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

Monday, October 02, 2006  

Where's the Back Button?

At Saturday's training seminar here in Orlando, one of the attendees asked if there was a "back button" that would let you go back to previous passages you've looked at or previous searches you've done. A similar question was raised last night on the Accordance User Forums. I'm not sure, but maybe this is something I ought to talk about here! ;-)

When you're working in a Tool and you follow an internal hypertext link or click on an article title in the browser, you do get a button that will take you back to the place you just came from. At such times, a left-facing arrow labeled Prior will appear to the left of the Go To Box in the bottom right corner of the window. If you click the Prior button to go back a step, a right facing arrow labeled Next will appear. These buttons operate just like the Forward and Back buttons in a web browser.

These buttons do not appear in the Search window, however. When you're dealing with the Bible, how do you get back to a passage you were just looking at?

Well, there's always the History pop-up just above the OK button. If you want to go back to a previous search, just select that search from the History pop-up. The History even remembers whether a search was done in Verse or Word Search mode, so all you need to do is to click OK to perform the search again.

While the History pop-up is quick and convenient, it's not much help when you want to get back to a specific passage you were just looking at. For example, let's say you're in a Bible study and the main passage is Genesis 22. At one point, the Bible study leader references Hebrews 11, and then later returns to Genesis 22. How do you quickly move from one passage to another?

I dealt with this question in a previous blog entry entitled Getting to the Verse You Want. Basically, I suggested that rather than entering Genesis 22 in the search entry box at the top of the window, in which case the window only shows Genesis 22, you leave the search argument set to the asterisk (*). The asterisk means that you want every verse of the Bible to be displayed in the window, which is more convenient when you need to move quickly between passages. I then suggested that you use the Go To Box at the bottom right of the window to quickly jump to each passage.

That's helpful, but it's still not as convenient as a Back button. So here's a little known feature of Accordance you can use: the Bookmark. If you hold down the option key and drag the cursor over a verse in a Bible window, you'll notice the cursor changes from an arrow to a bookmark. Click on a verse and you'll see a blue bookmark appear beside that verse. You'll also notice two new text access buttons in the bottom left corner of the window labeled Mark.

Let's go back to our hypothetical Bible study on Genesis 22. You leave the search set to the asterisk and then enter "Gen 22" in the Go To Box. When the Bible study leader tells you to "turn to Hebrew 11," you option-click Genesis 22:1 to bookmark it, then enter "Heb 11" in the Go To Box. When you're done looking at Hebrews 11 and ready to return to Genesis 22, you just click the up Mark arrow to jump back there in one easy step. If you think you might come back to Hebrews 11, you might want to bookmark it before leaving.

One thing to be aware of with bookmarks: They will only remain until you do a new search in the window. As long as you leave the search set to the asterisk, your bookmarks will remain and you'll be able to navigate quickly to any bookmarked passage. But if you change the search argument and click OK, your bookmarks will disappear.

So what if your Bible study leader starts talking about the word "tested" in Genesis 22:1 and references other passages which talk about testing? You might be tempted to do a search for "test*" (without the quotes) to find every verse which has the words "test," "tested," "testing," etc. But if you do that in the current search window, you'll lose your bookmarks. The thing to do at a time like this is to duplicate the window or tab you're looking at by using the keyboard shortcut command-D. Now you've got a second search window with the same search argument and parallel panes as your first search window. Now just click the Search for words radio button and do your word search. If you need to go back to any of your previously bookmarked passages, all you need to do is switch back to your first search window.

By the way, if you're using the tabbed Workspace, you can cycle back and forth between your two Search window tabs using control-tab and shift-control-tab. If you're not using the tabbed Workspace, use option-tab and shift-option-tab to cycle between your two Search windows.

I hope this is helpful for some of you.

I have long thought that the one killer feature lacking from all Bible software I have known is a history--a good, solid history--graphical, with a tree showing where you have gone, and how you got there. I first asked Ken Hamel for something like this long ago, before I had heard of Accordance, when OLB was at version 1.x or 2.0.x. OLB did gain some form of history, and Accordance has something, but nothing what I envision, where in you can see exactly _how_ you got to where you are now, and where you went (rabbit-trailed) along the way. I know that times, when I'm studying, I often end up in weird places, and wonder how I got there, and with great effort, have traced my steps back, and been amazed at what I learned during the tracing. It has been those times I _really_ wished for a genuine history feature. Not exactly like Safari or Firefox do it, but something more comprehensive. I really think this would be a killer feature, and wish somebody would provide it, and do it right.... but that's maybe just me??? Certainly this post of yours, Dave, has shown that knowing where you came from, and getting back is no easy process in Accordance, and could use some refinement. So, while you all are about it, why not make it a killer feature? It's one that will be immediately visible, usable, and would, IMO, be a standout feature! (at least until all the copy-cats implement it too.) ;-)

Well, I'll hop off my soapbox now.


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