Another Example of Scalability
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the scalability of the Accordance interface. By that I mean that rather than offering one set of procedures to the new user and another, more complicated set of procedures to the power user, the Accordance interface scales to meet the needs of both users in the same basic way. In that previous post, I gave you a simple example of a contextual menu which offers progressively more options depending on whether you control-click a word in an untagged English Bible, a Bible tagged with Key Numbers, or a grammatically-tagged original language text. Today, I want to look at the main search window interface.
In the top part of the Search window, the main interface elements are the Search text pop-up menu, from which you choose the text to search, the Words/Verses toggle buttons, by which you choose whether to do a word or verse search, and the argument entry box, which is where you enter your search argument. This basic interface is the same whether you choose an untagged English Bible or a grammatically-tagged Greek or Hebrew text. The only things that change are the options available to you.
For example, if you choose an untagged English Bible like the HCSB, then click on the Search menu to see what options are available, you'll see three options in the top part of the menu: Enter Words, Enter Command, and Enter Symbol. The Enter Words item will bring up the word list for the current search text. Note that with an untagged English Bible, the Enter Key Numbers and Enter Grammatical Tag items are grayed out.
If you select a search text which has been tagged with Key Numbers, you get the additional option of being able to Enter Key Numbers. You also get the ability to interact with the text itself in new ways: dragging over a word to see the Greek or Hebrew word it translates, triple-clicking a word to look it up in a Strong's dictionary, etc. But note that the interface itself has not changed at all. Simply by selecting a different Bible text, you have more options available, but you're not faced with a new procedure or new workflow.
The same thing is true when you select a grammatically-tagged Greek or Hebrew text. If you look in the Search menu, you'll see that the Enter Words item has changed to Enter Inflected Forms, from which you can choose any word as it appears in the text. You'll also see a new item, Enter Lexical Forms, which lets you choose the dictionary form of each word in order to find every possible inflection of that word. Finally, you'll see that the Enter Key Numbers item is grayed out while the Enter Grammatical Tag menu has now become active.
By using these additional search options, you can create very powerful, sophisticated searches. Yet once again, the way you interact with the interface remains the same. If you want to do a word search, you click the Words button, and the argument entry box automatically switches to the language of the text you've chosen. There's no need to switch to a Greek or Hebrew keyboard in order to enter Greek and Hebrew; Accordance handles all that for you. And when you enter search commands, Accordance handles the combined English text of the commands and the original language text of the terms you've entered. As with Key Number texts, grammatically-tagged texts enable you to interact with the text itself in additional ways, such as dragging over words and triple-clicking. Still, the way you interact with the interface remains the same.
Once again, the scalability of the Accordance interface means that moving from the simple to the sophisticated is an incredibly easy, almost transparent transition. Accordance users switch to Key number Bibles and grammatically-tagged original language texts and go right on working. They don't have to catch their breath and think, "Okay, now I have to do things this way." That's the advantage of a scalable interface.