accordance in addition to the ones already present to support both the classic version (68K) version of Accordance as well as Mac OS X 10.3 and above.

Scott.


Sorry, I wasn't quite clear. You're right, in a sense. The APIs for Core Text were introduced in 10.5, in particular with reference to manipulating text directly in Core Graphics elements in Carbon apps. If, however, higher-level elements are used (such as a NSTextView object), then you can hook in to the same technology without needing to manipulate it all yourself. Incorporating elements like that into a Carbon app isn't a trivial process, but has some benefits.

Sam.

#12 Scott Knapp

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 12:22 PM

Sorry, I wasn't quite clear. You're right, in a sense. The APIs for Core Text were introduced in 10.5, in particular with reference to manipulating text directly in Core Graphics elements in Carbon apps. If, however, higher-level elements are used (such as a NSTextView object), then you can hook in to the same technology without needing to manipulate it all yourself. Incorporating elements like that into a Carbon app isn't a trivial process, but has some benefits.

Sam.


Sam,

I understand what you are saying. In fact, there is a well documented and supported way to use Cocoa elements like an NSTextView inside a Carbon application called HICocoaView. But again, it was introduced in Mac OS X 10.5. Before that, trying to integrate Cocoa with Carbon (or Carbon with Cocoa) has been fraught with major issues. Once again it's a matter of balance between supporting multiple code paths for doing the same things versus just supporting the latest versions of Mac OS X.

Scott.

#13 David Garrison

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 12:03 PM

I'd also like to toss my chips in for some further improvements to text editing. Since I just started using Accordance this week, I can't compare to previous editions, and I'm sure it's come a long way (baby).

But using the user notes editor in 8.1.3 is reminiscent for me of the user notes editor in Bibleworks 5 (not meant as a critical comparison along the lines of "bibleworks is better," meant just for comparison's sake). As I move further along a line of text and want to select text to change attributes, I find that the highlighting and text don't line up - a problem I had in BW5. With BW6, they integrated a fully WYSIWYG editor, including the ability to outline and edit hyperlinks, among many other things.

While I know Accordance isn't meant as a word processor, user notes are an essential part of my study and customizing the program to be effective for how I use it as a pastor. I'm also a highly visual person, so how it looks is as important in conveying meaning for me as the actual text itself.

I must confess, by the way, than when I downloaded the demo I wasn't super-impressed with Accordance. However, after purchasing the full program (no matter how you slice it, Fusion and Parallels eat batteries for breakfast!) and scratching just below the initial surface, I am continually more and more impressed with Accordance. Having used Bibleworks for 8 years, I tend to want Accordance to behave like BW. But I'm appreciating the differences and unique approach Accordance brings to the table and find myself missing BW less and less. Y'all have done a great job with this program!




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