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Unicode, one more time


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#1 Simon Cozens

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 12:31 PM

I've really benefited from Accordance in my work and in my ministry, but there's always been this one little thing...

Like, oh, about 80% of the world's population, I have to deal with non-Latin scripts. Most of my work is in Japanese, which means that my workflow right now goes: do a load of research and sermon preparation in English, then get out the paper copy of the Japanese Bible and write down all the verses. If I want to refer to particular words in a passage while I'm preparing, I have to match up the Hebrew and Greek on my screen to the paper copy again.

I've got electronic copies of the Japanese Bible that I could import, were it not for the fact that Accordance has a software restriction which means that I can't. Back to the paper copy. Though I really appreciate the research tool that Accordance is, this isn't really what I wanted when I decided to do everything electronically.

The need for Unicode support has been mentioned here several times in the past. In the meantime, we've had more special-case hacks to support "Arabic Bibles and Arabic text within tools" - well, sort of, in that you can't import your own Arabic Bibles - and that's great. About 450 million people use Arabic, and that's not to be sniffed at. But about 1.5 billion people use Chinese.

"Import html documents with Unicode Greek and Hebrew into your own Accordance user tools!" Great! Wonderful! But why just Greek and Hebrew? From that, I suspect, although obviously I can't be sure, that the much-trumpeted Unicode support that exists in Accordance is just a filter that imports and exports from some Accordance-internal format, and so additional languages are just adding yet more special-cases to a general problem, and very soon we're going to run out of special-case flags. That would explain why the response to questions about Unicode in the past could be summed up as: "".

So yes, I know it's horrible and difficult and it would take major rewriting of the codebase.

But please, can you tell us: Is it going to happen? If so, what revision of Accordance will you target it for?

Sorry to sound frustrated. It's great software. If you turned around and said "We're not going to go Unicode, ever", that's fine. I'd still use it. But can you say something?

#2 Kit

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 12:37 PM

i second this suggestion. I am still waiting for the support of the Chinese Bible.

#3 Helen Brown

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 01:00 PM

Believe it or not, I have been pushing for Unicode Bibles for over 5 years! It just isn't that easy, as you are well aware.

We have no plans to convert the entire program to using Unicode internally, as that would involve a complete rewrite of hundreds of thousands of lines of code. So yes, we are left with converting to and from Unicode as needed. However, we do plan, in the next major rev., to allow the display of Unicode Bibles such as Chinese and Japanese. These Bibles would at best allow only simple searches, but they could be displayed verse by verse in parallel with our other Bibles. I am sorry that this worthy project has been postponed, but it is definitely on the table for the next rev. We also plan to allow user Bibles in latin languages that use some special characters (which can be shown in Rosetta font).

The reality is that the majority of our users, and even our potential users, are English speakers. How many of the 1.5 billion Chinese would want to study the Bible on a Mac? Numbers aside, we do care about you and the many others who have made this request, and we plan to fulfil it as soon as it is technically feasible.

So keep hoping and reminding us until your wish is granted.
Helen Brown
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#4 Kit

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 01:39 PM

Helen,
Thanks so much. To allow me to view the Chinese is already a great asset to me. I look forward to seeing this feature.

#5 Jon Glass

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 07:02 AM

The reality is that the majority of our users, and even our potential users, are English speakers. How many of the 1.5 billion Chinese would want to study the Bible on a Mac? Numbers aside, we do care about you and the many others who have made this request, and we plan to fulfil it as soon as it is technically feasible.

So keep hoping and reminding us until your wish is granted.


As a missionary, I look at things differently. As far as commercial expense, it was a waste of good money for me to fly to Poland, settle down, and pay thousands of dollars for a couple years, learning a language that only a few dozen million on this entire planet speak, and then to start a tiny church, hoping to reach an even smaller subset of those millions with the Gospel. And you think of those men and women who go into the deepest jungles, and devote decades to translating Scriptures into even more obscure languages. None of those are commercially-successful ventures.

And having Accordance to be able to open and work on and in Bibles in these non-Latin languages would greatly aid their work. I know guys all across Central and Eastern Europe who would love to use software like Accordance, but it doesn't do our languages. A couple have told me that buying a Mac is out of the question for this reason alone.

If you think of men and women who will be able to use Accordance as their main tool for both preaching and Bible translation, were it to use Unicode, you really cannot say you know what the future would hold for Accordance. However, delay too long, and the competition will see the hole and fill it, leaving Accordance with its OS 9 source code. Personally, I would hate, hate, hate to see that! I am sure that there are people at SIL, Tyndale House and other places that love Accordance, and would love to expand their use of it. Full support of non-Latin languages is essential. I just cannot believe that doing what it takes to get it done properly won't return on the investment in a big way.

(for that matter, take one-tenth of one percent of the Chinese population, and you still have a million five hundred. Drop two more decimal places, and you still have thousands of customers in China alone. ;-) China is huge--that's why the big push. And imagine the potential--just looking at raw numbers--of the Gospel there!)

-Jon

And sorry I piled on yet again. ;-)

#6 sonshine71

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 11:54 AM

Hi Helen and others,

We just purchased Accordance to finalise the switch from the PC world... Unfortunately, because myself and my wife both work frequently with Chinese Language bibles we are still returning to Bibleworks through Fusion just to parallel our Chinese Bibles with Greek/Hebrew materials.

We would like to add our voices to those who are pushing for the Unicode switch for Accordance.

Accordance looks like good software, but we're yet to settle-in completely.

Jason & Rebecca




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