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

Friday, February 24, 2006  

Managing Module Multiplication

In the previous two posts, I've talked about the five categories into which we've divided the various Accordance tools. It's a simple and understandable system which has worked well, but we now have so many tools available—and so many more on the way—that we needed to start looking for a way to further subdivide them.

We decided that in the next version of Accordance, we'll add submenus to each of the pop-up menus, so that like tools within each category could be grouped together. For example, under Reference Tools, we could distinguish Commentaries, Study Bible Notes, Translator's Notes, Critical Apparatuses, etc. Having such sub-categories should greatly reduce the length of the pop-up menus, while still giving users the quick access to which they've become accustomed.

Of course, these kinds of distinctions go beyond the tool's structure to its genre and content, and once we start divvying things up along those lines, we begin to run into the same ambiguities which I mentioned in Wednesday's post. What if someone doesn't want all his commentaries in a submenu? What if he doesn't have any critical apparatuses—do we clutter the menu with an empty category? What if we classify a module under one sub-category and the user thinks of it as belonging to another?

Then it occurred to us that all of these potential problems could be solved simply by letting the user decide how to subdivide each group of tools. Just as you can create a folder of Bookmarks in a web browser to group related sites, version 7.0 of Accordance will let you add your own subgroupings of tools and arrange them however you like. If you want to put all your commentaries into a single folder, or divide modern commentaries from classic commentaries, or distinguish critical commentaries from devotional commentaries, you'll be able to do it.

This, and other upcoming enhancements which we're not ready to talk about just yet, will make managing a growing list of modules much easier.

That sounds like a great enhancement! One question: Will there be default groupings for each tool in case the user prefers to let you, the developers, decide where each tool belongs? OK, one more question: Will modules I currently own "know" which default group/subgroup to join when version 7 comes out, or will that only be encoded on new modules? Thanks for the "reveal." It was kind of like a reality show this week: "And we'll have the results...right after this break..."

Now, this is why my employers don't like me talking too much about upcoming features . . . somebody always wants more details. :-) The short answer is that we won't supply any "default" subgroups. Any system of organization beyond the five main categories will be completely at the user's initiative. Beyond that, my lips are sealed!

By the way, your mention of a reality show "reveal" is timely. Yesterday I went with my family to the site of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project right here in town. Apparently the big "reveal" is today.

I agree with Robb that this sounds very helpful. Two thoughts: (i) it would be helpful if I can create my own subgroups (cf. the way I can create my own Tool Sets), rather than being limited by the five main categories you folk are going to give us; (ii) given that facility, it would then be helpful to be able to open the whole contents of a subgroup in tabs, rather as Safari allows me to open a particular folder of URLs in tabs.


I knew I ran that risk when I asked my questions, but I felt it was a risk worth taking. :)

I think I saw on the discussion forums today permission from Helen for you to leak more information on version 7, by the way. Here's the quote: "...watch the Blog and no doubt David will let some more hints slip through." Actually, that looks more like a mandate to me than permission!

Gosh, I've been wanting this sort of feature for so long. Thanks guys!

This looks like a great new feature. I look forward to 7.0!

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