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

Wednesday, April 26, 2006  

Crash Course in Creating Cool Constructs

Okay, all week I've been crowing about how great the Accordance Construct window is, but I've yet to show you how or when to use it. So let's get to it!

First, when should you use the Construct window? For most searches, you won't need to build a graphical construct. If you want to find Word A within 5 words and followed by Word B when it does not appear in the same verse as Word C, you can do all that using the search commands listed in the "Enter Command" submenu of the Search menu. Using text commands is simple, straightforward, and fast: you can enter everything by typing or by using keyboard shortcuts, so you don't even need to move your hand to the mouse.

Note: This is one reason the Construct window doesn't have graphical items representing Boolean commands like AND, OR, and NOT. Since those are so readily accessible within the Search window itself, why create a drag-and-drop alternative?

The time to build a graphical search is when you need to define word relationships which are more sophisticated than simple Boolean relationships. Specifically, you would build a construct when you:

  1. need to specify agreement among search terms
  2. need to specify items which may or may not appear between your search terms
  3. have so many different search terms and relationships to define that seeing everything laid out will make your search easier to understand

Okay, now that you know when to use the Construct window, let's explore how to use it.

The first thing you need to understand is that the Construct window does not stand on its own; rather, it is an extension of the Search window. For the Construct window to work, it needs to be linked to a Search window via the LINK command. The easiest way to do this is to start with a Search window. Make sure it's set to Search for Words, pick the Bible text you want to search, set a search range if you like, and then (here's the important part) hit the tab key to select the contents of the argument entry box. Now go to the File menu, and choose the appropriate type of Construct from the New Construct submenu. If you're searching an English Bible, you would choose the Simple Construct. If you're searching a Greek or Hebrew text, you would select Greek or Hebrew respectively.

(If you're following along, make sure you've got an English Bible selected in your Search window and then open a Simple Construct. I'll be using the HCSB, but any English Bible will work.)

Once you've chosen an appropriate type of Construct, a new Construct window will be opened, and a link to that Construct will automatically be inserted into the argument entry box of the Search window. Essentially, the link command tells the Search window to go look at the Construct window for its search argument. If, for some reason, the LINK command does not automatically get inserted in your Search window, you can always choose LINK from the "Enter Command" submenu of the Search menu to link the two windows yourself.

As I explained in Monday's post, the columns along the bottom of the Construct window represent the different words, grammatical characteristics, etc. that you wish to find, and the area above these columns is where you define the relationships between the various search terms. The different options available to you are all located in the palette of items to the left of the columns. To define a search, you simply drag the elements you want from the palette into the columns and the connection area above the columns. To see how this works, do the following:

  1. Drag the WORD item into the first (leftmost) column.
  2. In the dialog box that appears, type the word "kingdom" and click OK.

    Note: As you type in the Go to box, the list will be scrolled to match what you type. So you can type "king" and then double-click the word "kingdom" in the list if you prefer. You can also just click OK to dismiss the dialog box without typing anything, and then type what you want directly into the Construct window.
  3. Drag another WORD item into the second column.
  4. In the dialog box, type "God" and click OK. Then type an asterisk immediately after "God" in the WORD item to search for "God's", "gods," etc.
  5. Drag a WITHIN item into the area directly above these two columns.
  6. In the dialog box which appears, type "5" in the first field and click OK.
  7. Drag an INTER item into the area directly above these two columns.
  8. Drag a WORD item into the INTER item.
  9. In the dialog box, type "of" and click OK.
  10. Finally, drag the NOT item over the label of the INTER item and drop it there. A slash should appear across the word INTER.

Your construct window should now look like this:

This search will find every place where "kingdom" is followed within 5 words by some form of the word "God," provided the word "of" does not appear between "kingdom" and "God." Now you just need to click OK in the Construct window (or the Search window to which it is linked) to perform this search.

In the HCSB, this search finds six occurrences (2Chr 1:1; 20:30; 1Cor 15:24; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 17:17). By filtering out all the occurrences of "kingdom of God," I've zeroed in on the handful of other places where "kingdom" and "God" are used in close proximity. If I wanted to narrow the search further, I could specify that "kingdom" and "God" have to appear within the same clause. (To do this, open the More Options section of the Search window and choose "Clause" from the pop-up labeled "Search within every.")

This is a fairly rudimentary example, but it should give you a good idea of how a construct is, well, constructed. In the next post, we'll build a more sophisticated construct in English, using agreement and Strong's numbers. After that, we'll look at a really interesting example in Hebrew.

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