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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Thursday, February 23, 2006  

Knowing Where to Look, Part Deux

In yesterday's post, I talked about how we've organized the various text and tool modules we offer. This system has worked well for us since we first released Tools in version 2.0. However, there have been a few bumps along the way.

One example was the placement of the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT). NIDNTT is a Greek lexicon in which the various Greek words are presented as subcategories of English theological concepts. For example, under the English category "Love," you'll find the words agapao and phileo. We debated whether to make NIDNTT a Greek tool or an English tool. Some of us advocated making it a Greek tool because it is essentially a Greek lexicon with English headings. But strictly speaking, those English headings were the primary way the tool was organized, so others of us urged that we make it an English tool. At that point in time, tools with titles in multiple languages were something new for us, so there were also technical reasons for sticking with NIDNTT's primary system of organization. We thus released NIDNTT as an English tool.

Of course, users who bought NIDNTT naturally went looking for it under Greek tools, and found it confusing that it should appear under English tools. This problem was compounded when we did The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE), which was clearly organized as a Hebrew tool. Thus, NIDNTT looked even more oddly placed.

We learned our lesson that sometimes a strict interpretation of a tool's structure can be counterintuitive and counterproductive, and when we updated NIDNTT we changed it to a Greek tool. (By that time, the technical obstacles to doing so had also been removed.)

About the only other instance where this structural division has caused confusion is in the case of Greek and Hebrew grammars. Many users assume that those will appear as Greek and Hebrew tools, but if you think about it for a moment, a grammar is not organized according to the Greek and Hebrew alphabets, but according to English grammatical concepts (nouns, verbs, tenses, etc.). Thus, grammars fit under the structural category of General tools.

In this post, I've acknowledged a couple of instances where our division of tools into structural categories has posed challenges and even caused confusion. Overall, however, it's been a system which has worked quite well, enabling our users to access all of their Accordance resources from a few pop-up menus, rather than having to scroll through some unwieldy book browser.

That said, there is one more limitation to this system which has become apparent only recently. Accordance now has so many modules available that some users are finding the pop-up menus for the various categories of tools getting exceptionally long. I'll talk more about that, and what we're doing to deal with that problem, in tomorrow's post.

"English grammatical concepts (nouns, verbs, tenses, etc.)" is, of course, wrong, since Hebrew and Greek grammar have their own categories lacking in English. What David means is that these grammars are organized by grammatical (versus lexical) categories of the respective languages. A Greek or Hebrew lexicon belongs under Greek or Hebrew because it is organized according to specific Greek or Hebrew lexemes.

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