The Appearance preferences present you with a number of broad ways you can change the look of Accordance. While this is not the place to go to change the font used in your various texts and tools (click Text Display or Tool Display for that), Appearance is the place to go when you want to make more fundamental changes, such as the maximum width of a line of text or how quickly to auto-scroll.
The options under Text Appearance let you make some interesting typographic changes. The first of these lets you specify the maximum width of text in a window. For example, if you have a wide screen and a workspace with only one tab, you may end up with a very wide column of text.
Since this can be hard to read, you may want to specify that a column of text can be only six inches wide. To do that check Limit text width and then drag the slider to six inches. When you click OK, even the widest window will show a column of text no wider than six inches. Any additional space will appear as white space to the left and right of the text.
The next text display option is to use ligatures in fonts that support it. Ligatures are combinations of letters that share common elements, such as fl and fi. The following screen shots show the same text with the use ligatures option unchecked and checked:
Remember that ligatures are only supported in certain fonts, so you won't see a difference with older, legacy fonts.
Another text appearance option is to use European verse notation. With this option checked, Accordance will display verse references according to European conventions. It will also interpret verse references in searches accordingly.
A similar option is to have Accordance use SBL standard abbreviations for Bible book names. Check this option, and Accordance will display book names using SBL abbreviations.
In addition to the Text Appearance options just mentioned, Accordance offers a few Other appearance options. Here you can set the font size of text in Browser panes such as the Library and the Tool window's Table of Contents. You can also adjust the speed of auto-scrolling, choose to use a white background for pictures instead of the default black, and turn on or off the automatic widening of the Tool window's Table of Contents browser when you mouse over it.
Last week, I blogged about how Accordance 10 tries to strike a balance between hiding lesser-used features that might add to a new user's learning curve, while still keeping them easy to find and easily within reach. Today I want to show how some of our efforts to simplify the interface have actually made many features more easily discoverable.
One example of this is the new gear icon in the top right corner of every text pane. Click this icon, and the first item you'll see is Move Up or Move Down. This option replaces the pane orientation icon that you could click to move a pane to the top or bottom of a search tab.
While selecting an item from a menu is admittedly less convenient than merely clicking an icon button, the menu item offers a clearer explanation of what you can expect to happen. What's more, the gear menu enabled us to include other pane-specific commands that had previously been available in the main menu bar (such as Set Text Pane Display… and About This Text…), as well as one new feature (Reading Mode), and an old one you may never have discovered (Auto-scroll).
Auto-scroll has been around since Accordance 7, and it has long been one of my favorite features. It basically turns Accordance into a teleprompter, slowly scrolling the text of any pane so you can read it hands-free.
By the way, here's an interesting bit of Accordance trivia for you: our lead developer actually programmed the auto-scroll feature in the exhibit hall at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco! While the rest of us were demonstrating to the conference attendees, he was quietly writing code on his laptop. When I got a break, he called me over and showed me the cool new feature he had developed right there on the floor of the Moscone Center. When it comes to improving Accordance, we don't even let a major convention slow us down!
Prior to Accordance 10, auto-scroll had to be enabled in the Preferences. To start the scrolling, you had to command-click one of the arrows of the scrollbar. Consequently, few people discovered this cool little feature. When Apple removed the arrows from the scrollbar in Lion, we had even more incentive to offer a better way to activate the feature. The new Gear menu was the obvious solution, so we put it there.
Now I think we can safely assume that more of you will discover Auto-scroll and take advantage of it, along with all the other features available through the new Gear icon.