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

Tuesday, June 06, 2006  

New in 7: User Note Enhancements

Yesterday, I went pretty heavy into root searching, using all kinds of cool original-language features like the Construct window and the Parsing window. We'll continue with that stuff later this week, but today, I want to cover some enhancements in version 7 which will be of use to just about everybody: namely, the enhancements to the user notes.

Perhaps the biggest change is that user notes files are now stored in each user's Documents folder, enabling multiple users in OS X to access the same Accordance modules, but different user notes files. You can also share user notes files among multiple users, but since I'm blissfully ignorant of how to do this, I'll refer you to the Accordance Help at this point. Just do a search for "user files" or "shared user notes" and you'll find the appropriate Help topics.

Another major under-the-hood kind of change is that you are no longer limited to ten different user notes files. Why anyone would need more than ten different sets of user notes is beyond me (keep in mind that each user notes file can contain pages of notes on each and every verse of the Bible!); but hey, if you need that many, the sky is now the limit.

Perhaps the most broadly useful improvements have to do with the way you edit your user notes. For those of you who may not have taken advantage of the user notes feature before now, let me explain how you would go about adding a note to a verse. Then I'll explain how version 7 makes it easier.

Before you can append a note to a verse, you have to create at least one User Notes file. This is no different than having to create a word processing document before you start writing something. As mentioned above, you only need to create one User Notes file for the entire Bible, unless you want multiple notes files for different purposes. To create a new Notes file, just select New Notes File... from the My Notes pop-up menu of the Resource palette. Then simply name your User Notes file and save it.

Once you've created a User Notes file, you're ready to start adding notes to it. Until version 7, you had to start with the Bible in order to add a note to a particular verse. Let's say you were looking at Genesis 1:1 and you wanted to append a note to that verse. You would need to click somewhere in that verse to select it, then choose Edit User Note from the Selection menu (or use the keyboard shortcut command-U). If you have only one user notes file, Accordance will immediately open an Edit window for Genesis 1:1. If you have more than one user notes file, a dialog box will appear asking you which note file you want to use.

In the Edit window, you can just start typing your note, formatting the text however you like, adding hypertextable Scripture links, etc. Once you're done, click Update to save your changes. A red dot will appear beside the verse you selected, indicating that there is a user note on that verse. You can double-click on this red dot to open a User Notes window displaying your notes, or you can add your user notes as a parallel pane within a Search window.

Now, in previous versions of Accordance, if you wanted to add a verse to Genesis 1:2, you would have to close the Edit window for Genesis 1:1, go back to the text of the Bible, click anywhere within Genesis 1:2, and then choose Edit User Note from the Selection menu to open an Edit window for that verse. Obviously, if you wanted to add notes to a series of verses, this process could get kind of tedious.

If you look at the bottom left corner of the Edit window, there are up and down arrow buttons for quickly jumping to the next or previous note. Thus, if you were editing your note on Genesis 1:1, and you had previously created a note on Genesis 1:10, clicking the down arrow button would update the Edit window so that you could edit your note on 1:10. This enables you to quickly edit all your existing notes within the Edit window.

Some users, however, wanted these navigation arrows to behave a little differently. Rather than taking you to the next or previous note, they requested that the arrows in the Edit window take you to the next or previous verse. In other words, if you're editing Genesis 1:1, and you click the down arrow button, the Edit window should go to Genesis 1:2, even if you had not previously created a note for that verse. That way, you could quickly create new notes on a series of verses right within the Edit window.

The problem with this approach is that you might not want to create notes on all those verses. So we decided to give you the best of both worlds. If you simply click on the up or down arrow buttons in the Edit window, you'll go to the next or previous note. If, however, you option-click one of those buttons, you'll be taken to the next or previous verse, even if you hadn't previously appended a note to that verse. Remember that little trick, and you'll greatly speed up the process of adding notes to a series of consecutive verses.

One of my favorite things about the User Notes feature of Accordance is that if you are looking at your notes in a User Notes window, and you see something you want to change, you can just start typing right in the user notes window and Accordance will automatically open an Edit window for the note you're typing in. This feature has been around since we first added user notes in Accordance 2.0, but this only worked if you were looking at your notes in a separate user notes window. If you were viewing your notes in a parallel pane within a Search window, you couldn't just type directly in your notes to edit them. Instead, your typing would automatically appear in the argument entry box at the top of the Search window. So in version 7, we fixed this little inconsistency. You can now start typing within the Notes pane of a Search window and an Edit window will open displaying your changes.

That's it! As new features go, these aren't the earth-shattering kind I've been discussing the past couple of weeks, but they're little changes that can make a big difference to a lot of users.

"Some users, however, wanted these navigation arrows to behave a little differently"

I was one of those users. Thank you for being so responsive to your users.

Jeremy Archer

When you use the option-arrow to create a note on the next verse, the note is only saved if you make a change to it. So, if you are in a note on Gen 1:2 and want to make a note on 1:4 you can option-arrow to 1:3 and again to 1:4 to make your note. Accordance will not save the blank note on 1:3.

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