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

Friday, June 16, 2006  

New in 7: Graphs, Graphs, Everywhere a Graph!

Okay, I admit it! I've been putting off writing this particular post for some time now. One of the coolest things about Accordance 7 is all the new graphs and charts we've added, and on the one hand, I've been eager to talk about them. On the other hand, there's so much to talk about that I've been procrastinating a bit.

First, a little history. In the very first version of Accordance, we offered three different categories of what we now call Details: the Plot, the Analysis, and the Table. Eventually, we changed the name of the plot to "Graph," because we realized some people read the word "plot" and didn't think of "a plot of search hits." Rather, they were clicking the "Plot" button in hopes of getting a breakdown of a certain book's storyline—its "plot"!

Anyway, to my knowledge, Accordance was the first Bible program to even conceive of creating a visual graph of the results of a search. Since it was visually appealing and a relatively simple concept, we thought this was one of the first things other Bible software developers would copy, but we underestimated how much our Mac-only status would cause Windows developers to ignore what we were doing. So it's really only been in the last few years that other Bible programs have begun adding various kinds of graphs and charts.

Over the years, we've expanded the Graph/Plot to enable you to graph multiple searches (to compare, for example, agapao and phileo or YHWH and elohim), but we haven't really made any major changes or added any new kinds of graphs. Then a couple of years ago, we saw something that got us thinking about graphs again. A Windows developer (gasp!) came up with a way to graph the distribution of verbs according to various grammatical criteria. For example, you could select a verbal category like "Mood" and see a graph of the various moods used across a given search range.

Now, lest you think we had somehow fallen behind the Windows guys, it was already possible to create a comparative graph of grammatical categories across a search range with Accordance, though there were certainly limitations. Prior to version 7, you would have had to do a search for the imperative mood, open the Graph, then click the Keep button so that your next search would be plotted on top of the current Graph. Then you would return to your search window, and search for a second mood, such as participles, open the Graph, and click Keep again. Repeat the process for imperatives and infinitives, and you've got a comparative graph of four different verbal moods. Here's an example of a Hits Graph showing the distribution of those four verbal moods across the book of Ephesians:

Unfortunately, since Accordance only allowed four searches to be graphed simultaneously, you wouldn't be able to look at subjunctives and optatives. And of course, you would have had to do four separate searches to create one graph! What we needed was a way to do one search and then break down the results according to multiple criteria.

But you know what? We had already been doing that for more than a decade as well. Ever since Accordance 1.0, the Analysis window has let you break down your search results according to grammatical categories like part of speech, mood, gender, case, tense . . . you name it. We just hadn't been representing that information in a Graph. So rather than copy what another developer had done, we decided to combine the best features of the existing Graph and Analysis windows to create the Analysis Graph (renaming our existing Graph the Hits Graph). As a result, Accordance has once again leapt way out in front when it comes to visually representing the results of a search.

The way the Analysis Graph works is simple: you just do a search, open the Analysis Graph, and then choose the category of information you want to see. This is most useful in grammatically tagged Greek and Hebrew texts, but you can also use the Analysis Graph with English texts and texts with Key Numbers. More importantly, you're not limited to verbs. Any search can be represented by the Analysis Graph, and you can explore the results on the fly.

Let's look again at the distribution of the various verbal moods in Ephesians. Now rather than searching for and graphing each individual mood, you can simply do a search for [VERB], then open the Analysis Graph, and select Mood from the pop-up menu in the lower right corner. Voila!

Now, I've spiced up the display a bit by using some of the new display options, but this Analysis Graph is essentially the same as the Hits Graph displayed above, except that the subjunctive mood is also included (there are no optatives in Ephesians), and it was all done from a single search.

We can then analyze other aspects of this search simply by choosing a different grammatical category to graph, such as Tense:

We can even choose to show lexical forms, though the Analysis Graph is limited to 7 items, so it will only graph the 7 most frequently used verbs in Ephesians:

Here I've chosen yet another display option: namely, to have each element graphed separately and to have the graphs stacked one above the other. We'll look further into these various display options in a future post. We'll also explore how the Analysis Graph can be used with much more interesting searches than just a search for all verbs. And of course, we've also got to cover all the other new kinds of Charts.

Now do you see why I've been putting off talking about all this stuff?! :-)

And the plot thickens... (sorry, couldn't resist!)

Since the analysis graph is limited to seven different verbs, is it possible to search for and graph the 8-14 most commn verbs, after having alreadygraphed the first seven most common?

If you just want a visual representation of the most frequently used verbs, try the Analysis Bar Chart. There the limit is something like 128. :-)

You can in fact do what anonymous requested. Look at the bar chart or analysis window to see the number of hits of the seventh (last) verb. Suppose it is 80. Modify the search to show [VERB]@[COUNT 1-79]. Now the Analysis graph shows the seven next most common words.

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