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

Wednesday, May 28, 2008  

Accordance 8: It's the Little Things, Part 2

Yesterday, I began listing some of the little enhancements in Accordance 8 which won't necessarily make headlines, but which will certainly improve your user experience. Today, I want to list some more.

Improved Highlighting: In previous versions of Accordance, highlighted text, whether from making a selection or from actually applying a highlight style, would produce a slight white "shadow" around the text. Many of you may never have noticed, but others found it distracting. That has now been removed.

Not only that, but in previous versions, highlights would no longer be shown when a window was in the background. For example, you might switch to a different application, see your Accordance window in the background, and wonder where your highlights went. Accordance 8 now displays the highlights in inactive windows using a slightly dimmed version of the highlight color.

The Highlight palette has also been improved. If you size it so that it is oriented vertically with one column of buttons, its minimum width is the same as the width of the Resource palette, so that the two palettes can be neatly arranged one above the other. You can also open the Define Highlight Styles dialog box directly from the palette now.

Slide Show Palettes: While we're on the subject of palettes, the Instant Details box and Slide Show control palette now automatically fade in and out when you're doing a Slide Show. So if you have a slide of a map and you want to show the elevation of a city, or if you have a slide of tagged Greek text and you want to show the parsing, the Instant Details box will fade into view when you mouse over those items, then fade away again when you mouse away. Likewise the Slide Show controller fades in whenever you move the mouse and fades out when no longer needed.

Links to Accordance Web-site: The Help menu now features links to the Accordance web-site, including the support section, the video demos, and the user forums. Hey, now that I'm thinking about it, why didn't this blog rate a link! ;-)

Paste and Match Style: The new Paste and Match Style command lets you paste text into an Accordance user note or user tool edit window and match the current text style, rather than also pasting the style of the text you copied.

Text Palette Redux: In version 7-point-something we changed the behavior of the text palette so that it would update to show the style of currently selected text. This made it harder to use the Text Palette to quickly reformat text, and so there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Text Palette now works the way it used to. (And there was much rejoicing!)

Drag Picture Thumbnails: Want to copy an image from the PhotoGuide or Bible Art into a Pages layout or KeyNote slide? Now you can just drag the thumbnail from Accordance onto the drop-zone of Pages or KeyNote and the full-size image will be copied over. You can also drag to the Desktop to create a Picture clipping.

Save Images as JPEG or PNG: Need to save an image in a graphic format other than PICT? Now you can. Earth-shattering change? No. Nice when you need it? Absolutely.

3D Map Enhancements: 3D Maps can now be manipulated by dragging on the image directly in addition to using the 3D Control palette. Simply dragging will move the map, option-dragging will rotate the map, and command-dragging will raise or lower the map. Using the scroll wheel will zoom in and out.

The 3D map can now be saved, duplicated, and recalled. If you save a session, the 3D map window is now included.

Text Size Buttons in User Notes: User notes windows and panes now include text size buttons for rapidly increasing or decreasing the text size.

More Visual Feedback for Notes: When you create a user note on a verse, a red dot appears next to the verse to indicate that a note exists. But what if you have a note on that verse in two or more separate note files? Until now, the red dot just indicated the presence of a note somewhere, but it gave you no information about which user note files contain that note. You would need to double-click the dot to open every user note file containing a note on that verse.

In Accordance 8, if a verse is annotated in two or more user note files, a red triangle appears next to the verse. Double-clicking the triangle will still open every user note file, but if you click and hold on the red triangle, a menu now lists which note files contain a note on the verse. You can open the one you want by selecting it from the menu.

Custom Ranges in the RANGE Command: Previously, you could define permanent ranges in the range pop-up menu of the More Options, or you could use the RANGE command for temporary ranges of books, chapters, and verses. Why not also make the RANGE command capable of calling your own predefined ranges? With Accordance 8, we've done just that. As long as you enclose the name of your custom range within quotes, you can now enter something like [RANGE "tor"] to specify that you want to search your predefined "Torah" range.

Using the CONTENTS of a Text Window: A couple weeks ago, I showed you how to use the CONTENTS command to search a group of verses listed in a topical Bible like Nave's. The basic steps were: (1) Command-click a link in Nave's to view the verses in a Text window, (2) Select all the verses and add them to a Reference List window, then (3) Use the CONTENTS command to search the Reference List. At the time, no one seemed to notice that adding the verses to a Reference List (step 2) was really an unnecessary extra step. Why not just search the contents of the original text window? We had to make a change to the way Text windows are named to accomplish this, but you can now search the Contents of a Text window rather than having to create a Reference List.

Again, these are all little things, but I think you'll agree that the cumulative effect of all these minor enhancements more than justifies the upgrade price. And I haven't even really gone into detail about the big features yet! In my next post, I plan to tell you all about the most ground-breaking new feature of Accordance 8: the innocuous-sounding INFER command.

Concerning the custom colors for texts, what I think I'd like to do is make say, all the Greek texts a particular color, and things along those lines. It didn't seem like I could say, make multiple selections from the library window and change color settings. The thought of opening a hundred versions separately and playing with the colours is more work than I can bear to think of just to get colors. I guess you would need a dialog like that in iTunes when you are modifying multiple songs to make it work.

The first thing you would want to do is set the colors you want for the majority of your texts in the Text Display settings of the Preferences. Then you just need to customize the settings of those individual texts which you want to differ from the default.

As for definining your own custom colors, if you look at the bottom of the Color Picker dialog box, you'll see a series of little boxes. Once you've created a custom color, you can drag it into one of those boxes so that it can easily be selected any time in the future. This saves you having to tweak color sliders over and over again. So once you've developed your preferred palette of colors, you can select from it for each text you're customizing.

Hope this helps.

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