In yesterday's post, I talked about the consistency with which the various dialog boxes in Accordance are layed out, and how that makes it easier to explore the various options which are available. Today, I want to talk about how this goal of consistency often adds depth to the addition of new features.
Way back in version 1.0, we introduced the "at" symbol (@) as a means of joining a word to a grammatical tag. So, for example, if you want to find the Greek verb agapao where it appears in the imperative mood, you would search for:
The "at" symbol basically tells Accordance to find only those words that meet both criteria: that is, words with the lexical form agapao that have been tagged as imperatives. This is different from doing an AND search, which will find any form of agapao appearing in the same verse as any imperative verb.
Fast forward to version 4.0, when we added Bible texts with Strong's numbers. Other programs had offered that feature for years, but in most cases, the implementation left something to be desired. So when we decided to implement Strong's numbers, we did so in a way that was analogous to our grammatically tagged Greek and Hebrew texts. We displayed the Strong's number and its corresponding Greek or Hebrew word in the Instant Details box, rather than forcing the user to display them in the text itself (yuck!). We let you triple-click a word in a Strong's number text to look it up in the corresponding Greek or Hebrew dictionary, just as you could do in a Greek or Hebrew text. We included the Strong's numbers in the statistical information provided by the Analysis window. We enabled users to view Strong's numbers in the Parsing and Syntax windows. We let you option-click the Search button on the Resource palette to search for the Strong's number attached to a selected English word. And finally, we let you use the "at" symbol to search for combinations of English words and Strong's numbers.
I vividly remember the first time Roy showed me that you could search for "[Key G25]@-lov*" to find every place where agapao is not (notice the minus sign) translated by some form of the word "love." I think I said something to the effect of, "Wow, I didn't realize you were going to do that!" "Why not?" he replied, "The Strong's number is just a tag, so it should work with the 'at' symbol."
This simple extension of an existing feature took the use of Strong's numbers in Bible software to a whole new level, and it was a clear example to me of how the consistent application of an existing interface convention can lead to powerful new capabilities.
Note: For more on the use of Strong's numbers in Mac Bible Software, see this article I wrote for the Christian Mac Users Group.