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

Friday, August 25, 2006  

"Are You Ready for Some Football?!"

Yesterday, I was answering complaints about the User Notes and I punted the most complicated issues to today. It's time to get the ball back and punch it into the End Zone. (Can you tell I'm ready for college football season to start? Go Noles!)

The issue I put off dealing with was the way Scripture links within user notes work. A number of issues were raised in connection with this:

  1. Why can't you command-click a link to force the Text window to open as a separate window rather than as a tab in the Workspace?
  2. Why don't the links always open in the same text window?
  3. Why isn't the Text window a standard Search window?
  4. Why is my link to Psalms going to Philippians?

These are all excellent questions, and I think my answers to those questions will help you to better understand the way Accordance works.

First, why can't you command-click a Scripture link to open the Text window as a separate window rather than a Workspace tab?

My first reaction to this question was that it sounds like this user is wanting Accordance to act like Safari. In a follow-up e-mail, he replied that he just wanted it to work like Accordance works in other situations, and he's right. If you hold down the command key while selecting a resource from the Resource palette, that resource will automatically open as a separate window rather than as a workspace tab. The problem is that we never extended this capability to Scripture hyperlinks in a Tool or User Notes window, and we probably should.

Second, why don't the verses in a Scripture hyperlink always open in the same window?

This could be due to a number of factors. First, the user may have turned window recycling off in the Text window. Window recycling is a feature that re-uses certain windows so that you don't get a hundred windows (or tabs) of the same type. If you see an icon with two green revolving arrows in the upper right of the window, that window will be recycled. If you click that icon (or use the keyboard shortcut command-K), you'll turn recycling off, so that the next time you follow a link or click the context button, a new window will be opened.

Another thing to realize about recycling is that it only works if you don't change some important aspect of the recycled window. For example, let's say you triple-click a Greek word to look it up in a Greek lexicon. The tool window displaying that lexicon will be recycled, so that it will be re-used when you triple-click other Greek words. If, however, you change the search field of that window so that it is no longer "Greek Entry," that window is no longer set up to look up a Greek word. Consequently, the next time you triple-click, a new Tool window will open.

In the case of User Notes, lets say you click a New Testament reference, and then decide you want to see the text in Greek. If you change the Text Order pop-up at the top of the Text window to GNT-T, then return to your notes and click an Old Testament reference, the window displaying GNT-T is inappropriate, so a new Text window will open to display the OT reference.

Understanding the way recycling works and learning when to turn it on or off is one of those little things that will go a long way to helping you become an Accordance power user.

Okay, the third question had to do with why Scripture hyperlinks open in a Text window rather than in a full-blown Search window.

All I can say in answer to that is that the Text window is designed for displaying the text of the Bible, rather than searching it. The idea behind it is that it would be easily distinguishable from the Search window, and always there for times when you want to see a verse's context or follow a hypertext link. Using a Search window to do this would create a number of problems. It would be too easy to confuse with your main Search window. It would be too easy to change some search criteria and nullify recycling, which would result in a proliferation of Search windows. The text window also has the advantage of listing the verses displayed in the title bar (or tab), making it easy to know which window contains that passage.

If you're looking at a text window and decide to search for something, don't forget to amplify. That is, select the word you want to find and then click the Search button at the bottom of the Resource palette. That will open a Search window and find the word you selected.

Phew! I'm only three points into this and I'm ready to punt again! But it's fourth and inches, so I'd better dig deep and see what I'm made of. It's times like these that separate the winners from the losers, the men from the boys, the champs from the chumps . . . Oh, sorry, thinking about football again! ;-) On to the fourth question:

The user who raised these issues ran into a situation where he created a link to Psalms in his user notes, and it showed up as Philippians! What's up with that?

When you have a Search window open and notes displayed in a parallel pane, the notes follow the verse order of the Search text. For example, if you have the Hebrew Bible as your search text, your notes on Malachi will appear well before your notes on 2 Chronicles. When you hover over a Scripture link in your notes, Accordance assumes you want to see that verse in the current search text. So again, if your search text is the Hebrew Bible, the verses will be shown in the Instant Details box as Hebrew. If you hover over a verse that does not appear in the Hebrew Bible (such as a NT reference), nothing will be displayed!

In the case of the Psalms-Philippians mixup, the user obviously entered his reference using the abbreviation "Ps." If his search text is set to the Greek New Testament and he hovers over or clicks on that link to Psalms, Accordance tries to find a book in the GNT which could be abbreviated Ps. Lo and behold, Philippians fits the bill, so it displays the text of Philippians. Had the user used an abbreviation such as "Psa" or "Pss," or had his search text set to an English translation or Hebrew Bible, Accordance would have displayed the right verse of Psalms.

You see, this is really a case of Accordance being too smart rather than "substandard." Accordance doesn't require you to learn and use some limited set of abbreviations. Rather, it tries to parse every abbreviation to determine the intended book. In this case, it just made a mistake.

It's sort of like when opposing teams utilize misdirection plays to neutralize Florida State's team speed. You see, the defenders start going in one direction so fast that they can't change direction as easily as the slower team. Thankfully, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews always makes adjustments, and the strategy never works for long . . . Oops! There I go again! :-)

uh... What's a 'Nole'?

Thanks for the explanation of the green "recycle" arrows. I knew that clicking on them made them go away, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what they meant. That's why this blog is so important to those of us who don't use Accordance daily--you've got so much good stuff in there, we hardly know what to do with it!

Another example: today I was reading a book that stated that Tamar was "burned for playing the harlot"--which struck me as odd, because I didn't remember any biblical Tamars getting burned, nor did I find any reference to a burnt Tamar in the bible dictionary at hand. Remembering your lessons on building search constructs a while back, I built a search for "burn*" within so many words of "harlot," and discovered that in Genesis, Judah had suggested burning as a punishment for Tamar, before his perfidy was revealed. Obviously, the author had misremembered or misread the story, substituting the proposed punishment for the actual ending of the story.

Along the way in all this, I learned a few things about how Accordance handles searches (for example, "burn*" turned up different results from "burn"). But without your blog entries, I wouldn't have even known where to begin such a search.

So keep up the blog, including the hands-on examples, they really help.


'Nole is short for Seminole, the mascot of Florida State University.

To carry on the football metaphor--I'd like to see Oak Tree put 7 on the board, Library 7, that is :)

Just a little longer, Robb. I'll be posting and updating the website this weekend but it will take several hours.

The fruit of the Spirit is...patience... :)

Thanks for your hard work tonight, Helen and Oak Tree Staff. For me, staying up late with a newborn who would rather cry/scream than sleep while trying to study for Sunday pays off in unexpected ways! The new packages look great!

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