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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006  

New in 7.1: Character Palette

Ever wanted to type a Greek accent or Hebrew vowel point and been unsure how to do it? Accordance now includes six fonts: Helena (Greek), Yehudit (Hebrew), Rosetta (Transliteration), MSS (all those weird symbols you see in critical apparatuses), Sylvanus (Uncial Greek), and Peshitta (Syriac). Keyboard layouts and complete instructions for using these fonts can be found in the Accordance Fonts pdf located in the Manuals & Documents folder inside your Accordance folder, but who wants to open a pdf just to be able to enter a Gothic P in a user note? That's where the new Character Palette in version 7.1 comes in handy.

When you select Character Palette from the Window menu, a new floating palette will appear showing every character in the selected Accordance font:

A pop-up menu lets you choose the font you want to work with, and a series of checkboxes along the top let you show or hide certain types of characters. For example, I've been using Accordance long enough to know all the Greek letters and Hebrew consonants, so I don't need help knowing where those characters are on the keyboard. By unchecking those items, I streamline the palette so that it takes up less screen real estate and shows me just the stuff I still need help with (such as accents, vowel points, and cantillation marks.)

Whenever you're in a text entry field or edit window, clicking a character on the palette will insert that character at the insertion point. If you hover over a character on the palette a little tip will appear showing you the name of the character along with the keyboard keys used to enter it. In this way, the palette teaches you how to enter the characters you use most. It also helps the beginning student remember which grouping of dots in Hebrew is a "sere" and which is a "segol"!

The Character Palette is a very flexible new tool which can make working with the original languages, transliteration, and text-critical symbols much easier.

Actually, I tend to input large amounts of foreign-language text. What I would like is a way to switch quickly between various "keyboard layouts" (that is, fonts) when writing in a user notes file. The problem with the fonts drop-down is that I've got tons and tons of fonts (especially since Accordance doesn't recognize style variations properly) to sift through to find the few that Accordance uses to fake various different languages' keyboard layouts. I guess what I would really like is something just like the Mac OS X keyboard switching shortcuts, though they'd have to be local within Accordance, because of Accordance's pre-Unicode inheritances. Am I missing something that would help me out here?

Now all we need is a way to enlarge the text in the Character Palette, so we can see those wee-tiny symbols. But then, Accordance has always needed a Zoom feature.

I, for one, would like to see a full Unicode option, so all these fonts could be combined into one.

With respect to a zoom feature, OS X already has one built in. Just go to System Preferences-->Universal Access.

As far as quickly switching between original language fonts, you could always use the Character Palette as a quick font switcher. Since clicking a character inserts it at the insertion point--font and all--you can always click to add the first character in a font, then just type the rest.

Universal Access zoom will never substitute for a proper zoom feature in an application—you try working with grainy fonts and part of your desktop going off the edges. Zoom remains one of Accordance's glaring deficits.

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