Jan 13, 2010 David Lang

Bridging the Gap Between the Two Davids

In yesterday's post I told you a Tale of Two Davids. I described the "other David" (not myself) as generally following a tried-and-true process of study and lesson preparation, while I tend to be a little more random and prone to "fly by the seat of my pants." I then pointed out that Accordance accommodates both of these approaches to Bible study. It is fast and efficient enough to accommodate someone like myself who does not follow a set procedure each time I study the Bible, yet customizable enough to let you develop predefined layouts for particular kinds of study.

In response to that post, someone describing himself as more organized and methodical asked for an example of my "loosey-goosey" workflow. I'll do my best to accommodate that request, and I hope in doing so to show how Accordance makes it easy to bridge the gap between methodical and random.

When I describe my use of Accordance as "loosey-goosey" and "free-wheeling," that is partly a function of the many different things I use Accordance to do. If I were preparing a sermon every week, I probably would be a little more organized and methodical. Instead, I turn to Accordance to come up with examples for blog posts, to answer questions posted to our user forums, to test new modules we're developing, to help my kids with their schoolwork, to lead family devotions, and to perform a variety of other tasks. Consequently, in the course of a day I may end up with tabs containing everything from very simple searches to seemingly arcane scholarly stuff.

Because my use of Accordance tends to be so multifaceted, I've set my preferences to start up Accordance using the "Last Session." In other words, whenever I launch Accordance, I am presented with the windows and tabs I had open when I last left the program. If I always wanted to start with the same basic setup, I would choose the "Default Session" instead. (You can find these options in the General Settings of the Preferences dialog.)

Having Accordance start up where I last left off may mean that I open with twenty different tabs pertaining to three or four different tasks or projects. I might then continue with one of those, or I might be opening Accordance because I have some new task to tackle. If I no longer care about the stuff I was doing before I may just close the entire workspace and start over. Or I may keep all those existing tabs and just open a new tab for this new task. In most cases, I'll start by opening a new tab containing the resource I need to work with. Typically that's an English Bible or original language text, but sometimes it might be a dictionary or other secondary resource.

Because I'm often starting from scratch, I have to add any additional panes if I want them. If I used the same basic pane arrangement every time, I could set it up once and save that window or session, but again, I typically don't know what panes I'll want until I need them. I'm therefore thankful that I just have to click and hold one of the Add Pane buttons and select the parallel text or reference tool I want.

I tend not to open more than two or three panes at once, preferring instead to switch the contents of a pane to a different resource. For example, if I have a commentary in a parallel pane and want to look at another commentary, I'll just change the commentary displayed in that pane. I've never figured out how to read two commentaries at one time, so I prefer one large commentary pane to two or more smaller ones. Again, the fact that I can easily change the contents of a pane on the fly makes it easy for me to use fewer panes.

In terms of consulting secondary resources, I triple-click and amplify a lot. (Remember that amplifying refers to selecting text I want to find and then choosing the resource(s) I want to search from the Resource palette.) I love that I can triple-click to get to my most used resources and make a quick trip to the Resource palette to access all my other resources.

If I merely want to open a not-so-frequently-used resource, I will often go to the palette and start to scan the menus, then realize it would be faster to do a search in the Library window, which I leave open on the left side of my screen. Why the abortive trip to the Resource palette before turning to the Library window? Because after so many years of using it to open modules, it's second nature to turn to the Resource palette first. More and more, however, I'm finding the Library window a more convenient way to find and open modules, and I'm looking forward to some of the enhancements to the Library window which we have planned for a future upgrade.

As you can see from these examples, there's nothing really earth-shattering or unusual about my "free-wheeling" Accordance workflow. It's just that I typically don't know what I intend to do until I think, "Hey, I wonder what this resource would have to say about that." The nice thing is that Accordance is designed to let me answer those kinds of questions quickly and easily. That means I can follow a train of thought without getting distracted by unnecessary steps or having to pause while the program tries to catch up. Accordance is always ready to keep up with me no matter which way I happen to zig or zag.

The really cool thing about all this is that those of you who resemble the more methodical "other Dave" can easily use Accordance to have your cake and eat it too. You may have a predefined setup for sermon prep with two English Bible panes, an original language pane, and a pane containing your favorite commentary, but you can easily switch some of the panes in that setup to consult other resources. Once you've consulted your most used resources, you could amplify to the Search All window to look something up in resources you may have forgotten you have. Accordance is flexible enough to bridge the gap between the "other David" and myself, enabling both methodical study and random discovery.

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