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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008  

Accordance 8: It's the Little Things

Yesterday, we announced the release of version 8 and I listed some of the major new features. I plan to go into these in more detail in the coming days, but right now I want to focus on the "little things" which were added. I'm talking about those minor features and enhancements which don't usually make headlines, but which often make such a meaningful difference in your day-to-day workflow that they more than justify the cost to upgrade. You may not yet see the value of the INFER command and you may not care about Favorite Workspaces, but I'm willing to bet that everyone will find something in the following list to get excited about.

Entering a Verse in Word Mode: In version 7, when you would enter a word search in verse mode, Accordance would present you with an alert explaining your mistake and asking if you meant to do a word search. You would then click a button and Accordance would instantly change the mode and perform the search. But what if you made the opposite mistake: entering a verse reference in word mode? Accordance would just present you with the word list for that text, but would not give you an easy way to switch to searching by verses. In Accordance 8, as long as you enter a clear verse reference (that is: book name, chapter reference, colon or period, and verse reference), Accordance will automatically switch to verse mode and perform the search.

Finding Exact References in Tools: If you search the Scripture field of an Accordance tool for a Scripture reference such as Genesis 1:26, Accordance will find every reference which includes that verse (such as Genesis 1, Genesis 1-11, even multiple book references like Genesis-Deuteronomy). That's a nice feature when you want it, but what if you want to narrow your search just to include explicit references to Genesis 1:26? Until now, you could do it, but it required a rather awkward workaround. Now you just place the equals sign (=) in front of the reference to find that exact reference. If you select a verse reference in a Bible text and then amplify to a Tool, you can specify that you want to search for that exact reference by holding down the option key.

Open Sesame: Ever tried to open an Accordance resource from the Resource palette, only to get an error message because you had selected some text somewhere and Accordance is trying to search the resource you chose for that selected text? Of course you have! Now Accordance will present you with a new error message which asks if you just want to open the tool rather than search it for the selected text. No muss, no fuss!

Live Grow: When you resize a window, the text in the various panes now rewraps while you drag the resize box. This may seem like a little thing, but it makes it much easier to judge when you have the window at the size you want.

Go To Box Pop-up menu: The Go To Box in the bottom right corner of Accordance Search windows now features a pop-up menu from which you can choose the book you'd like to jump to. This may seem like a little thing, but when you're dealing with an extrabiblical corpus with which you're unfamiliar, it nice to have such a convenient listing of book names.

Go To Box Contextuality: While we're on the subject of the Go To box, another nifty little enhancement is that you can now enter contextual references. If you're in the book of Genesis, and you want to scroll quickly to chapter 10, just tab down to the Go To box (hit tab twice) and type "10." Previously you would have had to type the book name. Again, it's a little thing, but if you're a clumsy typist like me, the fewer the keystrokes the better!

Default Font Size When Printing: All these high-resolution monitors are great, but text on screen just seems to get smaller and smaller. If you're like me, you find yourself viewing text on screen at larger font sizes. But then when I print, I have to bump the text back down to a size more suitable for printing. Accordance 8 now lets you set a default font size for printed text in the Print Settings. Again, it's a little thing, but it enables you to view text on screen at one size and print it at another.

Wider Text and Tool Pop-up Menus: Another minor change, but we've widened the text and tool pop-up menus so that they will no longer clip the module name.

At this point, I'm not anywhere near done, but I'm afraid if I list too many more little enhancements in this post you'll miss something really cool. So enjoy playing with these new enhancements today, and I'll tell you about some more tomorrow!

Just bought version 8 last night and the Library sidebar tool alone is worth the upgrade! Having easy access to all of the tools is great. The speed is fantastic as well.

One aspect of Live Grow I really like is that it reveals the location of windows/workspaces that are underneath the window you are resizing as you resize it. Many times I'll have my workspace fill the entire screen, but then I need to enter a user note. When I hit command-U, the edit window pops up, but I no longer can see the entire workspace, so I need to resize it. Now, I can position my edit window where I want it, then grab the resize handle on my workspace and see exactly where it is in relation to my edit window as I am resizing it. We all have our favorite "little things" about upgrades, and this is one of my favorites.

I must say I find the whole scheme of radio buttons and dialogs about "Did you mean a word search" etc to be one of the most annoying things about accordance. I'd rather there was some kind of command that I could just say what I mean. Something like ":v John 1" to switch to verse mode or ":w Abraham" to switch to word search mode. This is the absolute core of using Accordance and it needs to be as streamlined as possible. I don't want to reach for the mouse to do even the most basic thing, and you can't even seem to tab to these radio buttons, despite me having "Full keyboard access" turned on in OSX. I'm quite curious about how those with disabilities and need keyboard navigation can even use it.

Also, I really think the new Go To Box feature of listing all the books should be a sub-menu within the "Search Within" at the top. Currently I have set up search ranges for every book of the bible which is a pain. Yeah I guess I could use a [RANGE] command for that, but that would be a pain too. Searching within just one book is common enough it may as well be a sub-menu coming off Search within, that adapts to whatever books are available in the current version.


To switch between words/verses in the search window with the keyboard, simply use command-semicolon. A lesser-known shortcut, but it can be a huge time-saver. I think that is even easier than :w and :v every time you want to search.

As for your second comment, I think you misunderstand the purpose of the GoTo box and the search for verse options. If you want predefined ranges, David did a blog entry where he made a file available with that data for anyone to download. I can't remember exactly where it is, but if you do a search on the blog for define range, you'll find it. The training DVD sessions on the search window and the search for verses and search for words should provide a lot of help to you in understanding the reasons for these interface decisions. If you can make it to a training seminar, I think that would be the best idea as all of this is explained in a live setting, where you can interact with the instructor.

When you get one of those "annoying" dialogs you can simply hit enter or return to dismiss it.
We do have key commands for many many functions. You may find it helpful to look through the full list of key commands in the Reference section of the Help. For example, Command ; toggles the Search window between searching for Verses and Words, and Control-command V sets the front window to search for verses, while
Control-command W sets the front window to search for words.
As for Ranges, the Accordance Exchange at www.accordancebible.com/exchange has a set of ranges created by David with each book defined, which you can download and use to replace your current ranges.
I think you need to take a little time to explore the options available. Usually there are several ways to accomplish the same thing, and each person chooses what works for him. The Help, the DVD Tutorial, our training seminars, and reading blog and forum posts are all good ways to learn how to get the most out of Accordance.
This is powerful software and does take some time and effort to learn: most people only use a small fraction of its capabilities.

Robb: LOL, you beat me to it!

just a note to say your download icon looks like a british flag -- helen did you have something to do with this?? (c:

Knowing about Command-; is good to know.

Still, I wish that any Accordance command I could cut and paste into my documents for duplication later on. So if there was a ":v John 1" or similar, having an exact ascii description of an Accordance action would be extremely useful, IMHO.

Concerning something that Dave made for download, well if he is offering it for download, clearly it would be a candidate for being in the product! But also, a pre-defined range can't adapt to the current book. So it would be better if say, Wisdom was an option for NRSV, but not an option for NASB. Don't the DSS have other non-standard books? I don't own that, so I don't know. Hmm, I think the archives of this blog have gone west, as has www.accordancebible.com/exchange so I can't search for them.

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