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Accordance and the Competition


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#1 David Lang

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:22 AM

Introduction

In another thread of this forum, someone recently asked for "concrete information" about the release date of a competing product. That thread has now been closed, mainly because it was old and had so many posts as to make it unwieldy. I'm opening this thread as a way to address some of that user's concerns, and to give it a more general focus: namely, how Accordance stacks up against all the competition, as opposed to just one competing product.

With respect to the request for "concrete information" about the release date of a competing product, it doesn't appear that there is any. A look at that competitor's web-site will reveal that the "official launch is planned forlate fall 2006." Meanwhile, their web banners still read "Spring 2006." And at a recent presentation of that software here in Orlando (yes, I attended), the presenter told the audience the Mac version would be available "this winter."

I understand the appeal of new Bible study programs coming to the Mac. Besides the natural curiosity about whether the grass is really greener somewhere else, some of these competing products do offer materials which Accordance does not offer.

The user who posted to that other thread explained that while he's generally happy with Accordance, he is not "religiously devoted" to it, and that he would be tempted to purchase another product "if/when [it] finally gets off the ground, and works, and works well." In my opinion, that's a perfectly reasonable approach. We're not looking for users who are "religiously devoted to Accordance." We want our users to purchase Accordance instead of the competition because it's better. Where a competing product offers something you absolutely must have that Accordance simply doesn't offer, buy that product with our blessing.

Assessing the Competition

However, I would encourage you to take a good hard look at competing products before you purchase them, rather than just buying into all the marketing hype. Here are some things to consider:

1. Where Accordance is concerned, Mac users are not an afterthought. Windows developers who port to Mac are, by definition, merely trying to supplement their existing revenue and user base. When it comes to allocating development resources, where do you think they're going to concentrate their efforts?

2. Where Accordance is concerned, Mac interface standards are not an afterthought. Another program may look appealing on paper, but if its interface is unwieldy, you won't end up using it, and what looked like a "good deal" will simply become money that's been wasted. This has largely been the reaction of users who purchased another recent Windows port.

3. Don't be taken in by boasts of quantity. The question should never be "how many books do I get?" but "Which books do I get?" Many large collections are sold for exorbitant sums because they offer a few key resources which you probably will use, and a bunch of material which you probably won't use.

I'm confident that if users consider these factors, they'll choose Accordance as their main Bible program every time. That doesn't mean they won't have cause to supplement with other programs in order to have access to materials Accordance doesn't offer. If you absolutely HAVE to have an anti-semitic Greek lexicon which propagates the "etymological fallacy," then by all means feel free to buy another product to get it. :) But if you want a dozen or so Greek lexicons you can actually USE, your best bet is to stick with Accordance.

Future Strategy

Okay, there's my sales pitch. Now there's just one last point I need to address: where do we go from here? The user who posted on this issue closed his post by musing about our options in the face of additional competition. Do we respond by focusing on high-end, specialized original language resources? Do we concentrate on best-selling popular titles like the Prayer of Jabez and Your Best Life Now? Or do we try to fall somewhere between?

My question is this: Why do people seem to think we need to make some radical shift in strategy because some big company is entering the Mac market? Believe it or not, we've been competing with all these companies for years. The platform difference has been something of a buffer, but not really. As long as our users have been aware of what other companies offer, they've been pushing us to do the same things. So our strategy isn't going to change, and we certainly have no intention of conceding any part of the Mac market to the other guys (since we don't think any Mac users are really going to be happy with them anyway).

Here's our strategy in a nutshell:

1. We're committed to remaining the leader in original language and scholarly resources. Our users who rely on these materials can continue to expect some really exciting new modules in the very near future.

2. We're committed to offering the best resources we can for pastoral and personal study. Look for lots of new commentaries (like Word), study Bibles, etc. and a new Library CD-ROM which is packed with cool new stuff.

Don't expect books like the popular self-help/Christian living books mentioned above. Who wants to read books like that on a computer anyway? Our focus is on reference material which is most useful in an electronic form.

3. We're committed to offering cutting-edge program features which are of use to BOTH audiences.

All this has been our strategy from the very beginning, and it's why Accordance is consistently praised as the best Bible software available on any platform. About the only area where we seriously lag behind the competition is in marketing muscle and spin. That's why we need you, our users to continue evangelizing Accordance's superiority. :)
Sincerely,
David Lang
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#2 Alistair

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:40 AM

Thank you David for calling forth Lazarus on this topic, I was disappointed when the other thread was closed and I'm glad to see it resurrected improved and more tightly focussed.

Your assessment of the competition was balanced and fair and decidedly neutral for someone who obviously has a vested interest in Accordance.

Your definitive outline of OakTree's future strategy will I'm sure satisfy all current users and will no doubt attract the attention of current non-users. You should put it on the website under Company Ethos or whatever.

Thanks again

#3 Ken Han

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:55 AM

Well said, David. I agree with everything you stated, especially your commitment to producing high quality reference materials over agains works of more popular nature.

Still, I would love to see Accordance become more "open," for a lack of better word. I have in mind everything from improved user tool implementation to maybe even adoption of OSIS file format. It's co-sponsored by American Bible Society and the Society of Biblical Literature. No shabby parters! Would this not help to increase the attractiveness of Accordance? There are many people with XML skills, and this could potentially increase the availiablity of modules and tools Accordance cannot produce. Plus, I like the idea should any unforeseen problems inhibit further development of Accordance or any other software, my investment in modules will not be wasted.

Regards,

#4 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 02:45 PM

Pardon my ignorance, but would someone mind naming the anti-semitic Greek lexicon? Just curious.

I appreciate the info as well and love the upgrade to 7.0.2, especially the fixes in user notes and the version number going away in the menu bar. I'm also glad to know that Purpose Driven and Jabez type materials are not coming to Accordance anytime soon.

I agree that some of this post should be put on the main website for users who don't use the forum to see. Thanks David!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Robb Brunansky

#5 David Lang

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 04:29 PM

Forgive me, Robb, I was making a rather smart-alecky reference to the 10-volume Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Kittel, the editor, was a Nazi—condemned at Nuremberg I believe. The lexicon he oversaw has been repeatedly criticized for anti-Semitic undercurrents and an overemphasis on etymology as a determiner of meaning. It is one of the few lexicons which we do not offer, though we do offer an updated, abridged edition.

We've had repeated requests for the Complete Kittel, but it has never made sense for us to try and e-text--particularly in view of its idiosyncrasies.
Sincerely,
David Lang
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#6 Alistair

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 07:38 AM

Of course, we are also told that Martin Luther was also, if not a Nazi, an anti-semite. Anyone care to comment on how that would influence his works? :)

At the risk of playing Devil's advocate, what's the point in having an anti-semitic Greek lexicon? What difference would being a Nazi or a homosexual or simply being left-handed make to a Greek lexicon? Hebrew maybe, but Greek?

The point about etymology I understand, however.

~A!

#7 Lorinda H. M. Hoover

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 08:57 AM

At the risk of playing Devil's advocate, what's the point in having an anti-semitic Greek lexicon?
~A!


Well, Kittel does a lot of work with the Hebrew "parallel" words, and always covers how the words (both Heb and Greek) were used in the OT, by the Rabbis, etc., in addition to use in ancient Greek. His anti-semitism biases his undertanding of the underlying Hebrew words as well as the use of the Greek words in the LXX.

That said, I have Kittel, and I do use it on occasion, although with quite a few grains of salt. I wouldn't spend the money to add it to Accordance, however, even if were available. I'd rather buy NIDNTT and/or (if Accordance were able to acquire it) the upcoming New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible.

Running Accordance on:

Mac 10.9 (Mavericks)

iOS 7 (iPad)

Windows Vista Home Premium


#8 Alistair

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 11:53 AM

Lorinda,

Thanks for the explanation, that makes sense.

~A!

#9 John Koontz

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 01:49 PM

Hi Everyone,
Let's keep this thread on topic, so it stays open.

Please!
John Koontz
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Adult Rehabilitation Center
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#10 Robb Brunansky

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 03:45 PM

My memory fails in finding an email I sent to a friend or the original web sites from which I gathered this info, but here's the difference between Accordance and at least one other Bible program (Logos) as far as philosophy. Oak Tree advertises their product as enabling students of the Bible to accomplish more with their study time, while Logos advertises (or has advertised) their product as enabling students to reduce their study time. Is it really a noble cause to attempt to help people spend LESS time studying the Bible? I'll keep looking for the quote from David Lang and the quote from Bob Pritchett regarding each respective software package, but to me, as long as Oak Tree continues to seek to make study time more profitable rather than to reduce it, they'll keep the Bible central, and lead the pack.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Robb Brunansky

#11 Alistair

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 04:40 AM

On the website I read

"OakTree Software, Inc. has been dedicated to the development of "state of the art" products for the Macintosh computer since 1989."

I'm only aware of one product Accordance. What else has OakTree developed?


~A!

#12 Alistair

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 06:20 AM

Robb,

RE your quote on Logos' software "enabling students to reduce their study time"
and your comment: "Is it really a noble cause to attempt to help people spend LESS time studying the Bible?"

I think what you have here is two people saying the same thing in different ways.

Given a fixed amount of time in which to study, the software helps you learn more
(You say Accordance claims this).

Given a fixed target of data to learn/discover, the software helps you find it faster.
(You say Logos claims this)

Both statements are in fact logically correct, because both are making claims about the efficiency of the study time, namely more work done in less time. N'est pas?

For a busy student/pastor/minister/teacher, the emphasis on less time required could be appealing.
For those with more time on their hands, the emphasis on more info learned could be appealing.

At the end of the day, it's just marketing.

~Alistair

Edited by Alistair, 18 July 2006 - 06:26 AM.


#13 Joel Brown

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 04:17 PM

In the late 80s and early 90s, Oaktree developed Accession, a Museum cataloging software program, again only for the Macintosh. It was Oaktree's first program, though not the first program by the lead developer. It was well recieved among different museums, but due to the obviously limited scope of the field and a desire to work on Accordance, development shifted. Both were developed simultaneously for a few years until interest in Accession declined. Despite that, there are still some museums using the program, and every once in a while we get requests for the program or documentation or the like.
Joel Brown

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#14 mythrenegade

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 08:46 PM

If you absolutely HAVE to have an anti-semitic Greek lexicon which propagates the "etymological fallacy," then by all means feel free to buy another product to get it. :) But if you want a dozen or so Greek lexicons you can actually USE, your best bet is to stick with Accordance.


David,

True laugh out loud moments are rare in forums. This was one of those moments...

Many of us have begged for "big kittel" but we have been kindly told that it won't happen...

As for Accordance vs. Logos & others, I will say it again: I am in seminary, and I find that the people around me with Logos are asking me to look things up in class...

I have made it a bit of a game with a good friend. I show him cool features of accordance, and I challenge him to reproduce it in Logos. He is usually successful, which is good for him because he learns how to do more stuff with his software. The sad thing is that without my little challenges, he would never even know to try. I see a lot of people using Logos with five or six open windows that are not linked together in any fashion, and they manually click between them and look stuff up and move around and such. This wastes a tremendous amount of time.

I had a class recently with Dr. Craig Evans and he gave Accordance a pretty good plug in the last few minutes of one of our sessions. I wish my Accordance had as many installed modules as his <_<

Joel

#15 Jim S

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 06:13 AM

Ever since I used Accordance (barely half a year), I've been impressed by its elegant interface, speed and functionality. I'm familiar with the Libronix interface (but I don't have Logos yet, just the Nelson E-bible, on my PC), and for sheer ease of use, I prefer Accordance. I cannot comment on Bibleworks, though I'm itching to use it because of the range of resources it offers in its bundle - some of which I cannot afford just yet as available-for-purchase Accordance modules.
While it is true that quality of modules should come first before the range of module offerings, the latter is a come-on for a lot of users, especially "financially challenged" :D users, and users who don't make money out of studying the Bible and related literature. I hope Oak Tree would package more modules together at a discounted price like you have done recently.
I have also noticed that the range of modules Accordance offers is more "ecumenical," to say the least as it includes Catholic (that's me nominally), Evangelical, mainline Christian, and Jewish works compared to Logos (as seen from their website). I don't know if this will change with the coming commentaries (Commentaries often tell you more about the commentators than you wish to know). I do wish you'd include Hermeneia for consideration, as I think it is the best commentary series, and alone, would make the purchase of Logos worthwhile.
Oak Tree's rather open-minded attitude to developing modules has always been a strength. That's why it was a funny jolt to me to read David's comment on TDNT. I have the printed multivolume work. Though I've not gone through every article thoroughly (I surely don't intend to), I wouldn't hastily label it anti-Semitic anymore than I would label John's gospel as anti-Semitic. Whether Kittel was a Nazi is immaterial, because works of this kind are not to be swallowed in toto (hook, line and sinker). Despite Barr's critique, it is still useful for the wealth of information it gathers in one place (information not available in the abridged version, and information hard to retrieve unless you're an academic in a First World country) and its "idiosyncrasies" are what makes this work curiously interesting.

#16 jpkang

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 10:26 AM

I do wish you'd include Hermeneia for consideration, as I think it is the best commentary series, and alone, would make the purchase of Logos worthwhile.

I, too, am curious to see the electronic Hermeneia, but I will not preorder ($500) until I can see and test the final product to see how clean the text is. If it's full of typos, I would rather buy (used) hardcopies, since what is the point of owning a scholarly/reference commentary if you can't be confident about the details? It's hard enough to do textual criticism on the primary texts!

Whether Kittel was a Nazi is immaterial, because works of this kind are not to be swallowed in toto (hook, line and sinker). Despite Barr's critique, it is still useful for the wealth of information it gathers in one place (information not available in the abridged version, and information hard to retrieve unless you're an academic in a First World country) and its "idiosyncrasies" are what makes this work curiously interesting.

Good points all... I posted some bibliography on this in another thread several months ago (including a link to a Wayne Meeks paper on Kittel in PDF format), in case that might be of interest to you.

Edited by jpkang, 01 August 2006 - 10:33 AM.

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#17 William Varner

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 11:51 AM

I posted this on another forum, but I think it is appropraite for this thread as well.

I have been around the Logos/Bibleworks PC world for quite awhile. I am a user of Accordance for only a year - since I got a Mac. I go back to the days when Logos and BW came on 5 1/2 floppies (and only acouple of them!!), and beta tested for both programs. So I have seen them grow. For years Logos made no real effort to keep up with the scholarly tools. They seemed satisfied to build a big library of all sorts of commentaries, etc. with a low level of serious, language based tools. About 5-7 years ago, they made a commitment to really ratchet up those tools, and they are doing a good job at it. Their interface has always been clunky and comparatively slow. Reviews over the years comparing Logos with BW all seemed to conclude with the same mantra: If you want a big online library, go with Logos. If you want serious language based study, go with BW. Now with Logos 3, they are pulling even with BW.

But you have asked about Logos in relation to Accordance. I think that after a year of using Accordance, I can weigh in with an opinion. I have kept my mouth shut until I learned it and also got more comfortable with my MAC. For ease of use and concording capabilities, Accordance is better. For pricing, Logos is more economical. Yes, as Robb says, you must compare apples with apples (no pun intended). I don't see how you can bring your Accoradnce package to the level of really serious study with the right tools for less than $1000. I know some in this forum will disagree with me, but that is my opinion, and it is based on using Bible software now for nearly 20 years. You can get the next to top level in Logos for less than $1000. BUT, cost is not the only factor to consider.

The Accordance interface is better. The graphical search engine is better. And as hard as it is for a long time PC user to admit, the Mac is better. If you stick with the PC world, my money still goes on BibleWorks, esp. with their version 7 (but the Accordance graphical search engine is better than BW's).

So there, I have outed my self. I have probably said enough to make everyone mad at me, but I think I do have some experience here that qualifies me to offer an opinion.

I guess you must ask the following question: So, am I going to use my PC or my Mac? You see, I use both because I am a professor and I should be able to advise my students on the three serious Bible programs.

I am sure this discussion will continue.

Dr. William Varner
Professor of Greek Exegesis
Director of Israel Bible Extension Program
The Masters College

#18 Harry Hoffner

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 06:45 AM

Well said, David. I agree with everything you stated, especially your commitment to producing high quality reference materials over agains works of more popular nature.

Still, I would love to see Accordance become more "open," for a lack of better word. I have in mind everything from improved user tool implementation to maybe even adoption of OSIS file format. It's co-sponsored by American Bible Society and the Society of Biblical Literature. No shabby parters! Would this not help to increase the attractiveness of Accordance? There are many people with XML skills, and this could potentially increase the availiablity of modules and tools Accordance cannot produce. Plus, I like the idea should any unforeseen problems inhibit further development of Accordance or any other software, my investment in modules will not be wasted.

Regards,


I'm never sure whether I'm supposed to use "new topic" or "new reply". Perhaps David should explain the philosophy of these options, as he does so very well the various features of the program itself!

I finally decided on "reply", simply because after reading all the posts (every one of which was helpful) I had to remind myself who raised the question of preserving our investment in modules. I have no idea how my little "library" of Accordance modules compares in total price with the rest of the users, but I sometimes hesitate in buying a new module that is in the $150 and up range *instead of* buying the print version, reminding myself that the "old technology of a printed book will always be available, since it doesn't depend on a particular (sometimes ephemeral) electronic platform. (Scrooge at work!)

Actually, it isn't so much the monetary investment, but in some cases (User Notes comes to mind) the time and creativity I put into adding appropriate notes and scripture links to specific Bible verses.

In another area (I'm a lexicographer by trade) I have been investing much time the past 4 years in developing customized entries in various digital modern language lexicons (Italian, Spanish, German, etc), and have asked myself there too: would it not be better to put all this information into something in XML or even in a db like FM Pro, so that all the data and links are not dependent on a particular commercial engine?
Now I have no idea what OSIS is, that "Ken.Han" mentions here. But if there is some way that Accordance can make it easier for users who invest thousands of hours in adding information, observations and connections to their Bible study tools to have that work available for use outside of Accordance, I would like to see that done. Maybe this too belongs under the somewhat ambiguous rubric of making Accordance more "open".

I hope that Oak Tree/Accordance will continue for many more years, improving its structure, usability, etc. But just in case....

Maranatha!
Harry Hoffner. Emeritus Professor, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Founder & Editor of The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.


#19 Mick Matousek

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:34 AM

Now I have no idea what OSIS is, that "Ken.Han" mentions here. But if there is some way that Accordance can

Home Web site for OSIS:
http://www.bibletechnologies.net/

#20 Joe Weaks

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 09:30 PM

Well, I'm sure my thoughts on how any alleged Mac version of Logos will stack up are well known. Most recently, here in this post:

How not to do a Bible Widget

Edited by Joe Weaks, 08 August 2006 - 09:30 PM.

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