Catechising the Recent Convert
Last night I came across a blog post entitled "I've converted." In it the author explained that he had recently switched to Accordance from a Windows Bible program he had used for many years and been happy with. Once he had switched to Mac, he tried to keep running his Windows software under virtualization, but eventually realized he needed "an application that was actually designed for the [Mac] platform.
After using Accordance for just over a week, he said he is already "impressed" and "more productive" with Accordance, though naturally he still has things he misses about the software he's used for so long. He gave a list of the things he really likes about Accordance and the things he thinks could be improved.
In this post, I want to teach him a few tricks which should make his transition a little easier. I think the rest of you may find these helpful as well. I'll quote a few of his statements, and then offer a possible solution.
I actually prefer the way [the Windows program] uses characters in the search string to change the context of the search. If no character appears before the first word, it automatically realizes that you’re looking for a verse. If a symbol appears before the first word it knows that you’re searching a word or phrase. Accordance accomplishes the same using mouse clicks, I like less mouse clicks.
Using symbols to indicate a search mode is certainly efficient once you've gotten the hang of it, but it's not particularly intuitive. In Accordance, you click Words or Verses depending on what kind of search you want to perform. This is more intuitive, but requires you to take your hands away from the keyboard and use the mouse. Thankfully, though, you don't have to use the mouse. Command-semicolon will toggle between Word and Verse searching.
Also, if you make a mistake, Accordance will try to help you correct your mistake. If you enter a word search while in verse mode, Accordance will ask if you meant to do a word search, and you simply hit return to dismiss the alert, switch modes, and perform the search. If you enter an explicit verse reference in word search mode, Accordance will ask you if you meant to do a verse search.
Note that by "explicit verse reference," I mean one that includes a colon (or period) followed by a verse reference. If that doesn't help you because you're used to just entering a book and chapter number, you could get in the habit of entering ":1" followed by the "f" I mentioned in a recent post. In other words, you would enter "Ex 20.1f" rather than just "Ex 20." It's a few extra characters, but it will ensure that Accordance can recognize when you're in word mode and you meant to enter a verse search.
I don’t like having to repay for modules I own in [the other program]. Isn't there a way I can transfer my BDAG license over to Accordance? C’mon folks throw us a bone!
We recognize that switching has its costs, and we've tried to throw our users a bone wherever possible. We currently offer crossgrades of certain modules which are also available for other programs. These offers have had to be carefully negotiated with the copyright holders, and it's a hard sell because both they and we take a financial hit. We offer these as a service to our users, and we deeply appreciate the publishers who are also willing to serve our users in this way. For those modules you can't crossgrade, there's always the option of selling the Windows version on eBay to offset the cost of the Accordance module.
At this point I prefer the way [my Windows program] keeps search results in a box that swiches the context of the browse window when you click on each. I think that’s less confusing than the way Accordance handles search results (throwing them into a glob and tossing them in the screen).
I think what he means here is that this Windows program, like many others, has one section of the interface devoted to showing the results of a search, and another area devoted to showing the hits in context. Click on hit #3 in the hit list, and the Bible text pane will automatically stay in sync. Accordance, on the other hand, simply displays each verse which contains a hit. If you want more context, you can add context to the search hits using the Add Context pop-up in the More Options section of the Search window.
For those who are used to having a hit list in sync with a separate Bible text display, a similar setup can easily be accomplished in Accordance. Here's how:
1. Perform your search in the Search window.
2. Click in the first verse to select it, then click the Context button on the Resource palette (or use the keyboard shortcut command-5). A new Text window will open showing the hit verse in the context of the entire Bible.
3. If the text window opened as a tab in the Workspace, detach it by selecting Detach tab from the Window menu (or by using the keyboard shortcut command-option-t).
4. Tile the two windows by selecting Tile Windows from the Arrange submenu of the Window menu (or by using the keyboard shortcut command-I).
5. Tie the two windows so that they scroll together by choosing the window you want to tie from the Set submenu of the Window menu.
You should now have a setup that looks something like this:
As you scroll through the search results in the window on the left, the Text window showing the full context will now stay in sync. Admittedly, this required a little setup, but once you've done it you can save the session and reuse this setup over and over again.
By far the hardest part of switching to a new program is breaking old habits and learning new ones. But thanks to the flexibility of the Accordance interface, the switcher doesn't have to break every old habit. And for the long time Accordance user, this flexibility enables you to tailor the interface to suit different Bible study tasks or approaches. This is one thing this recent convert has already discovered:
I love being able to switch layouts to match my study goals easily. That’s just cool.
It is indeed.