One of the big features of Accordance 9.3 is the new Assistant window. The Assistant window is designed to give new Accordance users a simple way to get started while also exposing them to the main user interface.
You can open the Assistant window simply by selecting it from the Window menu. You can also specify that you want it to appear every time Accordance starts up. To do that, go to the Assistant/Search All settings of the Preferences and check Show on startup.
The Assistant window presents you with a few basic starting points. The Read section lets you enter a passage to read or open the current day's reading in whatever devotional or reading plan you select. If you enter a passage, Accordance will open a new Search tab showing that passage in your default Bible. Devotionals are opened in a separate workspace, as I explained last week.
The Find section of the Assistant window lets you search for a word or phrase in your default Bible text, or in any of your Search All groups. Depending on what you choose, a new Search tab or Search All tab will be opened displaying the results of your search.
The Learn section includes links to the Lighting the Lamp podcast, this blog, our User forums, and the newly revamped Accordance Help. We've long offered all these great sources of training and help, but the Assistant window should make them more obvious to the new user.
The Assistant window is designed to be a simple, accessible starting point without hiding or obscuring the "normal" Accordance search interface. Our hope is that new users will quickly see how they can construct searches in the Search and Search All windows without always having to depend on the Assistant window. Like everything else in Accordance, we want the Assistant to be a helpful resource when you need it, and something you can easily dismiss when you don't.
One of my favorite new features of Accordance 9.3 is the new Daily Readings feature. Simply choose a devotional or daily reading plan in the Read section of the new Assistant window or from the Daily Reading submenu of the Window menu. Accordance will then open a new workspace showing the current day's reading or devotion, along with all the relevant passages of Scripture. It's simple, intuitive, and convenient. And when you're done with that day's reading, you can just close the entire workspace and get back to whatever else you were working on.
You can even set Accordance to open with the daily reading. Just go to the General Settings of the Preferences and choose Daily Reading from the Startup pop-up menu. You can set which Devotional opens by default in the Assistant/Search All settings of the Preferences.
The new Daily Reading feature can be used with devotionals we've had available for a long time, such as Daily Readings, Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and Faith’s Checkbook, Bagster’s Daily Light on the Daily Path, Blackaby’s Experiencing God Day by Day, and Cowman’s Streams in the Desert. Yet to help you enjoy this feature even more, we're making several new devotionals and reading plans available today. These include My Daily Meditation For The Circling Year by J. H. Jowett, Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary Wilder Tileston, Days of Heaven Upon Earth by A. B. Simpson, and a bundle of two month-long devotionals by John R. MacDuff, The Faithful Promiser and The Words of Jesus.
We've also split our Daily Readings module, which included two distinct Bible reading plans, into two separate modules (Devotional Readings and Chronological Readings) so that each plan can be used with the new daily reading feature. If you own Daily Readings, you can get the new modules through Check for Updates.
Finally, we've added the popular Bible reading plan of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, which comes in two modules: one for Family worship and one for "secret" (that is, private) devotions.
I've personally been impressed with the depth and insight offered by each of these new devotionals. They're perfect for those of us who need a spiritual shot in the arm each day. Best of all, they're just ten dollars apiece, and they can all be downloaded through Easy Install.
Today has seen a flurry of new releases and announcements. In case you've missed them, here's a brief recap:
New Accordance: We're very excited to announce the release of Accordance 9.3, a free update for all users of Accordance 9. This is a major update which addresses a number of much-requested features, and I'll be covering it in detail in future posts. Until then, download it, play with it, and have fun.
New Demo: Of course, you shouldn't keep all that fun to yourself, so encourage your friends to try Accordance 9.3 for themselves. We've just released a new, beefed up trial version that is far more functional than previous demos, and the new Assistant window will help those who are brand new to Accordance get up and running right away.
New Podcast: If we're not careful, we're going to lose Dr. J to some top-flight producer of infomercials. His latest podcast on Why Bible Software does a masterful job of explaining why you should want to use Bible software in general and Accordance in particular. Be sure to check it out.
But Wait, There's More! Okay, so that's just the stuff that's new today. In the coming days, you can expect a new update to Accordance for iOS, a flurry of cool new module releases, and more.