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Friday, September 29, 2006  

More Tool Browser Tricks

On Wednesday, I mentioned that you can option-click a disclosure triangle in the Tool window Browser to automatically expand the entire subarticle hierarchy for the article you happen to be viewing. Here are a few more Tool Browser "tricks."

Can't see the triangle? No Problem: Let's say you've opened one of the disclosure triangles in the browser and begun to scroll down through the listed articles so that you can no longer see the triangle. When you're done looking at this part of the browser and want to close it, what do you do? In any other program (including list view in the Finder), you would have to scroll back up until you see the disclosure triangle so that you can click it again. But one of the interface principles of Accordance is "Economy of Effort," which is basically a fancy way of saying that we're too lazy to work any harder than we have to. :-) So we've given you an easy way to close any level of the browser without having to find that little triangle.

If you drag your mouse to the far left edge of the browser pane, you'll notice that the cursor changes to an X to indicate that if you click, the current level of the browser will be closed. So when you want to close a level of the browser, drag to the left until you see the X, then click!

This little shortcut is so handy that I found myself expecting the List View in the Classic Mac OS Finder to work that way, and it drove me crazy that I had to scroll up to find the triangle. Now that I primarily use the OS X Finder's column view, I don't feel that frustration like I used to. Still, it's amazing how quickly you get used to an easier way of doing things and start to expect other programs to behave the same way.

Using the Browser to set a "Range": While it's easy to define a range of books, chapters, and/or verses of the Bible to search, how do you search a portion of a tool? After all, tools don't have a standard system of versification; each one is organized and arranged in a unique way. Rather than trying to come up with some monolithic system of defining ranges for tools, we decided to give you an easy way to select any portion of any tool to search—no matter how it happens to be organized!

You do that using the browser, which neatly lays out each tool's unique system of organization. Let's use the Early Church Fathers as an example. The Church Fathers and Church History CD-ROM contains Philip Schaff's 38-volume edition of the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers in English, along with his eight-volume History of the Christian Church. That's a ton of material to sift through, and there may be times you want to narrow in on a specific father or historical period.

Let's say I want to search the writings of Ignatius for every occurrence of the word "love." I open the Church Fathers-Ante-Nicene (CF-AN) module and then open up the browser. I click the disclosure triangle for Volume I: Apostolic Fathers and I see the section containing the works of Ignatius. To narrow my search to just that portion of the tool, I need only hold down the option key and click on the name "Ignatius." Notice how the cursor changes to a red arrow when you hold the option key down and drag over the name. After you click, a vertical red bar will appear at the far left edge of the browser pane next to the section of the tool you clicked.

As long as this portion of the browser is highlighted, any subsequent searches I do will be limited to that portion of the tool. Thus, if I search for the word "love," I only get two hits, as opposed to the 46 I would get if I searched the entire tool.

When you're ready to remove the selection, just hold down the option key and drag over that vertical bar at the far left edge of the browser. You'll see the cursor change to a red X. Just click to remove the red highlighting.

Narrowing your search in this way is useful whenever you're dealing with large compilations of material, such as the Church Fathers, a large multi-volume commentary, a systematic theology, the Biblical Archaeology Review archive or the Theological Journals, etc.

Hi David,
thanks for your mini-series on tool browser tricks. They come in handy since I just got my IVP reference edition, and as you know there's a lot in it, a wealth of useful information which lends itself to be accessed in ways you just described -- pretty similar to the CF-AN example you used.

On a side note, what's the font you used in the screenshot? Looks better than Times New Roman. Is it preinstalled on every Mac?

Thanks for outlining the ranges. Replacing my ranges as a 'trial run' was a pretty obvious solution that I didn't think of!

Now as for this post, I see the NIGTC in the screenshot. The last time I checked, that wasn't available to the general populace. I just thought I'd let you know that someone noticed it :)

Thank you so much for having this blog. It is such a big help!

I just can't slip anything past you, Robb. Yes, I'm frantically trying to finish up the NIGTC, and I forgot to close those tabs before taking the screenshot. Hopefully, you'll have those tabs in your workspace window soon... :-)

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