Yesterday I was talking with a friend of mine, and he was contrasting his experience of using Accordance with various other programs. He observed that with these other programs, he will perform an action and then experience a second or two lag before anything happens. He then contrasted that with Accordance by saying, "In Accordance, everything is instantaneous." He speculated that he might not mind the lag in these other programs so much if he hadn't already experienced the responsiveness of Accordance, but he was spoiled by the ability to get the information he wanted without delays. I then joked with him that perhaps our new marketing slogan should be "Bible Software for Impatient People."
I remember the days when our lead programmer (then our only programmer) was first developing the Accordance Bible Atlas. Getting a late-nineties Mac to process all that map and altitude data to produce 3D maps was a remarkable feat of engineering. Even more remarkable was the fact that these images could be manipulated in real time, without any significant lag.
These days, computers are orders of magnitude faster, yet the responsiveness Accordance conitnues to show is the exception rather than the rule. I'm not sure why that is, but I suspect that many software developers no longer see it as important to optimize their software because newer hardware will eventually alleviate the lag. This is a far cry from the days when Steve Jobs challenged Larry Kenyon to shave ten seconds off the boot time of the original Mac by showing that those wasted seconds multiplied by millions of days and users amounted to lifetimes of needless waiting.
Here at Accordance, we have no patience for spinning color wheels and needless delays. It can be hard enough to focus on studying the Bible without such interruptions, so we're determined to eliminate them as far as possible. If you're an "impatient person" who could go the rest of your life without seeing another color wheel, you know the value of that kind of responsiveness.
Much of what passes for multi-tasking today is little more than a coping mechanism. That's the conclusion I've come to from observing my own multi-tasking behaviors. I find that I am most likely to switch between a variety of tasks when I'm having to wait for each of those tasks to complete. I'll check e-mail, and while waiting for the messages to download, I'll switch to Safari and visit some website or other. If the website is taking a while to load, I may open a new tab and check another website, or I may turn back to my e-mail and begin reading messages. While it sounds good to call this "multi-tasking," it is really a disjointed workflow aimed at coping with the slowness of each task.
All of these interrupted tasks and broken trains of thought eventually lead to a kind of confused malaise in which it's hard to focus on what to do next or to decide how best to complete any one task. This multi-tasking malaise seems all too common these days, so I don't think it's just me. ;-)
Yesterday I talked briefly about how Accordance's speed encourages you to try new things and ask new questions, since you don't have to worry about the software bogging down. Similarly, Accordance's speed enables you to stay focused on the task of Bible study without slipping into the multi-task malaise. When you search for something, Accordance delivers the results so fast you don't have time to think about checking e-mail, surfing the web, or making a cup of coffee. Instead, you simply continue exploring the question that prompted you to do that search in the first place.
As I said yesterday, our goal in making Accordance fast and efficient is not to impress you with Accordance's speed, but to make it something you never have to think about. That way, you can be free to study the Scriptures without succumbing to the dreaded multi-task malaise.
This past Saturday I co-taught an all-day Accordance training seminar in Palmyra, New Jersey (near Philadelphia). Our host, Pastor Wes Allen of Central Baptist Church, went above and beyond the call of duty and freed us from having to worry about nearly every logistical detail. (He even lent us his brand new iPad 2!) Wes somehow also found the energy to preach the next morning, and I'm hopeful he managed to get some well-earned rest Sunday afternoon.
Whenever I teach seminars, I joke that doing a software demonstration is a bit like being a lawyer. Just as a lawyer should never ask a question he doesn't already know the answer to, a demoer is unwise to show a search he isn't already certain will work. Unwise as it is, I inevitably do it several times during the course of every seminar I teach.
On Saturday, for example, I came up with an example of a FUZZY search which completely missed the verse I had in mind. Apparently my remembrance of the verse was exceptionally fuzzy! Fortunately, a sharp user helped bail me out with a version of the search that did work.
Thankfully, Accordance is so instantaneous when it comes to delivering search results that my occasional rabbit trails into searches I've never done before don't end up bogging down the entire seminar. That may be why I keep giving in to the temptation to try new things: in most cases they work, and where they don't, the results are delivered so fast it is easy to recover.
Our software designers are sticklers for writing fast, efficient code. They do it not so that you'll be wowed by Accordance's speed, but so that you won't ever have to think about it. When results are nearly instantaneous, that encourages you to try new things: to pose new questions and to explore new lines of thought. Knowing that, we work hard to keep the speed of the software from ever getting in your way.
After all, studying the Bible is nothing like being a lawyer: you're supposed to ask questions to which you do not already know the answer.